Daily Archives: November 5, 2013

(RNS) Washington voters weigh the ethics of genetically modified foods

Grocery aisles in Washington state could look a little different in 2015 if voters approve a ballot measure on Tuesday (Nov. 5) to require product labels to disclose when genetically modified crops are included.

Most of the processed foods and beverages that dominate the shelves are made with some sort of genetically modified crop, like soy or corn.

Campbell Soup Co., PepsiCo Inc. and Kellogg Co. are among the companies pumping money into the fight against the referendum, known as Initiative 522, claiming the measure is misleading, would hurt farmers and raise grocery costs.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, State Government, Theology

(ACNS) 60th anniversary of suicide helpline started by Anglican

Samaritans was started in 1953 in London by a young vicar named Chad Varah, then incumbent of St Stephen Walbrook. Through his work in a number of different parishes in the City he had seen the range and extent of the distress experienced by people everywhere, every day. During his career he had offered counselling to his parishioners, and he increasingly wanted to do something specific to help people in distress who had no one to turn to. He makes reference to one example of a girl aged 14, whom he had buried – in unconsecrated ground. She had started her periods, but having no one to talk to believed that she had a sexually transmitted disease and took her own life.

He says, “I might have dedicated myself to suicide prevention then and there, providing a network of people you could ‘ask’ about anything, however embarrassing, but I didn’t come to that until later”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Suicide

Vatican Radio interviews Archbishop Welby: no sacrifice too great to obey Christ’s call to unity

Q.: You said recently that most of our disagreements are about power and prestige rather than dogma or doctrine. What exactly do you mean?
Archbishop Welby: ”¦We exist in different church communities, different ecclesial communities around the world and the longer that goes on, the more our different communities embed their own institutions and put down roots. Some of them have been putting down roots for centuries and that makes it harder and harder for us to say, well, actually, perhaps we need to reimagine what it means to look like the church and to surrender some of the things that give us our sense of identity in the cause of Christ. There are very fundamental and extremely important doctrinal and dogmatic differences that we have between us and they have to be worked on, as they are with Rome and the Anglicans with ARCIC, and we take those extremely seriously. It’s absolutely essential that those are worked on. But we need to make sure we’re working on them in the context of churches and ecclesial communities that say no sacrifice is too great to be obedient to the call of Christ that we may be one.

Q.: ”¦ Neither you nor Pope Francis seem remotely interested in power and prestige. Does this mean therefore that we can expect some kind of surprising healing or reconciliation in the near future?
Archbishop Welby: God has given you, and given us all, a great Pope. And he’s a great Pope of surprises”¦ and I think people are inspired and uplifted by what they see in Pope Francis, as I am. I think he’s a wonderful person. Surprises? Yes, I think there’ll be one or two surprises. We’re hoping to produce a few surprises.

Read or listen to it all (just slightly under 9 1/3 minutes).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Ecumenical Relations, Other Churches, Theology, Theology: Scripture

GAFCON II–Anglican TV interviews Gavin Ashenden

Watch it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, GAFCON II 2013, Global South Churches & Primates

The Presiding Bishop preaches at St. Luke in the Fields, NYC for All Saints Day

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Presiding Bishop

Nathaniel Torrey–The “Funeral Selfie” and How We Deal with Death

A tumblr entitled “Selfies at Funerals” is the latest variation on the theme of spiritual entropy facing the modern world. The tumblr consists of self portraits of pretty youngsters making goofy expressions or showing off how flattering their dress or hair cut makes them look on the way to or after a funeral.

The phenomenon of “the funeral selfie” is inevitable in a culture entirely adverse to pain and terrified of dying. We would much prefer to make a silly face and strike a pose then to contemplate the fact we will inevitably die. As the Atlantic observed, what formerly inspired reflection and mourning now inspires a goofy grin or a suggestive pose. When death confronted Macbeth he pondered perhaps that life is nothing more than “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” We are content to shout “YOLO! LMFAO!” and pose for a quick photo to show off how good our hair looks for the funeral. To see a loved one as a corpse and realize that we too shall be just as dead is too much for modern man’s constitution; he is too used to taking every available short cut with the aid of modern science and technology. The idea that pain, suffering and death are things we must come to grips with in order to be fully human is entirely foreign to our sensibilities.

As a result, we tend to gloss over death whenever possible when it rears its head in our lives.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Parish Ministry, Psychology, Theology

(WSJ) Young Avoid New Health Plans, Raising Expense Concerns about the Overall ACA Plan

Insurers say the early buyers of health coverage on the nation’s troubled new websites are older than expected so far, raising early concerns about the economics of the insurance marketplaces.

If the trend continues, an older, more expensive set of customers could drive up prices for everyone, the insurers say, by forcing them to spread their costs around. “We need a broad range of people to make this work, and we’re not seeing that right now,” said Heather Thiltgen of Medical Mutual of Ohio, the state’s largest insurer by individual customers. “We’re seeing the population skewing older.”

The early numbers, described to The Wall Street Journal by insurance executives, agents, state officials and actuaries, are still small””partly a consequence of the continuing technical problems plaguing the federally run exchanges, experts say. HealthCare.gov, the federally run marketplace serving 36 states, is suffering serious technical problems that have prevented many people from signing up.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Aging / the Elderly, Blogging & the Internet, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Science & Technology, Theology, Young Adults

(Christian Post) Episcopal Church Continues Downward Trend According to Report

[Bumped from Saturday]
Jeff Walton, Anglican program director at the Institute on Religion & Democracy, told The Christian Post that these losses may even be larger than what is recorded.

According to Walton, TEC’s numbers are not factoring in the losses it technically sustained when the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina voted to leave the denomination last year.

“The reported nearly 29,000 member drop does not include an estimated 22,000 that departed with the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina in November of 2012. So the real decline is about 51,000 persons,” said Walton. “The Episcopal Church is continuing a gradual, predictable decline in both members and attendance.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Data

(TECOPA) Official PR on Episcopal Church Facts and Figures

[Bumped from Saturday]
Read it all and think about what is said and left unsaid.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Data

Episcopal Domestic Fast Facts Trends: 2008-2012

[Bumped from Saturday]
Read it all and read it carefully. You may also find still more material there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Data

Membership and Attendance Totals for the Episcopal Church Finally Released

[Bumped from Saturday]
Check it out carefully and also look and there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Data

(CSM) The Supreme Court takes up public prayer

The case now before the court may not be decided on the issue of whether local citizens who must go before a city council to conduct business should be forced to listen to an opening prayer. The justices treat adults differently from school children in many church-state issues. And the town has not censored the prayers or barred anyone from giving them.

Rather the court may focus on the lower court’s attempt to analyze the prayers on whether they used “generically theistic terms” or refer to a deity as male. The lower court found most of the prayers to be too Christian and thus impose one faith on the citizenry….

The high court’s history hints that it will rule in favor of the city council, recognizing that prayer is too private for public control or official definition. Courts can serve justice better if they are silent about the nature of prayer ”“ and the power of prayer in individual lives.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

Randall Balmer revisits a Valdosta, Georgia, Pentecostal parish that Joined TEC in 1990

Stanley J. White, the Assemblies of God minister and then a postulant for the priesthood, had pushed the envelope any number of times since succeeding his father as pastor of Evangel Assembly of God. His devotional readings had led him to the Book of Common Prayer, among other sources of spirituality, and he had already grown weary of evangelicalism’s endless quest for innovation. Some time after he initiated a liturgical procession ”” perhaps still the only instance in the century-long history of the Assemblies of God ”” some complaints alerted denominational authorities in Springfield, Mo. White was quickly sacked, but, much to his surprise, a significant number of his congregants indicated their willingness to accompany him on his spiritual journey, wherever it might lead.

It led, finally, to the Episcopal Church and to that memorable Sunday evening in 1990. The evangelicals sought the structure and connectedness of historic Christianity, but they also had no intention of leaving their pentecostal enthusiasm behind. Harry Shipps, the bishop of Georgia, said that they didn’t have to, that in fact he welcomed their enthusiasm, though I don’t know that he was quite prepared for that event. After the confirmands queued up before five bishops and all the confirmations were completed, the congregation erupted in orgiastic celebration.

I was more than a tad hesitant about returning to Valdosta. I was afraid, frankly, that the journey from Assemblies of God to Episcopal Church might have been a bridge too far, that pressures from within and without might have triggered a conservative backlash….

Read it all and also look at the parish chart there.

Posted in Uncategorized

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Almighty God, whose blessed Son taught in all honesty the way of life that thou requirest: Grant that we may so live as dutiful and loyal citizens of our earthly country, that we may show ourselves to be members of that heavenly country whereof thou art sovereign Lord and King; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

–L. E. H. Stephens-Hodge

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

And I will grant my two witnesses power to prophesy for one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.” These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands which stand before the Lord of the earth. And if any one would harm them, fire pours out from their mouth and consumes their foes; if any one would harm them, thus he is doomed to be killed. They have power to shut the sky, that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to smite the earth with every plague, as often as they desire.

–Revelation 11:3-6

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

TEC Bishop of New York's Statement on Casino Gambling

From here:

On November 5th, New York voters will be presented with Proposal 1, the New York Casino Gambling Amendment, which would allow the legislature to authorize up to seven new casinos in the state. The stated purposes of this constitutional amendment are to promote job growth, increase funding to schools, and permit local governments to lower property taxes. These are more than reasonable goals, but what is not said is that in places where casino gambling has been introduced, almost all gains have come at the high social cost of addiction and family disintegration, and deepening poverty. Some of these casinos are targeted for regions in New York, including in our diocese, characterized by entrenched poverty. The infusion of such false hopes into communities of economic desperation will, we are convinced, prove ruinous to people and families who will turn to the empty promises of casino gambling. There are no quick fixes to the challenges of struggling cities and towns, and we call on our elected leaders instead to focus on the kind of investment and hard work that build sound, long-term economic health and the self-sufficiency of communities. The Episcopal Church has long opposed casino gambling for all of these reasons, and so we stand in opposition to Proposal 1.

The Right Reverend Andrew M. L. Dietsche
Bishop of New York

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Gambling, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, State Government, TEC Bishops, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

Canadian Anglican bishop elected to WCC post

National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald has been elected as North American regional president for the World Council of Churches’ (WCC) during its 10th assembly currently taking place in Busan, Republic of Korea.

MacDonald becomes the first representative from the Anglican Church of Canada to assume this leadership role in the WCC. He will remain in his capacity as national indigenous Anglican bishop.

Founded in 1948, the WCC is an ecumenical fellowship of 349 member churches and denominations, representing over 560 million Christians in over 110 countries.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Ecumenical Relations, Globalization

A NY Times Editorial on the Case Coming to the Supreme Court this Week–A Prayer in the Town Hall

The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled for the plaintiffs. While prayers before legislative sessions do not necessarily violate the Constitution, the court said, the “overwhelming predominance” of the prayers was explicitly Christian, leading a reasonable observer to understand the town to be endorsing that religion over others, regardless of the town’s intent. (After the suit was filed, the board invited representatives of other religions, including Judaism, the Baha’i faith and Wicca, to deliver the prayer, but after four months the prayers were almost exclusively Christian again.)

Defenders of the board’s practice rely on a 1983 Supreme Court case that upheld prayers before legislative sessions ”” including those of Congress ”” because they are “deeply embedded” in American history. The prayers in Greece are constitutional, the defenders say, because they may be delivered by anyone, and the town does not compel citizens to pray.

But compulsion is not the only issue. As Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote in a 1984 case, when a government appears to endorse one religion, it “sends a message to nonadherents that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community.” After the Greece lawsuit was filed, one of the plaintiffs received a letter, signed “666,” that read, “If you feel ”˜unwanted’ at the Town of Greece meetings, it’s probably because you are.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Church/State Matters, City Government, History, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Rural/Town Life, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

(Wash Post Op-ed) Robert Samuelson–We need to stop coddling the elderly

No one wants to be against Grandma, who ”” as portrayed in the media ”” is kindly, often suffering from some condition, usually financially precarious and somehow needy. But projecting this sympathetic portrait onto the entire 65-plus population is an exercise in make-believe and, frequently, political propaganda. The St. Louis Fed study refutes the stereotype. Examining different age groups, it found that since the financial crisis, incomes have risen for the elderly while they’ve dropped for the young and middle-aged.

The numbers are instructive. From 2007, the year before the financial crisis, to 2010, median income for the families under 40 dropped 12.4 percent to $39,644. For the middle-aged from 40 to 61, the comparable decline was 11.9 percent to $56,924. Meanwhile, those aged 62 to 69 gained 12.3 percent to $50,825. For Americans 70-plus, the increase was 15.6 percent to $31,512. (All figures adjust for inflation and are in 2010 “constant” dollars. The “median income” is the midpoint of incomes and is often considered “typical.”)

There has been a historic shift in favor of today’s elderly. To put this in perspective, recall that many family expenses drop with age. Mortgages are paid off; work costs vanish; children leave. Recall also that incomes typically follow a “life cycle”: They start low in workers’ 20s, peak in their 50s, and then decline in retirement, as wages give way to government transfers and savings. Against these realities, the long-term gains of the elderly and losses of the young are astonishing. From 1989 to 2010, median income increased 60 percent for those aged 62 to 69 while falling 6”‰percent for those under 40 and 2”‰percent for those 40 to 61.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, Budget, Economy, Health & Medicine, Medicare, Politics in General, Social Security, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government