Daily Archives: February 11, 2012

(Telegraph) George Carey: time to say that Christians have rights too

This new George Carey has rather abandoned the careful diplomatic language he used as an archbishop to keep different church factions in the same pews, in favour of something more earthy and apocalyptic, reflecting his own evangelical background. “There are deep forces at work in Western society, hollowing out the values of Christianity and driving them to the margins”.

Among these forces, he has the judiciary firmly in his sights following a spate of recent rulings, which, he claims, have allowed equality to “trump” the freedom of the individual in matters of belief. “Judges,” he contends, “say that the law has no obligation to the Christian faith, but I say ‘rubbish’ to that. Historically there has been a great interlocking of Christianity with our laws in this country.”

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

(Independent) Chris Bryant–Yesterday's crazy judgment against Bideford Council is Silly

I’m about as secular a former vicar and heterodox a Christian as you can get, but there are times when the secularists just make themselves look silly. Yesterday’s crazy judgment against Bideford Council is one such instance.

I mean, how uptight and sanctimonious do you have to be to want to prevent other people from starting the council meeting with prayers just because you’re a humanist?

Yes, if the majority of members want to abolish prayers, then fine, do away with them. And, yes, make it clear that attendance at prayers is not compulsory or even especially desirable. But this distinction between whether the prayers are said before the summoned meeting or as part of it is false.

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Posted in Uncategorized

(Telegraph) Prayers before council meetings ruled unlawful

A test case bid to outlaw prayers before local council meetings has been won by the National Secular Society and an atheist councillor, Clive Bone.

They challenged the practice of Bideford town council, Devon, of having religious prayers on meeting agendas.

[On Friday February 11th] Mr Justice Ouseley, sitting in London, ruled: ”The saying of prayers as part of the formal meeting of a council is not lawful under section 111 of the Local Government Act 1972, and there is no statutory power permitting the practice to continue.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

After Study, Roman Catholic Bishops reject White House's Latest Contraceptive proposal

[This new proposed approach] still mandate[s] that all insurers must include coverage for the objectionable services in all the policies they would write. At this point, it would appear that self-insuring religious employers, and religious insurance companies, are not exempt from this mandate.

·It would allow non-profit, religious employers to declare that they do not offer such coverage. But the employee and insurer may separately agree to add that coverage. The employee would not have to pay any additional amount to obtain this coverage, and the coverage would be provided as a part of the employer’s policy, not as a separate rider.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Theology

Today 'Phantom of the Opera' does its 10,000th Show on Broadway

On Saturday afternoon, Broadway’s longest-running show, “The Phantom of the Opera,” will raise the curtain for its 10,000th performance. Behind the scenes, it’ll be just another day at work for the more than two-dozen crew members who have been with the musical since opening night, Jan. 26, 1988.

Jimmy Billings, 78, the head electrician for the Majestic Theatre, began preparing the space””tearing out the stage and digging out the basement””eight months before the production was scheduled to arrive at the theater. Now he’s responsible for a crew of 10 electricians, one of whom is his son, Frank Billings.

Mr. Billings hasn’t ever seen the show, and neither has Jack Farmer, 61, who as fly floor spends the duration of the performance on catwalks behind the stage that are as high as 100 feet in the air. “I’ve seen the tops of heads and hear the songs,” he says.

Incredible–read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Theatre/Drama/Plays

Manchester United Survives Against Liverpool, winning 2-1 at home

Whew, after a good start to the second half that was far too close for comfort–KSH.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Men, Sports

(Spectator) Ursula Buchan–A churchwarden’s lament

Churchwardenship must be one of the strangest voluntary occupations you could imagine, since it is partly intensely practical and partly quietly spiritual. I inhabit a world of aumbries, risk assessments, blocked drains, corporals, coffee mornings, quinquennial architect’s reports, vestments, child protection policies, intercessions rotas, gluten-free wafers, ”˜open gardens’ and altar frontals. In the course of a week I may telephone an undertaker, polish the paten and chalice, write a Statement of Need in preparation for a Faculty application, deal with a query concerning property in the village owned by the diocese (of which I am perforce a trustee), check the communion wine hasn’t gone off, and assist the vicar on Sunday to serve the bread and wine, with as much reverence and discretion as I can muster.

I act as a sober usher at funerals, remove plastic flowers from grave sides and lock the church at night. I am partly preoccupied with ­centuries-old ritual and partly with how to raise £15,000 a year (just to stand still, without spending anything on maintenance, let alone improvements) in a village of 265 souls. And always, at the back of my mind, are pressing anxieties about the future: how we can attract sufficient numbers of the young or youngish, who won’t write us off as a weird relict sect but who understandably look for better facilities, visual aids and a more diverse liturgy?

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ministry of the Laity, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(Washington Post) As the Bombing Continues in Syria, U.S. sees few good choices

The Obama administration and its allies see few, if any, viable options to end the carnage in Syria as President Bashar al-Assad’s forces continue their offensive against the opposition to his rule in what has become the uprising’s most violent month.

With no appetite for a military intervention, a flagging Arab League initiative and the failed effort to win a U.N. Security Council resolution, officials said the current situation could continue for months. Plans for an international “Friends of Syria” conference and stepped-up humanitarian aid are seen as unlikely to change the grim calculus on the ground.

“What frustrates .”‰.”‰. us is that there are no silver bullets here,” said a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “There are no good options.”

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

(WSJ) Obama Retreats on Contraception

Some Catholics expressed relief but others were unmoved after President Barack Obama on Friday loosened a requirement that religious employers cover contraception in health plans, an issue that had turned into a political firestorm in recent weeks.

Under the new policy, religious employers opposed to most forms of birth control wouldn’t be required to directly pay for such coverage in their workers’ insurance policies. Instead, insurance companies would be required to offer contraception without explicitly charging either the religious employer or worker. That shift means the cost of providing the coverage to religious employers is likely to be spread across all policyholders by insurers.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Office of the President, Other Churches, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Science & Technology, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

God our Father, who hast created us in thine own image, with a mind to understand thy works, a heart to love thee, and a will to serve thee: Increase in us that knowledge, that love and that obedience, that we may grow daily in thy likeness; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

A Psalm of the Sons of Korah. A Song. On the holy mount stands the city he founded; the LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwelling places of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God. Among those who know me I mention Rahab and Babylon; behold, Philistia and Tyre, with Ethiopia–“this one was born there,” they say. And of Zion it shall be said, “This one and that one were born in her”; for the Most High himself will establish her. The LORD records as he registers the peoples, “This one was born there.” Singers and dancers alike say, “All my springs are in you.”

-Psalm 87

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Reuters) Health insurers question Obama birth control plan

U.S. health insurers said on Friday they feared President Barack Obama had set a new precedent by making them responsible for providing free birth control to employees of religious groups as he sought to defuse an election-year landmine….

“We are concerned about the precedent this proposed rule would set,” said Robert Zirkelbach, spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, the industry’s trade group. “As we learn more about how this rule would be operationalized, we will provide comments through the regulatory process.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Statement in response to the White House Proposal

From here:

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) sees initial opportunities in preserving the principle of religious freedom after President Obama’s announcement today. But the Conference continues to express concerns. “While there may be an openness to respond to some of our concerns, we reserve judgment on the details until we have them,” said Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, president of USCCB.

“The past three weeks have witnessed a remarkable unity of Americans from all religions or none at all worried about the erosion of religious freedom and governmental intrusion into issues of faith and morals,” he said.

“Today’s decision to revise how individuals obtain services that are morally objectionable to religious entities and people of faith is a first step in the right direction,” Cardinal-designate Dolan said. “We hope to work with the Administration to guarantee that Americans’ consciences and our religious freedom are not harmed by these regulations.”

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Office of the President, Other Churches, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Science & Technology, Theology

(AFP) President Obama tries to forge a compromise birth control plan

US President Barack Obama Friday announced a compromise to defuse a row over access to birth control which prompted election-year Republican critics to claim he was waging a war on religion.
In a concession, Obama said his government would no longer require religious organizations to offer free contraception on employee health plans and decried opponents he said had turned the issue into a “political football.”
But he stuck by the principle that all women should have free access to such services, putting the onus on insurance firms to offer birth control to those working for religious employers like Catholic hospitals.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Office of the President, Other Churches, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Science & Technology, Theology

Historic Episcopal Church in N.C. may give way to a thriving Baptist Parish

St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, an architecturally important and beloved part of downtown Germanton for generations, may be torn apart, moved and rebuilt to house a congregation in Carrboro that needs a place to worship.

Germanton Baptist Church, which sits next to the Episcopal church, is buying the land from the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, said the Rev. Jeff Stephens of the Baptist church.

“Our church is experiencing significant growth,” said Stephens, who came to the church in January 2011. “And for the Episcopal diocese to approach us about purchasing the property is an exciting opportunity because we are in desperate need of some room to grow.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Baptists, Economy, Episcopal Church (TEC), Housing/Real Estate Market, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, TEC Parishes