Daily Archives: December 15, 2010

New Director announced for The Anglican Alliance: Development, Relief and Advocacy

The former Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the UK’s Department of International Development, Sally Keeble has been appointed as the Director of a new cross-Communion Alliance set up to connect and strengthen the development, relief and advocacy activities of the Anglican Communion.

Ms Keeble, who has degrees in Theology and Sociology from the University of Oxford, UK and the University of South Africa respectively, will oversee the work of the Alliance (full title The Anglican Alliance: Development, Relief, Advocacy). The Alliance is made up of churches and agencies collaborating and sharing knowledge and skills to add value to the range of development, relief and advocacy activities already undertaken by Anglicans around the world.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has welcomed the key contribution that Ms Keeble will play in the development of this new initiative: “I am delighted at Sally’s appointment. She will bring a well-tried level of skill and profound commitment to the role, and I believe she is ideally suited to the task of drawing together the diverse hopes and enterprises of Anglicans around the world in our work of holistic mission.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Latest News, Archbishop of Canterbury

Reginald Stackhouse–Fitting worship to the worshippers' lifestyle

“This is magnificent,” an American visitor whispers to his Toronto host. Then adds, “Of course, this is an Anglican town.”

Was he hallucinating? No. In 1963, it was. Then there were enough Anglicans in Toronto to host the largest world conference that denomination ever held ”“ with delegates from five continents.

Why in 2010 is all that unthinkable? Instead of sponsoring that kind of mega-event, why do Anglican leaders in Toronto have to cope with a report recommending the closing of 15 once thriving parish churches.

What has happened in the past 50 years to produce this decline? Are Anglicans finding “godlessness” a better option? Have they lost all confidence in their bishops and clergy? Are they flocking to other religions?

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Canada, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Religion & Culture

U.S. Called Vulnerable to Rare Earth Shortages

The United States is too reliant on China for minerals crucial to new clean energy technologies, making the American economy vulnerable to shortages of materials needed for a range of green products ”” from compact fluorescent light bulbs to electric cars to giant wind turbines.

So warns a detailed report to be released on Wednesday morning by the United States Energy Department. The report, which predicts that it could take 15 years to break American dependence on Chinese supplies, calls for the nation to increase research and expand diplomatic contacts to find alternative sources, and to develop ways to recycle the minerals or replace them with other materials.

At least 96 percent of the most crucial types of the so-called rare earth minerals are now produced in China, and Beijing has wielded various export controls to limit the minerals’ supply to other countries while favoring its own manufacturers that use them.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Foreign Relations, Science & Technology, The U.S. Government

(Tennessean) Churches face decreasing donations, more middle-class members in need

The recession has finally caught up with churches.

After two years of treading water, more Protestant congregations have seen their Sunday collections drop this year.

Pastors blame high unemployment and a drop in per-capita giving by members. To make ends meet, churches have laid off staff and frozen salaries, put off major capital projects and cut back on programs. At the same time, more of their congregation members and neighbors are asking for help with basic needs such as paying the rent and buying groceries.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Economy, Episcopal Church (TEC), Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Lutheran, Methodist, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Personal Finance, Presbyterian, Stewardship, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Christmas Camel's Church Belly Flop Caught on Tape

A Christmas show camel got a little too close for comfort for audience members at a West Palm Beach Baptist church Thursday night, after it did a belly flop onto a row of pews during a rehearsal.

The incident happened at the First Baptist Church of West Palm Beach and was filmed and posted to YouTube, thankfully.

The video shows the massive hump-backed mammal being escorted down the aisle before it tumbles over a few rows of pews an onto helpless spectators.

Read it all and yes, there is a link to the video.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Parish Ministry

(USA Today) Thomas Kidd: Watch your religious language, Mr. President

Sometimes it seems like President Obama just can’t catch a break, from the long-faltering economy to the Gulf oil well explosion. But some problems are just of his own making. Nowhere is this more clear than in his clumsy use of religious language. The president cannot stop stumbling over the religious maxims that have defined us as a nation.

Earlier this fall, President Obama repeatedly misquoted the Declaration of Independence, saying “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that each of us are endowed with certain inalienable rights.” Why leave out the “Creator”? Doing this once would have gathered no notice. Twice, and the grumbling began. Three times, and people began to wonder whether he had made a conscious decision to reword this founding document, presumably for the purpose of political correctness.

Another misstep came in his speech in Indonesia a month ago, when Obama told the audience that America’s national motto was E Pluribus Unum, or “Out of Many, One.” Of course, this is incorrect: the national motto, since 1956, is “In God We Trust….”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., History, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture

RNS–Obama, in shadow of worrisome polls, embraces 'Christian' label

When President Obama lit the National Christmas Tree behind the White House last year, he spoke of a “child born far from home” and said “while this story may be a Christian one, its lesson is universal.”

This year, Obama referenced that same “child born far from home,” but added a more personal twist: “It’s a story that’s dear to Michelle and me as Christians.”

Three days later, at a Christmas benefit concert, the president again talked about how the story of Christmas “guides my Christian faith.”

What changed? For one, three separate polls in the past year have found that one in four Americans think the president is a Muslim, 43 percent don’t know what faith he follows, and four in 10 Protestant pastors don’t consider Obama a Christian.

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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to at KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture

Benedict XVI's Address On the Third Sunday of Advent

“Learn from the farmer,” St. James writes, “he awaits with constancy the precious fruit of the earth until it has received the first and the last rains. You too must be constant, strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near” (James 5:7-8). The comparison with the farmer is quite expressive: He who has sown seeds in the field has before him some months of patient and constant expectation, but he knows that in the meantime the seed goes through its cycle thanks to the autumn and spring rains. The farmer is not a fatalist, but is the model of a mentality that unites faith and reason in a balanced way because, on one hand, he knows the laws of nature and does his work well, and, on the other hand, he trusts in Providence, because certain basic things are not in his hands but in God’s hands. Patience and constancy are precisely the synthesis between human effort and trust in God.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Advent, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

(ENS) Anglicans, Episcopalians issue statement on climate justice, form commitments

As Anglicans and Episcopalians met last week in the Dominican Republic to share their stories and organize around issues of climate justice, in Panama heavy rains and floods killed at least 10 people, displaced 4,700 more, and forced the first-ever weather-related closure of the Panama Canal.

“While we are here for the conference on climate justice, in Panama people are being evacuated out of areas that are being flooded,” said Bishop Julio Murray of the Episcopal Church of Panama Dec. 9, in an interview with ENS. “The groups that are mostly affected are the indigenous groups that live in the area of Alto Bayano … it is the first time in my lifetime that the Panama Canal has had to suspend traffic ”¦ this is an example of what happens when water levels rise in rapid ways.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources, Episcopal Church (TEC), Globalization

(LA Times) U.S. intelligence reports cast doubt on war progress in Afghanistan

Two new assessments by the U.S. intelligence community present a gloomy picture of the Afghanistan war, contradicting a more upbeat view expressed by military officials as the White House prepares to release a progress report on the 9-year-old conflict.

The classified intelligence reports contend that large swaths of Afghanistan are still at risk of falling to the Taliban, according to officials who were briefed on the National Intelligence Estimates on Afghanistan and Pakistan, which represent the collective view of more than a dozen intelligence agencies.

The reports, the subject of a recent closed hearing by the Senate Intelligence Committee, also say Pakistan’s government remains unwilling to stop its covert support for members of the Afghan Taliban who mount attacks against U.S. troops from the tribal areas of the neighboring nation. The officials declined to be named because they were discussing classified data.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Defense, National Security, Military, War in Afghanistan

(CSM) Census: Segregation hits 100-year lows in most American metro areas

A drive through Atlanta’s older “intown” residential areas quickly bears out new Census findings: That segregation by race in the US is fading in many, though far from all, American neighborhoods.

Atlanta is one of several predominantly Southern and Western cities that showed a noticeable integration trend over the last five years as both middle-class blacks and whites moved into each other’s neighborhoods, according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey of 10 million Americans, released Tuesday. The ACS is the largest demographic survey ever done in the United States.

The shift is part of a “complicated story with lots of nuances” that includes changes in social attitudes, the emergence of new housing and economic opportunity, and an age gap that shows young America is dramatically more diverse ”“ and open to diversity ”“ than older generations, says Kenneth Johnson, a demographer at the University of New Hampshire, in Durham.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Census/Census Data, Economy, Race/Race Relations, The U.S. Government

A Prayer for the Provisional Feast Day of John Horden

Creator God, whose hands holdeth the storehouses of the snow and the gates of the sea, and from whose Word springeth forth all that is: We bless thy holy Name for the intrepid witness of thy missionary John Horden, who followed thy call to serve the Cree and Inuit nations of the North. In all the places we travel, may we, like him, proclaim thy Good News and draw all into communion with thee through thy Christ; who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Lord Jesus Christ, before whose judgment-seat we must all appear and give account of the things done in the body: Grant, we beseech thee, that when the books are opened in that day, the faces of thy servants may not be ashamed; through thy merits, O blessed Saviour, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Advent, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Mark 1:7-8

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Der Spiegel–China Expanding its Influence in Europe

China is seizing on Europe’s debt problems to expand its influence on the continent with large-scale investments and purchases of government bonds issued by highly-indebted states. The strategy could push Europe into the same financial dependency on China that is posing a dilemma for the US.

Portugal’s cavalry staged a magnificent parade to welcome Chinese President and Party General Secretary Hu Jintao, 67. Suddenly, one of the horses reared up and threw its rider to the ground. The state guest from China waited motionless until the end of the ceremony before he went to the fallen cavalryman, embraced him, and asked if he was all right.

There was symbolic value to Hu’s caring gesture in early November in Lisbon: China’s foremost party organ, the People’s Daily, wrote enthusiastically that this was the “Best moment for the world to see a true China in flesh and blood.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010, Asia, China, Europe, Foreign Relations

The Hill: Senate Democratss unveil $1.1T spending bill

Senate Democrats have filed a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill that would fund the government through fiscal year 2011, according to Senate GOP sources.

The 1,924-page bill includes funding to implement the sweeping healthcare reform bill Congress passed earlier this year as well as additional funds for Internal Revenue Service agents, according to a senior GOP aide familiar with the legislation.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, Taxes, The U.S. Government

Bishop [C.] Andrew Doyle of Texas–The Uniqueness of Christ

We have a sacred story. We are called to out narrate the world. Yet we must also understand that we undertake this work with a particular and unique perspective within the body of Christ and the catholic or universal witness which is Christianity.

You and I must reclaim our unique Episcopal witness. We must be at work inside and outside of our church helping individuals to understand a very unique narrative. We are Christians but we are specifically and unambiguously Anglicans and more precise still, we are uniquely Episcopalians.

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

(Yorkshire Post) Jayne Dowle: I'm a card-carrying fan of the Christmas message

I have no patience who those who say that they can’t be bothered to send Christmas cards. OK, I’ll make a few exceptions. The recently bereaved can find signing just one name very painful. Some elderly people feel totally overwhelmed, and get confused with the names and addresses. Not to mention saddened by the ever-dwindling list of people they know and love. But those who think it is cool to sneer at this annual ritual and send an email instead get no sympathy from me….

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, England / UK, Religion & Culture

Kevin Martin: The Second and Third Reasons for TEC's Continuing Decline

Among some of the reasons for this failure to keep and recruit younger people, I would list the following:

1. The abandonment in the early 70’s of a National Curriculum for Church Schools.
2. The failure to have a unified teaching and age for confirmation, and the lack of emphasis by our bishops of the place on confirmation.
3. The moment toward ordination to an older and older age, along with making ordination almost exclusively a “second career” track for people.

These two reasons are closely related because it is younger leaders who have the best chance of reaching their own generation for Christ.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Seminary / Theological Education, TEC Bishops, TEC Parishes, Theology, Young Adults