Daily Archives: January 7, 2011

Qanta Ahmed: Fulfilling Our Duty as Muslim-Americans

When New York Rep. Peter King, the new chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, called for congressional hearings on radical Islam in America this fall, the reaction from the official Muslim community was swift. Ibrahim Hooper, president of the Council on American- Islamic Relations, said he feared the hearings would become an “anti-Muslim witch hunt.” Abed A. Ayoub of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee asserted that Mr. King’s proposal had “bigoted intentions.”

While Mr. King has a reputation for adopting polarizing positions””particularly when it comes to immigration””his hearings deserve serious consideration. “There has to be an honest discussion of the role of the Muslim community””what they are doing, what they’re not doing,” he explained to the New York Observer in a Nov. 30 article. “I talk to law enforcement people across the country; they will tell me. . . . They don’t feel any sense of cooperation.”

These concerns are reasonable. Histrionic objections to them only deter Muslims from fulfilling a fundamental Islamic obligation: Meeting our duty to the society in which we live.

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

Blast Awakens Egyptians to Threat From Religious Strife

A deadly suicide bomb attack outside a Christian church in Alexandria on Saturday has forced the government and religious leaders here to acknowledge that Egypt is increasingly plagued by a sectarian divide that could undermine the stability that has been a hallmark of President Hosni Mubarak’s nearly three decades in power.

As Egypt’s Christians headed to church under heavy security Thursday night to observe Coptic Christmas Eve, the nation was struggling to come to terms with a blast that killed at least 21 people, highlighted a long list of public grievances with the government and prompted concerns that national cohesion was being threatened by the spread of religious extremism among Muslims and Christians.

“I have heard this a lot, that this type of incident might be the first in a series, turning Egypt into another Iraq ”” that is the fear now,” said Ibrahim Negm, the chief spokesman for Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa, the nation’s highest religious official. “There is a paradigm shift here that says we have to do something about the sectarian issue.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Egypt, Middle East, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

Christine Rosen reviews John Brockman's Essays Book "Is the Internet Changing the Way You Think?"

Although the sciences are heavily represented among Mr. Brockman’s contributors, the volume ranges beyond the usual suspects (e.g., the ubiquitous technology booster Clay Shirky) to include visual artists, architects and musicians whose voices are all too often missing from discussions of technology and contemporary culture.

Whether poets or programmers, the book’s contributors write from the perspective not of “digital natives” but of creatures from an earlier age who have had to adapt to the changes wrought by the Internet. As members of a transitional generation, they are poised to address both practical and philosophical themes.

Most of the contributors are enthusiastic about the bounty that the Internet provides, particularly to scientific research, global communication and personal expression. Indeed, several contributors are disparaging of those who question the Internet’s costs, dismissing such people as “neophobic” or “curmudgeons and troglodytes.” Still, a few writers belie such easy caricature. The neuroscientist Joshua Greene suggests, in a blunt but apt metaphor, that the Internet, for all its revolutionary pretense, is “nothing more, and nothing less, than a very useful, and very dumb, butler.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Books, Education, History, Philosophy, Psychology, Science & Technology

William Stafford: The Retirement of The Reverend Dr. Guy Fitch Lytle III: An Appreciation

It is my duty and honor to thank Dr. Lytle for his service. He was appointed as Dean by Dr. Samuel Williamson, the XIVth Vice-Chancellor of the University of the South. During the years following Dean Lytle’s appointment, he made significant contributions to the mission of this School that no subsequent developments should obscure. He brought to Sewanee the considerable stature he had won as scholar and church historian, and as Dean carried a full load of teaching with brio. His professional study of the history of the clergy in the context of Anglican ecclesiology and spirituality buttressed his contemporary concern to clarify the nature and improve the quality of Episcopal priests. That led to his appointment to national commissions, committees, symposiums, and lectureships. Combined with his vigorous representation of the School in the offices of bishops around the church and his peripatetic preaching and speaking, he brought wide recognition to Sewanee. Vigorous work in recruitment led to years of the largest enrollment the School has ever enjoyed. That in turn permitted him to create new positions on the faculty. He appointed young scholars who multiplied the perspectives and approaches available to students. Financial support by dioceses and parishes expanded: One Percent Plan parish contributions rose to levels they have never since approached. Large gifts came in for the scholarship endowment of the School, which has helped make Sewanee one of two Episcopal seminaries that can offer very substantial financial aid to all students who need it. Dean Lytle’s close work with the XIVth Vice-Chancellor and Provost led to the resolution of many long-standing issues between the University, the College, and the School. Not least among them was clarification of the financial standing of the School, eliminating a great part of the friction over the School’s budget and endowment that had beset his predecessors.

Dr. Lytle made many other contributions to the School’s mission. Among them, he helped create the Visiting Committee, one of the chief means by which the seminary comes into dialogue with the wider church and community. His strong support helped move The St. Luke’s Journal of Theology into the fresh directions it took as The Sewanee Theological Review, and it has flourished ever since. During his deanship, Education for Ministry, Disciples of Christ in Community, Galilee Moments, and other major programs for the wider church grew and blossomed in the School’s Programs Center. The annual Anglican Tour of England was his creation; for years he led large groups in a brilliantly narrated pilgrimage through the holy (and less holy but refreshing) sites in the England he knows so well.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(Irish Times) Sudan secession vote a journey to the unknown

In many respects, the problems faced by Malakal’s Anglican cathedral are those faced by southern Sudan as a whole.

On Sunday, voters in the south will vote in a referendum that will decide if the region becomes the world’s newest state.

However, they will also be choosing to create one of its poorest and least developed.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Episcopal Church of the Sudan, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sudan, Violence

South African Lay chaplain found dead at home

Prominent Anglican chaplain and powerful South African property development businesswoman Ntombekaya September has been found dead in her multimillion-rand Pretoria home.

The body of September, 45, whose cause of death police said was unknown, was found in her luxury high-security Lawley Street, Waterkloof, home by Pretoria Anglican Bishop Jo Seoka and her domestic worker yesterday.

September, who was the first woman lay chaplain to the bishop of Pretoria and had worked for the City of Johannesburg and the Development Bank of Southern Africa, was found lying face down on her bed fully clothed.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Anglican Provinces, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ministry of the Laity, Parish Ministry, Women

(Telegraph) Europe unveils sweeping plans to govern reckless banks

Brussels has called for sweeping powers for regulators to seize failing EU banks, sack board members, and impose haircuts on senior bank debt, aiming to ensure that taxpayers are never again held hostage by high finance.

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

(LA Times) China's development of stealth fighter takes U.S. by surprise

A few weeks ago, grainy photos surfaced online showing what several prominent defense analysts said appeared to be a prototype of a Chinese stealth fighter jet that could compete with the best of America’s warplanes, years ahead of U.S. predictions.

Days later, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet disclosed that a long-awaited Chinese anti-ship missile, designed to sink an American aircraft carrier, was nearly operational.

As Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates heads to China this weekend, analysts are expressing concern about Chinese military advances, which appear to have taken the U.S. by surprise. The Pentagon had predicted that China wouldn’t have a stealth fighter for a decade or more and Defense officials had given no previous indication the anti-ship missile, which had long been tracked by the U.S., was close to fruition.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, China, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Science & Technology

Church Times: Three bishops are received as Roman Catholics

Mr Broadhurst’s wife, Judi, and Mr Newton’s wife, Gill, were also among the lay people and former Anglican clergy being received into the RC Church. Three nuns who left the Priory of our Lady of Walsingham last month, after announcing plans to join the Ordinariate, were also re­ceived. No details were released about the total numbers received at the service.

A few days earlier, Mr Broadhurst told The Times: “I know people will join the Ordinariate. . . There are lots of laity on their own and priests on their own; the question is how do we relate them both to the Ordinariate and to the English Catholic Church, because it is part of the Catholic Church in this country; it’s not a separate thing.”

Two retired bishops, the Rt Revd Edwin Barnes and the Rt Revd David Silk, also announced their intention to leave the Church of England to join the Ordinariate. The RC Bishops’ statement said that they would “be received into full communion with the Catholic Church and pro­ceed to Ordination as Catholic Priests in due course”.

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

(Northern Echo) Church of England will sell historic Zurbaran paintings

The Church Commissioners are pressing ahead with the sale of a historic set of paintings and are yet to make a decision about the fate of Auckland Castle.

The commissioners, who look after the Church of England’s assets, were at the castle yesterday to listen to views about whether it should remain as the home and office of the next Bishop of Durham.

But of the Zurbaran paintings, the commissioners’ secretary, Andrew Brown, said: “We are certainly pressing ahead with the sale.”

The set of 13 paintings, which have hung in the castle for 260 years and represent a plea for religious tolerance, are likely to be auctioned in the summer.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Art, Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry, Stewardship

(Living Church) Diocese of Massachusetts Disregards Moratorium Request

Unlike some rites for blessing same-sex couples, the rite from Massachusetts repeatedly invoked the language and theology of marriage, occasionally revising the language of the Book of Common Prayer (1979).

“We have come together in the presence of God to witness and bless the joining together of these women in Holy Matrimony,” said the liturgy authorized and celebrated by Bishop Shaw. “Holy Scripture tells us that all love is from God, and the commitment of marriage signifies to us the mystery of the union between Christ and the Church.”

The rite also invoked marriage with a reading from the opinion by Margaret H. Marshall, Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court, in the case of Goodridge v. Department of Health.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Instruments of Unity, Same-sex blessings, Seminary / Theological Education, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Almighty and everlasting God, the brightness of faithful souls, who didst bring the Gentiles to thy light and made known unto them him who is the true light, and the bright and morning star: Fill the world, we beseech thee, with thy glory, and show thyself by the radiance of thy light unto all nations; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

“‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear evil men but have tested those who call themselves apostles but are not, and found them to be false; I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then from what you have fallen, repent and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.

–Revelation 2:2-6

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Independent) The coming hunger: Record food prices put world 'in danger', says UN

Food riots, geopolitical tensions, global inflation and increasing hunger among the planet’s poorest people are the likely effects of a new surge in world food prices, which have hit an all-time high according to the United Nations.

The UN’s index of food prices ”“ an international basket comprising wheat, corn, dairy produce, meat and sugar ”“ stands at its highest since the index started in 1990, surpassing even the peaks seen during the 2008 food crisis, which prompted civil disturbances from Mexico to Indonesia.

“We are entering danger territory,” said the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s chief economist, Abdolreza Abbassian.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, Globalization, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Poverty, Science & Technology

David Neff–Sudan's Politics of Prayer

On October 23, I was one of 32 people crowded into the temporary office of the World Evangelical Alliance at Cape Town 2010. Twenty-eight of the people were representing the evangelical community of Sudan at what has been hailed as the most diverse gathering of the church ever. The rest of us were there to hear our Sudanese brothers and sisters’ hopes and apprehensions as they approached the January 9 referendum on separate statehood for southern Sudan.

The Sudanese representatives said, “Pray, pray, pray.” Pray for a fair and free election, without violent incidents or intimidation. As they took turns speaking, almost everyone earnestly repeated that phrase. They meant it.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer, Sudan

Connectivity: When Your Phone Talks To Your TV

Sony CEO Howard Stringer began a [Consumer Electronics Show 2011] press preview by pointing out that by March of this year his company will have enabled 50 million Internet-connected televisions through Google TV, the PS3 or its Wi-Fi connected Blu-ray player. But, the device that caught my eye was the Sony Erickson Xperia arc, a very pretty new smart phone that lets you watch movies on its 4.2-inch touch screen. If you happen to be watching a film on the train home from work and haven’t finished at the end of the commute, you’ll be able to connect your phone to your TV at home and finish watching on the big screen.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Science & Technology

Bishop Anthony Poggo: Southern Sudan Referendum

As I write this piece, preparations are on for Referendum in Southern Sudan which is to take place from the 9th to 15th January 2011. Due to lack of infrastructure and remote distance too many villages of Southern Sudan coupled with a very high rate of illiteracy necessitates a long period of voting. Many parts of Sudan lack good roads. To give you an idea, I am based in Kajo-Keji. During the rainy season, it takes me 10 to 12 hours to travel 260 kilometers from Kajo-Keji to Juba….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Episcopal Church of the Sudan, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sudan