Daily Archives: February 12, 2012

(CSM) As birth control flap goes on, who benefits most? Santorum? Obama?

The controversy over President Obama’s order on contraception and religious institutions is not going away as a political issue.

The two sides seem to be hardening their positions. The divide between many American Catholics and their bishops remains. And it’s raising questions over who benefits most in the run-up to the presidential election….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Office of the President, Other Churches, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

(Washington Post) Marine’s suicide is only start of family’s struggle

For most of his 26 years in the military, Maj. Jeff Hackett was a standout Marine. Two tours in Iraq destroyed him.

Home from combat, he drank too much, suffered public breakdowns and was hospitalized for panic attacks. In June 2010, he killed himself.

Hackett’s suicide deeply troubled Gen. James Amos, the commandant of the Marine Corps. Hackett had been plucked from the enlisted ranks to lead Marines as an officer. He left behind a widow, four sons and more than $460,000 in debts. To Amos, Hackett was a casualty of war ”” surely the family deserved some compensation from the federal government….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Children, Defense, National Security, Military, Iraq War, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Suicide

Whitney Houston, Pop Superstar, Dies at 48–An Exquisite Voice, Ravaged by Life

Whitney Houston, the multimillion-selling singer who emerged in the 1980s as one of her generation’s greatest R & B voices, only to deteriorate through years of cocaine use and an abusive marriage, died on Saturday in Beverly Hills, Calif. She was 48.

Her death came as the music industry descended on Los Angeles for the annual celebration of the Grammy Awards, and Ms. Houston was ”” for all her difficulties over the years ”” one of its queens. She was staying at the Beverly Hilton hotel on Saturday to attend a pre-Grammy party being hosted by Clive Davis, the founder of Arista Records, who had been her pop mentor.

Ms. Houston was found in her room at 3:55 p.m., and paramedics spent close to 20 minutes trying to revive her, the authorities said. There was no immediate word on the cause of her death, but the authorities said there were no signs of foul play.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Music, Parish Ministry, Women

(Living Church) Georgette Forney–A New Pro-Life Generation

This year over 50,000 people in San Francisco gathered to Walk for Life, expressing a love for life and concern for the women affected by abortion. Two days later on Jan. 23 more than 250,000 people attended the March for Life in Washington, D.C. Both events included thousands of young participants.

As president of Anglicans for Life and cofounder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, I attended the events and hosted gatherings on both coasts. People involved with the Silent No More Awareness Campaign who have experienced abortion carry signs that say I Regret My Abortion or I Regret Lost Fatherhood. After the walk and march, 60 women and six men described how abortion affected their lives and the help they found in Christian-based healing programs.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

(USA Today) America's long-term jobless still struggling

“Every day is a struggle,” …[J.R. Childress] says in a soft drawl. “The struggle is the unknown. You’ve worked your way up the ladder and you get to a point in life and a position in work where you’re comfortable ”¦ then all of a sudden everything goes away. It’s like being thrown into a hole and you’re climbing to get up, but it’s greased. There’s no way of getting out.”

The frustrations of one 53-year-old North Carolina man are multiplied millions of times over across time zones and generations in a country still gripped by economic anxiety, despite increasing signs of recovery. And they resound in a presidential campaign pitting an incumbent defending his economic record against GOP opponents who are attacking it.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Nigerian Archbishop John Imaekhai is interviewed on Boko Haram and the situation in his Country

What is the Anglican position on the issue?

The Anglican position is very clear. We stand on upholding the sanctity of human life. We condemn in totality the terror called Boko Haram. And that we denounce it because it denounces human worth by what it is doing. We are in a democracy where people are free to practice their religion anywhere they are. So we stand on that. That Christians or people of other faith anywhere should be allowed to practice their own faith, provided they do not infringe on other people’s faith, which I know the Christians would not.

Are you satisfied with efforts the Islamic leaders and governors of the north have made to curb the menace of Boko Haram?

well! I don’t know of the efforts they have made so far. But what I do know is that it is there. This people live with them. They know them. They can fish them out, but they are not doing it. By so doing, they are obstructing the course of justice. As such they are not contributing to the well being of Nigeria. This is because people are doing certain things that are evil, and you know them. Like in Ekpoma here, if people are doing certain things we know them. And so, you see arrest being made. But when you shield them, like the man who escaped, is that not a case of protection? That is a case of protection. This thing is happening in the north. There is governance in the north. All of the governments are represented in the north. They cannot say they don’t know them. If they say they don’t know them, it means they are not doing their work.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Nigeria, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Lord, increase our faith; that relying on thee as thy children, we may trust where we cannot see, and hope where all seems doubtful, ever looking unto thee as our Father who ordereth all things well; according to the word of thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

–George Dawson

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these instructions to you so that, if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth. Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of our religion: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.

–1 Timothy 3:14-16

Posted in Uncategorized

Dr. Christopher Seitz' Sermon: Giving Power to the Faint – Isaiah 40

If you have seen the movie Chariots of Fire you will surely recall the runner Eric Liddle, son of Scottish missionaries to China, deciding out of Christian conviction not to run on the Sabbath ”“ much to the consternation of the Prince of Wales and others rooting for a British victory in the 1924 Olympic Games.

To underscore his decision the film depicts him preaching at the Church of Scotland parish in Paris to a packed house as the Olympics march on without him. The text he reads is the same as ours this morning. I spare you my effort at a Scottish accent but let your imagination supply a brogue:

“He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint.”

And not leaving out the verses: the nations are as a drop in the bucket – He brings princes to naught – Rulers are counted as nothing before him.

The clergy of the Presbyterian tribe get to choose their texts for preaching and on that occasion Liddle mounted the pulpit with heavy caliber ordnance.

In Mark’s Gospel, and especially its opening chapter, Jesus goes about his business with a resolve and a steadiness of purpose that makes even an Eric Liddle look weak by comparison. He routs demons. He heals. His teaching and his rapid movements are all executed with authority, greater than the greatest athletic discipline. The trainer Sam Mussabini tells Liddle’s fellow runner Harold Abraham he is over-striding and he can find him several seconds more. By contrast Jesus does not put a foot wrong. Step by precious step Mark chronicles a Jesus whose authority takes the form of magnetic and irresistible victories, without diminishing his compassion or his special concern for the weak, including this morning a mother-in-law with a fever in a one room house in Galilee.

“Have you not known, have you not heard, he gives power to the faint, and lifts up the lowly.”

He lifts her to new life as he lifts us all into a new realm he calls the kingdom of God. Which is wherever he is, speaking his word of life.

There is something ominous then when Mark records that while it was still very dark Jesus withdrew to, as our translation has it, “a lonely place.” “Lonely” is fine, but the word means desert. A deserted place. His withdrawal creates an anxiety on the part of the disciples who then hunt him down. Upon finding him, they offer meekly it is all the others who are asking for him. The desert did not seem the proper next destination for this man showing himself to be unlike other men.

Several things require noting in Mark’s Hemingway-like prose. The desert is often the place of solitary and difficult decision making: for Moses in the wilderness, for Elijah wrapped in his mantle, for John the Baptist. It is a place of testing, a word which in the bible means ”˜road testing’ ”“ seeing what one is made of deep down inside. “Push her ”˜til the bolts rattle.” Jesus was driven by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tested by Satan. The Prophet Isaiah is speaking to people in the desert, “in the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord.” Apart from table grace at a meal for 5000, only twice does Jesus pray in Mark’s Gospel. Here in the desert place and in Gethsemane.

To the degree that Jesus is so publicly successful in all he does, he knows his cover has been blown. It belongs to the heart of Mark’s depiction that Jesus must command silence or at least””for those he tutors””great care in understanding who he is and where God intends to take him. So after a full day in Capernaum and with little sleep he rises before everyone and goes into the desert place to pray.

The Prophet Isaiah speaks of questioning hearts, of weariness, of desert places. Jesus does not avoid these places as he marches through his own Galilean backyard. He confronts sickness and bondage and need, publicly and with great power. But his greatest display of power is entering the desert place and determining through prayer it will not have the last word. The same prayer we will see in Gethsemane is costly fellowship with his heavenly father, whose will it is he loves to do, in spite of the cost, above all else. “Let us go on, for this is why I have come out.” This is why I am here.
In one of her more penetrating insights, Dorothy Sayers put it this way (adapted):

[blockquote]Jesus of Nazareth was not a demon pretending to be human; he was in every respect a genuine living man. Yet he was not merely a man so good as to be “like God”””he was God.[/blockquote]

This is not a pious commonplace. For what it means is this: that for whatever reason God chose to make man as he is””limited and suffering and subject to sorrows and death””God had the honesty and courage to take his own medicine. Whatever game he is playing with his creation, he has kept his own rules and played fair. He can exact nothing from man that he has not exacted from himself. He has himself gone through the whole of human experience, from the trivial irritations of family life and the cramping restrictions of hard work and lack of money to the worst horrors of pain and humiliation, defeat, despair, and death. When he was a man, he played the man. He was born in poverty and died in disgrace and thought all that just the point.

Such is the character of God, and of God’s love.

Mark’s craft is subtle. He strings three scenes together – A swift healing – A global casting out of demons and all the sick of the town – And then a withdrawal to the desert to pray. The first two are not more dramatic than the third. Jesus has authority. Power to heal and release from bondage. But his power is not allergic to poverty, but is made perfect in poverty.

The soaring rhetoric of Isaiah rings from the pulpit with energy and authority as the defiant Liddle prepares to address the Sabbath crowd. But the film-maker shrewdly lets the backdrop of all that be, not a champion’s podium, or a gold medal ceremony, but instead all the agony of hard work, drudgery, and defeat. We see the kindly Aubrey Montague, covered in mud, exhausted, hands on his knees searching for breath, the hurdles having defeated him – Harold Abraham collapsing in a heap, having been badly beaten in the grueling 200 meters by Americans Shultz and Paddock.

We all want to live a life without pain or sorrow, and properly discipline ourselves for victories, hard won, and rich in their rewards. But inside us and around all of us is sickness, and bondage, and fear; things larger ourselves, and yes seasons of defeat. Desert places.

“Spirituality” is a popular idea today, yet the Bible has no word for it. Still, the psalms and Isaiah know what the word is getting at. ”˜They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.’ To wait upon the Lord in expectation of renewal is the discipline of spirituality. We must wait, must learn to wait on God, because God is doing things in and through our suffering and our fears and our struggles. Jesus goes into the desert place while it is still very dark. That image is crucial, set against all the drama of healing and exorcism, all the authority properly seen to make Jesus who he is; a man unlike any who walked among us; a man whose very word makes men drop their nets; who accepts the anxious searching of those he has chosen, because he will transform it and them.

It is his trip into the desert that is the pledge he will go the distance for you and me. There he will face the sure knowledge that his fame and his victories will lead to the Cross, and there he will pray for the resolve that empowers him to say: I am not returning for a ticker tape parade in Capernaum, but must go on to all the towns in Galilee before the night, and in time the final night, cometh. For that is why I came out.

To follow this Jesus today is not to be handed a GPS device. God will not protect us from what he will perfect us through. We might think that a grand idea were it not for the fact that he has done this very thing himself, in and through his own son.

When he was a man he played the man, and in him every desert place we are asked to go we find him there ahead of us.

“They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up as eagles. They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk on and not faint.”

The Reverend Canon Dr. Christopher Seitz is Professor of Biblical Interpretation at Wycliffe College, Toronto and Canon Theologian in the Diocese of Dallas

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Newsday's Front Page Picture of Jeremy Lin this Morning

Check it out.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Men, Sports

Video of Jeremy Lin's Spectacular 38 point performance Against Los Angeles Last Night

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Men, Sports

Notable and Quotable

But out on the court after the Knicks’ so-called junior varsity won its fourth straight game, a gentleman who has seen it all at the self-proclaimed World’s Most Famous Arena ”” or believed he had ”” shook his head in giddy disbelief.

“I’ve been coming here since high school in 1955,” said Cal Ramsey, leaning on a cane in the runway. “I’ve never seen anything like this in my life, just out of nowhere.”

—From a New York Times article today on Jeremy Lin’s spectacular performance in last night’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Men, Sports

From Ivy Halls to the Garden, Surprise Star Jeremy Lin Jolts the N.B.A.

Lin received no college scholarship offers, despite leading his Palo Alto High School team to a 32-1 record and the California championship. At Harvard, he was twice named to the all-Ivy League first team and delivered a signature 30-point performance against 12th-ranked Connecticut.

At draft time, in June 2010, Lin was again overlooked. N.B.A. teams had their doubts ”” about his defense, about his jump shot, about his ability to keep up with the league’s elite athletes….

The qualities that make Lin unique, and seemingly held him back, are now the qualities that make him a sensation. Knicks fans were clamoring for Lin before he threw his first pass at the Garden. They roar louder for his shifty layups in traffic than they do for Carmelo Anthony’s….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Men, Sports

Benedict XVI–Lessons in prayer from the cry of Jesus from the Cross

In comments in Italian Pope Benedict said: “Jesus prays at the time of ultimate rejection by men, at the time of abandonment; he prays, however, aware of the presence of God the Father in this hour in which he feels the human drama of death. But we wonder: how could a God so powerful not intervene to save his Son from this terrible ordeal? It is important to understand that the prayer of Jesus is not the cry of one who goes to meet death with despair, nor is it the cry of one who knows himself to be abandoned. Jesus then makes his Psalm 22, the Psalm of the people of Israel that suffers, and in this way not only takes upon Himself the punishment of his people, but also that of all men who suffer from the oppression of evil and at the same time, brings all of this to the heart of God himself in the certainty that his cry will be heard in the resurrection”.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

(ENS) General Seminary partners with the Episcopal Church Center on social media

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Episcopal Church (TEC), Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

The Episcopal Diocese of Texas Gathers in Council this Weekend

As leader of one of the 110 dioceses in the Episcopal Church, [Bishop Andy] Doyle said he puts an emphasis on “doing things” instead of “telling people to do things.”

His diocese includes more than 1,400 ministries which range in focus from feeding the poor, sick or elderly, building homes for those affected by natural disasters and buying mosquito nets for African families to protect them from malaria.

“The Episcopal church is a church that very much loves Jesus Christ and is interested in people and getting to know them,” he said. “We have a lot of diversity. God made a lot of different kinds of folks.”

Read it all and please note that the Council has a blog.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils

(San Antonio Express) Ex-Anglican Catholics to welcome new leader

Catholics hope their Episcopal neighbors see the initiative positively, as an unprecedented way of honoring the Anglican tradition and its core liturgy, in the Book of Common Prayer, by officially making a place for it in the Catholic Church.

“We aren’t about trying to break up congregations or sheep-stealing. We respect the integrity of these communities,” [Jeffrey] Steenson said. “We’re not about competing for souls. … There is a desire to work together to build up church unity.”

Joseph Britton, dean of Berkeley Divinity School at Yale University, said even from an Anglican perspective, this can be seen as a positive move that opens further opportunities for dialogue.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Ecumenical Relations, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Roman Catholic, TEC Bishops