Daily Archives: May 17, 2016

A S Haley–TEC Loses (Again) in Quincy; San Joaquin Seeks Review

Now that the case will return to Adams County (assuming the Church litigators do not waste everyone’s time and money with a request for leave to appeal again to the Illinois Supreme Court), the stay against those actions will be lifted, and they can proceed. However, like the claim to the moneys in the bank, the claims in these suits will not be proceeding in a vacuum. Twice now the Illinois Court of Appeals has held that ECUSA had no enforceable trust interest in property held for parishes. The first of those decisions also dealt with the ineffectiveness of the Dennis Canon to create any such trust under Illinois law. It is likely, therefore, but not certain, that these last few isolated claims will fare the same fate as the others. (No one ever made anything by trying to predict what a particular court will decide to do.)

It is nonetheless deplorable that the new Presiding Bishop of ECUSA sees fit to allow his litigators to continue to waste the Church’s trust funds and pledge income on litigation for purely punitive purposes. One has to wonder, when it comes to going after realigning dioceses and parishes, just who is in charge of ECUSA after all these years. The irony is that a person who acts as his own attorney (or lets his attorney make all the decisions, which comes to the same thing) has, as those of us in the profession happily admit, “a fool for a client.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Katherine Jefferts Schori, Law & Legal Issues, Michael Curry, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Presiding Bishop, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Quincy, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin, Theology

Oliver O’Donovan-The Wreck of Catholic Identity: Marriage Canon Revision in the Sc. Episcopal Ch

In June the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church will return to the proposal to change its Canon 31 on Marriage, removing the reference to “one man and one woman”, a step it prepared for in the equivalent meeting last year. At that time the Synod was presented with a paper from its Doctrine Committee, considering change to the doctrine of marriage “in the light of Scripture, Tradition and Reason”. That remains the only formal presentation of the questions at issue the church has published to date, so that when the question is asked, in Scotland and beyond, what considerations have led to this moment of decision, it is the sole source for an answer. It is important, then, to be clear what the nature of the guidance has been.

In a series of articles on the Fulcrum site published just ten years ago I discussed the broader question of how the Anglican churches could think together about the gay issue. 2 Between then and now I have written no more on the matter, and return to it now, prompted by the reflections offered to the Scottish Synod, with considerable reluctance. The paper in question devotes two whole pages to a partly critical response to what I wrote then, and I have no wish at all to pursue an argument, direct or indirect, with what they write about me, which was intended, and is taken, in candour and respect. But the issues now at stake, which were large enough ten years ago, are now infinitely greater: disagreements, which have been extended by the arrival of the so-called “equal marriage” on the secular statute-books, now spread out, like a Canadian wildfire, from the sphere of ethics into the sphere of doctrine, and threaten the catholic identity of the church. But in the vacuum of Anglican theological discussion that prevails in Scotland, these fateful deliberations are able to slip by without much notice. As a theologian holding a license from a Scottish bishop, though with no part in any of the Scottish deliberations, I am not quite at liberty to shrug my shoulders when all around me are shrugging theirs.

Read it all from Fulcrum.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Ecclesiology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Scotland, Scottish Episcopal Church, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NYT) Hiring Hurdle: Finding Workers Who Can Pass a Drug Test

All over the country, employers say they see a disturbing downside of tighter labor markets as they try to rebuild from the worst recession since the Depression: They are struggling to find workers who can pass a pre-employment drug test.

That hurdle partly stems from the growing ubiquity of drug testing, at corporations with big human resources departments, in industries like trucking where testing is mandated by federal law for safety reasons, and increasingly at smaller companies.

But data suggest employers’ difficulties also reflect an increase in the use of drugs, especially marijuana ”” employers’ main gripe ”” and also heroin and other opioid drugs much in the news.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Theology

(ABC Aus.) Dominic Erdozain–We need an awareness of the religious roots of the Enlightenment

The Enlightenment, as David Bebbington has shown, was a seminal influence on the rise of evangelicalism and its experiential, sensed-based spirituality. Pierre Bayle – prophet of conscience – was not only the darling of the philosophes in the eighteenth century: he played a vital role in the emergence of Continental Pietism. Voltaire, meanwhile, added to his scattering of liberal advocates a number of orthodox admirers. He would have enjoyed the phrase with which a nineteenth-century priest appraised his radioactive ministry: “Dieu, par une ruse diabolique, envoya Voltaire combattre son Eglise pour le regenerer” [God, by a religious ruse, sent Voltaire to his Church to regenerate her].

Finally, Spinoza – “the most impious, the most infamous, and at the same time the most subtle Atheist that Hell has vomited on the earth” – made good on his enduring claim that love is criticism, and criticism is love. Among his posthumous admirers was the Russian philosopher, Vladimir Soloviev, who credited Spinoza with his return to the Christian faith he lost as a teenager. A towering and ecumenical intellect, and perhaps the single greatest influence on the Russian religious renaissance of the twentieth century, Soloviev gracefully eludes the set-piece humour of secularization.

Ideas that savoured of blasphemy to a dualistic, Western mind were here taken as intended. Such examples may be multiplied. Together they confirm my view that modernity is a war of religious ideas, not a war on them. The secular other is a not-so-distant relative – possibly a friend.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, History, Other Faiths, Philosophy, Secularism, Theology

A Biblical meditation from Sarah Seibels–The Arm of Flesh Will Fail You

If there is a clear theme, it is instead that the tossing waves of adversity (whether caused by our own hands or by the hands of others) do not let up in this world. The pressure and pain of sin can feel like a relentless force, not to mention that much of what we see is often barely comprehensible at best.

Perhaps then, if waves are a certainty, we have a word of comfort from Hezekiah to his people to which we can hold fast: “”˜Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed . . . With him is an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles’” (2 Chron. 32:7-8).

Read it all.

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Scope) Does marriage alone improve cancer survival? Taking a closer look

A number of studies have consistently shown lower mortality among those who are married compared to those who are not. More recently, this phenomenon has been demonstrated in studies of cancer patients, across all types of cancers that have been studied. Curiously, males seem to be benefit more from being married than females.

In a pair of companion papers (here and here) published last month in the journal Cancer, Dr. Elena Martinez and I set out to understand whether the marriage benefit is in fact due to having greater social support or having greater economic resources, or a combination of the two. Using the California Cancer Registry, a large, population-based dataset (containing data from essentially everyone diagnosed with cancer in California), we assessed the role of economic resources in one paper, and whether the benefit of marriage on survival differed across different racial/ethnic groups in a second paper.

We found that having access to greater economic resources including private health insurance and living in higher socioeconomic status neighborhoods were indeed associated with improved survival, and married patients were more likely than unmarried to have greater economic resources. However, to our surprise, these factors barely influenced the beneficial effects on survival rate among married patients. Interestingly, the marriage benefit differed across racial/ethnic groups ”“ strongest among white males, and weaker among foreign-born Asian males and females.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family

(NYT) Scientists Talk Privately About Creating a Synthetic Human Genome

Scientists are now contemplating the fabrication of a human genome, meaning they would use chemicals to manufacture all the DNA contained in human chromosomes.

The prospect is spurring both intrigue and concern in the life sciences community because it might be possible, such as through cloning, to use a synthetic genome to create human beings without biological parents.

While the project is still in the idea phase, and also involves efforts to improve DNA synthesis in general, it was discussed at a closed-door meeting on Tuesday at Harvard Medical School in Boston. The nearly 150 attendees were told not to contact the news media or to post on Twitter during the meeting.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology, Theology

Niall Ferguson–A message from Dostoevsky to the 21st century: Worry About Big Data

In “Notes from Underground,’’ Dostoevsky fired a broadside against all the Victorian do-gooders who dreamt of a perfectly rational society. “You seem certain that man himself will give up erring of his own free will,” he fulminated. He foresaw a ghastly future in which “all human acts will be listed in something like logarithm tables . . . and transferred to a timetable . . . [that] will carry detailed calculations and exact forecasts of everything to come.” In such a world, his utilitarian contemporaries believed, there would be no wrongdoing. It would have been planned, legislated, and regulated out of existence.

We are nearly there. Or so it seems….

I am deeply suspicious of the concerted effort to address all these problems in ways that markedly increase the power of states ”” and not just any states, but specifically the world’s big states ”” at the expense of both small states and the individual. What makes me especially wary is that today, unlike in Dostoevsky’s time, the technology exists to give those big states, along with a few private companies, just the kind of control he dreaded.

Consider some recent encroachments on liberty.

Read it all from the Boston Globe.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, City Government, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Globalization, History, Poetry & Literature, Politics in General, Russia, State Government, The U.S. Government, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day from James Ferguson

Almighty God, who fillest all things with thy boundless presence, yet makest thy chosen dwelling-place in the soul of man: Come thou, a gracious and willing Guest, and take thine abode in our hearts; that all unholy thoughts and desires within us be cast out, and thy holy presence be to us comfort, light and love; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Pentecost, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction,
and be attentive, that you may gain insight;
for I give you good precepts:
do not forsake my teaching.
When I was a son with my father,
tender, the only one in the sight of my mother,
he taught me, and said to me,
“Let your heart hold fast my words;
keep my commandments, and live;
do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.
Get wisdom; get insight.
Do not forsake her, and she will keep you;
love her, and she will guard you.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom,
and whatever you get, get insight.

–Proverbs 4:1-7

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Do not Take Yourself Too Seriously Dept–Toddler Barfs In The Car, Dad Freaks, Epic Text Exchange…

Every parent has an epic barf story, and we trade them like old generals recounting the horrors of war, but despite the terrible things we’ve all seen, it’s likely none of us has a story as hilariously awful as this one. Recently, a dad posted some screenshots of texts he sent to his wife after their toddler threw up in the the car, and his story is so outlandish, it’s got thousands of parents laughing and dry heaving in sympathy.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Children, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Health & Medicine, Humor / Trivia, Marriage & Family

(Reuters) Alberta wildfire near Enbridge crude oil tank farm: officials

A massive wildfire burning around the oil sands hub of Fort McMurray, Alberta, is about 1 km (1,094 yards) away from Enbridge Inc’s Cheecham crude oil tank farm, but is under control for now, emergency officials said on Monday.

The blaze near the tank farm was stable because the wind was cooperating as Enbridge’s industrial firefighters tackled the blaze, the officials said at a news conference.

The entire population of Fort McMurray, about 90,000 people, were forced to flee the Canadian city nearly two weeks ago as the uncontrolled wildfire raged through some neighborhoods and destroyed about 15 percent of structures.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Canada, Energy, Natural Resources, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire

(C Of E) Church Commissioners announce total 2015 return on investments at 8.2%

The Church Commissioners for England have announced their latest financial results with the publication of their annual report.

The Church Commissioners’ total return on their investments in 2015 was 8.2 per cent, exceeding their long-term target rate by 2%. Over the past 30 years the fund has achieved an average return of 9.7% per annum. After taking account of expenditure, the fund has grown from £2.4bn at the start of 1995 to £7.0 billion at the end of 2015.

In 2015, the charitable expenditure of the Commissioners was £218.5 million, accounting for 15% of the Church’s overall mission and ministry costs. Commissioners-funded projects ranged from clubs and drop-ins to youth work and food bank hubs, all supported by local churches.

Read it all.

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

Christianity Today on How the Methodist debate on Same-Sex Unions is Shaping Up

On Friday, delegates voted 355 to 477 against the proposal, in what is likely a preview of any vote taken on biblical sexuality. In general, Rule 44 was embraced by proponents of gay marriage and opposed by proponents of traditional marriage.

That’s probably because the usual method has been working pretty well for conservative Methodists who favor traditional marriage. Though other mainline denominations have opened the doors to the full participation of gay members, the UMC’s General Conference spent the last 44 years consistently voting to maintain the denomination’s ban on same-sex unions and on ordaining non-celibate clergy.

The UMC’s firm stance doesn’t stem primarily from its American members; less than half of them (46%) agree with the current ban, while 38 percent oppose it. Almost all of the 100-plus proposals on changes to the UMC’s stance on human sexuality came from American conferences.

Some even spent the preceding weeks practicing denominational civil disobedience: the day before the conference began, 111 Methodist religious leaders revealed their homosexual orientation in an open letter. A week earlier, 15 clergy and candidates for clergy in the New York Annual Conference did the same thing. And elder David Meredith married his partner at a Methodist church in Columbus, Ohio, on the weekend between the two.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Methodist, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology, Theology: Scripture