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Daily Archives: March 9, 2012
Given that the Government’s plans to legalise gay marriage have been strongly and very publicly opposed by leading members of the Church of England ”“ including a former Archbishop of Canterbury and the current Archbishop of York ”“ it would have been unrealistic to expect anything like a welcome from the generally more conservative hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. Even so, the ferocity of the language used in a newspaper article…[last weekend] by Cardinal Keith O’Brien, leader of the church in Scotland and the most senior Roman Catholic cleric in Britain, almost takes the breath away.
Ray Ozzie, the man who succeeded Bill Gates as Microsoft’s tech visionary, believes the world has moved past the personal computer, potentially leaving behind the world’s largest software company.
The PC, which was Microsoft’s foundation and still determines the company’s financial performance, has been nudged aside by powerful phones and tablets running Apple and Google software, the former Microsoft executive said.
“People argue about ‘are we in a post-PC world?’. Why are we arguing? Of course we are in a post-PC world,” Ozzie said at a technology conference run by tech blog GeekWire in Seattle on Wednesday.
In 2009, the 76th General Convention of The Episcopal Church directed the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to develop theological and liturgical resources for blessing same-gender relationships (Resolution 2009-C056). This document contains some of the resources the Commission has developed:
”¢ Faith, Hope, and Love: Theological Resources for Blessing Same-Gender Relationships
”¢ The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant: Liturgical Resources for Blessing Same-Gender Relationships
”¢ Declaration of Intention (intended to be parallel to the declaration called for in Canon I.18.3 (e-g)
This portion of the report of the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music is intended for the consideration of the 77th General Convention (2012) of The Episcopal Church, and for study in preparation for that Convention. None of the material in this document is authorized for use in The Episcopal Church.
The agency says it has strengthened the electronic system used to screen returns for potentially fraudulent refund claims by thieves who often use other people’s Social Security numbers or other identifying information. When the computer detects reason to suspect fraud, it refers a tax return for investigation, holding up the refund for weeks.
This and other computer glitches have slowed refunds and led to widespread unhappiness, particularly among low- and moderate-income people, who often receive significant cash refunds thanks to a range of tax credits and often rely on that money to pay bills.
Poverty has not been front and center in American political debate since the passage of the welfare reform act in 1996.
But a new book may have started to change that.
Conservative scholar Charles Murray, who created intense partisan conflict with “The Bell Curve,” his 1994 book on inheritance and intelligence, has now touched a nerve with “Coming Apart: the State of White America, 1960-2010.”
In it, he argues that there is a growing gap between highly educated, married, hardworking, affluent Americans and unmarried, less educated, chronically unemployed poorer Americans.
With one run of the printing presses, he has reignited the culture wars.
A New Jersey church – already a bit different in that its three congregations gather weekly at two hotels and a middle school – put a new spin on the collection plate Sunday by having congregants take cash-filled envelopes from the plate in hopes that the money will be put to charitable use.
“People are cynical about religion and expect to come to church and be shaken down, but really, it’s all God’s money,” Liquid Church pastor Tim Lucas said prior to Sunday services. “Every bill in the U.S. economy says ‘In God we trust,’ and we’re going to put that to the test.”
Read it all. Please note that I know churches here both in the Diocese and in the area who have done this; and they have been blessed–KSH.
Asked about their views on same-sex marriage this week, nine sigÂnatories of a letter sent to the LonÂdon representatives of the General Synod calling for the freedom to bless civil partnerships in church said that they would support the Government’s proposals to legalise same-sex marriage. Other clergy oppose such a change.
“A change in the definition of marÂriage to include two men or two women would seem to me to be an appropriate step in the redefinition of marriage for our particular contemporary society,” said the Lead Chaplain of the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, the Revd Robert Thompson.
The Vicar of St Lawrence’s, Eastcote, in Pinner, the Revd Stephen Dando, said that same-sex marriage should be “both allowed and celebÂrated”.
Amid an escalating din among Israeli leaders about the threat of a potentially nuclear Iran, the Israeli public has displayed little enthusiasm for a solo preemptive military strike. A handful of recent polls have shown that ordinary Israelis are firmly against the idea of going it alone.
“Israelis are much more careful, much more cautious than their government,” said Ephraim Yaar, a Tel Aviv University professor who co-directs a monthly public opinion survey. This week, more than 60 percent of Israelis polled said they opposed an attack on Iran without U.S. cooperation….
The first suffering of Christ we must experience is the call sundering our ties to this world. This is the death of the old human being in the encounter with Jesus Christ. Whoever enters discipleship enters Jesus’ death, and puts his or her own life into death; this has been so from the beginning. The cross is not the horrible end of a pious, happy life, but stands rather at the beginning of community with Jesus Christ. Every call of Christ leads to death. Whether with the first disciples we leave home and occupation in order to follow him, or whether with Luther we leave the monastery to enter a secular profession, in either case the one death awaits us, namely death in Jesus Christ, the dying away of our old form of being human in Jesus’ call.
”¦.Those who are not prepared to take up the cross, those who are not prepared to give their life to suffering and rejection by others, lose community with Christ and are not disciples. But those who lose their life in discipleship, in bearing the cross, will find it again in discipleship itself, in the community of the cross with Christ. The opposite of discipleship is to be ashamed of Christ, of the cross, and to take offense at the cross. Discipleship is commitment to the suffering Christ.
–Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Meditations on the Cross (Louisville: John Knox Press, 1998 [trans Douglas Stott]), pp. 14,16
Less optimistically than Marx, the democratic left today mostly thinks of money as a necessary evil. This nasty material has to be used to make markets function and it has to be accumulated. But it should be reined back as far as possible: the state should confiscate the maximum amount of numbers that it can and place them safely under the control of predictable verbal orders and regulations.
But could it be that in its implicit advocacy of words over numbers the left has all too readily embraced a capitalist notion of the nature of money? This notion assumes that money is necessarily a commodity – whether valid or illusory, as it was for Marx – and that the pursuit of wealth consists in piling the stuff up as high as possible….
Nothing that is of the keenest concern for the bishops’ conference has been “put on the table” by the administration, in any forum. The HHS mandate has been published in the Federal Register, without changes. The administration-controlled Senate rejected efforts to amend the law to accommodate the bishops’ criticisms. Bishops’-conference negotiators asked White House officials whether the bishops’ religious-freedom concerns ”” which extend both to Catholic institutions and to employers of conscience of any creed ”” were off the table; yes, replied the White House negotiators. Well, then, what about the administration’s ridiculously stringent four-part test for who qualifies as a “religious employer” able to claim exemption from the HHS mandate? The day Gibson’s story ran on the Religion News Service wire, the bishops’ conference was informed that any discussion of the four-part test was also off the table.
Which leaves one wondering precisely what is on the table, beyond a tacit agreement by the administration to stop acting as if leftist America magazine and the HHS-dependents at the Catholic Health Association are the Catholic Church in the United States, in exchange for the bishops’ conference rolling over and asking to have its belly scratched.
Read it all (emphasis his).
Over the last hundred years or so, however,…[the] hopeful vision [that secularism promises a neutral public and peaceful space] has not materialized. Rather than seeing greater harmony in secular societies, we have witnessed more community breakdown. We also notice that the greatest losses of life in the twentieth century (Mao Tse-tung: 70 million deaths; Stalin: 20-40 million deaths; Hitler: 11-12 million deaths; Pol Pot: 1-2 million deaths”¦) have been inspired by secular ideologies, not religious ones. The atrocities that human beings commit against each other continue apace, and secularism is at a loss to know what to say about them. “It is the work of a few rogues” sounds less plausible every time we hear it. The incoherence of secularism also means that it cannot withstand determined pressure groups or totalitarian ideologies.
I believe secularism in the West is really a combination of Christianity and paganism, with the proportions shifting over the years from the former to the latter. Secularism does not supply values of its own but borrows them from Christianity (human rights, care for minorities, freedom of speech, toleration of differences, etc.) or paganism (fascination with astrology and ever more extreme forms of entertainment, lower views of marriage, higher views of other relationships, openness to abortion/infanticide, euthanasia, etc.). Credit is rarely given to these sources, and it is only as the proportion of paganism has increased that the true nature of secularism is becoming more apparent.
Almighty God, who hast revealed to thy Church thine eternal Being of glorious majesty and perfect love as one God in Trinity of Persons: Give us grace that, like thy bishop Gregory of Nyssa, we may continue steadfast in the confession of this faith, and constant in our worship of thee, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who livest and reignest now and for ever.
We confess to thee, O heavenly Father, as thy children, our hardness, indifference, and impenitence; our grievous failures in pure and holy living; our trust in self, and misuse of thy gifts; our timorousness as thy witnesses before the world; and the sin and bitterness that every man knoweth in his own heart. Give us, O Father, contrition and meekness of soul; grace to amend our sinful life; and the holy comfort of thy Spirit to overcome and heal all our evils; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
–E. W. Benson
On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great storm of wind arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care if we perish?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” And they were filled with awe, and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?”
It is surprisingly hard to find in the Bible a consistent endorsement of heterosexual marriage as we now understand it. The Old Testament is replete with stories of men like King Solomon who had 700 wives and 300 concubines. And the New Testament is generally populated by single men and women whose domestic arrangements have little in common with the model of Christian marriage that is now being aggressively defended by Cardinal Keith O’Brien and others. Indeed, the best that many wedding service liturgies can do to insist that Jesus himself supported the institution of marriage is to say that he once turned up at one.
None of which is to attack the institution of marriage, which provides many with a permanent, faithful and stable context for loving relationships. Cardinal O’Brien is, however, getting completely carried away when he speaks of gay marriage as an attempt to “redefine reality”. Traditionally, the church has explained the purpose of marriage in terms of three features: that it’s the proper context for raising children, that it promotes monogamy and that it exists for the mutual comfort and society of one person for another. How can the application of these three features to gay marriage justify the cardinal’s blustering hyperbole?
Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo said he is delighted to have first-hand papal approval for changing the order by which children in his diocese receive the sacraments.
“I was very surprised in what the Pope said to me, in terms of how happy he was that the sacraments of initiation have been restored to their proper order of baptism, confirmation then first Eucharist,” said Bishop Aquila, after meeting Pope Benedict on March 8.
There are [many].. reasons why I, as your bishop, am moved to reflect upon marriage in a manner which emphasizes its importance as a fruitful institution so necessary for the life of society and the world. It is troubling that far too many people do not understand what it means to say that marriage””both as a natural institution and a Christian sacrament””is a blessing and gift from God. We observe, for example, that some people esteem marriage as an ideal but can be reluctant to make the actual commitment necessary to enter and sustain it. Some choose instead to live in cohabiting relationships that may or may not lead to marriage and can be detrimental to the well-being of themselves and of the children who may be born of this union. In addition, the incidence of divorce remains high. A nationally-respected research center indicates that the divorce rate of women in Maine is 25 percent higher than the national average. The same research indicates that the divorce rate of men in Maine is 33 percent higher than the national average.With the advent of no-fault divorce, the social sanctions and legal barriers to ending one”˜s marriage have all but disappeared. The tragic effects of divorce on children, families and the community are on the increase. Even within marriage, a couple does not always accept their responsibility to serve life by being open to children. For some, children are seen no longer as integral to a marriage but merely as an option, that is, a choice to accept or reject. This lack of understanding fails to recognize the purposes of marriage as being both unitive and procreative.8 There is a loss of belief in the value of those purposes when couples readily treat as separate choices the decisions to get married and to have children. This indicates the fairly prevalent view that children are seen not as integral to a marriage but as optional. When children are viewed in this way, there can be damaging consequences not only for them but also for the marriage itself. Continually, we hear it said that marriage is basically a private matter with little relation to the common good, relegated mostly to achieving personal satisfaction and fulfillment.