Daily Archives: December 17, 2010

(WSJ) Wilfred McClay–Rebuilding Noah's Ark, Tax-Free

What is more interesting about Ark Encounter is what it tells us about the paradoxes of American evangelicalism, a non-worldly belief system with a restlessly entrepreneurial and commercial spirit. The term “fundamentalism” generally denotes a comprehensively anti-modern movement. But this is only partly true. Far from being a counter to modernity, American fundamentalism often embraces it with far greater enthusiasm and finesse than its mainline competition.

Look at the effectiveness with which conservative evangelicalism has made use of television, radio and the Internet. Or consider the eagerness of “creationism” to claim the mantle of science, which is quite a different matter from rejecting modernity altogether. In commercial enterprises like the Christian music industry, or Ark Encounter, the packaging of products is the same as it is in the most successful secular businesses; only the content is different. Evangelicals assume that all such modern techniques can be redeemed through certain proper uses. The medium, in this view, is not the message.

Perhaps so. But it is also possible that there is no way for Ark Encounter to bring the Bible to life without demeaning or cheapening the very things it is intending to exalt. In that sense, the theme park may challenge not the proper separation of church and state as much as the proper separation of faith and commerce. Still, America’s robust commitment to religious liberty means allowing the widest possible latitude to such undertakings””and allowing criticism of them to flourish as well. Let the deluge begin.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, State Government

(ENI) Lutheran leader seeks Holy Communion agreement with Pope

The president of the Lutheran World Federation, Bishop Munib Younan has said before meeting Pope Benedict XVI that their churches should issue a common statement on Holy Communion to mark the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation that Martin Luther began in 1517.

“Our [the Lutheran federation’s] intention is to arrive at 2017 with a common Roman Catholic-Lutheran declaration on eucharistic hospitality,” Younan told the Italian Protestant news agency NEV the day before his December 16 audience with the Pope.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Ecumenical Relations, Lutheran, Other Churches, Roman Catholic

Notable and Quotable

“Let every listener choose that which interests him. I have nothing against one person liking Mozart or Shostakovich or Leonard Bernstein, but doesn’t like Górecki. That’s fine with me. I, too, like certain things.”

–Henryk Górecki (1933-2010) as quoted by Richard Kauffman in the Christian Century, December 14, 2010, page 13

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Europe, Music, Poland

(NPR) A Retired Executive Helps Inmates Stay Out Of Jail

When Jermaine Robinson got out of Rikers Island jail last March, he had nowhere to live and few real prospects for finding a job. But he did have something that would prove almost as valuable: The address of the storefront Harlem office where Getting Out and Staying Out operates.

“Without them, I wouldn’t have gotten where I am right now,” 23-year-old Robinson says.

The nonprofit, founded by retired cosmetics executive Mark Goldsmith six years ago, has helped some 1,500 young men incarcerated at Rikers chart new lives.

Only about 20 percent of those who go through the program return to prison, compared with nearly 60 percent for Rikers as a whole.

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Law & Legal Issues, Prison/Prison Ministry

Inspiring Friday Video Report–A Florida School Board hero who was Just Doing His Job

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Watch it all–he is a remarkable fellow.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., City Government, Education, Politics in General, Violence

(AAP) The Anglican Archbishop of Adelaide says go easy on the Presents

The Anglican Archbishop of Adelaide, Jeffrey Driver, has urged people to go easy on giving presents this Christmas.

Archbishop Driver said the true gift of Christmas was becoming lost in a frenzy of consumption that was both detrimental to the planet and financially stressful for many families.

“We know the planet is in peril as a result of our western addiction to consumption and the resultant environmental degradation,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces

The Anglican Church of Canada Appoints State Street to Oversee Pension Plan

State Street Corporation (NYSE: STT), one of the world’s leading providers of financial services to institutional investors, announced today that it has been appointed by the General Synod Pension Plan of the Anglican Church of Canada to provide custody, fund accounting, securities lending and foreign exchange services for CAD $600 million in assets.

The General Synod Pension Plan of the Anglican Church of Canada is a multi-employer Pension Plan registered with the province of Ontario and has been in existence since 1946. The General Synod Pension Plan of The Anglican Church of Canada provides pension benefits to clergy and lay employees of the Anglican Church of Canada and related organizations.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canada, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Economy, Pensions, Personal Finance, Religion & Culture, Stock Market, The Banking System/Sector

Catholic Herald–Nuns leave Walsingham priory to join ordinariate

Three Anglican nuns at Walsingham have left their community after they expressed interest in joining a personal ordinariate.

The nuns from the Priory of Our Lady of Walsingham have began a period of private discernment after they decided that they wanted to join any future English ordinariate.

In a joint statement, the nuns explained their situation. They said: “On December 2 2010 Sister Wendy Renate, Sister Jane Louise and Sister Carolyne Joseph left the Priory of Our Lady in Walsingham for a period of discernment with the intention of joining the ordinariate when established. We ask prayers for ourselves and for the Sisters remaining at the Priory of Our Lady.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Spirituality/Prayer, Women

(WSJ) Bailout Deal Fails to Quell EU Rifts

Europe’s leaders endorsed plans for a new fund to rescue indebted euro-zone countries, and proposed treaty changes to make that possible, but failed to resolve deepening disagreements over whether more radical action is needed to quell a debt crisis that has raged on the region’s fringe for more than a year.

Meeting in Brussels for the final 2010 summit, European Union leaders agreed to replace the region’s emergency rescue fund, which ends in 2013, with a permanent crisis-finance program.

But the crisis gripping the weaker governments of the euro zone showed no signs of abating. On Thursday, Spain was forced to offer significantly higher interest rates at a debt auction Thursday than it paid just a month ago. Bond markets fell across Europe.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Politics in General, The Banking System/Sector

The Archbishop of Canterbury's Ecumenical Christmas Letter for 2010

As soon as Our Lord is born, he is caught up in the terror and violence of our world. The wise men, without meaning to, prompt a tyrant to an act of dreadful barbarity. The life of the Incarnate Word of God is never to be spared the risk of suffering and death. Recalling the Massacre of the Innocents (on 28 December in the West) we affirm our faith that God’s action and presence are to be found in the darkest places of the world, alongside those who are exposed to pain and death.

In October during a pastoral visit to the churches of our Communion in India, I listened to a Christian from Orissa describe the murder of her husband as a result of his refusal to abandon his faith in Jesus Christ. In early November we had shocking news of atrocities against Christians in Iraq, and the whole Christian world prays and grieves with that small and courageous community living in daily danger. Regular reports reach us in the West of terrible atrocities against children in the war-torn lands of Congo, Sudan and other places. Every time such an outrage occurs, we are recalled to the reality of our involvement in the Body of Christ; when any member suffers, the whole Body suffers (I Cor 12.26).

But this in turn should rekindle our awareness of the positive reality of the Body, and the call and gift of God that comes with membership of the Body. Each of us is at every moment supported by every other through the life of the Body of baptised believers. Each of us is being fed and nourished by the Lord through this fellowship. And each of us is summoned to solidarity with all our brothers and sisters in prayer and action.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Archbishop of Canterbury, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Ecumenical Relations, Middle East, Other Churches, Violence

Jon Meacham reviews Diarmaid MacCulloch's "Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years"

A word of disclosure: I am an Episcopalian who takes the faith of my fathers seriously (if unemotionally), and I would, I think, be disheartened if my own young children were to turn away from the church when they grow up. I am also a critic of Christianity, if by critic one means an observer who brings historical and literary judgment to bear on the texts and traditions of the church.

I mention this because I sense a kind of kinship with Diarmaid MacCulloch, professor of the history of the church at Oxford University, who has written a sprawling, sensible and illuminating new book, “Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years.” A biographer of Thomas Cranmer and the author of an acclaimed history of the Reformation, MacCulloch comes from three generations of Anglican clergymen and himself grew up in a country rectory of which he says, “I have the happiest memories.” He thus treats his subject with respect. “I was brought up in the presence of the Bible, and I remember with affection what it was like to hold a dogmatic position on the statements of Christian belief,” he writes. “I would now describe myself as a candid friend of Christianity. I still appreciate the seriousness which a religious mentality brings to the mystery and misery of human existence, and I appreciate the solemnity of religious liturgy as a way of confronting these problems.” Then, significantly, MacCulloch adds, “I live with the puzzle of wondering how something so apparently crazy can be so captivating to millions of other members of my species.” That puzzle confronts anyone who approaches Christianity with a measure of detachment. The faith, MacCulloch notes, is “a perpetual argument about meaning and ­reality.”

This is not a widely popular view, for it transforms the “Jesus loves me! This I know / For the Bible tells me so” ethos of Sunday schools and vacation Bible camps into something more complicated and challenging: what was magical is now mysterious. Magic means there is a spell, a formula, to work wonders. Mystery means there is no spell, no formula ”” only shadow and impenetrability and hope that one day, to borrow a phrase T. S. Eliot borrowed from Julian of Norwich, all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Books, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC)

A NY Times Article on Culturomics: In 500 Billion Words, New Window on Culture

With little fanfare, Google has made a mammoth database culled from nearly 5.2 million digitized books available to the public for free downloads and online searches, opening a new landscape of possibilities for research and education in the humanities.

The digital storehouse, which comprises words and short phrases as well as a year-by-year count of how often they appear, represents the first time a data set of this magnitude and searching tools are at the disposal of Ph.D.’s, middle school students and anyone else who likes to spend time in front of a small screen. It consists of the 500 billion words contained in books published between 1500 and 2008 in English, French, Spanish, German, Chinese and Russian.

The intended audience is scholarly, but a simple online tool allows anyone with a computer to plug in a string of up to five words and see a graph that charts the phrase’s use over time ”” a diversion that can quickly become as addictive as the habit-forming game Angry Birds.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Books, History, Science & Technology

The New Culturomics Website

This is the site mentioned in the previous article, may sure to take a moment to explore it.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Books, History, Science & Technology

Google Book Tool Tracks Cultural Change With Words

Perhaps the biggest collection of words ever assembled has just gone online: 500 billion of them, from 5 million books published over the past four centuries.

The words make up a searchable database that researchers at Harvard say is a new and powerful tool to study cultural change.

The words are a product of Google’s book-scanning project. The company has converted approximately 15 million books so far into electronic documents. That’s about 15 percent of all books ever published. It includes books published in English, Spanish, French, German, Chinese, Russian and Hebrew.

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Books, Globalization, History, Science & Technology

A Prayer for the Provisional Feast Day of William Lloyd Garrison and Maria Stewart

God, in whose service alone is perfect freedom: We offer thanks for thy prophets WilliamLloyd Garrison and Maria Stewart, who testified that we are made not by the color of our skin but by the principle formed in our soul. Fill us, like them, with the hope and determination to break every chain of enslavement, that bondage and ignorance may melt like wax before flames, and we may build that community of justice and love which is founded on Jesus Christ our cornerstone; who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church History, Race/Race Relations, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Christ our God, who wilt come to judge the world in the manhood which thou hast assumed: We pray thee to sanctify us wholly, that in the day of thy coming we may be raised up to live and reign with thee for ever.

–Church of South India

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see:the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is he who takes no offense at me.”

–Matthew 11:2-6

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Muslim ”˜Radicalization’ Is Focus of Planned Inquiry

The Republican who will head the House committee that oversees domestic security is planning to open a Congressional inquiry into what he calls “the radicalization” of the Muslim community when his party takes over the House next year.

Representative Peter T. King of New York, who will become the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said he was responding to what he has described as frequent concerns raised by law enforcement officials that Muslim leaders have been uncooperative in terror investigations.

He cited the case of Najibullah Zazi, an Afghan man and a legal resident of the United States, who was arrested last year for plotting to bomb the New York subway system. Mr. King said that Ahmad Wais Afzali, an imam in Queens who had been a police informant, had warned Mr. Zazi before his arrest that he was the target of a terror investigation.

“When I meet with law enforcement, they are constantly telling me how little cooperation they get from Muslim leaders,” Mr. King said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, House of Representatives, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism

Colorado R.C. Bishop James Conley–The Holy Spirit, the Pastoral Provision and Christian unity

On Dec. 3, I had the privilege of ordaining Dennis Garrou, a married former Episcopal priest, to the sacred order of deacons for the Archdiocese of Denver. God willing, Deacon Garrou will be ordained a Catholic priest in May.

All this is made possible by a “Pastoral Provision” implemented by Pope John Paul II in 1980. In its own small way this special occasion fulfills one of the main goals of Vatican II””Christian unity. As the first sentence in the Decree on Ecumenism says, “The restoration of unity among all Christians is one of the principal concerns of the Second Vatican Council.”

The importance of Christian unity cannot be emphasized enough, because Jesus Christ founded one Church and one Church only. This is not just a matter of faith, but of historical fact. The divisions that have occurred over the centuries are a sad testimony to the Fall and the effects of original sin. The separation of Christians from each other is contrary to God’s will, a wound to Christ’s body and a scandal to the outside world. It is like the amputation of limbs from a body, or divorce and the breakup of a family.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Ecumenical Relations, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

WCJB TV–Will St. Michael's Episcopal Church in Florida Be Torn Down to Build a Walgreen's?

A landmark church in Northwest Gainesville might be torn down and replaced with a Walgreen’s.

St. Michael’s Episcopal Church was designed in the seventies by Nils M. Schweizer, a student of the famous architect Frank Loyd Wright.
And some members of the community are fighting to save what they consider a spiritual and architectural treasure.

St. Michael’s Episcopal Church is a mid-century modern building featuring a column-less design. It’s home to a congregation of about 100 people and the idea of it being torn down is very upsetting to some long time community and church members.

Susan Halbert has been a member of the church for 15 years. She said, “To tear down a beautiful church to put another drugstore was a real disappointment to me.”Bishop Samuel Johnson Howard of the Episcopal Diocese of Florida made the announcement last month that a contingent contract had been signed with Walgreen’s to sell the property.Halbert said, “It would be futile to speculate on why he made this decision, but for me personally it’s a devestating thing.” Some church members are struggling with the idea of losing the building they consider they’re spiritual home.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Episcopal Church (TEC), Housing/Real Estate Market, TEC Bishops, TEC Parishes

Catholic Church's role in care at Arizona hospital hotly debated

As the Catholic Diocese of Phoenix and St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center continued to talk Wednesday about the church’s role in medical decisions, the national debate escalated over whether the local bishop’s threat to remove the hospital’s Catholic status was appropriate.

Several national observers questioned whether Bishop Thomas Olmsted, who oversees matters concerning the Catholic Church in the Phoenix diocese, should be allowed to impose upon a hospital’s potentially life-saving medical practices. The issue stems from the hospital’s decision last fall to terminate a pregnancy that posed serious health risks to the mother.

Other observers, however, said the bishop’s move underscores the beliefs of many patients.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Health & Medicine, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic