Daily Archives: August 8, 2012

(SMH) Jenna Price–No kids, no happiness? It's a myth

When psychology academic Bronwyn Harman, from Edith Cowan University in Western Australia, set out to uncover the truth about childlessness in Australia, she did what many researchers do to get a sample these days. She hit social media in a big way….

Harman’s initial results were released last week – she thinks we are seeing explicit trends that society may not have accepted decades ago.

Of the 330 respondents, a little more than three-quarters said they were childless by choice. About one-third of that number (about 70 of those surveyed) said they might have children later. Another third declared they did not feel parental – not maternal, not paternal (men were invited to respond to the survey, too). Of the remaining 70-odd participants, 40 thought children would ruin their lifestyle.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, Children, Marriage & Family, Other Faiths, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Secularism

(Washington Post) Syria's instability leaves U.S. at crossroads

The collapse of the U.N. initiative on Syria, rebel gains that opened a corridor from Turkey to Aleppo, and a rash of high-level defections mark a turning point in the Syrian crisis and in the Obama administration’s plans for influencing the outcome.

While some U.S. officials, particularly inside the State Department, are pushing for more direct assistance to the Syrian opposition, for now, administration policy remains focused on nonlethal aid and planning for the day after the fall of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

In a hastily arranged trip to Turkey this weekend, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton plans to meet with Syrian opposition figures beyond the exile leaders who have been the public political face of the insurgency, a senior administration official said.

Read it all.

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

Joseph Bell– Fissures widen in Episcopal community

[Bishop Seabury Church]…is not alone in its decision to withdraw from the Episcopal fold. For decades there have been increasingly impassioned and heartfelt disagreements within the Episcopal community with respect to Christianity and the proper interpretation of the Bible.

The rip in the fabric of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America began tearing at least as far back as the 1960s when California Bishop James Pike decided the Holy Trinity did not exist and there was no Virgin Birth. Heresy charges were invoked against Bishop Pike but there was no will to move forward. For whatever reason (perhaps Pike’s beliefs were quietly shared) the church failed to reprimand the obstinate bishop….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, - Anglican: Commentary, Christology, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Gallup) U.S. Small-Business Owners' Optimism Declines in July

U.S. small business owners’ optimism declined in July, with the Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index at 17, down from April’s four-year high of 23, but similar to the 15 of January. A year ago, the index was at zero, meaning owners were essentially neutral — neither optimistic nor pessimistic — about the present and future small-business operating environment.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Psychology, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Nigerian Church Bombings Have Political Dimension, Says Roman Catholic Leader

Archbishop [John] Onaiyekan pointed out that this attack was unusual in that it came on a Monday; previous attacks on churches have been carried out on Sundays during worship services.

The prelate also noted that the attack was against a Pentecostal church in the middle of Nigeria, not in the far north of the country.

Archbishop Onaiyekan called on the Islamic community to help identify the gunmen, as the town where the attack took place, Okene, is predominantly Muslim.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Muslim-Christian relations, Nigeria, Other Faiths, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Violence

James Schall on Charles Schulz as a Theologian

On June 11, 1966, Charles Schulz gave the commencement address at St. Mary’s College in California. This address is found in his autobiographical collection, My Life with Charlie Brown. Schulz noted that commencement speakers cover many topics. He recalls doing the previous year’s Peanuts Christmas show. He wanted some way to indicate how children search for the true meaning of Christmas.

After some reflection, Schulz tells us: “I finally decided that every idea we had was an idea that really avoided the essential truth which was that the true meaning of Christmas could be found only in the Gospel according to St. Luke and so we had Linus recite those famous passages.” No doubt, “avoiding” the essential truths of Christmas and of Christianity itself is a major industry. Linus seems to be almost the only person we know who can at least tell us the story. The “story” when heard, I suspect, still unsettles and uplifts many different souls.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Anglican Way Conference Reveals some Desires and Trends for ACNA

Last week’s Anglican Way Institute (AWI) hinted at the hopes and goals of traditional Anglicans in the United States. Ecumenical outreach, evangelism, and catechism dominated several lectures and discussions in Dallas. We can expect members of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and other Anglican bodies to be dealing with these trends in the years to come.

The three featured plenary speakers gathered at the end of the week for open questions and answers. Bishop Ray Sutton of the Reformed Episcopal Church, Bishop Keith Ackerman of Forward in Faith, and Father Lee Nelson of the ACNA’s Catechism Taskforce. Much of their talk focused on AWI’s main theme of catechism. Ackerman noticed that, during the Oxford Movement, high churchman enacted their reforms on the seminary level with theology and on the parish level with catechesis. Unfortunately, today’s church lacks many of the right cultural avenues for thorough spiritual formation. Ackerman summed up the beliefs of the AWI nicely: “Our model and standard is the undivided church.” All too often, Christians have to choose between revivalistic evangelicalism and activist Social Gospel, both of which are innovations incongruous with the early church. The young Fr. Nelson complained about facing “spiritual birth defects” in his congregants, which came from “the weird way they’ve been discipled.” Functioning under a hubristic individualism, too many American Christians deride ancient understandings, creeds, and practices in favor of their own (often unlearned) interpretations of the Scripture and church discipline. “Sometimes people need to be told to shut up and listen,” Nelson announced, “We have this idea we can riff on the Christian faith. And that requires clergy to exercise their authority.” Bishop Sutton added, “Don’t make dogmatic what the Church has not.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA)

(SMH) Call for free abortions as needy women priced out of procedure

Growing numbers of women in desperate financial straits cannot afford abortions, say women’s health advocates who are running out of funds to help them. They say women on Centrelink benefits cannot afford fees at private abortion clinics, and public hospitals must play a bigger role in providing a free service.

”Women who are really poor are finding it hard to get bulk-billed abortion services,” said Denele Crozier, the executive officer of Women’s Health NSW, the peak body for women’s community health centres. ”Either public hospitals must provide an abortion service or governments must further subsidise poor women to use the free-standing clinics.”

Women receive a Medicare rebate for terminations but out-of-pocket costs are high for many.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, Children, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Women

In Connecticut, Former Episcopal Parish Holds Last Service In Church

[Ron] Gauss’ parish parted ways with the Episcopal Church of the United States in 2007 after the church ordained an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire and then chose a woman as presiding bishop. The state Supreme Court in 2011 ruled that Bishop Seabury Church was to return everything ”” the 6.5-acre church site, the sanctuary and its contents ”” to the Episcopal diocese. The church appealed the decision to theU.S. Supreme Court, which in June declined to hear the case.

Gauss described the mixed feelings among the parishioners ”“ confusion, anger and sadness ”“ but he was planning to express a different and greater understanding on Sunday.

“I don’t have any animosity,” Gauss said. “I don’t have time to be angry. I have too many people to take care of.”

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

(First Things On the Square Blog) Thomas Cothran–Against Faith in Faith

Faith, in the Christian life, has nothing to do with a subjective belief that does not admit rational justification (not even Kierkegaard quite said that), because faith begins not with the subject of faith but its object””the Trinitarian life of God. It consists not of assent to some proposition but the entrustment of one’s being to God’s providence. Faith does not originate in the individual believer’s own efforts, but is rather a gift of grace to the believer, usually received in baptism, as one means among many of participating in God’s own life.

Far from posing a threat to one’s faith, knowledge reinforces it: the more reason one has to believe in God’s providence, the more readily the believer entrusts himself to God. Faith likewise facilitates a more intimate knowledge of the plans God has set in store for the believer. As recent scholarship has demonstrated, “faith” in the Bible is often better rendered “faithfulness”; one has faith, therefore, less by belief than by piety. Faith is””at least in the order of time””primarily performative and only secondarily reflective. Recall St. Irenaeus’ dictum: “to believe in God is to do his will.”

The naive concept of faith as blind assent arose from an equally naive and philosophically disreputable theory of knowledge, according to which one knows a thing best by detaching oneself from its use and setting aside personal biases in order to form an idea that corresponds to the thing.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Atheism, History, Other Faiths, Philosophy, Psychology, Secularism, Theology

Roman Catholic Church and University in Peru Fight Over Name

To its critics in the church, the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru is not deserving of its name. It has spurned the pontiff, they say. It is far from Roman Catholic orthodoxy, they argue. In their minds, the school ought to be called something else entirely.

“It’s false advertising,” said Fernán Altuve, a conservative legal expert who supports a recent order by the Vatican that the school change its name by eliminating references to the pope and the church. “It’s as if I sell you a bottle that says Coca-Cola but what’s inside is Pepsi.”

The fight over the name of what is considered one of the top universities in South America is part of a fierce battle over academic freedom and the authority of the Vatican that is unfolding here. La Católica, as the school is known, is the alma mater of many of Peru’s elite, including President Ollanta Humala.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Education, Other Churches, Peru, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, South America

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Dominic

Almighty God, whose servant Dominic grew in knowledge of thy truth and formed an order of preachers to proclaim the good news of Christ: Give to all thy people a hunger for your Word and an urgent longing to share the Gospel, that the whole world may come to know thee as thou art revealed in thy Son Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Almighty God, only giver of all mercies, whose Son, Jesus Christ, has taught us how to pray aright: Save us, we beseech thee, from all presumption in our prayer, and grant unto us the grace of humility and contrition; that we may, sharing the vision of thine apostle Saint Paul, know that it is by the grace of God alone that we are what we are, and that we can do nothing but through the strengthening of thy Son, Christ our Lord; who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end.

–Euchologium Anglicanum

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, for he was before me.’ I myself did not know him; but for this I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John bore witness, “I saw the Spirit descend as a dove from heaven, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him; but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

–John 1:29-34

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Marvin Hamlisch dies at 68: Sudden, brief illness halted busy life

Marvin Hamlisch, the stage and film composer who created the memorable songs for “A Chorus Line,” has died at 68. The composer died on Monday in Los Angeles after collapsing from a brief illness, his family said in a statement.

One of the most decorated composers in entertainment, Hamlisch had won a Tony Award, three Academy Awards, four Emmy Awards and the Pulitzer Prize for drama.

Hamlisch was still active just weeks ago. In his role as lead conductor of the Pasadena Pops, he conducted a July 21 concert at the Los Angeles Arboretum with Michael Feinstein.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, Music, Parish Ministry, Theatre/Drama/Plays

Church of England disinvests from News Corporation

he Church Commissioners and the Church of England Pensions Board have today announced the sale of their shares in News Corporation on the advice of the Church’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG). The total shareholding sold was worth £1.9 million. As a result, none of the three national investing bodies of the Church of England hold shares in the company.

The Church of England first raised concerns with the Board of News Corporation in the aftermath of the phone hacking allegations that surfaced in July 2011. After a year of dialogue between the company and the EIAG, the Church of England was not satisfied that News Corporation had shown, or is likely in the immediate future to show, a commitment to implement necessary corporate governance reform.

Read it all.

Update: One blogger was surprised:

Talking of which, I realised today that I am too much of an idealist. I’m afraid I found myself genuinely shocked by reports that the Church of England is selling its £1.9m stake in News Corp, as a protest against its lack of contrition over phone-hacking. The Church? Shares? In News Corp? A helpful man on Twitter called Paul Harrison furnished me with the info that the Church of England costs £1bn per annum to run, of which three quarters is covered by fundraising and donations, with the shortfall plugged by the stock market. This still shocks me a bit. I must have really thought that churches were funded via the collection plate. What a quaint, unspoiled, John Major-like picture of England I must cling to!

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Stock Market, Theology

([London] Times) William Dalrymple–Christianity is slowly dying in its homelands

“Before the war there was no separation between Christian and Muslim,” I was told on a recent visit by Shamun Daawd, a liquor-store owner who fled Baghdad after he received Islamist death threats. I met him at the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate in Damascus, where he had come to collect the rent money the Patriarchate provided for the refugees. “Under Saddam no one asked you your religion and we used to attend each other’s religious services,” he said. “Now at least 75 per cent of my Christian friends have fled.”

Those Iraqi refugees now face a second displacement while their Syrian hosts are themselves living in daily fear of having to flee for their lives. The first Syrian refugee camps are being erected in the Bekaa valley of Lebanon; others are queuing to find shelter in camps in Jordan, north of Amman. Most of the bloodiest killings and counter-killings that have been reported in Syria have so far been along Sunni-Alawite faultlines, but there have been some reports of thefts, rape and murder directed at the Christian minority, and in one place ”” Qusayr ”” wholesale ethnic cleansing of the Christians accused by local jihadis of acting as pro-regime spies. The community, which makes up around 10 per cent of the total population, is now frankly terrified.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Foreign Relations, Inter-Faith Relations, Iraq, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Syria, Violence