Daily Archives: October 26, 2012

David Aikman: America's Religious Past Fades in a Secular Age

According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, American Protestants recently became a minority of the country (48%) for the first time””not just since the American Revolution, but since the establishment of the first English colonies on American soil. Even more notably, the same Pew research revealed that 20% of all Americans now say they are not affiliated with any religion.

At one level, this is a victory for religious pluralism””or, to use the politically correct term, diversity. At another, when one in five Americans has no religious affiliation, it is a commentary on the diminished importance of the moral underpinnings that characterized the United States for most of its existence.

At the country’s founding, even skeptics and Deists like Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin paid great respect to the morality and values that the vast majority of Americans accepted as God-given standards by which to live. These were standards rooted in Christian belief and teachings. Jefferson, as is well known, was a man of the Enlightenment who was genuinely skeptical about the supernatural claims of Christianity. Even he, however, believed in the need for virtue in national life as an essential ingredient for the safe continuation of the republic.

Read it all.

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

(ACNS) Standing Committee Bulletin – Day 1 + 2 (October meeting in New Zealand)

The Anglican Communion Office’s Director for Communications, Jan Butter, shared with the committee the planned ACC-15 communications resources (videos, news and feature articles, podcasts, etc.) and channels (Social Media, the Anglican Communion News Service, etc.) which he hoped would “allow Anglican Communion members not in Auckland to feel involved in the meeting and related events such as the opening welcoming ceremony.”

The Standing Committee also reviewed and then welcomed a code of conduct concerning discriminatory behaviours, harassment and sexual harassment prepared by Anglican Communion Office staff for use at all official Communion meetings.

Speaking about the code of conduct, Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Canon Kenneth Kearon said having such a policy was not a response to any particular problem but rather was a “modern reality” and an important move to ensure all attendees and staff felt safe. He added, “We recognise that this document may have to evolve in the light of experience.”

Read it all

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Latest News, Anglican Consultative Council, Australia / NZ

Daniel Schultz–Nones [Americans who claim no connection to any particular faith] I have known

It’s easy to place these folks within the ranks of the “spiritual but not religious” whom Lillian Daniel likes to scold. There’s some truth to this: to the extent that my hippie-Marine friend has any kind of spiritual practice, it’s tied up with the yoga she teaches. The English woman derives more meaning from U2 lyrics than scripture, a habit I dare not tease her about for fear of having something thrown at my head.

We are also told, particularly by committed atheists, that the nones represent the rise of a post- or even anti-religious society. There’s some truth to this as well, but only some. Of my five closest friends from high school, only one would attend a church if he could find one that suited him nearby. Yet four of them wanted me to officiate at their weddings. (The other got married before I entered ministry.) Only one is antipathetic to faith; the others simply shrug their shoulders at it. Yet they””and all the others I have mentioned””would have no qualms about claiming me as their pastor, as though that were some kind of subversive triumph. Perhaps I should cut down on the swearing.

Finally, we often hear that the nones are people who have left””or been pushed out of”” organized religion….

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Posted in Uncategorized

(Washington Post) A CIA veteran transforms U.S. counterterrorism policy

“What we’re trying to do right now is to have a set of standards, a set of criteria, and have a decision-making process that will govern our counterterrorism actions ”” we’re talking about direct action, lethal action ”” so that irrespective of the venue where they’re taking place, we have a high confidence that they’re being done for the right reasons in the right way,” [John] Brennan said in a lengthy interview at the end of August.

A burly 25-year CIA veteran with a stern public demeanor, Brennan is the principal architect of a policy that has transformed counterterrorism from a conventional fight centered in Afghanistan to a high-tech global effort to track down and eliminate perceived enemies one by one.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Foreign Relations, Science & Technology, Terrorism, The U.S. Government

Toronto’s Anglican Book Centre to close

It is with sadness that the Anglican Church of Canada and Augsburg Fortress Canada announce that the Anglican Book Centre at 80 Hayden Street will close on Jan. 18, 2013. Canadian Anglicans will still be able to order resources online and by phone through Augsburg Fortress Canada.

“Religious book and gift stores across Canada have faced significant challenges resulting in the closure of over 120 stores in the past 10 years,” said Andy Seal, Director of Augsburg Fortress Canada/Anglican Book Centre.

“Sales at our Hayden St. store have decreased each year since 2009. By 2011 Toronto sales were 28% below the break-even level. In spite of hard work and innovation, the trend has continued in 2012.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Blogging & the Internet, Books, Canada, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

Another South Carolina Rector Writes his Parish About recent Developments

To All the Saints,

Please pray with me.

Almighty and ever living God, source of all wisdom and understanding, be present with those who take counsel for the renewal and mission of your Church. Teach us in all things to seek first your honor and glory. Guide us to perceive what is right, and grant us both the courage to pursue it and the grace to accomplish it; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Prayer Book, page 818)

I want to first and foremost remind you of the called parish meeting for this Sunday after the 10:30 service. We will grab some refreshments in the parish hall, have a brief presentation and then the vestry and I will attempt to answer any and all of your questions about the Diocese, All Saints, and the national church. In the meantime, let me refer you to our Diocesan web site and this article containing frequently asked questions and answers.
I know that many of you are wondering what all this means for you, me and our life at All Saints? It is very clear: We are part of the Diocese of South Carolina, a member of the world wide Anglican Communion holding the faith of the Apostles handed down to us. How will it change our life? Not at all. We continue to be faithful to the Biblically centered leadership of our Diocese.

Personally, I cannot begin to tell you how painful this is for me and I know that I am not alone in this feeling. I know of several clergy who have been in tears over this. They know our disaffiliation is right, but for (a lifelong and) any Episcopalian (for that matter), this is tough.

Between now and then, please read the website of the Diocese of South Carolina. Finally let me say this: These are very emotional times, but in the words of Jeremiah, “we are entering a new season of health and wholeness. A time of building and planting.”

Please pray for the leadership of our Diocese and the leadership of All Saints as together we walk faithfully and humbly in Christ to transform hearts through Jesus Christ.
Please pray for the Church.

–(The Rev.) Karl Burns is rector, All Saints Church, Florence, South Carolina.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

St. Paul’s Anglican Church: prayer and advocacy in Vancouver’s West End

A British-born, life-long Anglican, [Leslie] Buck came to St. Paul’s in 1993 when he and his wife moved here from Ottawa.

“We do things now that would have appalled people 50 years ago,” says Buck citing the ordination of women and same-sex marriage. He also cites shifts in the teaching.

“There was a time when the message was primarily keep your nose clean and don’t worry too much about what you do at work the rest of the week. Nowadays more is made of the social gospel, issues like homelessness and poverty. Which is not to say that one’s individual relationship with God or one’s behavior is not an issue, but the church is also responding to the world.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Parish Ministry, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

Notable and Quotable on Election 2012

There are a lot of fishy things going on in the presidential race.

–Larry J. Sabato and Kyle Kondik, University of Virginia Center for Politics–Where things stand now.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Politics in General, US Presidential Election 2012

Bank of America employees could face charges in U.S. fraud case: Prosecutor

“Potentially, the government may amend its complaint to include individuals, present or former employees of Bank of America,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Pierre Armand told U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Law & Legal Issues, Personal Finance, The Banking System/Sector, Theology

(New Zealand Herald) Tough topics for Anglicans

A seven-year effort to create a new “covenant” to hold the worldwide Anglican Church together may come close to an end at a historic meeting starting in Auckland tomorrow.

The global Anglican Consultative Council comes three months after the New Zealand and Polynesian province voted against accepting a clause that would penalise any church refusing to defer a “controversial action” such as ordaining gay priests.

Two of the other 37 provinces have also voted against the clause.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, --Rowan Williams, Anglican Consultative Council, Anglican Covenant, Archbishop of Canterbury, Australia / NZ

(CEN) South Carolina expelled from the Episcopal Church

South Carolina’s diocesan constitution and canons do not recognize the authority of the disciplinary canons inaugurated by the national Church in 2009, and it is unlikely the bishop will make a formal response to the charges ”” thereby recognizing their jurisdiction over him.

However, the diocesan convention has adopted defence measures against the contingency of a theologically motivated attack by liberal clique currently controlling the Church’s offices in New York and adopted resolutions to protect its independence.

The diocese is also protected by South Carolina law. The state’s Supreme Court has struck down the national Church’s property rules, the “Dennis Canon”, holding they have no legal effect in the state. While the national Church has set aside a $3million war chest to fund litigation, canon law experts tell The Church of England Newspaper it is unlikely to prevail in a fight to seize church property.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology

(Church Times) Clash of compassions in assisted-dying debate

The law on assisted dying is out of step with society’s standards of compassion, a public debate on the issue heard.

The debate, organised by the Christian Evidence Society, heard from Lord Falconer, who chaired the Commission on Assisted Dying, which reported earlier this year, and the Revd Professor Nigel Biggar, Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology in the University of Oxford.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Christian Century Blogs) Steven Porter–A Russian beef with Apple

Some Orthodox Christians in Russia have taken issue with Apple’s logo recently, seeing an anti-Christian symbol for humanity’s original sin in the image of a bitten fruit….

…[We now, however, that many] people have offered many explanations for what they see as the obvious significance of Apple’s logo. This is to be expected, since any symbol””or “signifier” for you semantics aficionados””has a fluid link to the meaning signified. But if these interpretations are all up for debate, then why bother discussing such niche exegeses as the one put forward by conservative Russian Orthodox?

Because their interpretation is scheduled to collide with public policy….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Europe, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Russia

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Alfred the Great

O Sovereign Lord, who didst bring thy servant Alfred to a troubled throne that he might establish peace in a ravaged land and revive learning and the arts among the people: Awake in us also, we beseech thee, a keen desire to increase our understanding while we are in this world, and an eager longing to reach that endless life where all will be made clear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

We give thee thanks, O God our Father, for the good work which thou hast begun in us, in that thou hast called us to the knowledge of thy grace and faith in thee; and we pray thee so to continue thy work in us that our lives may be strengthened for thy service in the fellowship of the gospel, and our love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and all discernment, to thy praise and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

But I trust in thee, O LORD, I say, “Thou art my God.” My times are in thy hand….

–Psalm 31:14,15a

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Thursday Afternoon Mental Health Break–Anna Netrebko sings "Pie Jesu"

Maybe because I lost power for almost three hours today, but I needed this–listen to it all. If you have a moment, here is a lovely 1993 NPR interview with her also.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Music

Melbourne Anglicans have a very revealing late vote at their Synod

At 4.06pm, less than 30 minutes before Synod rose for the year, the first count of this year’s meeting was held on a proposed amendment during a debate on church planting (the establishment of new congregations across Melbourne and Geelong). This time, the amendment was carried.

Synod called on the Diocesan Council to review how the living requirements of clergy in the Melbourne Diocese were met, including the setting of stipends, recompense for travel costs, housing, superannuation, benefits, stipend continuance insurance and retrenchment.

A senior clergyman, the Revd Dr David Powys of St John’s Cranbourne, said in his mover’s speech that the fundamental way in which clergy remuneration and provisions were conceived had not changed very much in 30 years but “very many other things” about ordained ministry had changed very substantially. These included the dwindling proportion of clergy who were vicars, a reduction in ministry households where the stipend was the main source of income, the decline in clergy living in vicarages and church-owned accommodation, the increasing number of clergy in part-time appointments and the fact that women now made up a significant proportion of clergy ranks.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecclesiology, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Stewardship, Theology

Letter of Support from Global South Primates Steering Committee to Bishop Mark Lawrence

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Global South Churches & Primates, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina