Daily Archives: July 20, 2012

John Turner–A Pageant of Mormon History and Mirth

Every year in mid-July, Jesus descends from the heavens onto a hillside in bucolic western New York. Should they witness the nighttime scene, evangelical Protestants driving along U.S. Route 21 might worry that they have missed the rapture.

Instead, what they have missed is a uniquely American religious festival, concluding its 75th anniversary this weekend. In the Hill Cumorah Pageant, nearly a thousand members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints bring to life the sacred history of their faith. The pageant takes place near Palmyra, the small town in which Joseph Smith Jr. published the Book of Mormon in 1830.

The Hill Cumorah Pageant is a very different sort of production from Broadway’s “The Book of Mormon.” The songs are not as snappy, and it’s not a comedy. On the other hand, the pageant is free, the seating is ample, and those who attend will learn a great deal more about the Mormon religion and culture.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Mormons, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Facing Foreclosure After Age 50

Roy Johnson fell so far behind on his $1,000-per-month mortgage payments that last year he allowed the redbrick, three-bedroom ranch he had owned since 1963 to lapse into foreclosure.

“I couldn’t pay it any longer,” he said. “One day, I woke up and said, ”˜Hell, I’m through with it. I’m walking away from the house.’ ”

That decision swept Mr. Johnson, 79, into a rapidly expanding demographic: older Americans who have lost their homes in the Great Recession. As he hauled his belongings by pickup truck from this Atlanta suburb and moved into his daughter’s basement, Mr. Johnson became one of the one and a half million Americans over the age of 50 who lost their houses to foreclosure between 2007 and 2011. Of those, the highest foreclosure rate was for homeowners over 75.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, Consumer/consumer spending, 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--

[ACI] Same Sex Blessings: What Did General Convention Do?

***We conclude: taken as a whole, Resolution A049 is not just a legal nullity and theologically incoherent, although it is that. It is also profoundly unconstitutional in that it purports to do something General Convention is not authorized to do and encourages clergy to violate the canons, the rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer and their vow to conform to the worship of the Church***

Some extracts From here:-

…….But there is a more ominous aspect to these resolves. They clearly purport to “authorize” something General Convention has no jurisdiction to authorize, thus usurping the authority of the very bishops they purport to authorize. And they invite (using the permissive “may”) bishops to use or adapt this rite in “civil jurisdictions where same-sex marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships are legal.” This calls on bishops to ignore both the rubrics for marriage (including civil marriage) defining it as between a man and a woman and the marriage canon, which as the resolution itself acknowledges “applies by extension.” The House of Bishops was expressly advised that the intention of this resolution was to encourage clergy to perform same sex marriages.

One diocesan bishop has already reversed his position and will now allow clergy to perform same sex marriages, concluding “we are left with a situation in which the mind of this recent Convention appears to be to allow such services. However, The Constitution and The Book of Common Prayer still say something else.” For him “the mind of this General Convention” trumped both of these foundational instruments.

The incoherence of this position is demonstrated by the liturgical materials that were approved, which simultaneously opine that the rite can be used in connection with civil marriages and that “A bishop, priest, or deacon who violates the rubrics or the Canon risks disciplinary action under Title IV.”…
Every bishop, priest and deacon undertakes at ordination “to conform to the doctrine, discipline and worship of The Episcopal Church.” The recent action by General Convention purporting to authorize bishops to authorize a rite for blessing same sex couples raises in an acute way the question of what exactly is the worship of The Episcopal Church to which all clergy promise to conform. We look carefully at this question below. Our conclusions can be summarized as follows:

Ӣ The authority to define the worship of the Church is spelled out with precision in Article X of the Constitution.

”¢ Subject to the exceptions in Article X, the worship of the Church is that found in the Book of Common Prayer, which is to be used “in all the Dioceses.”

”¢ General Convention has authority only to amend the Book of Common Prayer or to propose revisions to the BCP and authorize them “for trial use throughout the Church” “at any time” “as an alternative” to the standard Book of Common Prayer.

Ӣ Diocesan bishops, not General Convention, have authority to permit supplemental forms of worship under defined conditions.

Ӣ The proposed rite was not conceived as a revision to the Book of Common Prayer and therefore General Convention had no authority to authorize its use by any majority or supermajority vote.

”¢ The action of General Convention was theologically incoherent in that it assumed that God’s blessing can be invoked provisionally and in some dioceses but not others.

Ӣ The resolution passed is unconstitutional because it exceeds the authority of General Convention and invites clergy to violate BCP rubrics.

Ӣ Bishops cannot constitutionally permit use of this rite in connection with civil marriages.

We conclude: taken as a whole, Resolution A049 is not just a legal nullity and theologically incoherent, although it is that. It is also profoundly unconstitutional in that it purports to do something General Convention is not authorized to do and encourages clergy to violate the canons, the rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer and their vow to conform to the worship of the Church.
But this is only one instance of the proliferation of unconstitutionally authorized liturgical materials for a church in liturgical, theological and canonical chaos. General Convention itself has called attention to this problem and concluded “it is time”¦to honor the spirit of the prayer book rubrics.” We agree.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, --Gen. Con. 2012, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology

(Globe and Mail) Margaret Wente–Broken families behind the violence

By now, you can write these stories in your sleep. Young thugs with guns start shooting at each other. Bullets spray. Innocent bystanders bleed and die. Anguished soul-searching breaks out all over. How could a harmless street party turn into a bloodbath? Clearly, we need action to address the root causes.

In fact, despite the carnage that broke out Monday night, Toronto is in the minor leagues of homicide. Detroit, a much smaller city, has chalked up 184 so far this year. Chicago has had 277. The two young people killed at Monday’s house party in Toronto ”“ Shyanne Charles, 14, and Joshua Yasay, 23 ”“ were victims 27 and 28.

But make no mistake: In certain neighbourhoods, a war is on….The single most significant root cause is not guns or crummy housing or racism or inadequate policing or lenient sentencing or lack of jobs or insufficient social programs. It is family and community breakdown. Most especially, it’s absent fathers.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Canada, Marriage & Family, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(ABC Religion and Ethics Report) America's most influential church on the brink of collapse

It was the church of George Washington, Franklin Roosevelt, George Bush Sr and seven other United States presidents. The Episcopal Church is the US branch of the Anglican Church and it was once very influential. More than a third of Supreme Court justices have been Episcopalians. It was one of the first mainstream churches to ordain women; the first to consecrate an openly gay bishop. But over the past 20 years, the church has lost more than a third of its members, falling from 3.4 million in 1992 to 2.3 million in 2012. Now, following its convention in Indianapolis, the Episcopal Church appears on the brink of collapse. Beliefnet.com reports 46 members of the synod have spoken out in support of seceding from the Episcopal Church; six bishops have petitioned the Archbishop of Canterbury for permission to leave the Church but remain part of the worldwide Anglican communion. Not all the tension is over liberal policies on sexuality. There’s also deep disagreement on fundamental matters of Christian doctrine. Author, journalist, and Episcopal minister from Florida, George Conger, explains the developments at the convention that sparked the latest crisis.

You can find the whole transcript here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Analysis, --Gen. Con. 2012, Australia / NZ, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention

(CEN) The Episcopal Church endorses temporary local option on same-sex blessings

Supporters of the resolution have hailed the vote as a victory for “justice” and “inclusion” while critics charge the church has turned its back on the undivided witness of the universal church. However, one deputy noted the vote was more symbolic than practical.

The Archdeacon of Albany (New York) the Ven. David Collum told the convention that the “resolution would not change what is happening on the ground.” Those who support gay blessings and gay marriage are already using these rites, while those who opposed gay blessings as un-Scriptural will never use these rites.”

“What will happen is that more will leave the Episcopal Church,” he said, adding that “this really is about the majority wielding power ”“ saying ”˜we don’t care’ to the minority.”

Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Gen. Con. 2012, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(FT) World braced for new food crisis

The world is facing a new food crisis as the worst US drought in more than 50 years pushes agricultural commodity prices to record highs.

Corn and soyabean prices surged to record highs on Thursday, surpassing the peaks of the 2007-08 crisis that sparked food riots in more than 30 countries. Wheat prices are not yet at record levels but have rallied more than 50 per cent in five weeks, exceeding prices reached in the wake of Russia’s 2010 export ban.

The drought in the US, which supplies nearly half the world’s exports of corn and much of its soyabeans and wheat, will reverberate well beyond its borders, affecting consumers from Egypt to China.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * General Interest, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, Globalization, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc., Personal Finance, Weather

ABC's Nightline–Social Media Spurring Plastic Surgery

Triana Lavey was about to undergo a radical transformation. And she was doing it for a radical reason.

She wanted to look better online.

With the help of Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Richard Ellenbogen, she was changing her chin, her nose and the shape of her face.

Lavey is a 37-year-old television producer in Los Angeles. For work and socially, she spends a lot of time on Skype, Facebook and other sites. She said she didn’t like the face staring back at her from her computer screen.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Science & Technology

Bishop Mark Sisk: Gay Marriage Authorized ignoring Constitution and The Book of Common Prayer

Permission Granted for Clergy to Officiate at Same-Sex Marriages
From September 1, 2012

July 19, 2012

Bishop Mark S. Sisk today sent a letter via email to the clergy of the Diocese of New York giving permission for them to officiate at same-sex marriages both in a religious capacity and as agents of New York State, commencing September 1, 2012. He wrote the letter, which contains a complete explanation of his reasons for making the change in policy, after consultation with, and with the full support of Bishop Coadjutor Andrew M. L. Dietsche (whose own letter appeared followed in the email) and Assistant Bishop Andrew D. Smith.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, --Book of Common Prayer, Episcopal Church (TEC), Liturgy, Music, Worship, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, Theology

Gay Jennings on the General Convention of 2012

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, --Gen. Con. 2012, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention

Archbishop Rowan William’s sermon at an Anglican Communion gathering last week

Deeply shocking – there it is in Holy Scripture: a God who can’t give us up. And when we talk about peace with God, we’re talking about how God spends Himself, and pours Himself out, in the most extreme way possible ”“ in the suffering and death of our Lord; in the broken bread, the spilled wine of Holy Communion; pours himself out to make peace. The God who will hold back nothing to make peace, because he cannot imagine Himself as God without us. And so when we think of the peace that God has made with us in Jesus Christ, we should be sobered and shocked at its depth, at its force. That is what peace with God means; and the peace we are given with each other as Christians grows out of that.

And in that, there is the alarming hint that if God can’t give us up, we can’t give each other up – as Anglicans and Anglicans together, but as Christians and Christians together too. How very nice it would be if we could simply say: we’re giving up now on fellowship; that’s enough peace, that’s enough attempts to be together. And in those moments – which are frequent enough, God knows – we ought to hear God saying: But I’m God. I’m not you. You can give up on each other, but I can’t. And maybe with that before us, we can think of what it is that God goes on asking of us, in terms of making and keeping peace.

I’m not just talking about how we live through the deeply painful conflicts in our Communion, though that’s important enough. I’m talking about those attitudes to one another that shape our lives and our policies. That willingness to be spent for one another; that willingness to let others flourish and rejoice because of what we do; that willingness to be there for one another, whatever happens. And I believe that in our global Anglican family, in spite of all our tensions and divisions, we have learned a great deal more in recent decades about being there for one another, locally and internationally.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury

William Murchison on General Convention 2012–The Lord and His Less-Than-Humble Servants

Things at the General Convention, from a certain perspective, certainly didn’t look good. My fellow deputies ”” I admit to serving as an elected member of this naughty assemblage ”” endorsed pretty much the same menu that hooked Episcopal appetites during the wild and woolly ’60s. We’re a church whose worship and formularies presuppose the ancient Christian truths; except the way we have come lately to express these truths often makes it seem our principal interests are “social justice,” cultural diversity and the liberalization of sexual norms.

We slammed “colonialism,” patted the Palestinians on the head, urged new government programs to create jobs, called for a carbon-unfriendly energy policy and instructed priests desirous of doing so to confer the church’s blessing upon same-sex unions. I mean, are we the churchy version of The New York Times editorial page or what? Can’t you see millions of Americans beating our doors down to hear us address the worst of modern anxieties ”” family disintegration, the loss of meaning in life, the burgeoning of government supervision and control over daily existence?

Actually, that’s not what the church itself, at a slightly less exalted level, was saying. A report by the Standing Commission on the Mission and Evangelism of the Episcopal Church noted bleakly….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, --Gen. Con. 2012, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention

(NBC News) Is liberal Christianity signing its own death warrant?

The Rt. Rev. Mark Joseph Lawrence, the Episcopal bishop of South Carolina, fears for the future of his church.

One week after the U.S. Episcopal Church overwhelmingly voted to approve a provisional rite for blessing gay unions and the ordination of transgender people, Bishop Lawrence said in an interview with NBC News that his denomination is moving too far out of the mainstream.

“Do I think that these two decisions will cause further decline? I believe they will,” Bishop Lawrence said. “I think we’ve entered into a time of sexual and gender anarchy.”

Lawrence’s comments come amid a growing debate over the future of so-called mainline Christian churches: Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, some Lutherans and more. These denominations, which are generally more liberal than their evangelical counterparts, have been in decline for decades, a trend some observers attribute to their supposed leftward drift.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, * South Carolina, --Gen. Con. 2012, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, General Convention, Methodist, Other Churches, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, TEC Bishops, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God, who hast given us life and all good things in this world: Thou hast created us for thy service, and when we have forsaken thee in our wanderings thou hast sought us out; thou hast vouchsafed to us the precious treasure of thy gospel; thou hast ordained that we should be born in the bosom of thy Church; thou hast revealed to us thy exceeding great riches in Jesus Christ our Lord. For all these gifts of thy grace, and for thy benefits which we remember not, we thine unworthy servants do give thee thanks, and bless thy holy name for ever and ever.

–Eugene Bersier

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; never be conceited. Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

–Romans 12:9-21

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Ephraim Radner–After the Fall

In fact, in a few short years, the legal and political order simply reinvented itself, like a genie, flew out and left the self-styled prophets tongue-tied. Now we see that the church was but a dog following behind its master, behind a culture washing through the institution and dissolving its commitments in every corner of its corridors. To be sure, we have long been subject to the harangues of those warning against a “church that bows to culture” and does not transform it. But the extent of its subservience in this case still astonishes.

And the extent is itself a theological challenge, as well as opportunity. The church has been swallowed up. The challenge, furthermore, is not The Episcopal Church’s alone. It represents a kind of march of moral hollowing and distraction that has lulled the whole world (or at least its formal leaders). We should make no mistake about this: every church, and along with them our families and our friends, are being carried along. That is the message of the churches’ own secondary and even tertiary role in this movement, for it is the rush of the civil current that has first inundated the space of all our lives.

So what does this amount to? Our refusal to see the Church as Israel is what has robbed us of the tools to see the meaning of this clearly. Christian ecclesiology is a study of Israel first, given in the only Scriptures the first Church read. Ecclesiology cannot be something founded on the bits and pieces of New Testament practical advice that have so often stunted our ecclesial categories. And the point is this: Israel falls completely.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, - Anglican: Analysis, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(BBC) The eurozone's religious faultline

Discussion among eurozone leaders about the future of their single currency has become an increasingly divisive affair. On the surface, religion has nothing to do with it – but could Protestant and Catholic leaders have deep-seated instincts that lead them to pull the eurozone in different directions, until it breaks?

Following the last European summit in Brussels there was much talk of defeat for Chancellor Merkel by what was described as a “new Latin Alliance” of Italy and Spain backed by France.

Many Germans protested that too much had been conceded by their government – and it might not be too far-fetched to see this as just the latest Protestant criticism of the Latin approach to matters monetary, which has deep roots in German culture, shaped by religious belief.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010, Economy, Europe, Germany, History, Lutheran, Other Churches, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Theology