Daily Archives: November 5, 2018

Episcopal church battle over Fresno real estate, Sexual Standards for clergy leads to trial

A national church is suing its former followers in Fresno in a real estate battle launched by the church’s decision to accept [non-celbiate] gay…clergy members.

Attorneys delivered opening arguments Monday in the case pitting The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of San Joaquin against St. Columba Church and its congregants who split away from the religion.

The Episcopal Church says the administration at St. Columba and its pastor, Rev. James Snell, illegally took possession of the church on Palm and Shaw in 2008.

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(The Australian) Archbishop Glenn Davies–Real freedoms will end the broken chain of exemptions

…when the heads of our Anglica­n schools wrote their open letter, the subject at hand — stated quite clearly — was religious freedom, the right to run a school in accordan­ce with its tenets, beliefs and values. They pointed out that schools never used these exemptions in the area of sexual identity and orientation. They neither wanted them nor requested them. To do so would have gone against the very ethos of an Anglican school, which welcomes all ­students.

However, the publication of the open letter has poured a vat of vitrio­l upon the heads of some of the most respected schools in the country. Reaction to gossip across social media has galvanised signatures on petitions for a cause with which the heads of schools are in fundamental agreement.

The open letter’s reference to retaining the exemptions (for exampl­e, allowing single-sex schools to enrol only students of one sex) was in response to a bill from the Australian Greens, which sought to delete the entire section. Besides, for 35 years this has not been an issue in the public sphere, despite our own criticism of the lack of a positive protection for religious freedom. Yet any fair reading will reveal that the thrust of the letter was to advance the case for protecting religious freedom for Anglican schools in particular, and across the educational sector as a whole, including schools of different faiths and those of no faith.

I commend the heads for their courage in sending this message to the members of federal parliament. I also commend them for their resilience in the face of such stringent opposition and mis­understanding from some alumni of their schools, who have simply missed the point. Given the misleading nature of the “exemptions” regime, I can understand their confusion, but the landscape of Anglican education has not changed. Anglican schools neither discriminate against gay students nor do they want the right to do so.

The heads want the parliament to provide positive protection for religious freedom. When the presen­t vacuum is filled — not by rumour and misinformation but by the release of the Ruddock report — we can finally leave behind our broken mess of exemptions and move toward the positive protecti­on of religious freedom.

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Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Fulcrum) Tom Wright–Good News: National Witness?

This frightening agenda, inviting us to march boldly into the lions’ den, is exemplified almost at once as Jesus stands before Pilate, and argues with him about kingdom, truth and power. Our world is just as confused as Pilate was on all three counts. Different forms of kingdom have been tried and found wanting; truth has collapsed again and again into fake news; the only constant – as with Pilate – is the power of violence. The Farewell discourses and the trial before Pilate, ending with Jesus’ own death, constitute for me the centre of the New Testament’s political theology: Jesus gathers his followers and charges them to a life of unity and holiness, not so they can forget the world but so that they can hold the world to account, even as they are living out in themselves the new creation, the new way of being human, which will carry its own conviction.

I could give many examples of communities that are doing this, though as I said they don’t normally make the news headlines, so the church can easily be portrayed as stuck in its own ever-shrinking mud. I think of food banks, educations projects, drug rehab centres, marriage counselling, peace-making and so on. A high proportion of volunteers in our country, in these and other areas, are Christians. But I want to finish with this. The vision of new creation, and of Jesus’ followers as the new humanity called to model, announce and implement that new creation already in the power of the Spirit, will flow out of and flow back into worship.

I am deeply concerned about the unthinking slide, in the last evangelical generation, into a free-floating, disordered non-liturgical worship in which the Psalms are seldom if ever used, in which scripture is not read extensively in public, in which the sacraments are often perfunctory and apologetic, in which most of the sung lyrics, and the music which carries them, are essentially postmodern, with deconstructed fragments of dogma and devotion matched by the deconstructed fragments of tunes. This postmodern format, though perhaps a necessary protest against an over-formal earlier style, cannot be the right place to stay. Non-liturgical or even anti-liturgical worship is the liturgical equivalent of Brexit: it may be making a protest against the formality of an earlier modernism, but it cannot express or point the way into that post-postmodernism which our culture, our politics, desperately needs. Good liturgy isn’t everything, but bad liturgy isn’t anything.

You see, our culture is stuck because we have the wrong story in our heads. Non-liturgical worship allows that wrong story to go unchallenged. Good liturgy acts out the right story, that world history reached its climax in Jesus. Our culture is stuck in an Epicurean mode, the split-level world in which heaven and earth are held apart. Much evangelical and charismatic worship allows that to go unchallenged, merely relying on Plato to get the soul in good shape and on its way out of here. Good liturgy holds heaven and earth together, relishing the points at which, in physical beauty and movement, the life of heaven is portrayed here on earth (yes, with all the attendant dangers). Our culture imagines that ‘progress’ – social, cultural, even moral! – is automatic. Good liturgy challenges that with the drama of Jesus’ death and resurrection and the ever-fresh outpouring of the Spirit.

To put it starkly: if you never sing Psalm 72, how will you be reminded that Israel’s Messiah is already ruling from one sea to the other, from the River to the ends of the earth, and that his reign is what the world needs because he, and he alone, will deliver the poor when they cry, and rescue the widow and the orphan? The EU won’t do that, and neither will the Brexiteers. The Arab Spring didn’t do this, and neither will Trump or Putin. If you never live through the eucharist as the enacted drama of salvation, how will you be able to challenge the dominant narratives of our culture?

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary

(NYT Op-ed) Dana Horn–American Jews Know How This Story Goes

“There are no words.”

This was what I heard most often last weekend from those who were stunned by the news: 11 people were murdered at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh — believed to be the largest massacre of Jews on American soil. But there are words for this, entire books full of words: the books the murdered people were reading at the hour of their deaths. News reports described these victims as praying, but Jewish prayer is not primarily personal or spontaneous. It is communal reading. Public recitations of ancient words, scripts compiled centuries ago and nearly identical in every synagogue in the world. A lot of those words are about exactly this.

When I told my children what had happened, they didn’t ask why; they knew. “Because some people hate Jews,” they said. How did these American children know that? They shrugged. “It’s like the Passover story,” my 9-year-old told me. “And the Hanukkah story. And the Purim story. And the Babylonians, and the Romans.” My children are descendants of Holocaust survivors, but they didn’t go that far forward in history. The words were already there.

The people murdered in Pittsburgh were mostly old, because the old are the pillars of Jewish life, full of days and memories. They are the ones who come to synagogue first, the ones who know the words by heart. The oldest victim was Rose Mallinger, 97….

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Judaism, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Theology: Scripture, Violence

(Local Paper front page) Historically black Charleston churches moving off peninsula as area continues to gentrify

The Holy City’s historic core is losing houses of worship because of gentrification, limited parking and space to grow and do ministry, as well as high church maintenance costs. Shiloh, Greater Macedonia AME, Zion-Olivet Presbyterian, St. Matthew Baptist, Plymouth Church and New Tabernacle Fourth Street Baptist have either moved or have tried to leave downtown — some seeking new opportunities in areas like West Ashley and North Charleston.

Between 1980 and 2010, the peninsula’s black population dropped by more than half from about 30,000 to around 15,000. Simultaneously, its white population rose from 15,000 to just above 20,000.

This coincided with rising rents and property values. For example, the median sale price for homes north of the Crosstown Expressway has more than quadrupled since the late 1990s, from $74,500 in 1996 to $325,000 in 2014.

As the historically black communities change, local churches feel the impact. Enticed by lucrative offers from eager home buyers, some of the churches’ members sell their downtown homes, move away, and never return.

In other instances, increased development leaves congregations landlocked with no room to expand. Parking also becomes more scarce.

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Posted in * South Carolina, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Frank Colquhoun

Heavenly Father, who hast called us by thy grace to be a colony of heaven here on earth: Deepen within us, we beseech thee, a sense of our citizenship with the saints in glory; and grant that through all the days of our pilgrimage in this world we may humbly walk with thee in the way of holiness, and faithfully care for the needs of others, till we come to thy everlasting kingdom; through the mercy of thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

“I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am constrained until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division; for henceforth in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against her mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”

He also said to the multitudes, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘A shower is coming’; and so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat’; and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky; but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

“And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison. I tell you, you will never get out till you have paid the very last copper.”

–Luke 12:49-59

Posted in Theology: Scripture