Daily Archives: December 5, 2011

C of E–Note on Civil partnerships in religious premises sent to all General Synod members

In short, the position under the new arrangements is that no Church of England religious premises may become “approved premises” for the registration of civil partnerships without there having been a formal decision by the General Synod to that effect.

Read it all (3 page pdf).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Law & Legal Issues, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

For Delaware's same-sex couples, end of wait for marriage Appears near

The first such ceremony in the state is likely to be during the New Year’s Day worship service at Trinity Episcopal Church in Wilmington, where Wilmington attorneys Lisa Goodman and Drewry Fennell will say their vows in front of their families, friends and fellow congregants.

Goodman is president of Equality Delaware, the advocacy group that drafted the law and steered it through the General Assembly. Fennell is executive director of the Delaware Criminal Justice Council.

“To have someone ask for a Sunday morning service made perfect sense to me — that’s when my wedding was,” said the Rev. Patricia Downing, rector at Trinity. “It’s when the community gathers traditionally, and it’s a wonderful witness to the fact that these relationships are lived out in community.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, State Government, TEC Parishes

Leaders Piece Together an Effort to Try to Keep the Euro Intact

European leaders are working overtime on a tentative deal to try to save the euro, which they hope to complete at a crucial summit meeting in Brussels this week. But rather than one transformative leap, the deal will have several moving parts, together meant to show resolve to protect Italy and Spain, revise the economic governance of the euro zone and prevent further debt crises, officials involved in the talks say.

Important disagreements persist, and the two primary leaders of the euro zone, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, will meet on Monday in Paris to try to hammer out a joint proposal for the summit meeting. That gathering begins on Thursday evening, and is considered a last chance this year to set the euro right, even as some investors and analysts are beginning to predict its collapse.

“The survival of the euro zone is in play,” one senior European official said. “So far it’s been too little, too late.”

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

Anglican Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn to have first Female Bishop

Archdeacon [Genieve] Blackwell says part of her new role will include promoting the Church.

“There’s a particular role a bishop has in say a keeper of the vision, and part of what I’ll be doing is particularly looking towards promoting the mission of the church, in that particular region, the western region of the diocese,” she said.

Read it all.

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

What Advent Really Means

Several readers were kind enough to send this to me over the weekend, and i see it also on A.S. Haley’s blog. Watch it all –KSH.

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

(Washington Post) Robert Samuelson: The welfare state’s reckoning

We Americans fool ourselves if we ignore the parallels between Europe’s problems and our own. It’s reassuring to think them separate, and the fixation on the euro — Europe’s common currency — buttresses that mindset. But Europe’s turmoil is more than a currency crisis and was inevitable, in some form, even if the euro had never been created. It’s ultimately a crisis of the welfare state, which has grown too large to be easily supported economically. People can’t live with it — and can’t live without it. The American predicament is little different.

Government expansion was one of the 20th century’s great transformations. Wealthy nations adopted programs for education, health care, unemployment insurance, old-age assistance, public housing and income redistribution. “Public spending for these activities had been almost nonexistent at the beginning of the 20th century,” writes economist Vito Tanzi in his book “Government versus Markets.”

The numbers — to those who don’t know them — are astonishing. In 1870, all government spending was 7.3 percent of national income in the United States, 9.4 percent in Britain, 10 percent in Germany and 12.6 percent in France. By 2007, the figures were 36.6 percent for the United States, 44.6 percent for Britain, 43.9 percent for Germany and 52.6 percent for France. Military costs once dominated budgets; now, social spending does.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, Budget, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Europe, History, Medicare, Politics in General, Social Security, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

Charismatic New Birth Missionary Baptist Church Leader, Dogged by Scandal, to Stop for Now

At the height of his power, Bishop Eddie L. Long would pack tens of thousands of people into his megachurch in the suburbs of Atlanta.

With his well-cut suits, passion for Bentleys, and dynamic, accessible style of preaching, he quickly climbed the list of the nation’s most powerful religious leaders.

He built his ministry, which stretches to Kenya and other countries, on a strong message of conservative Christianity that included promises of prosperity and attacks on homosexuality.

But life inside Bishop Long’s home had been crumbling. And on Sunday, members of his dwindling congregation…[heard the news that He]… was temporarily stepping away from the pulpit to try to save his marriage

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

Kendall Harmon Answers Media Questions on the Disciplinary Committee–S.C. Bishop Matter

(What follows–which I decided may be of interest to blog readers–is the email I sent late last week in answers to a reporter’s questions; none of the wording has been changed–KSH).

1. Could you provide me with some background on the process of accusation and acquittal?

Some parishioners in the Diocese of South Carolina believed a threshold had been crossed whereby Bishop Lawrence had abandoned the communion of The Episcopal Church. They submitted evidence to support this, alleging multiple violations. Under relatively recently instituted new procedures the allegations went to the Disciplinary Board of Bishops. They met over conference call and decided the charges were sufficiently serious to merit further consideration. Bishop Lawrence was informed of this fact by the chair of the committee and the Diocese made public the allegations against the Bishop on its website. There were numerous complications in the process along the way, but eventually the committee met and “the Board” as a whole “was unable to make the conclusions essential” to certifying merit in the charges.

2. What is your opinion of the Church’s decision?

We are relieved at the decision and thankful for the hard work of the people involved. We are, however, deeply troubled by the process, a process which the diocese itself has believed is unholy and unhelpful (and most especially that it was passed unconstitutionally).A careful reading of the statement of the committee on their decision reveals a troubling underlying tone of institutional pressure to conform which is sadly lacking in grace. Even more upsetting, it reflects a larger pattern of those in The Episcopal Church’s leadership of the use the external push of canons to achieve desired ends which only the Holy Spirit and genuinely Christian relationships can produce.

3. What is Bishop Lawrence’s opinion of homosexuality? Has the Episcopal Church taken the wrong position?

The position of the diocese is the position of the ecumenical consensus of Christians East and West through the church’s history: there are only two states of human beings, singleness and marriage, and the only proper context for the expression of sexual intimacy is between a man and a woman who are married to each other. This remains the current standard of the Anglican Communion, the third largest Christian body in the world.This standard must be maintained with pastoral sensitivity by the church in local practice where we seek to balance truth and love.

As the Thirty-Nine Articles make clear, church councils can do and make errors and we believe there have been multiple erroneous decisions made by TEC senior leaders on this matter in the last decade or more. We are also more and more troubled that such wrongful decisions are increasingly allowed to be promoted in local practice, while senior leadership claims that other standards are being upheld. This has led to increasing chaos in our own province as well as sowed disunity through the Anglican Communion.

4. Many Episcopalians left the Church over its progressive theology and started their own denominations, yet lest I am mistaken Bishop Lawrence has remained with the Episcopal Church. What keeps him from leaving?

No one can decide to leave the church, the church is the body of Christ. Such a notion is a bizarre American anomaly which needs to be challenged at every opportunity.

Bishop Lawrence is seeking to be a faithful upholder of both evangelical truth and catholic unity. He is disturbed by the disorder involved in numerous decisions of those who through conscience have sought to worship God as Anglicans outside TEC because they felt they had no choice. At the same time he is deeply troubled by the continued movement of the Episcopal Church away from the gospel of Jesus Christ died and risen. The further TEC moves from Holy Scripture as the church has received it, the further the diocese will need to distance itself from the falsehoods being embraced. But the diocese is the main unit of the Anglican Church and the unity of the diocese needs to be protected as much as possible as this process is being lived out.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * By Kendall, * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Bishop of Wakefield calls for a new course in Afghanistan

The Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Revd Stephen Platten, today called on the international community to chart a new course of action in Afghanistan.

Bishop Stephen said:” It has taken us ten years to learn there is no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan, but we appear no nearer to knowing what a just political settlement might look like, let alone how to achieve it. Next week’s international conference in Bonn offers an important opportunity, maybe our last opportunity before the withdrawal of troops in 2014, to chart a new course of action for Afghanistan and the region that is capable of securing a just and lasting peace. I’m encouraged that there is growing international acceptance, not least by our own Government, that this can only be done by including all those with a role in the conflict and representatives of all those with a legitimate interest in securing peace and reconciliation. Securing a sustainable political settlement in Afghanistan is important both for the well being of the Afghan people and for Britain’s long term security.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Afghanistan, Anglican Provinces, Asia, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, War in Afghanistan

Patrick Brennan and Michael Moreland–Michael Kinsley’s Confusion

The error in this is the idea that laws are valid, indeed beyond reproach, when they emerge from democratic processes and a marketplace of ideas. But everyone’s having had a “voice” in lawmaking does not guarantee good law. Majorities sometimes make laws that deny basic and important freedoms, and American history is replete with examples of this point.

What Kinsley refers to as the Church’s “complaining” is, more realistically, the Church’s contemporary witness to the widening failure, including on the part of the U.S. Supreme Court, to require or even allow law to be based on adequate moral reasoning and respect for religious views.

Read it all.

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

Michael Kinsley–the Roman Catholic Bishops Issue Hollow Plea for Sympathy

When the Catholic Church declares that everything’s going to hell, you have to take it seriously. Nevertheless, complaints about oppression of Christians in U.S. society always amaze me. Practically everyone in the country is a Christian. (Jews are about 2 percent, Muslims less than 1 percent.) Yes, of course, Bishop Chaput is referring to believing, or at least observing, Christians. But even there, the U.S. is among the most observant countries in the world. Almost half of all Americans tell pollsters that they go to church at least once a week.

If anyone is trying to oppress Christians, he or she is doing a pretty lousy job of it. Christians — believing Christians — are everywhere you look. And even if you limit the discussion to oppression of Roman Catholics, I defy Bishop Chaput to find much of that in our country in 2011.

Read it all.

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

(Christianity Today) Michael Horton–Why We Need the Incarnation

There is no passable route from us to God. We cannot climb the ladder of mysticism, speculation, or merit. In pride, we try to rise to heaven through reason, but God descends to us in humility and self-sacrificial generosity. We seek the truth within ourselves or in universal laws derived from our moral intuition, but God surprises us””and his name is Jesus.

This is partly why the gospel is scandalous: not because it’s irrational and subjective, but precisely because here, faith refuses to remain on the Alcatraz of private opinion. The gospel is also a scandal because of what it announces: a radical rescue operation amid a radical problem (God’s wrath). The gospel exposes that our claim to be defenders of reason is based on an irrational decision to ignore history and to stand in defiance of our own intuition that we are shipwrecked and need rescue. Left to ourselves, we use reason so irrationally that we determine that God cannot enter history, even before we examine whether he has done so. Again, it’s not “neutral reason” running the show here, but a blind faith in naturalism.

While we were looking for “God” in the glorious splendor of our inner lights and universal morality, the Son became the most scandalously particular yet historically accessible revelation of God.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Christology, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Clement of Alexandria

O Lord, who didst call thy servant Clement of Alexandria from the errors of ancient philosophy that he might learn and teach the saving Gospel of Christ: Turn thy Church from the conceits of worldly wisdom and, by the Spirit of truth, guide it into all truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, 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

We beseech thee, O Lord, to purify our consciences by thy daily visitation; that when thy Son our Lord cometh, he may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Gelasian Sacramentary

Posted in Uncategorized

From the Morning Scripture Readings

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, every one who pierced him; and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

–Revelation 1:5b-8

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Patrick Cockburn: Fragile Iraq threatened by the return of civil war

Could civil war erupt again? How fragile is the ramshackle coalition government of Shia, Kurd and Sunni led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki? Iraqi leaders I spoke to say the capacity to keep the present power-sharing agreement going is far more significant for the stability of the country than any enhanced security threat from al-Qa’ida following the departure of the last American soldiers. “The leaders behave like adversaries even when they are in the same government,” says Dr Mahmoud Othman, an independent Kurdish member of parliament. “It would be better to have a government and an opposition, but nobody in Iraq feels safe enough to be in the opposition.”

Despite this anxious mood, Baghdad is less dangerous than it was in 2009, and infinitely better than it was in 2007, when more than a thousand bodies were turning up in the city every month.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Foreign Relations, Iran, Iraq, Iraq War, Middle East, Politics in General

(WSJ) For the Families of Some Debtors, Death Offers No Respite

One thing isn’t in dispute. Dwindling retirement savings, falling home values and high unemployment mean that more Americans are dying while still in debt, says Sally Hurme, an elder-law lawyer with AARP, an advocacy group for people 50 or older.

Debt among Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 is growing faster than for any other age group, according to the Federal Reserve. As of 2007, the latest year for which figures are available, the median debt level of that age group was $40,130, up from $27,458 in 2004. Research group Strategic Business Insights’ Macromonitor conducted a separate survey and found that households headed by Americans 75 and older carried an average of $7,200 in credit-card debt in 2010, more than triple the 2008 level.

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

Belfast Telegraph Editorial–Virtual funeral a net loss to friends

The other day I heard of someone whose funeral service was “streamed” to absent friends on the internet….what is the world coming to?

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Death / Burial / Funerals, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(An America Editorial) A Spirit-Led Future for the Roman Catholic Church in the U.S.

Today the church in much of the country is contracting. Schools have closed, hospitals merged, novitiates shuttered””moments rarely captured on film. With priestly and religious vocations and Mass attendance in decline, the church can no longer do all it once did. This may seem obvious, but its corollary still provokes resistance and controversy: Still more institutions will have to close””not just parishes and parochial schools, but colleges and hospitals, soup kitchens and retreat centers. The coming decades will see growth, too, in the suburbs and in Latino communities. Churches and schools will continue to be built. Yet the growth of some ministries will come in conjunction with the closing of others. Church leaders must act from a position of humility, always seeking to discern what they can accomplish with limited resources.

In the future, collaboration among Catholic institutions will be essential….

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

Why It’s Getting Harder, and Riskier, to Bet the House

In March 2008, about nine months after he bought a steel-processing business, Precision Steel Services in Warren, Mich., for some $750,000, Shailesh Kumar went to two banks in search of a $350,000 loan.

He wanted to expand the business and pay off a $290,000 debt he had with the seller, replacing an 8 percent, seven-year debt with a 6.5 percent, 20-year loan. “It would have made a huge difference in terms of cash flow and growth capital,” Mr. Kumar said.

But both lenders he was negotiating with demanded that Mr. Kumar put up equity in his own home as collateral. Mr. Kumar hesitated, and then as 2008 wore on, he watched the value of his home fall to $330,000 from $425,000, wiping out all of his equity. Eventually, the banks broke off negotiations. With no cash on hand and revenue down by some 60 percent during the first half of 2009, Mr. Kumar closed Precision Steel in July 2009….

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Personal Finance, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Economist Leader–Africa rising

Over the past decade six of the world’s ten fastest-growing countries were African. In eight of the past ten years, Africa has grown faster than East Asia, including Japan. Even allowing for the knock-on effect of the northern hemisphere’s slowdown, the IMF expects Africa to grow by 6% this year and nearly 6% in 2012, about the same as Asia….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Economy, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Politics in General

(RNS) One-third of Shelter Residents are Newly Homeless

Nearly one in five clients of Christian rescue missions said they were victims of physical violence within the past year, a 6 percent jump from the previous year, according to a new survey.

“It’s quite possible that the uptick in physical violence … is due to a friend or family member’s feeling of desperation and helplessness accompanying their unemployment and underemployment,” said John Ashmen, president of the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions (AGRM).

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Poverty, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--