Daily Archives: October 28, 2011

(Courier-Journal) Peter-Smith: Episcopalians now below 2 million

The Episcopal Church has marked a grim milestone when it reported membership has dipped below 2 million within the United States for the first time in decades.

It had 1,951,907 stateside members in 2010, down 3 percent from the previous year, according to its research office.

Membership has been steadily declining since the 1960s, when it and several other historic Protestant denominations were at the peak of their membership and cultural influence. There have been long-running debates over the causes of the declines. Theories include liberal trends in theology and/or sexuality, the wearisome fighting over those issues and the declining birth rates of the denominations’ largely white, better-educated membership.

Read it all.

Update: There is more on this there as well.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Data

Francis X. Rocca: Pope Benedict's Interfaith Outreach

Benedict’s decision to include agnostics, to whom he dedicated the conclusion of his address, was the choice most revealing of his priorities. In acknowledgment of their presence, Thursday’s official program called for “reflection and/or prayer,” and the day itself was rechristened one of “reflection, dialogue and prayer.” Thus at a gathering of religious leaders, worship had become optional.

This change, redefining the group as united not by faith but by the desire for peace and justice, ruled out any interpretation of their meeting as an advertisement for religious syncretism. Even more importantly, opening the dialogue to nonreligious “seekers of the truth” underscored one of the major themes of Benedict’s pontificate: the need for Western culture to restore its dialogue between faith and reason, and thus to rehabilitate the concept of objective truth in the realms of metaphysics and ethics.

Read it all.

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

Terry Mattingly–Former New York Times editor describes paper's social values

Asked directly if the Times slants its coverage to favor “Democrats and liberals,”… [now former editor Tim Keller] added: “Aside from the liberal values, sort of social values thing that I talked about, no, I don’t think that it does.”

The bottom line: Keller insists the newspaper he ran for eight years is playing it straight in its political coverage.

However, he admitted it has an urban, liberal bias when it comes to stories about social issues. And what are America’s hot-button social issues? Any list would include sex, salvation, abortion, euthanasia, gay rights, cloning and a few other sensitive matters that are inevitably linked to religion.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Media, Religion & Culture

Calling Bankers’ Bluff, Merkel Won Europe a Debt Plan

…the real drama Thursday was in the meeting with the bankers, held in the offices of Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council, in the huge modern building here where the summit meeting was being held. Besides Mr. Van Rompuy, Mrs. Merkel and Mr. Sarkozy, others present were Christine Lagarde, the former French finance minister who runs the International Monetary Fund; José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission; and Jean-Claude Juncker, chairman of the euro zone finance ministers.

While they gave in, the bankers, represented by Charles Dallara, managing director of the Institute of International Finance, praised the deal. Later on Thursday, he explained to reporters that the bankers, too, were frightened of setting off a credit event, activating credit default swaps and other complex financial instruments, with unclear but potentially dire consequences for the global financial system.

“We attached a great deal of significance to this being voluntary,” Mr. Dallara said. “We knew what it would take in our mind in terms of the basic elements to be voluntary. It was not at all times clear through the negotiations that all parties placed the same priority on this being voluntary,” he said, an indirect reference to the German chancellor.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Foreign Relations, France, Germany, Greece, Politics in General, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

To Be Young, Hip and Mormon

For decades, the popular image of Mormon style has been shaped by clean-cut young missionaries on bicycles in dark suits, white shirts and skinny black ties ”” and more recently by the sculptured coif of the presidential candidate Mitt Romney or the sporty style of the motocross-bike-riding Jon Huntsman, another Republican presidential candidate.

But the boundaries of Mormon style are expanding. The highly visible “I’m a Mormon” ad campaign (the subject of a major push on television, billboards, the subway and the Internet) seeks to quash strait-laced stereotypes by showing off a cool, diverse set of Mormons, including, besides Mr. [Brandon] Flowers, a leather-clad Harley aficionado, knit-cap-wearing professional skateboarder and an R & B singer with a shaved head.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Economy, Mormons, Other Faiths, Personal Finance, Religion & Culture, Young Adults

A.S. Haley on the New Questions the Presiding Bishop needs to Answer Re: Bede Parry

Bishop Jefferts Schori, it is time for you to come out of your cocoon of silence on this topic, as well. The entire Episcopal Church (USA) deserves the truth as to why you regarded a Catholic priest with such a prior record — known to you after being “warned” by his Abbot — as morally fit for reception as a priest into your own Diocese.

Particularly, your Church deserves to know how you reconciled the version of the facts which Father Parry admits he gave you, which was incomplete and admitted only one prior offense in 1987, with the version you heard from his Abbot — and then decided to receive him despite his lies to you.

More particularly, we need to have your own word on the record as to whether or not you received and read the psychological report on Father Parry which Abbot Polan had in his possession and which ended, as Abbot Polan apparently admitted he told you, with a conclusion to the effect that Bede Parry had a propensity to offend again. (This is the same report which the lawsuit filed by one of Fr. Parry’s adolescent victims alleges was sent to you for your information, even though Bishop Edwards of Nevada now denies that it is in the files he has on Fr. Parry.)

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Presiding Bishop, Roman Catholic, TEC Parishes, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology

Fascinating Email Exchange raises even more questions about the Presiding Bishop/Bede Parry Case

Patrick J Marker wrote to Abbot Gregory Polan here including this:

*** During our first telephone conversation, on Monday, April 25, 2011, you shared the following information:

1) You heard something about Bede’s 1981 misconduct at St. John’s “at the time of the incident”.

2) You were aware of an incident involving Bede Parry with a member of the abbey’s choir in the summer of 1987.

3) Bede Parry was sent to New Mexico soon after the 1987 incident.

4) When Bede Parry tried to enter another monastery, he took psychological tests that showed a “proclivity toward sexual misconduct with minors.”

5) You called Parry’s boss at an ambulance company and a woman bishop with the Episcopal Church with the information.

6) You identified the woman bishop as Katharine Jefferts Schori.

7) You told Katharine Jefferts Schori not only about the allegations [plural] against Bede, but also of Bede’s attempt to join another monastery, the psychological testing and his “proclivity”.

8 ) That Katharine Jefferts Schori, despite your revelations, “allowed him to continue to work.”

Read it all carefully.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Presiding Bishop, Roman Catholic, TEC Parishes, TEC Polity & Canons

David Ould on a TEC website prayer Omission and then *Amendment*

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Spirituality/Prayer

CEN–US Executive Council rejects Anglican Covenant

The report further noted that “to adopt the current version would mean changes to both the Constitution and Canons which would significantly alter our current understanding of what it means to be an autonomous province.”

While the executive council remained committed to “continuing engagement in thoughtful dialogue within the Anglican Communion around issues that may be divisive,” it could not “recommend adoption of the covenant in its present form.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Covenant, Episcopal Church (TEC), Executive Council

(Church Times) Church of England confronts News Corp

The Church of England has made a series of demands of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, after a face-to-face meeting with directors in which it raised “serious ethical concerns” about the company, after the phone-hacking scandal.

The secretary to the Church’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG), Edward Mason, flew to the United States to attend the News Corp shareholders’ meeting and vote against the re-election of Rupert Murdoch’s sons, James and Lachlan, to the board of directors.

The Church holds $6 million in shares in News Corp, and wants to use its influence to try to change the company’s corporate governance.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Stock Market, Theology

David Briggs–Religious but not spiritual: The high costs of ignoring personal piety

Men would rather watch Monday Night Football than go shopping. Eating too many Hardees Monster Thickburgers is linked to obesity. Texting while driving is a bad idea.

There are times when research findings are so obvious they are almost beyond questioning. So it is puzzling that growing evidence showing the importance of congregations cultivating the spiritual lives of the faithful is so routinely ignored.

Puzzling, and damaging to the health of many of the nation’s churches, especially those most in need of revival.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Adult Education, America/U.S.A., Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Simon and Saint Jude

O God, we thank thee for the glorious company of the apostles, and especially on this day for Simon and Jude; and we pray thee that, as they were faithful and zealous in their mission, so we may with ardent devotion make known the love and mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Almighty God, whose sovereign power none can make void: Give us faith to stand calm and undismayed amid the tumults of the world, knowing that all things work together for good to them that love thee; through thy beloved Son our Saviour Jesus Christ.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow on earth or sea or against any tree. Then I saw another angel ascend from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God upon their foreheads.” And I heard the number of the sealed, a hundred and forty-four thousand sealed, out of every tribe of the sons of Israel…

–Revelation 7:1-4

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Lord Carey–The Occupy protest at St Paul's Cathedral – a parable of our times

The inevitable resignation of the Canon Chancellor of St Paul’s, Giles Fraser, via the predictable medium of Twitter, is a sad day for one of our great national churches. But the departure of this able man, and now the planned reopening of the cathedral, should at least bring to an end the hand-wringing and posturing of the past two weeks. My paramount concern throughout has been that the reputation of Christianity is being damaged by the episode, and, more widely, that the possibility of fruitful and peaceful protest has been brought into disrepute.

The Blitz only closed St Paul’s for four days. By contrast, the Occupy London Stock Exchange protesters, camped outside Wren’s masterpiece, managed to put it out of business for a week. It has been a debacle that should prompt urgent public debate both within the Church of England, and throughout society at large.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Economy, England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Stock Market, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Urban/City Life and Issues

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard–Europe’s Punishment Union

As Sir John Major wrote this morning in the FT, this does not solve EMU’s fundamental problem, which is the 30pc gap in competitiveness between North and South, and Germany’s colossal intra-EMU trade surplus at the expense of Club Med deficit states.

It is therefore unlikely to succeed. It means that Italy, Spain, Portugal, et al must close the gap with Germany by austerity alone, risking a Fisherite debt deflation spiral. As I have written many times, this is a destructive and intellectually incoherent policy, akin to the 1930s Gold Standard. It risks conjuring the very demons that Mrs Merkel warns against.

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, Foreign Relations, France, Germany, Greece, Politics in General, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

(The Hill) Healthcare reform penalizes married couples, says report

The report is expected to be made public ahead of an Oversight Health panel hearing on Thursday. The title of the hearing is “ObamaCare’s Hidden Marriage Penalty and its Impact on the Deficit.”

The report concludes that fewer than 2 million couples ”” out of 60 million nationwide ”” are projected to benefit from the insurance subsidies, while “almost half of the beneficiaries of the tax credit will be unmarried individuals without dependent children.”

“These numbers,” the report says, “suggest that an impact of the [law’s] health insurance tax credit will be to introduce a significant new marriage penalty into the tax code.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Economy, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance, The U.S. Government

Nicholas Kristof–Crony Capitalism Comes Home

I’m as passionate a believer in capitalism as anyone. My Krzysztofowicz cousins (who didn’t shorten the family name) lived in Poland, and their experience with Communism taught me that the way to raise living standards is capitalism.

But, in recent years, some financiers have chosen to live in a government-backed featherbed. Their platform seems to be socialism for tycoons and capitalism for the rest of us. They’re not evil at all. But when the system allows you more than your fair share, it’s human to grab. That’s what explains featherbedding by both unions and tycoons, and both are impediments to a well-functioning market economy.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Stock Market, The Banking System/Sector, Theology

Robert Sirico–The Vatican's Monetary Wisdom

…rare is the analysis that traces all these problems back to the structural change in money that was brought about in the early 1970s.

We went from a hard-money regime, in which there were restrictions on the power of central banks and financial institutions to create money and credit, to one where money became purely paper. There were no restrictions remaining on the power of governments to finance unlimited debt. Banks could create credit seemingly without limit. Central banks became the real power in the world economy.

None of this was true under a gold standard. That system limits the expansion of credit by an indelible physical fact. There was a limit, a check, a rule that went beyond the whim of financial masters and politicians. The Vatican seems to understand this.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, European Central Bank, Federal Reserve, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Other Churches, Politics in General, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, Stock Market, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government, Theology