Daily Archives: August 30, 2013

[Allan Haley] Bishop Iker and Church of the Good Shepherd win in Texas

Today the Texas Supreme Court handed down decisions in the two ECUSA cases pending before it: No. 11-0265, Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, et al. v. The Episcopal Church, et al.; and No. 11-0332, Masterson v. Diocese of Northwest Texas. In the first case, the Court sided with Bishop Iker’s Diocese by a closely split vote of 5-4, reversed the summary judgment of Circuit Judge John Chupp which had awarded all of the property and assets of Bishop Iker’s Diocese to the Episcopal Church and its rump diocese, and sent the case back to the trial court. The majority held that the trial court had improperly failed to apply a “neutral principles of law” analysis to the issues. The four dissenters did not disagree with that result, but instead believed that the Court lacked jurisdiction to hear a direct appeal from the trial court’s judgment in the case.

In the second case, the Court by a vote of 7-2 reversed the Court of Appeals’ decision requiring the Church of the Good Shepherd in San Angelo to turn over its building and all other assets to the Diocese of Northwest Texas. The Court definitively ruled that all Texas courts must follow “neutral principles of law” (rather than deferring to an ecclesiastical hierarchy), and that based on such an analysis, the Dennis Canon was not effective under Texas law (or that if it were effective to create a trust, the trust was not expressly irrevocable, and so could be revoked by the parish in question).

Read it all and note you can read the full Supreme Court decision opinion in the Fort Worth case here and in the Good Shepherd case here – other documents and concurring/dissenting opinions may be found here

Update: Pastoral Letter from Bishop Iker is here

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

(WSJ) Paul Moses–A Liberal Roman Catholic and Staying Put

After the Mass [for the Death of my Father], people from the church gathered around to console. A priest friend accompanied me to the funeral home to work out the details of the wake. The parish where the funeral Mass was held assigned a laywoman volunteer who, in a very sensitive and knowledgeable way, helped me to plan the service. A contingent from my home parish in Brooklyn came to the wake and funeral. Sisters and others who work with my wife at a Catholic high school in Brooklyn arrived in large numbers.

I saw a theological term made real””that God’s people make up the Body of Christ, a mystical concept of the church that encompasses the living and the dead, the visible and invisible, my deceased father and me. As St. Paul wrote, if one part of the body suffers, all the parts suffer. This is the church I would not be lured to leave, even on the frequent occasions when its leaders disappoint me.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

(Bloomberg) Al-Qaeda Links Cloud Syria as U.S. Seeks Clarity on Rebels

“Two of the most powerful insurgent factions in Syria are al-Qaeda factions,” Evan Kohlmann, senior partner at Flashpoint Partners in New York, said by telephone. “Even were the Assad regime to fall and there be some kind of takeover by rebels, there’s not a clear understanding that everyone here will be able to agree and form any kind of government.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Middle East, Politics in General, Syria, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(Nyasa Times) Anglican Church of Southern Malawi elects a new Bishop

The Anglican Church of Southern Malawi Diocese has finally elected a new bishop to take over from Rev James Tengatenga who resigned last month after he was offered a lucrative job in the USA.

The new bishop of the diocese is Venerable Rev Canaan Alinafe Kalemba and was elected Saturday during a process that was attended by a high-level mission in Blantyre.

Until his election, the bishop-elect, a former principal of Leonard Kamungu Theological College in Zomba (first Anglican theological college in Malawi), was a parish priest for Chirimba Anglican Church in Blantyre.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Church of Central Africa, Malawi

Sophia Pink–Why I spent 10th grade online

I began my sabbatical by taking three online courses through a Johns Hopkins University distance-learning program for high school students: honors pre-calculus, honors chemistry and a writing class. It was amazing to learn on my laptop at my own pace. For example, in the math class, I would watch a seven-minute video on how to solve equations using logarithms, then tackle a few problems. After typing in each answer, I immediately found out whether it was correct. If it was wrong, I could try again or read how to solve the problem. If I was totally stumped, I could call or e-mail the instructor to get a more thorough explanation.

Instead of sitting in a specific seat at a specific time, listening to the same long lecture as everyone else, I could tailor the classes to my strengths and weaknesses. I could move through some material quickly but take as much time as I needed to absorb the difficult stuff. Not only did these courses free up time to shoot a movie, but their structure helped me learn the material as well as I would have in a classroom. In four months, I covered a year of math.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Blogging & the Internet, Education, Science & Technology, Teens / Youth

Archbishop Justin Welby's speech in the House of Lords in the Debate on Responding to Syria

I don’t intend to repeat the powerful points that have been made on international law which is itself based on the Christian theory of Just War, and that has been said very eloquently. But I want to pick up a couple of points – first is, it has been said, quite rightly, that there is as much risk in inaction as there is in action. But as in a conflict in another part of the world, a civil conflict in which I was mediating some years ago, a general said to me “we have to learn that there are intermediate steps between being in barracks and opening fire”. And the reality is that until we are sure that all those intermediate steps have been pursued, Just War theory says that the step of opening fire is one that must only be taken when there is no possible alternative whatsoever, under any circumstances. Because, as the noble Lord Lord Alli just said very clearly and very eloquently, the consequences are totally out of our hands once it has started. And some consequences we can predict ”“ we’ve heard already about the Lebanon and about Iran, particularly the effect that an intervention would cause on the new government in Iran as it is humiliated by such an intervention.

But there is a further point, talking to a very senior Christian leader in the region yesterday, he said “intervention from abroad will declare open season on the Christian communities”. They have already been devastated, 2 million Christians in Iraq 12 years ago, less than half a million today. These are churches that don’t just go back to St Paul but, in the case of Damascus and Antioch, predate him. They will surely suffer terribly (as they already are) if action goes ahead.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Middle East, Politics in General, Syria, Theology, Violence

(Greenville News) Intervention in Syrian gets mixed reception in South Carolina Delegation

The prospect of a U.S. military strike on Syria is putting pressure on political fault lines, and the tremors are being felt in South Carolina.

National security hawks like U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham see a lawless world in need of American leadership and, when the cause is just, its soldiers and bombs.

The Republican Party’s emergent libertarian wing, however, represented most prominently at the moment by Sen. Rand Paul, a possible presidential candidate, emphasizes the cost of foreign wars and their effect on U.S. public relations abroad.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * South Carolina, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, House of Representatives, Middle East, Politics in General, Senate, Syria, Theology, Violence

(Wash. Post) U.S. military officers have deep doubts about impact, wisdom of a U.S. strike on Syria

The Obama administration’s plan to launch a military strike against Syria is being received with serious reservations by many in the U.S. military, which is coping with the scars of two lengthy wars and a rapidly contracting budget, according to current and former officers.

Having assumed for months that the United States was unlikely to intervene militarily in Syria, the Defense Department has been thrust onto a war footing that has made many in the armed services uneasy, according to interviews with more than a dozen military officers ranging from captains to a four-star general.

Former and current officers, many with the painful lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan on their minds, said the main reservations concern the potential unintended consequences of launching cruise missiles against Syria.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Middle East, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Science & Technology, Syria, Theology

(Church Times) Archbishop Justin Welby: Church needs to avoid drifting to divorce

The Archbishop of Canterbury said on Wednesday that the Church must not become like a marriage in which a couple have drifted apart and are content with their independent lives.

Speaking at the opening of the Evangelical Alliance’s (EA) new headquarters in King’s Cross, London, Archbishop Welby said: “It is too easy for the Church to be comfortable in separation, like a bad marriage where the couple has drifted apart, but not to the point where they’ll divorce. They just sort of somehow live separate lives in the same house; they don’t talk much except what’s necessary to keep things running along. And they may not even notice that the separation is growing and deepening, but they live with it. And the Church can fall into that trap – in fact, over many years, has fallen into that trap.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Justin Welby, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE)

(Huff. Post) How an Episcopal Priest Is Using Stories and Humor to Teach Others About Christianity

Episcopal priest Kathryn Banakis wants us to discover that Christianity wouldn’t be what it is without stories, and not just the Bible’s stories either. Our stories matter too. Banakis is particularly interested in showing how God didn’t stop revealing important lessons to us humans with the last page of the biblical text. God continues to speak through our lives today, and sometimes, what’s said is quite funny.

To show how stories can impart important lessons about faith, Banakis’s first book, Bubble Girl, is a blend of memoir and theology, teaching readers in a lighthearted way while making them laugh as she candidly discusses her own journey. Her book becomes an intriguing hybrid of genres, and I wanted to ask her more about it.

I had the pleasure to sit down with [the] Reverend Banakis and to hear her infectious laugh as I talked with her about her book. The transcript of that interview follows.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Books, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(Gospel Coalition Blog) Scott Slayton–When the Popular Youth Pastor Gets Arrested Again

Southern church culture, including Birmingham, celebrates nearly anyone who claims to reach teenagers. We often assume the inherent goodness of any ministry that draws large numbers. And we idolize reaching the next generation to the point that we largely ignore what we are winning them with and what we are winning them to. Despite warning signs, youth pastors continued to take busloads of teenagers to The Basement and Christian radio relentlessly promoted Pitt’s meetings.

All the while The Basement’s theology was largely ignored. Viewing the videos on The Basement’s website reveals an exciting atmosphere that lacks substantial understanding of God as revealed in his Word. Pitt’s sermons might have been “in your face,” but they did not point teens to the Bible and the gospel message revealed in it. Much of the public also ignored the Bible’s teaching about character in leaders because Pitt claimed to have a “calling” from God to lead this ministry. And who could question his results?

But internal calling is only part of what it means to be a gospel minister.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Religion & Culture, Teens / Youth, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Urban/City Life and Issues, Youth Ministry

(RNS) The ethics of a Syrian military intervention: The experts respond

As the Obama administration readies for a probable military strike against Syria, Religion News Service asked a panel of theologians and policy experts whether the U.S. should intervene in Syria in light of the regime’s use of chemical weapons against civilians. Would the “Just War” doctrine justify U.S. military action, and what is America’s moral responsibility? Here are their responses, which have been edited for clarity.

Take the time to read them all.

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

David Heetderks reviews R. Bradley's "From Memory to Imagination: Reforming the Church’s Music"

Most would breathe a sigh of relief that arguments over musical style are abating. But for C. Randall Bradley, the worship wars are only a prelude to a larger reformation in Church music. In From Memory to Imagination, Bradley argues that it is time for Church musicians and pastors to devise new forms of worship that respond to what he calls the postmodern cultural movement. The term postmodern has several possible meanings; in Bradley’s book it can be defined through a series of questions about the broader purpose that music serves: How can music reflect the narrative and values of the Church’s community? How can churches change worship so that it is community-directed, rather than guided by a leader? How can music further the specific mission for which God has placed the Church in its local context, while also reflecting the full gamut of human experience?

Bradley argues that the current tools that churches use for designing worship are, unfortunately, not yet capable of answering these questions. In a wide-ranging critique of contemporary worship practice, he notes that music and preaching are leader-centered, stifling a collaborative planning process. They tend to be male-centered. They are performance-driven, turning the congregation into a group of spectators. Most significantly, their legitimacy comes from the power of an academy that confers a professional degree, or from the power of commerce as it markets songs to churches. These structures do not allow Christians to take ownership of their worship experience.

Read it all from The Living Church.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Books, Church History, Liturgy, Music, Worship

A Prayer to Begin the Day

We beseech thee, O Lord, to give us more love to thee, more joy in our worship, more peace at all times, more longsuffering, more kindness of heart and manner. Grant us the grace of meekness and the power of self-control. May we know something of what it is to be filled with the Holy Ghost; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I keep the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved….Thou dost show me the path of life; in thy presence there is fulness of joy, in thy right hand are pleasures for evermore

Psalm 16: 7-8;11

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(LA Times) British Parliament rejects use of force in Syria

A sharply divided British Parliament on Thursday rejected the immediate use of force as a response to suspected chemical attacks in Syria, putting Washington on notice that it would be deprived of the assistance of its most trusted ally if it launches a strike on Damascus in the next few days.

Hours of impassioned debate in the House of Commons culminated in a 285-272 vote against a government motion to condemn the alleged use of poison gas against Syrian rebel strongholds and to uphold military reprisal as a legitimate option against the government of President Bashar Assad.

The surprise defeat for the government of Prime Minister David Cameron does not completely rule out the possibility of British involvement in eventually punishing Assad’s government militarily.

Read it all.

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

(Jerusalem Post) Syria crisis escalates as West wavers, Russia sends ships

The US, Great Britain, France, Germany, Turkey, Jordan, Canada, Australia, the Arab League and Israel have all determined that a massive chemical attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta on August 21 was conducted by Assad’s armed forces. Over one thousand died in the attack, and thousands more were wounded.

But the White House and 10 Downing both faced an onslaught of questions laced with references to the botched intelligence assessments that led to the allied invasion of Iraq in 2003.

President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron both acknowledged those concerns, but rejected the comparison as fundamentally flawed.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, France, Globalization, Middle East, Politics in General, Syria, Theology, Violence

(RNS) Pope Francis, Jordan king say dialogue is ”˜only option’ in Syria conflict

The Catholic Church has been following with concern the radicalization of Syria’s civil war. The country hosts a sizable Christian minority, which has mostly sided with Assad during the two-year long conflict.

In an interview with Vatican Radio, Archbishop Maroun Lahham, the vicar for Jordan of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, said he hoped the “world’s ”˜bigs’” would “make peace instead of war and find a peaceful solution.”

Other Syrian Catholic leaders have been even more vocal in condemning a possible Western intervention.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Defense, National Security, Military, Egypt, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Jordan, Middle East, Other Churches, Politics in General, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology, Violence

(Telegraph) Archbishop urges Christians to ”˜repent’ over ”˜wicked’ attitude to homosexuality

The Most Rev Justin Welby told an audience of traditional born-again Christians that they must “repent” over the way gay and lesbian people have been treated in the past and said most young people viewed Christians as no better than racists on the issue.

Archbishop Welby, who as a young priest once opposed allowing gay couples to adopt children, said the church now had to face up to what amounted to one of the most rapid changes in public attitudes ever.

While insisting that he did not regret voting against same-sex marriage in the House of Lords, he admitted that his own mind was not yet “clear” on the wider issues which he was continuing to think about.

Read it all. Also, there is an article in The Independent on this there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology