Daily Archives: April 11, 2012

(NPR) A Church Divided: Ruling Ends Virginia's Episcopal Battle

Virginia is the epicenter of the Episcopal schism. Heathsville is one of seven churches ”” including two of the largest and most historic in the country ”” that broke away from the denomination in 2006. Now that they’ve lost their lawsuit, they all have to find new homes.

Church of the Apostles is one of the seven breakaway churches. At its home in Fairfax, a half-dozen men wrestle with a 360-pound cross, panting as they remove it from its moorings in the sanctuary. Parishioner Wayne Marsh says the cross is going into storage and the church is being shuttered.

“It’s sad and heartbreaking, and it’s a tremendous loss,” he says, “but God has just given me a peace to understand this is his will and we’re going forward with it, not knowing exactly where we’re going.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Presiding Bishop, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Departing Parishes, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Deseret News) American Public says religious news too polarizing, journalists disagree

Diane Winston, Knight Chair in Media and Religion at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, says the focus on the evolving nature of journalism is causing the disconnect between readers and reporters, according to the school’s press release.

“News organizations are rightly worried about creating smart business plans and developing cutting-edge technology,” Winston said. “But they’re overlooking their most basic resource: knowledgeable reporters.”

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

(ACNS) Easter Reflections and Messages from around the Communion

Read them all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, Globalization

Al Kimel from 2004–Oh how I wish I could in conscience practice [Baptism without preparation] !

(I am taking the liberty of putting this on in full text since this is soon to be lost to posterity, I am sorry to say. Please remember that I intensely dislike the terminology of “open” baptism [or “”open” communion] because it confuses the practice being advocated by some in TEC with something altogether different; this is why I plead for what some TEC reappraisers advocate to be described as “communion of the unbaptized” –KSH).

Seminary ruined my ministry. By this I do not mean what we tired old priests often mean by this statement. I am referring here very specifically to the understanding of Holy Baptism that was beat into my head. Actually, it wasn’t beat into my head at all. I drank it in and embraced it in the heart. I was taught and have ever since believed that Baptism is the foundational sacrament of the Church and therefore must be attended to by as much prayer and catechetical preparation as is possible. The key influences here were my liturgics professor, Fr Louis Weil; the Lutheran theologian, Robert W. Jenson; but most especially the writings of the Catholic liturgist, Fr Aidan Kavanagh. Later on William Willimon and Stanley Hauerwas would come along to reinforce what I had already learned, that we no longer live in a Christian culture and therefore can no longer rely on the culture to transmit to our children the beliefs, values, and practices of Christian faith. The Church must become what it once was”“a disciplined community.
Ecclesial discipline begins with the sacrament of Holy Baptism, the gateway into the community of faith. If we do not practice discipline at this point, we cannot effectively foster discipline later down the road. Baptism is not a right. It is a privilege and gift that the Church is authorized to administer under very specific conditions.

I remember years ago hearing an apocryphal story of Catholic missionaries to Indonesia who would beat drums and make a lot of noise in a village, so that its inhabitants would come out of their huts to see what was going on”“at which point they would be met by the missionaries, water buckets in hand: “Ego te baptizo ”¦”

When may the Church baptize? The Scriptures are clear. The Church may baptize an individual when that individual has responded to the gospel in faith and repentance. The Church does not baptize everyone indiscriminately. Faith and conversion are necessary conditions. In the second and third centuries, we see the Church developing a catechumenal process to prepare adult converts for baptism. This process would often last one to three years, concluding with examination by the bishop and sacramental initiation at the Great Vigil of Easter. Kavanagh describes this catechumenal process not so much as intellectual instruction but as “conversion therapy.” He notes that the early Church was not interested in indiscriminately baptizing the multitudes. It wanted to make Christians.

Tertullian had already observed that Christians are not born but made. Augustine and his colleagues over a century later would have agreed, perhaps extending the epigram to say that they do not just wander in off the streets either. They are honed down by the teaching and discipline of the catechumenate until their metal is tough, resilient, sharp, and glowing. The “enlightenment” of baptism was not a flickering flame but a burst of God’s glory in those whose capacities to receive it had been expanded to their utmost. And although things were different since the pagan Celsus had written archly in 168 that “if all men wanted to be Christian, the Christians would no longer want them,” being prepared in the fifth century to absorb a whole society did not mean that the churches would do so indiscriminately. The fathers’ catechetical homilies suggest that they still needed more Christians less than they needed better ones, even as they wished and worked for the conversion of all.

What about the baptism of children? They are the exception, not the norm. We risk the baptism of children only because their parents are practicing Christians and have demonstrated that they will raise their children within the household of faith, in the fear and admonition of the Lord. If their parents are not practicing Christians, then the Church has no authority whatsoever to baptize their children, no matter what the grandparents want!

And so this young priest took this understanding of Baptism and catechumenate out into the world. No other issue has caused me more trouble than this in my ministry of twenty-four years! Indeed, it is probably safe to say that it destroyed my ministry in one parish and has caused me nothing but grief in my present parish. How I wish I could in good conscience offer “open baptism.” Disciplined baptismal policy always offends, no matter how gently and graciously it is articulated. No one wants to hear that there are conditions and requirements that must be fulfilled if baptism is to be administered with sacramental and spiritual integrity. No one wants to hear that the faith and commitment of the parents necessarily and rightly affects the Church’s decision to baptize a baby. No one wants to hear the word no.

So when I read about “open baptism” I am filled with both envy and anger. I am envious, because these priests are able to avoid all of the grief and problems of trying to communicate to nonbelieving parents they must begin to take their baptismal vows seriously if they wish their children to be baptized into the Church. The open baptism policy makes everything so easy. There are no conditions to be imposed. No requirements are insisted upon. Difficult conversations are avoided. We just toss the water and say the magic words and everyone is happy. Oh if only I could in conscience offer open baptism. How nice it would be for me and everyone else if I could just adopt a no-conflict, no-grief, no-aggravation policy like St Bart’s in Poway, California:

We are an open and affirming church. No classes are required and no judgments are passed at St. Bartholomew’s. If you wish to be baptized and become Jesus Christ’s own forever, just ask and you can be.

But as I said, I was ruined in seminary. When I read a baptismal policy like the above, I become angry. These open baptism priests are prostituting the gospel. Baptism is not a spiritual tonic that we dispense to everyone who asks for it. Baptism is conversion, the renunciation of evil, and the embrace of love, self-denial, and the way of the cross. It’s all so cozy for these open baptism pastors and their congregations. No judgments are made. No discipline is imposed. No one has to say “no.” Baptism becomes a nice little ceremony of cultural affirmation. Everyone is blessed. Everyone feels good. But the identity and mission of the Church is sold out for a bowl of pottage.

(Please note that for now you can find the original post there. You may be interested to read the comments–KSH)

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anthropology, Baptism, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Sacramental Theology, Theology

(CEN) J. John–Searching for an Archbishop of Canterbury for our times

(If you are interested, you may read a bit more about the author here–KSH.)

Dr Rowan Williams has served as head of the Anglican Communion for ten years and the world has changed markedly in that time, and not for the better. Within the UK there have been profound changes in society: the complex responses to 9/11; the rise of exaggerated political correctness; the financial crisis; an increasingly confused and vague national spirituality; and a continuing numerical decline and division within the Anglican Church. In the light of this, I suggest that the new Archbishop needs to have the following qualities[:]

1) He should be a man who knows God’s priorities….2) He should be a man of conviction, a man confident in the Christian faith as revealed by Scripture and taught by the Church over centuries….3) He should be a man who can connect, and is able to express himself in words that can be understood….He should be a man who will confront the culture….5) He should be a man of discernment, not simply intelligence or wisdom but that combination of God-given grace and human intellect that allows someone to detect problems and identify opportunities…6) He should be a man of courage. It is a long-standing rule that anyone who goes out and preaches the good news of Jesus will face opposition. As far as I’m aware the last Archbishop of Canterbury to be martyred was Thomas Cranmer, who went to the stake in 1556 but these are frankly dark days for the church in the West.

Read it all from the April 8, 2012, Church of England Newspaper on page E3 (requires subscription).

Posted in Uncategorized

Univ. of Arkansas fires Football Coach Bobby Petrino for 'reckless behavior'

Arkansas fired football Coach Bobby Petrino on Tuesday, saying he engaged in reckless behavior that included hiring his mistress and then intentionally misleading his bosses about their relationship and her presence at the motorcycle accident that ultimately cost him his job.

“He made the decision to mislead the public, [and it] adversely affected the university and the football program,” Athletic Director Jeff Long said at an evening news conference, choking up at one point as he discussed telling players the news. There was a “pattern of misleading and manipulative behavior to deceive me.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Men, Police/Fire, Sports, Theology, Young Adults

Julia Duin on a new generation of Internet-savvy Pentecostals

This year’s Easter service at the Tabernacle Church of God in La Follette, Tenn., will include many of the holiday’s traditional rituals, like Holy Communion and footwashing. There will also be some startling novelties.

“It will be filled with shouting, dancing, speaking in tongues, serpent handling and fire handling,” said its 21-year-old pastor, Andrew Hamblin. “We’ll celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ with a good old time.”

Since he opened its doors last fall, Mr. Hamblin’s small Pentecostal church, 39 miles north of Knoxville, has grown to almost 50 members, most of them in their 20s. Part of his strategy for expansion has been to use Facebook to publicize the daredevil spiritual exploits of his congregation.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pentecostal

CEN–Some U.S. Episcopal-Anglican property cases may go to the Supreme Court

Four of the Episcopal Church’s key property dispute cases have moved to the state and U.S. Supreme Courts for review.

Briefings have been filed in the Episcopal v. Anglican Dioceses of Fort Worth cases in the Texas Supreme Court, while the breakaway congregations in Northern Virginia have asked the Virginia Supreme Court to review the lower court’s ruling giving the diocese custody of the parish properties.

The breakaway congregations in Christ Church v. Diocese of Georgia and Bishop Seabury Church v. Diocese of Connecticut have filed writs of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has also been asked to review a third property dispute, Timberridge Presbyterian Church v. the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta, that addresses the same legal issues.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Departing Parishes

Jesuit seminarian took photographs of Titanic's infamous voyage

Commemorations of the sinking of the Titanic 100 years ago will put the spotlight on a young Irish priest whose photographs are some of the only surviving images of life onboard the liner on its first and last voyage.

Jesuit Father Frank Browne, 1880-1960, became a prominent documentary photographer and a much-decorated chaplain in the British army in World War I.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, History, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Travel

New Vatican Guidelines on Funeral rites prefer Burial and question scattering ashes

…the most significant new departure, contained in the appendix of the book, concerns cremation. Msgr. Lameri explained that the issue of cremation had been placed in an appendix to highlight the fact that the Church, “although she does not oppose the cremation of bodies, when not done ‘in odium fidei’, continues to maintain that the burial of the dead is more appropriate, that it expresses faith in the resurrection of the flesh, nourishes the piety of the faithful and favours the recollection and prayer of relatives and friends”.

In exceptional cases the rites normally celebrated at the cemetery chapel or the tomb may be celebrated at the cremation site, and it is recommended that the coffin be accompanied to that site. One particularity important aspect is that “cremation is considered as concluded when the urn is deposited in the cemetery”. This is because, although the law does allow ashes to be scattered in the open or conserved in places other than a cemetery, “such practices … raise considerable doubts as to their coherence to Christian faith, especially when they conceal pantheist or naturalistic beliefs”.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

Bishop of Monmouth warns of witchcraft break-ins on church property

Witches have been breaking into churches and graveyards to perform black magic rituals, a leading Church in Wales cleric has revealed.

Bishop of Monmouth Dominic Walker said the incidents coincided with a resurgence in witchcraft in recent years, with the number of occult groups performing both wicca ”“ or white magic ”“ and black magic on the rise.

And while not a frequent occurrence, Bishop Walker said he had been called on several occasions during his nine-year ministry to help people escape these “satanic groups”.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of Wales, England / UK, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology, Wales

CSM Readers Write in on Freedom of ”“ or freedom from ”“ religion?

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

In Indianapolis Christians and Jews Rediscover Interracial Haven

In the service lay a story of black Christians and white Jews who once shared a kind of promised land, a peacefully integrated section of Indianapolis called Southside. Its decades of harmony were a rebuke to the Southern-style racial divisions that characterized Indiana for much of the 20th century, from the Ku Klux Klan’s heyday in the interwar years to George Wallace’s popularity with the state’s voters in the 1960s.

Upward mobility, Interstate 70 and the construction of a football stadium hollowed out the neighborhood starting in the late 1960s, scattering its residents and severing bonds of commerce and friendship. But in the last four years, an anthropology professor at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Susan B. Hyatt, has set about finding former Southsiders and restoring those ties through social events and reciprocal worship services at South Calvary and the Etz Chaim Sephardic synagogue.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Baptists, History, Inter-Faith Relations, Judaism, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

A Prayer to Begin the Day

We give thee thanks, O heavenly Father, who hast delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of thy Son; grant, we pray thee, that as by his death he has recalled us to life, so by his presence abiding in us he may raise us to joys eternal; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Mozarabic Sacramentary

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

The Lord reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad! Clouds and thick darkness are round about him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. Fire goes before him, and burns up his adversaries round about. His lightnings lighten the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim his righteousness; and all the peoples behold his glory.

–Psalm 97:1-6

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

As Syria cease-fire falters, US senators renew demand to arm rebels”Ž

John McCain and Joseph Lieberman have already called for arming Syria’s rebels, in statements last month from the US Senate where they serve. But they repeated their demand in more dramatic fashion Tuesday ”“ from a Syrian refugee camp in Turkey and with violence unabated, as the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad disregarded the UN plan that was to have silenced the Syrian Army’s guns Tuesday morning.

The two senators joined a growing international chorus of voices finding that the unimplemented plan, brokered by former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, is simply allowing the Assad regime to continue its oppression.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Middle East, Politics in General, Senate, Syria, Violence

(First Things) R.R. Reno–Relativism’s Moral Mission

In The Brothers Karamazov, the rationalist and unbelieving Ivan is visited by the devil, who lays out the moral consequences of atheism. After belief in God is extinguished, “man will be exalted with the spirit of divine, titanic pride, and the man-god will appear.” Of course few will have the courage of the “man-god” to live in an entirely secular world. Ivan has the courage to face the fact that God is dead, or so the devil seductively suggests. And thus for him, “everything is permitted.”
I used to think that Dostoevsky was echoing a long tradition of anxious concern about atheism, one that presumes that without religious belief people will descend into a nihilistic state of self-regard and the moral order of society will crumble. This has not come to pass, at least not yet. Secular Sweden remains well-ordered. New York City, where many people don’t believe in God, is run by a neo-Puritan mayor who crusades against cigarettes and soft drinks. Today’s unbelievers have rules, plenty of them. Dostoevsky, it would seem, was wrong.

Or not. When the devil tells Ivan that “everything is permitted,” he was not suggesting that without God there are no rules. Instead, “everything is permitted” means that nothing is always wrong. Everything is, at least at some point and under some circumstances, permitted….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

Jim Fenhagen RIP

The Reverend Fenhagen served as Rector of several parishes in Maryland, the District of Columbia, and at St. Michael and All Angels’ Episcopal Church in Columbia SC before becoming active in academic settings.

He was Director of the Church and Ministry Program at the Hartford Seminary Foundation.

He was named President and Dean of the General Theological Seminary in New York City in 1978 and retired from there in 1992.

Read it all. You may also find an ENS article there.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(CSM) Japan braces for North Korean missile launch

Japan and other countries in the Asia-Pacific appear to have failed to persuade North Korea to abort a rocket launch planned for as early as this week. Reports suggest that the region could be further unsettled by a rumored third nuclear weapons test by the regime.

The North insists that the launch, which could come on any morning between April 12 to 16 and will coincide with the centenary of the birth of the country’s founder Kim Il-sung on April 15, is designed to put an observation satellite into orbit. Japan, South Korea, and the US, however, say the launch would violate United Nations Security Council resolutions banning the North from engaging in missile development.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Korea, Politics in General