Daily Archives: November 18, 2010

When the Mind Wanders, Happiness Also Strays

A quick experiment. Before proceeding to the next paragraph, let your mind wander wherever it wants to go. Close your eyes for a few seconds, starting … now.

And now, welcome back for the hypothesis of our experiment: Wherever your mind went ”” the South Seas, your job, your lunch, your unpaid bills ”” that daydreaming is not likely to make you as happy as focusing intensely on the rest of this column will.

I’m not sure I believe this prediction, but I can assure you it is based on an enormous amount of daydreaming cataloged in the current issue of Science. Using an iPhone app called trackyourhappiness, psychologists at Harvard contacted people around the world at random intervals to ask how they were feeling, what they were doing and what they were thinking.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Psychology, Science & Technology

Stephen Noll: The Orthodox-Anglican Divide

The GAFCON statement notes a third sad fact about the Anglican Communion today:

The third fact is the manifest failure of the Communion Instruments to exercise discipline in the face of overt heterodoxy. The Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada, in proclaiming this false gospel, have consistently defied the 1998 Lambeth statement of biblical moral principle (Resolution 1.10). Despite numerous meetings and reports to and from the ”˜Instruments of Unity,’ no effective action has been taken, and the bishops of these unrepentant churches are welcomed to Lambeth 2008. To make matters worse, there has been a failure to honour promises of discipline, the authority of the Primates’ Meeting has been undermined and the Lambeth Conference has been structured so as to avoid any hard decisions. We can only come to the devastating conclusion that ”˜we are a global Communion with a colonial structure’.

This third fact is also in line with the observation of Metropolitan Hilarion that the source of false teaching and lax discipline in the Communion has its origins in the “North and the West,” that is to say, in Canterbury’s own jurisdiction. I have noted elsewhere that the “Instruments of Unity” as currently constituted are under the sway of the “Lambeth bureaucracy,” and hence the ecumenical failure of Anglicanism can only be laid at the door of Canterbury himself. This tough fact is exactly what Hilarion has brought to the banquet table at Lambeth Palace.

So GAFCON and the Orthodox share the sober critique of contemporary Anglicanism. It would be facile to say that today’s Anglican confessors are of one mind with the Orthodox. Surely there are issues of substance and ongoing discussion between the two.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, - Anglican: Analysis, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Ecumenical Relations, Instruments of Unity, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Windsor Report / Process

Reuters: Vatican warns China over bishop's ordination

The Vatican warned Beijing on Thursday not to force Catholic bishops loyal to the pope to attend the ordination of a bishop who is a member of the state-backed church that does not recognize the pontiff.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the Vatican was “disturbed” by reports that the government was compelling Catholic bishops to go to the ordination ceremony next week of Father Joseph Guo Jincai in Chengde.

“The Holy See would consider such actions as grave violations of freedom of religion and freedom of conscience,” Lombardi said in a statement.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, China, Foreign Relations, Other Churches, Politics in General, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Andrew Goddard–How and Why Inclusive Church and Modern Church Mislead Us on the Anglican Covenant

A proper reading of the covenant shows it is, on this account, indisputably Anglican and inclusive of all these components of our Anglican heritage accepting that ”˜each of these has a place in the church’s life’.

The critique of IC and MCU distorts this by unfairly and unreasonably painting the covenant as simply a mixture of two concerns pushed to their extremes: ”˜strict evangelical Protestantism’ (the neo-Puritan method) and ”˜Roman Catholicism’ (more centralised and clerical, subordination to an international body). In doing so, they show no awareness of the many elements of the covenant reflecting their own emphases and its overall nuance and balance. Even more worrying is their apparent blindness to the dangers in their own tendency of ”˜de-emphasising revelation and history’. In fact, in the substance and tone of their campaign, they demonstrate that they have become ”˜enthusiasts’ for an isolated ”˜religious liberalism’ who have little regard for ”“ or even fundamentally reject ”“ any ”˜limits on the degree of adjustment to the culture and its habits’.

In summary, their response to the covenant reveals that they are far from being the authentic voice of Anglicanism or the Church of England. Instead, they are at risk of seeking to remake the Communion in their own particular Western liberal image and thus make it captive to what Oliver O’Donovan described as The failure of the liberal paradigm in his first Fulcrum sermon on subjects of the day (now published by SCM as A Conversation Waiting to Begin). At root, their ill-informed polemic suggests that ultimately they cannot accept that their own tradition in Anglicanism must ”“ like evangelical and catholic perspectives ”“ also learn ”˜to live with certain tensions or even sacrifices’ if it is to be truly Anglican. As a result, they rail against a covenant one of whose main strengths is precisely that it prevents any one part of Anglicanism from heading where they sadly risk heading – ”˜in a direction ultimately outside historic Anglicanism’.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, Anglican Covenant, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecclesiology, Theology

BBC Radio 3: Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams on Leon Tolstoy

You may find the audio link here (15 minutes long) (please note:only available for a few more days).

Herewith the BBC blurb on the programme:

The Archbishop of Canterbury presents an essay on the life and work of Leo Tolstoy.
To mark the 100th anniversary of his death, “The Essay” this week considers the life and work of one of the giants of Russian literature – Leo Tolstoy. Famous for works like the novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina and novellas such as Hadji Murad and The Death of Ivan Ilyich Tolstoy continues to fascinate modern audiences. In these programmes, five different presenters explain their own passion for the works of Tolstoy and the Russia he evokes. Coming from very different backgrounds, all the presenters of these essays have had their lives touched – directly and indirectly – by the Tolstoy’s works, they are:
Dr Rowan Williams – Archbishop of Canterbury
Writer and newspaper columnist – A.N. Wilson
Helen Dunmore – award winning novelist
Prof Anthony Briggs – a specialist in nineteenth-century Russian literature
Bridget Kendall – BBC Radio correspondent to Moscow 1989-1995

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Archbishop of Canterbury, Books, Europe, Religion & Culture, Russia

Terror Verdict Tests Obama’s Strategy on Civilian Trials

The mixed verdict in the case of the first Guantánamo detainee to be tried in a civilian court on Wednesday quickly re-ignited a fierce debate over the Obama administration’s effort to restore the role of the traditional criminal justice system in handling terrorism prosecutions.

Ahmed Ghailani will face between 20 years and life in prison as a result of his conviction on one charge related to the 1998 embassy bombings in Africa. But because a jury acquitted him on more than 280 other charges — including every count of murder — critics of the Obama administration’s strategy on detainees said the verdict proved that civilian courts could not be trusted to handle the prosecution of Al Qaeda terrorists.

“This is a tragic wake-up call to the Obama Administration to immediately abandon its ill-advised plan to try Guantánamo terrorists” in federal civilian courts, said Representative Peter King, Republican of New York. “We must treat them as wartime enemies and try them in military commissions at Guantánamo.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Foreign Relations, Law & Legal Issues, Terrorism, The U.S. Government

Paul Clemens–The Ghosts of ”˜Old G.M.’

Today’s public offering marks the moment when the Main Street and Wall Street bailouts meet. But the Wall Street firms haven’t been divvied up as G.M. has, in ways so visible to the eye. For General Motors, divided into its “Old” and “New” halves, there’s an inescapable paradox: the only possible route to future profitability is to create, through plant closings, monuments to past unprofitability. Old G.M. may have gone away for the purposes of the stock offering, but it didn’t go away in what might rightfully be called actuality.

Across the nation, as in Detroit, there is an economic disconnect, a split between what the economic numbers say and how things feel on the ground. The economy is growing, but the unemployment rate hasn’t budged. The recession officially ended in June 2009, but more jobs have been lost than have been added since that “ending.”

Handling this disconnect requires political acuity. It brings to mind something Philip Roth once said about those who have little feel for literature and the texture of lived experience it provides and so “theorize” it. Mr. Roth imagined a scene of a father giving his son this advice while attending a baseball game: “Now, what I want you to do is watch the scoreboard. Stop watching the field. Just watch what happens when the numbers change on the scoreboard. Isn’t that great?” Then Mr. Roth asks: “Is that politicizing the baseball game? Is that theorizing the baseball game? No, it’s having not the foggiest idea in the world what baseball is.”

It’ll be fun, for a day or two, to look at the scoreboard, and to see what G.M.’s shares are going for: $26? $29? $33? $35? The numbers on the exchange will change; it’ll be great, and a welcome, temporary relief from the numbers, still difficult to comprehend, of jobs lost and plants closed. Soon enough, though, we’ll have to go back to watching what’s actually happening on the field, where there’s still a blowout in progress, with the home team way behind, and no one, seemingly, with the foggiest idea what to do about it.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Psychology, Stock Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto Industry, The U.S. Government

BBC–Suspect package found on German plane bag

A suspect package containing a detonator, batteries and a ticking clock was found on a suitcase checked onto a Munich-bound plane, German police have said.

The bag was detected before it could be loaded on the flight from Namibia.

The flight was delayed for several hours but landed safely at Munich on Thursday morning.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Europe, Germany, Terrorism, Travel

BBC–Irish Republic to get bail-out loan, says central bank

Irish Central Bank governor Patrick Honohan has said he expects the Irish Republic to accept a “very substantial loan” as part of an EU-backed bail-out.

Mr Honohan told RTE radio he expected the loan to amount to “tens of billions” of euros.

The final decision will be up to the Irish government, which has yet to comment.

Mr Honohan’s comments come as a team of international officials meet in Dublin for further talks on the debt crisis.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Economy, England / UK, Euro, European Central Bank, Ireland, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

John Allen (NCR)–Three keys to reading the Timothy Dolan win at the USCCB

In [New York Archbishop Timothy] Dolan, the bishops have turned to their most gifted natural communicator, a leader with a demonstrated capacity to project a positive image for Catholicism in the public square. Rather than electing a behind-the-scenes broker of compromise, in other words, the bishops tapped their best front man. That choice could be taken as an imminently rational reaction to recent events.

… while Dolan certainly is more “conservative” than Kicanas, it’s not what’s distinctive about him. To be sure, there are plenty of other conservatives in the USCCB. Dolan’s defining quality isn’t really his ideology, but rather his capacity to build relationships with people who don’t share his outlook.

In many ways, Dolan is a high-octane, populist American expression of what I’ve called the “affirmative orthodoxy” of Benedict XVI: no compromise on matters of Catholic identity, but a determination to express that identity in the most positive key possible, keeping lines of conversation open with people outside the fold.

In other words, it might be more analytically productive to read Dolan’s election not so much as a victory of conservatives over liberals, but rather as an endorsement of the “affirmative orthodoxy” wing of the conference’s conservative majority over its harder ideological edge.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Media, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Vatican Radio Interviews Rowan Williams

Listen to it all (approximately 9 1/2 minutes).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Ecumenical Relations, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, Theology

Vatican Radio–Anglican and Orthodox leaders celebrate ecumenical journey

The legacy of the past half century of dialogue between the different Christian denominations and the future direction of the ecumenical journey were under the spotlight here in the Vatican last night. Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams and Orthodox Metropolitan John Zizioulas joined past and present members of the Pontifical council for Christian Unity for a celebration recalling the founding of their original Secretariat by Pope John XXIII in 1960 in preparation for the Second Vatican Council.Drawing inspiration from New Testament texts, Dr Williams spoke of the three dimensions of unity ”“ with Christ, with each other and with the apostolic tradition ”“ which can underpin a new phase of ecumenical dialogue. Urging his listeners not to lose sight of the ”˜Ut Unum Sint agenda’, he called for shared reflection on the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed and, above all, on Eucharistic theology which he said has ”˜worn thin’ in many Christian communities.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Hilda of Whitby

O God of peace, by whose grace the abbess Hilda was endowed with gifts of justice, prudence, and strength to rule as a wise mother over the nuns and monks of her household, and to become a trusted and reconciling friend to leaders of the Church: Give us the grace to respect and love our fellow Christians with whom we disagree, that our common life may be enriched and thy gracious will be done, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Teach me, O God, to walk trustfully today in thy presence, that thy voice may encourage me, thine arm defend me, and thy love surround me; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and get gain”; whereas you do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.”

–James 4:13-15

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

How Marijuana Got Mainstreamed

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Psychology, State Government

Andrew Hamilton–Anglicans and Catholics

In the Vatican’s dealings with the Anglicans, the detail of how Bishops, priest and congregations should be received into unity with the Catholic Church was properly a matter for the Catholic Church alone. The establishment of a secretariate to reflect on such questions as the criteria for deciding whether people approved for ministry in one church should be accepted into Catholic ministry, and how the new group should relate institutionally to other groups within the Catholic Church, was an internal Catholic decision.

But respect would seem to demand that public announcement of special provisions for Anglican congregations and clergy were preceded by consultation and proper communication. It is clear from Archbishop Rowan Williams’ response that this was not done satisfactorily. That the failure represented an older view of Catholic exceptionalism is suggested by the fact that the documents grounding the Vatican initiative maximised Catholic uniqueness.

Respect also normally demands reciprocity. This is germane in deciding whether congregations and other groups that move from one church to another should retain the use and ownership of their churches and other property. Under this principle, Catholic groups which decided to associate with the Anglican church would have the same rights to property as Anglican groups who wished to become Catholic.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

China's 'Me Generation' Sends Divorce Rate Soaring

One in every five Chinese marriages now ends in divorce, double the rate a decade ago.

Beijing has the highest divorce rate nationwide, with 39 percent of all marriages ending in a split.

This trend is sparking concern. Experts fear that the divorce rate will continue to soar, particularly among the younger generation of Chinese born under the country’s one-child policy and during China’s explosive economic growth.

Six years ago, one of China’s most popular soap operas was called Chinese-Style Divorce. It was the tale of a struggling couple, wracked by financial stresses and misunderstandings that were never addressed. The cracks in their relationship grew into a gulf, then their marriage fell apart.

Six years on, that is not the story of today’s Chinese-style divorces. For China’s “me generation,” the latest trend is “lightning weddings” ”” or instantaneous weddings ”” which often end in correspondingly fast divorces.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Marriage & Family, Psychology