Daily Archives: July 26, 2012

(Zenit) Denise Hunnell–Prenatal Testing: A Double-edged Sword

Maternal blood tests that look at the alphafetoprotein levels can suggest the presence of neural tube defects like spina bifida, a deformity of the spinal column, and anencephaly, an absence of all or part of the brain and skull. This test can also be a marker for Down syndrome. More invasive tests include amniocentesis and chorionic villi sampling. These allow the direct examination of fetal chromosomes in order to detect genetic abnormalities. These tests are more accurate, but they also carry more risk for the unborn child. The decision to undertake any form of prenatal testing must weigh the risks against the potential therapeutic benefits derived from the information provided by such procedures.

While prenatal testing offers the opportunity to correct some abnormalities or to prepare to adjust to others, it is unfortunately often utilized to screen for diseases and abort unborn children who are deemed defective. In 2007, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) changed their recommendations for prenatal screening from offering tests to pregnant women over age 35 to offering them to all pregnant women. Their rationale was that while women over age 35 had the greatest risk for conceiving a child with Down syndrome, most children with Down syndrome were born to women under the age of 35. The expanded screening would allow for these cases to be detected prenatally.

Currently, 92% of all children with Down syndrome in the United States are aborted…

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Science & Technology, Theology

A Discussion on Communion of the Unbaptized in the Diocese of Connecticut

Read it all.

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

[Telegraph] Only traditionalist Archbishop of Canterbury can save Anglican church, warn primates

The next Archbishop must be willing to “uphold the orthodoxy of the Christian faith” in order to secure the “future and unity” of the church “at a foundational level”, they say in a letter seen by The Daily Telegraph.

Read bits and pieces of it

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury

In Baltimore area, churches' bell towers also cell towers

About a half-dozen churches in Baltimore County lease to cell carriers, assessment officials said.

Church towers provide good opportunities to transmit wireless signals because of their height, said Larry Taylor, director of sales for AT&T in Maryland….

At the Episcopal Church of the Messiah on Harford Road in Northeast Baltimore, cell equipment is not hidden inside a steeple but mounted on top of the tower, between crosses.

In an era of declining church attendance, money from the leases with AT&T and Clearwire helps the church keep a presence in the Hamilton neighborhood, said the Rev. Timothy Grayson, the church’s rector. “That need and that benefit trumps any considerations about detracting from the aesthetic look of the church tower.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, Science & Technology, TEC Parishes

(LA Times Op-Ed) Lisa Biagiotti: AIDS — the South's shame

More than 30 years into the AIDS epidemic, a combination of safe-sex education and a new generation of pharmaceuticals has left many Americans convinced that HIV/AIDS is a problem that has been, if not solved, at least addressed. But that’s certainly not true in the American South, which accounts for nearly 50% of all new HIV infections in the United States.

The South has the highest rate of AIDS deaths of any U.S. region. It also has the largest numbers of adolescents and adults living with HIV and the fewest resources to fight the epidemic.

The disease there is concentrated largely in poor minority communities. Diagnoses tend to be late and often only after the infection has progressed to AIDS….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine

Bishop Howard: Same Sex Blessings not to be Authorized in the Diocese of Florida

Bishop Howard, in a letter sent to Diocese of Florida communicants before Convention, has stated that he will not authorize the use of the rite in the Diocese of Florida.

From here [link to General Convention Wrap Up at bottom of page]

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

Dr Timothy George: Beware the Well Worn Path

There is an intrinsic connection between spiritual vitality and theological integrity. The debate over homosexual practices within the mainline denominations is not the root cause, but only the most visible issue in the devolution Ross Douthat has described so well. At the heart of this issue is a broken doctrine of biblical authority, a loss of confidence in the primary documents of the Christian faith. The patina of pietism, and the lushness of a well-rehearsed liturgy, are no substitute for what the Thirty-nine Articles calls “the sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures.” Absent a commitment to this truth, it will not be long before other cardinal tenets of the Christian faith become negotiable, including the Trinity, the full deity and true humanity of Jesus Christ, and redemption wrought through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.
The trajectory from Friedrich Schleiermacher to John Shelby Spong is a well-worn path. As Peter Berger once said, “He who sups with the devil had better have a long spoon.”

The continuing saga and approaching collapse of mainline denominations should prompt us to pray. Within each of the mainline denominations, there are many faithful believers who have not “bowed the knee to Baal.” Often they face harassment, discrimination, and litigation. Pray that they will remain faithful in the face of such assaults, and pray that they will find communities of love and support in what for many will be an increasingly isolated position.

Read it all

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

A Letter from Bishop Scott Benhase to the Diocese of Georgia

Our Deputies already reported on the General Convention’s vote to authorize a provisional rite for the blessing of same-sex couples. In both orders our deputation voted 3-1 against the enabling resolution. As I explained before General Convention, I also voted against the resolution, not because I am opposed to a blessing rite for same-sex couples, but because the rite itself is problematic, poorly written, and confusing in terms of the Church’s teaching on Holy Matrimony. The rite, however, was approved by over 70% in both the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops.

What will this mean in the Diocese of Georgia? Frankly, I do not know. Since this is a provisional rite and the resolution gives the Diocesan Bishop sole authority to determine its use in his/her diocese, I need more time to consult with our General Convention Deputation, our Standing Committee, and the priests of the Diocese. I plan on doing just that over the next few months. The provisional rite is not officially authorized until Advent, so I have the time needed to consult, pray, and decide. I expect to issue my decision sometime after the fall clergy conference in October.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, --Gen. Con. 2012, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops

(USA Today) State Limits on Medicaid drugs concern doctors

Illinois Medicaid recipients have been limited to four prescription drugs as the state becomes the latest to cap how many medicines it will cover in the state-federal health insurance program for the poor.

Doctors fear the state’s cost-cutting move could harm patients, who have to get state permission to go beyond the limit.

“We understand the state is trying to get its Medicaid budget under control, but our concern is it not be a hardship for patients and a hassle for doctors in the execution,” says William Werner, president of the Illinois State Medical Society.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, State Government

James Kirchick–Scientology Is Not a Religion

While several governments around the world have set up commissions to study Scientology in order to determine whether it qualifies as a religion, Germany broke new ground when, in 1992, the city of Hamburg set up a “Scientology Task Force” to monitor the group, assist members who have left the Church and are thus cut off from their families, and discourage citizens from joining it in the first place. (That office, which maintained a vast and extensive archive of official Scientology documents, many of them classified by the Church, was closed due to government budget cuts in 2010.)

The former head of the Task Force, Ursula Caberta, has labeled Cruise “an enemy of [the German] constitution” and has not so subtly likened the Church to the Third Reich, calling it a “totalitarian organization that seeks to control everybody else, a dictatorship.” Hers is a view that an overwhelming number of Germans seem to share: A 2007 poll found that 74 percent favor banning Scientology. The German equivalent of the FBI, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (the Bundesamt für Verfassungshutz, or BfV), has been monitoring Scientology since 1997. On the BfV’s homepage, Scientology is listed alongside “Right-wing extremism,” “Islamism,” and “Espionage” as one of its focus areas. (The Hamburg government has even printed pamphlets warning about the dangers of Scientology in Turkish for the country’s sizable Turkish minority.)

Contrast this response to the attitude toward Scientology in the United States, where the Church, though largely seen as a celebrity curiosity, is a tax-exempt, legally recognized religious faith….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Europe, Germany, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of the Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Almighty God, heavenly Father, we remember in thanksgiving this day the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary; and we pray that we all may be made one in the heavenly family of thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God, who hast brought life and immortality to light by the gospel, and hast begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead: Make us steadfast and immovable in the faith, always abounding in the work of the Lord, who died for our sins and rose again, and now liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, world without end.

–James Mountain

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

–Romans 15:4-6

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(BBC) UN's Ban Ki-moon urges end to Syria 'slaughter'

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has urged world leaders to act to halt the “slaughter” in Syria, as thousands of troops reportedly move on the city of Aleppo.

“I make a plea to the world – do not delay… Act now to stop the slaughter…,” Mr Ban said.

His comments came as activists said troops with tanks and armoured vehicles were redeploying to re-take areas of Syria’s second city held by rebels.

Read it all.

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

[Christianity Today] Philistine Digs Define David and Solomon

Two small portable shrines are giving Bible scholars new clues about Israelite religious practices during the time of David and Solomon. They also indicate a pendulum swing in the world of biblical archaeology.

Read it all

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Israel, Middle East

Evensong from Hereford Cathedral today for the Feast of St James the Apostle

Listen here sung by the choirs of Gloucester, Hereford and Worcester Cathedrals during the Three Choirs Festival [choose Hi or Lo bandwidth]

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Music

America's liberal Christians might be progressive and inclusive, but they are also dying out

Dr Tim Stanley in the Daily Telegraph
The other problem is that Americas’ overall belief in God shows no great evidence of decline. What has really fallen isn’t faith but patterns of communal worship. For millions of folks, it is no longer the default to join a church. In fact, giving up your Sunday morning to sit in a cold temple listening to a kazoo band playing Nearer My God To Thee is, for most people, a perverse thing to choose to do. Ergo, it is not enough to get them into the pews by saying, “We’ve driven out the bigots!” ”“ ministers now how to convince the public that church attendance is in their personal interest. And conservatives are better at doing this than liberals because the product they are selling makes a stronger claim for its value to the individual.

Think of faith as operating within a highly competitive marketplace of ideas. Faith is no longer a product that people presume they need and are looking to buy (soap or shoes). Instead it has become a luxury item, or something that they have to be convinced that they might want (a sports car or a puppy). What kind of luxury is more likely to sell? Liberal Christianity is wracked with doubt, ducks strong conclusions and often seems to apologise for its own existence. Its liturgy is a confusing blend of styles and belief systems ”“ just take a look at this colourful consecration of an Episcopalian bishop in Los Angeles. What do these people believe, and how is it relevant to me?

By contrast, the conservative Christian product is a zinger….

Read it all

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