Daily Archives: July 25, 2014

(WSJ) Wanted: Converts to Judaism

For decades Jews have been vexed by the question of intermarriage. According to a report from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life released last year, almost half of married Jews in America have a non-Jewish spouse, a trend of intermarriage in line with that of the larger society. At the same time, according to earlier Pew reports, religious switching and the movement away from religion altogether are both at an all time-high in the U.S. Forty-four percent of Americans do not currently belong to the faith in which they were raised, the Pew Research Center reported in 2009. As of 2012, the fastest-growing faith community by far was “none.”

This presents the Jewish community (and others too) with an unprecedented challenge””but also, perhaps, with a unique opportunity. I believe that Jewish institutions and their rabbis should actively encourage non-Jewish family members in our midst to take the next step and formally commit to Judaism.

To some this may seem a surprising idea. It is well known that Judaism has not been a proselytizing faith. Historically, Jewish authorities were wary of potential converts. The rabbis sought to make sure that converts were motivated solely by devotion to the God of Israel and the desire to join the people of Israel. Conversion purely for the sake of marriage was disallowed.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelism and Church Growth, Judaism, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Breaking: Appeal Court denies TEC Quincy Appeal

Key Excerpts follow below the “read more” link.

Read it all[pdf]. h/t Stand Firm

Note: An article with important background to today’s decision is here.

[color=Red]UPDATE:[/color] Don’t miss Allan Haley’s analysis of this decision at Anglican Curmudgeon

[47] However, the deference approach is unavailable where the determination of a church’s hierarchical structure is not easily discernible. See Maryland & Virginia Eldership of the Churches of God v. Church of God at Sharpsburg, Inc., 396 U.S. 367, 369-70 (1970) (deference approach is permissible only where the governing church body can be determined without extensive inquiry into religious policy). Here, the trial court declined to apply a deference approach, concluding it could not “constitutionally determine the highest judicatory authority or the locus of control regarding the property dispute to which it would be required to defer.” The court’s conclusion is not against the manifest weight of the evidence.

[48] A review of the evidence presented in this case, including testimony from Dr. Mullin, the Church’s own witness, does not clearly demonstrate the existence of a hierarchical relationship between the Diocese and the Church. Indeed, the Church’s authority is not readily ascertainable without an impermissible investigation into matters of polity. Moreover, the central matter underlying the parties’ dispute is: “who owns the disputed property.” Determining whether the Diocese could leave the Church or identifying the leaders of the continuing diocese is unnecessary for purposes of answering that question. Again, such determinations would necessarily involve an extensive inquiry into church polity. With regard to the issue of the disputed property, however, we agree with the trial court it can be resolved by applying neutral principles of law.

[54] An examination of the evidence reveals nothing to demonstrate an express trust, an implied trust, or any other interest vested in the Church. As stated, neither the deed nor the Discretionary Agency Agreement provides for an express trust in favor of the Church. Further, our review of the Diocese’s constitution and canons does not suggest diocesan assets were ever impliedly held in trust for the Church. After Jones, the Church adopted a trust canon (Title I.7.4, referred to by the parties as the Dennis Canon). That canon provides parish property is held in trust for the Diocese and Church and restricts a parish’s ability to dispose of its property. However, it appears undisputed the Church’s canons do not contain similar language with respect to diocesan property being held in favor of the Church. In addition, Bonner testified the Dennis Canon does not apply to property owned by a diocese. Our review of the record reveals nothing to suggest the opposite conclusion. Accordingly, the trial court’s findings in this regard are not against the manifest weight of the evidence.

[55] In sum, the evidence presented demonstrates title to the funds and real property lies with the Diocese. Following our review of the record, we cannot say the trial court’s findings were arbitrary, unreasonable, or not otherwise based on the evidence. Nor can we say the opposite conclusion is clearly apparent in this case. As a result, the court did not err in finding in favor of the Diocese. We commend the trial court for its detailed order, which we found quite helpful in reviewing this matter.


[57] For the reasons stated, we affirm the trial court’s judgment and deny the Church’s motion to substitute party.

[58] Affirmed; motion denied.

Posted in * Admin, * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Featured (Sticky), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Quincy, TEC Polity & Canons

F. Times profiles London East End Vicar Darren Wolf and his attempt "to revamp church services"

With his waxed moustache and tattoos, Darren Wolf could be either the founder of a tech start-up or a cage fighter, depending on your view of London’s East End.

In fact he is a Cambridge graduate, a former director of the Terrence Higgins Trust and last month became one of the latest batch of vicars enlisted to revamp church services in the Diocese of London.

His first posting as an ordained minister is to Christ Church Spitalfields, the Nicholas Hawksmoor-designed masterpiece that sits at the border between the City’s banks, Brick Lane’s curry houses and the tech companies of Shoreditch.

Rev Wolf’s first assignment at this striking white temple is to launch an informal 5pm service.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Time) The Beta Marriage [i.e. a 2 year trail period]? How Millennials Approach 'I Do'

Buried in the data [of the study] was the revelation that almost half of millennials (43 percent, and higher among the youngest subset) said they would support a marriage model that involved a two-year trial ”” at which point the union could be either formalized or dissolved, no divorce or paperwork required. Thirty three percent said they’d be open to trying what researchers dubbed the “real estate” approach ”“ marriage licenses granted on a five, seven, 10 or 30-year arms, after which the terms must be renegotiated. And 21 percent said they’d give the “presidential” method a try, whereby marriage vows last for four years but after eight you can elect to choose a new partner.

In total, nearly half of all of those surveyed, ages 18 to 49 ”“ and 53 percent percent of millennials ”” thought marriage vows should be renewed, and nearly 40 percent said they believed the “till death do us part” vow should be abolished. In other words: Beta marriages! Unions you can test and deglitch, work out kinks or simply abandon course without consequence. “This is a generation that is used to this idea that everything is in beta, that life is a work in progress, so the idea of a beta marriage makes sense,” the study’s author, Melissa Lavigne-Delville, told me. “It’s not that they’re entirely noncommittal, it’s just that they’re nimble and open to change.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Sociology, Young Adults

[Lent & Beyond] Prayer for South Carolina Friday July 25th

Psalm 18:28 (ESV)
For it is you who light my lamp;
the Lord my God lightens my darkness.

Our Father in heaven,
We turn to You. Lighten the darkness in the courtroom where the trial between the Episcopal Church in South Carolina and the Diocese of South Carolina is taking place. Amen.

Please pray it all if you wish and there are more prayers from Lent and Beyond for South Carolina here. We are grateful to Lent and Beyond for these daily prayers.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

South Carolina Legislature gets thumbs down in Poll

South Carolina’s legislative session this year was rife with controversy and a lack of progress on key issues, likely contributing to voters’ general disapproval of the Legislature as a whole, according to experts and a new Palmetto Politics poll.

The poll, commissioned by The Post and Courier and three television stations, showed that 45 percent of 1,000 likely voters surveyed disapproved of the job the state Legislature has done. On the other hand, 22 percent approved of the Legislature’s performance and 33 percent were undecided. At the same time, the voters polled were split on the direction South Carolina is heading. While 44 percent believe the state is heading in the right direction, 41 percent say it is on the wrong track and 14 percent were undecided. The poll has a margin of error of about 4 percent.

Despite the numbers, experts say that just as with the low approval ratings for Congress, few feel strongly enough to make a change of their own representative. Members of the House of Representatives are up for election this November.

Read it all from the front page of yesterday’s local paper.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Politics in General, State Government

(Bloomberg) Putin Said to Press Ukraine Gambit After Malaysia Air Hit

President Vladimir Putin will resist mounting pressure to abandon pro-Russian rebels immediately while seeking to convince the world that Ukraine, not the insurgents, shot down Malaysian Air Flight MH17, according to three people familiar with Kremlin discussions.

Putin and his inner circle are nervous that the intensifying standoff with the U.S. and its allies over the insurgency in Ukraine may cripple Russia’s economy, the people said. Still, Putin won’t back down because he refuses to be seen as weak, one of the people said.

The international outrage over the attack on the Boeing Co. 777, which killed 298 people, and the sanctions imposed and threatened by the U.S. and the European Union over Russia’s policies in Ukraine have created a new reality that the leadership is struggling to adapt to, one Putin adviser said. The U.S. says the jet was probably downed by separatists using a Russian-supplied missile and launcher, which they deny.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Russia, Theology, Ukraine

(RNS) Wikipedia’s edit wars and the 8 religious pages people can’t stop editing

Since editing that page and adding 50 percent to the content, [Anthony] Willey has made more than 8,000 edits to the editable online encyclopedia, mostly on articles related to Mormonism. His top edited pages include entries on Joseph Smith, Mormons, Mormonism, and Black people and Mormonism.

The problem confronting many Wikipedia editors is that religion elicits passion ”” and often, more than a little vitriol as believers and critics spar over facts, sources and context. For “Wikipedians” like Willey, trying to put a lid on the online hate speech that can be endemic to Wikipedia entries is a key part of their job.

Religion is among several of the top 100 altered topics on Wikipedia, according to a recent list published by Five Thirty Eight. Former President George W. Bush is the most contested entry, but Jesus (No. 5) and the Catholic Church (No. 7) fall closely behind.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Religion & Culture

NYC Pastor Who Prayed With Meriam Ibrahim Credits Those Who Cried 'Let Meriam Go!' for release

The U.S. pastor who took it upon himself to fly to Sudan to meet with and pray for imprisoned persecuted Christian mother Meriam Ibrahim was among those celebrating her freedom Thursday. He credited the 27-year-old married mother’s release to the outcry of people from around the world who were captivated by her steadfast Christian witness in the face of impending death.

“Praise God for that,” Pastor William Devlin told The Christian Post in response to Ibrahim’s early morning flight out of Sudan, where she had been held imprisoned for nearly one year. Devlin returned to New York City on July 20 after a week-long trip to Sudan, where he says he spent an hour and a half with Ibrahim, her husband Daniel Wani and their two children.

“I think it was really the outcry of people from around the world,” added Pastor Devlin, commenting on what he thought led to Ibrahim’s release just days after his visit with her at the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum. Indeed, the young woman’s case resonated with many around the world and many were moved to petition for her release. One such petition, published on Change.org, had more than one million supporters.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --South Sudan, Africa, Foreign Relations, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Prison/Prison Ministry, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer, Sudan

(Ch. Times) Report on ”˜Trojan horse’ letter on Islam and Schools finds claims justified

Allegations in the so-called “Trojan horse” letter of an organised attempt by some governors and senior staff to impose a hardline, politicised Islamic agenda on a group of Birmingham schools were largely true, the report of a top-level investigation into the letter’s claims, published on Tuesday, says.

Sent anonymously to Birmingham City Council last November, and leaked to the press earlier this year, the letter was originally dismissed by the council as a hoax designed to disturb community relations in the city. The allegations were comprehensively denied by those involved.

But, as further complaints surfaced, a former Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, commissioned Peter Clarke, a former head of counter-terrorism in the UK, to conduct an inquiry.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Children, Church of England (CoE), Education, England / UK, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(London Times) A kitchen appliance that captures the zeitgeist–a selfie toaster

If ever a kitchen appliance captured the zeitgeist, this is it: you can now eat your own face, thanks to a selfie toaster.

The toasters are custom built to scorch a particular image into a piece of bread. They cost $75 (£45), and to order one you must send a picture of yourself to the manufacturer.

Read it all (subsciption required).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Psychology, Theology

Diocese of South Carolina Trial–Jeremy Bonner gives an account of Yesterday's proceedings

Whenever one is spared an ordeal, initial relief is soon succeeded by a measure of regret that one has been unable to make public the fruits of one’s research. After two weeks in Charleston and five days sitting in the St. George courthouse, the news that I was not to take the stand was hardly a surprise, however, after this morning’s bravura performance by Gettysburg College’s Allen Guelzo, who delivered one of the most lucid pieces of witness testimony of the whole trial….

Both Mary Kostel and David Booth Beers did their best with a witness for whom they were unprepared (this is permitted under South Carolina law, as Guelzo was introduced for the purpose of rebuttal of their earlier argument pertaining to the manner in which the national church exercised control over dioceses and states). Kostel focused on the writings of nineteenth century commentators that have been at the center of my counterpart Robert Bruce Mullin’s arguments, but Guelzo fought back, in the process eliciting from the judge the revelation that state law requires that an expert witness have the freedom to offer a critique of a proffered document if he declines to accept it as “learned treatise” (something which came as news to a number of the South Carolina attorneys present for the independent Diocese). Freed from a simple acknowledgment of the statements presented, Guelzo happily explained how most of the advocates of national church hierarchy in the nineteenth century were ritualist partisans and certainly enjoyed no authority from the General Convention to say what they said. Asked for a counter argument from the same era, he proffered Calvin Colton’s Genius and Mission of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States (1853), a source of which, I must confess, I was unaware, but which I’ve no doubt fits the bill. The point at issue is that any notion of a churchwide consensus on polity is simply unsustainable. There followed a fruitless set of exchanges between Guelzo and David Beers in which the latter was in fairly short order outmaneuvered, when he attempted to switch the focus to twentieth century canon law, of which Guelzo did not profess to be an expert.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * South Carolina, America/U.S.A., Church History, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), History, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint James the Apostle

O gracious God, we remember before thee this day thy servant and apostle James, first among the Twelve to suffer martyrdom for the Name of Jesus Christ; and we pray that thou wilt pour out upon the leaders of thy Church that spirit of self-denying service by which alone they may have true authority among thy people; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Holy Spirit of God, who didst descend upon our Lord Christ at the river Jordan, and upon the disciples at the feast of Pentecost: Have mercy upon us, we beseech thee, and by thy divine fire enlighten our minds and purify our hearts; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Saint Nerses of Clajes

Posted in Uncategorized

From the Morning Bible Readings

When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death; and they bound him and led him away and delivered him to Pilate the governor.

When Judas, his betrayer, saw that he was condemned, he repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned in betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” And throwing down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed; and he went and hanged himself. But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since they are blood money.” So they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel, and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.”

Posted in Uncategorized

Trial Day 13: Expert in Religious History Allen Guelzo Testifies TEC Holds No Control Over Dioceses

On the 13th day of the trial of the Diocese of South Carolina vs. The Episcopal Church and its local subsidiary, The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, a director of The Historical Society of the Episcopal Church testified that the denomination has no supreme control over its dioceses or parishes, countering TEC claims to the contrary.

Dr. Allen C. Guelzo, who is also a professor of history at Gettysburg College, an expert on the history of religious organizations including TEC and the author of 16 books, said that TEC’s authority is “prescriptive,” which means the denomination can advise its dioceses but cannot order them to do anything.

He also testified that TEC was formed by dioceses, including the Diocese of South Carolina, and that it did not form those dioceses. He said there was no evidence in its formation in 1789 or today that it controlled the dioceses that are in union with it. He also testified that nothing associated with TEC’s formation suggests that dioceses that formed it could not leave it as voluntarily as they joined it. “History shows that authority flows from bottom up,” Guelzo said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, Theology

(Anglican Journal) Canadian Anglicans protest sex-trade bill

A group of Anglican clergy and laity have taken a stand against Bill C-36, the Conservative government’s proposed legislation whose Scandinavian model shifts the main criminal burden in prostitution from vendors to buyers.

Bill C-36 proposes to decriminalize the selling of sexual services but not the buying of them.

Fearing the bill will further marginalize and endanger workers by driving sex-for-hire transactions underground, some 35 Anglicans led by Victoria’s Rev. Bruce Bryant-Scott recently sent an open letter to the hearings held by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights of the House of Commons. “We were too late for the panel discussions, but the letter has been noted as part of the public record,” said Bryant-Scott, rector of St. Matthias Anglican Church, diocese of British Columbia.
– See more at: http://www.anglicanjournal.com/articles/anglicans-protest-sex-trade-bill#sthash.gl2n0zgd.dpuf

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces