Daily Archives: January 10, 2011

Mark Pinsky–Churches mustn't neglect the disabled

In the Gospel of Luke, early Christians are urged to “invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind” (14:13) to their gatherings. But how far can ”” or should ”” modern religious congregations go to accommodate people with physical or intellectual disabilities?

With the Baby Boom generation about to age into infirmity, and wounded war veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan in growing numbers, the issue of worshippers with disabilities will very soon overwhelm ethical and theological abstraction….

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care

Post-Gazette Editorial–Familiar rampage: American freedom was one of the victims in Tucson

What made this rampage worse than others was the pall it cast over the freedom and ability to perform elected public service — the necessity for political officials to interact openly with their constituents, the need for the public to approach freely the people they send to office. Whatever his intent, Jared Lee Loughner and the rounds he fired took aim on this American form of democratic discourse and, in so doing, put a treasured right of all citizens in jeopardy.

When investigators executed a search warrant at Mr. Loughner’s home, they found an envelope with messages saying, “I planned ahead,” “My assassination” and the name “Giffords.” His YouTube videos contained rambling and incoherent passages, some of them about his becoming the treasurer of a new currency, his belief that he had powers of mind control and the need to fix “English grammar structure” in a congressional district he believed was mostly illiterate.

Newly installed Speaker of the House John Boehner, a Republican, was right Saturday when he said “an attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Psychology, Senate, State Government, Violence

'Pushing back the darkness' — Alabama Episcopalians continue Haitian missions

There’s rubble in the streets, cholera in the water, anger among the voters – and glimmers of hope in surprising places in Haiti, say Episcopal volunteers.

A team of physicians, nurses and others will be returning to Haiti for the 10th trip this year organized by Episcopalians. The week-long mission, which starts Saturday, will fall on the anniversary of the deadly earthquake that razed much of Port au Prince.

“Haiti is probably in one of the darkest times in its entire history,” said the Rev. Deacon Dave Drachlis of St. Thomas Episcopal Church, who will be returning for his eighth mission this year. “But, believe it or not, there is hope. Hope comes in the presence of people who support our ministries there.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Caribbean, Episcopal Church (TEC), Haiti, Missions, Parish Ministry

(Sunday Business Post) Anglican meeting to go ahead despite Conscientious Objectors Not Being Presen

There are no plans to cancel the meeting of Anglican Church leaders in Dublin this month, despite a boycott by up to a quarter of the primates, a senior Anglican has confirmed.

Up to ten of the leaders of the Anglican Communion’s 38 provinces have said they won’t attend the biennial meeting because of the presence of Katharine Jefferts-Schori, the presiding bishop of the Episcopalian Church of the United States and a supporter of gay bishops and same-sex marriage.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, England / UK, Ireland

In Winnipeg, City congregations gather at arena to worship and Pray

Fifty-one Winnipeg churches, representing Anglican, Baptist, Mennonite, Presbyterian and Pentecostal denominations, as well as various evangelical groups, closed their doors Sunday morning, encouraging their members to attend the worship service at the downtown hockey arena instead.

“We had an 8:30 a.m. service and our main service is closed,” explained Rev. Ken Turnbull of St. Aidan’s Anglican Church from his seat in the arena. “I think it’s very important to do things together and to gather together for worship.”

“One thing I really like about this is a lot of Christians coming together and standing up and being counted as Christian and not hiding that,” said Cathie Chapman, who skipped services at her own church, which didn’t officially participate in the service.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Canada, Ecumenical Relations, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

CBS' 60 Minutes on Slot Machine Gambling Addiction in the U.S.

“I found that the machines were wonderful. I loved the excitement. I loved the people, I loved the camaraderie, the high fives when you win. It was just very exciting,” Sandi Hall told Stahl.

Hall lives only a short drive from thousands of slot machines in Rhode Island and Connecticut. Married with two daughters, she worked in a bookstore, and used to look at the casinos as an entertaining break. But eventually she was playing slots so much, she burned through her retirement funds.

“My every thought and every being, if I wasn’t at the casino, I was figuring out how I was going to get there, where was I going to get the money,” she remembered.

When Stahl pointed out she sounds like a heroin addict, Hall said, “It takes your soul, it takes your humanity. You drive home, pounding the steering wheel, promising yourself you’re never going to go again, you’re never going to do it again. And you know that you’re going down, and you’re going down, and you’re going down. I became from a nice person, I became a manipulative, deceitful, lying person.”

Read or watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Gambling, Psychology, Science & Technology

(Las Vegas Sun) Mary Bredlau found her calling in reaching out to people in the greatest of pain

The Rev. Mary Bredlau has officiated at 350 to 500 funerals a year for 15 years. That’s 4,500 to 7,500 souls.

The teenagers are the hardest, especially the murders and suicides.

“To see the pain in the parents’ eyes, the despair and the shock in the other children’s eyes. Those are the most emotional,” she says.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Death / Burial / Funerals, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care

Pope calls interfaith meeting in Assisi

Pope Benedict XVI has announced a gathering in Assisi of top leaders of all the world’s faiths to work together for peace following a wave of attacks on Christian minorities.

The 83-year-old Pope made the surprise announcement at the Angelus in St Peter’s Square on New Year’s Day, which the Church marked as the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God and forty-fourth World Day of Peace. It came just hours after a midnight terrorist bombing killed 21 people outside a Coptic church in Egypt.

The gathering of religious leaders next October in Assisi will mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the historic interfaith prayer meeting that John Paul II held in St Francis’ home town on 27 October 1986. But Pope Benedict’s decision to repeat the event is particularly significant given the fact that as cardinal-prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith he had voiced serious reservations about Pope John Paul’s original initiative, expressing concerns that it could be used to support syncretism and religious relativism.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Inter-Faith Relations, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

In Australia, the Roman Catholics Launch Catholics Come Home to seek the Lapsed

Lapsed Catholics will be wooed as never before later this year when the church in Australia launches Catholics Come Home, a media campaign credited with lifting mass attendances in the US by up to 17 per cent.

Archbishop of Sydney George Pell is sending a team to Chicago to study and replicate the program, which tells non-practising Catholics: “There is a big family that loves you and misses you. It’s a wonderful adventure – you have nothing to lose and everything to gain – and we say welcome home.”

The television advertisements, Facebook entries and tweets also discuss the church’s role in schools, universities, health care and charitable works. “Progress has been good in turning around mass attendances so I’m sending over a small team to see what it might do for the church in Australia,” Pell says.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, Evangelism and Church Growth, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Roman Catholic

A Prayer for the Feast Day of William Laud

Keep us, O Lord, constant in faith and zealous in witness, that, like thy servant William Laud, we may live in thy fear, die in thy favor, and rest in thy peace; for the sake of Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Almighty God, who at the baptism of thy blessed Son Jesus Christ in the river Jordan didst manifest his glorious Godhead: Grant, we beseech thee, that the brightness of his presence may shine in our hearts, and his glory be set forth in our lives; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Scottish Prayer Book

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, and had a leather girdle around his waist, and ate locusts and wild honey. 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. 8 I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased.”

–Mark 1:6-11

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(LA Times) Southern Sudan votes on secession

They walked in their best clothes past villages and down dirt roads until they came to the church to fold away the pain of war and redraw the map of Africa in a referendum that began Sunday for an independent southern Sudan.

They carried walking sticks and memories of those lost in decades of bloodshed to a polling station to mark a moment in history and begin a chance for reinvention in one of the poorest corners of the continent. They cast their ballots as a children’s choir sang from a radio and a goat- skin drum thumped in the distance.

“This ends our slavery at the hands of the Arabs,” said Kasimiro Mogga Joseph, a priest at the All Saints Roman Catholic Church. “The Arabs considered us animals. They wanted this land but not its people. Being a priest, you feel the difficulties of your parishioners. They came to us crying and suffering during the war. We took them to hospitals and gave them hope.”

Read it all and please join me in praying this week for the Sudan–KSH.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, History, Politics in General, Sudan, Violence

Notable and Quotable

Nevertheless, Harris’s project to articulate a standard of morality, though it does not fully succeed, is especially important in light of the moral weakness that so frequently holds hands with today’s atheism. He quotes Joshua Greene, a neuroscientist, who argues that “there is sufficient uniformity in people’s underlying moral outlooks to warrant speaking as if there is a fact of the matter about what’s ”˜right’ or ”˜wrong,’ ”˜just’ or ”˜unjust.’” Greene claims that articulating a natural-law theory, even if it could be done, is pointless. Most of us, he reasons, believe in the same moral ideas, so we don’t need to articulate them so formally.

As we are locked in an open-ended battle with terrorists and leaders for whom Greene’s “sufficient uniformity” of morality is a fiction, we must not only do good but also defend good. To his credit, this is not lost on Sam Harris. He describes an encounter with a current member of President Obama’s Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, who lectures him on the Taliban. “You could never say that they were wrong,” she says, for they are entitled to their own valid beliefs. That Harris strains to counter such relativism with charts, graphs, and cat scans is a moral, if ineffective, undertaking in itself.

–Aaron Rothstein in a review of Sam Harris’ “The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values” in the January, 2011, Commentary, p.56

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Atheism, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Other Faiths, Psychology, Science & Technology, Theology

Religious Leaders Call for New Efforts to Lower New York's ”˜Chilling’ Abortion Rate

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York joined other local religious leaders on Thursday in calling for a new effort to reduce the number of abortions in the city. The annual figure has averaged 90,000 in recent years, or about 40 percent of all pregnancies, twice the national rate.

The archbishop, at a news conference in Manhattan, called the citywide statistics “downright chilling.”

But while holding to the conviction that abortion is morally wrong, Archbishop Dolan and the others said they were adopting a more pragmatic goal for New York than abolishing abortion: “Let’s see to it that abortion is rare,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

(SMH) Dick Gross–Childhood is seen as critical in the battle for the brain and soul

…I have a somewhat jaundiced view of the competing battles to proselytise the young. The propaganda can be self-defeating. Adults have an endless moral panic about the young. We have some justifiable fears that they will kill themselves sticking junk up their arms or drink down their gullets. But we take those justifiable (although sometimes exaggerated) fears and extend them to other areas such as their cultural ignorance and moral turpitude. I lament the fact that my kids don’t know the King James Bible and are religiously illiterate. But there is nothing I can do about it. And I think there is not much that the educational bovver boys of faith and the supine politicians they have snared can do either. I reckon the Chaplaincy Program is pouring an immoral amount of money down the educational toilet. There is nothing more boring and alienating than RE teachers. They are the unwittingly the assault pioneers of unbelief.

So let us think more realistically about the epistemological inspirations of the young. Let us put aside our moral panic. Let us be open-minded about letting both the godless and the godly have their spaces. Remember the mullahs of Iran. They have lost the battle for the hearts and minds of the young. I suspect that the Christian mullahs of Australia will share the same fate as they try to shove God down the unwilling or bored throats of the young. For kids are not anti-God. They just have so many other things to think about.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, Children, Education, Religion & Culture

ELCA, Episcopal Church Mark 10th Anniversary of Full Communion

Ten years ago this week, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and The Episcopal Church launched a relationship of shared mission and ministry in a worship service and ceremony at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

This relationship, known as full communion, is described in Called to Common Mission: A Lutheran Proposal for a Revision of the Concordat of Agreement adopted by both churches. The document states: “We do not know to what new, recovered, or continuing tasks of mission this Concordat will lead our churches, but we give thanks to God for leading us to this point. We entrust ourselves to that leading in the future, confident that our full communion will be a witness to the gift and goal already present in Christ, ‘so that God may be all in all’ (I Corinthians 15:28).”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Ecumenical Relations, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lutheran, Other Churches

Documents of the Upcoming 216th Annual Council of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia (January 20-22)

Read it all taking special note of the resolutions (starting on page 37), especially R-2, R-8 and R-9.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Virginia

A.S. Haley–ECUSA's Fort Worth Attorney Charged with Unprofessional Conduct

What I wish to call your attention to in this post is something that had completely escaped me in previous visits to the multifarious litigation occurring in Fort Worth. One of the attorneys for Bishop Ohl and the Local Episcopal Parties, Jonathan Nelson (he argued at the initial hearings in front of Judge Chupp), who is now on his own, was earlier in a law partnership in Fort Worth called Broude, Nelson & Harrington, P.C. As a member of that law firm, he represented the Corporation of the Diocese of Fort Worth in a 1993 lawsuit against the Rev. M. L. McCauley, of the Church of the Holy Apostles, who had voted with his vestry to leave the Diocese and join the Antiochean Orthodox Church.

Bishop Iker was then the Co-Adjutor of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, scheduled in 1994 to succeed the Rt. Rev. Clarence C. Pope, Jr., who as the diocesan was also the head of the associated Corporation. That Corporation, in turn, was established to hold legal title to the real property of all the parishes in the Diocese — including the Church of the Holy Apostles. Thus when the Rev. McCauley and his vestry claimed the right to continue to occupy the parish’s property after they had joined the Orthodox Church, the Corporation of the Diocese had to become the plaintiff in a lawsuit filed to oust them from possession. The attorney who participated in drafting the complaint and supporting affidavits for the plaintiff Corporation, and who signed his name to the pleadings, was Jonathan Nelson, of Broude, Nelson & Harrington, P.C., Fort Worth, Texas.

Now that same Jonathan Nelson is representing the minority who, with their provisional bishop, has brought suit against Bishop Iker and the other trustees of the diocesan Corporation. And he has the gall to offer, on behalf of his current clients, the very pleadings and affidavits which he mainly drafted in the 1993 lawsuit as ostensible “judicial admissions” on the part of his former clients.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Presiding Bishop, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology

The Economist–The battle ahead on public sector unions

“Industrial relations” are back at the heart of politics””not as an old-fashioned clash between capital and labour, fought out so brutally in the Thatcherite 1980s, but as one between taxpayers and what William Cobbett, one of the great British liberals, used to refer to as “tax eaters”. People in the private sector are only just beginning to understand how much of a banquet public-sector unions have been having at everybody else’s expense…. In many rich countries wages are on average higher in the state sector, pensions hugely better and jobs far more secure. Even if many individual state workers do magnificent jobs, their unions have blocked reform at every turn. In both America and Europe it is almost as hard to reward an outstanding teacher as it is to sack a useless one.

While union membership has collapsed in the private sector over the past 30 years (from 44% of the workforce to 15% in Britain and from 33% to 15% in America), it has remained buoyant in the public sector. In Britain over half the workers are unionised. In America the figure is now 36% (compared with just 11% in 1960). In much of continental Europe most civil servants belong to unions, albeit ones that straddle the private sector as well. And in public services union power is magnified not just by strikers’ ability to shut down monopolies that everyone needs without seeing their employer go bust, but also by their political clout over those employers.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Pensions, Personal Finance, Politics in General, State Government, Taxes, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government