Friday, May 05, 2006

When all nature is at rest, not a leaf moving, then at evening the dew comes down — no eye to see the pearly drops descending, no ear to hear them falling on the verdant grass — so does the Spirit come to you who believe. When the heart is at rest in Jesus — unseen, unheard by the world — the Spirit comes, and softly fills the believing soul, quickening all, renewing all within. Robert Murray M'Cheyne

Sunday Morning Agit-Prop
by Matt Kennedy+

The Episcopal Church has prepared a series of
bulletin inserts designed, purportedly, “as a teaching tool.” The inserts will, it is said, “give your congregants information about the Episcopal Church and the General Convention, including how the convention makes its decisions.”

In reality they seem to be subtle agit-prop for theological radicalism.

The slogan at the top of the
first insert (PDF), to be used on Sunday May 7th, aptly describes the current condition of the Episcopal Church: Living the Questions.

The Episcopal Church is nothing if not “open-minded”.

Theological certainty has, in fact, become the contemporary bugbear of Episcopalian thought. For that reason Living the Questions is a great slogan. It suggests that answers are not so much to be found as questions are to be asked. Life is a search, a never-ending one. There is no certainty.
the rest at Stand Firm

Federal Appeals Court Sidesteps Gay 'Marriage'
Friday, May. 5, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A federal appeals court on Friday sidestepped a question of whether the Constitution lets federal and state governments deny gays and lesbians the right to marry.

The case, brought by two gay Orange County men who were denied a marriage license, leaves Massachusetts as the only state allowing same-sex marriage.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the couple should await the outcome of California litigation challenging the state's marriage law outlawing gay nuptials. That case is awaiting arguments before a state appeals court and might reach the California Supreme Court by year's end.

While the federal case challenged both California and federal rules barring same-sex marriage, the court noted that the federal judiciary should stay out of the fight now and leave it to the states.
the rest

Praying for Your Prodigal: Have Faith in "Hopeless Cases"
Part I
Dr. Ray Pritchard

I received an email with a heartrending question:

I have a daughter that I don't believe is saved. I pray for her but often times I can't. I suppose that I'm angry she isn't responding and feel incapable of helping her. What can I pray for on a daily basis so that she will come to Christ? At times I feel such sorrow, thinking she might go to hell.

This parent speaks for mothers and fathers everywhere who pray for their prodigal children, often for years, with seemingly no results. I do not doubt that praying parents must at some point feel like giving up, and it must be hard not to get angry when you see your children repeatedly making bad choices or showing no interest in the gospel. What do you do then? How do you keep believing for your own prodigal son or daughter?
the rest

Part II here

Driving Alone--America’s Commuter Society
Albert Mohler
Friday, May 05, 2006

According to the U. S. Census Bureau, the fastest growing group of American commuters are those who travel more than 90 minutes to work, and then another 90 minutes back home. For many Americans, life is increasingly lived behind the driver's wheel and the interior of the automobile is becoming the most familiar "living" space for many harried Americans.

In its May 1, 2006 edition, Newsweek offers a unique perspective into the lives of what reporter Keith Naughton calls "extreme commuters." These workers drive from 50 to nearly 200 miles each way, to and from their place of work. Most leave well before the break of dawn and many return well after the sun has set. After the Industrial Revolution itself, this revolution in the way Americans work and spend their time getting to and from work may represent the largest single transformation in the way many Americans live.
the rest

San Diego ordered to remove cross or pay $5,000 a day
May 5, 2006

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- After a 17-year legal battle between the city and a self-described atheist, a judge has ordered San Diego officials to remove a giant cross from a hilltop park or start paying $5,000 a day in fines.

Defying the order is something that cash-strapped San Diego can ill afford. Its pension fund is more than $1 billion in debt, the federal government is investigating, and there's been talk of bankruptcy.

Still, Mayor Jerry Sanders said he would ask the city attorney to appeal.
the rest

Bishop Duncan Gray hands over the keys in the homosexuality debate to Integrity's national leadership
By Greg Griffith

The clergy of the Diocese of Mississippi recently received the results of a survey conducted by the Committee on Ministry to Lesbian and Gay Persons.
The entire report can be viewed here. Everyone is encouraged to read the entire document. It is a startling look into the agenda, presumptions, and strategy of homosexuality advocates in the Diocese of Mississippi, and the degree to which Bishop Duncan Gray endorses their cause.

It cannot be stressed strongly enough that Stand Firm has never wavered in its position that homosexuals should be warmly welcomed in to the Episcopal Church. The same welcome we extend to our homosexual brothers and sisters is the same welcome we extend to all of our brothers and sister in Christ who have sinned and seek salvation through God's grace.

The proper role of any ministry specifically concerned with gay and lesbian persons is to deliver them from the sin of homosexual behavior, through prayer, worship, counseling, Bible study, and fellowship, but mainly through a witness to the transforming power of Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice. Any ministry that seeks to affirm homosexual behavior is contrary to the univocal prohibition of homosexual behavior in the Bible, and two millennia of Christian teaching on sexual morality.
the rest at Stand Firm

Province 5 Reviews Proposed Title IV Changes

The bishops and General Convention deputies of Province 5 met May 1-2 near Detroit, where the Very Rev. George Werner, president of House of Deputies, offered an overview of what new deputies might expect from their first triennial, to be held next month in Columbus, Ohio.

Bishop Catherine Waynick of Indianapolis presented her province with an overview of the work of the task force for revisions to Title IV, the Episcopal Church’s ecclesiastical discipline canons. A virtual rewrite of the canons that have been in place for 12 years, changes to Title IV would expand the scope of church discipline to include lay persons, while also establishing a less punitive-based way to address conflicts that emerge in the workplace or in the course of church ministry.

“Our goal was to find a process that reflects our stated mission as a church,” said Bishop Waynick, who was chair of the disciplinary policy and procedure task force that developed the proposed changes. “We also want a process that affirms our baptismal ecclesiology, our sense that by virtue of our baptisms, we are all ministers, we are all responsible, and that those of us who take on leadership roles also need to be given guidance and be held accountable.”
the rest

Comments at titusonenine

The Anglican Communion Network Deans Respond to "Pastoral Directive" from Bishop Mathes, Diocese of San Diego
Source: Anglican Communion Network (Deans Press Release)

Pittsburgh, PA – It is with dismay that we, the Deans of the Anglican Communion Network, have read the
letter sent by the Right Reverend James Mathes, Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of San Diego, to all his rectors. This letter is a clear and oppressive threat to faithful orthodox rectors and their people.

Bishop Mathes, who was elected fourth Bishop of San Diego just 18 months ago as a “reconciler” and a “moderate,” wrote this letter as a “pastoral directive” in an obvious attempt to quell dissent within his diocese. This harsh and insensitive demand has been placed upon those in the Diocese of San Diego who have sought to be nothing more than loyal to the faith “once delivered to the saints.” Besides threatening inhibition and deposition for any rector who takes any action that the bishop deems to be moving a parish toward disaffiliating from the Diocese of San Diego, he threatens discipline over any attempt to affiliate with certain unnamed persons or organizations. If the clergy or parishes “attempt to affiliate with any persons or entities beyond the canonically constituted order provided by this Church [that will be] understood to be an effort that, intended or not, will undermine the mission for which we have been created…” and will lead to discipline.

AAC blog: the rest

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Persevering Prayer
Luke 18:1-8
And let us specially learn the lesson as we pray for the Church of Christ. She is indeed as the poor widow, in the absence of her Lord, apparently at the mercy of her adversary, helpless to obtain redress. Let us, when we pray for His Church or any portion of it, under the power of the world, asking Him to visit her with the mighty workings of His Spirit and to prepare her for His coming, let us pray in the assured faith: prayer does help, praying always and not fainting will bring the answer. Only give God time. And then keep crying day and night. ‘Hear what the unrighteous judge saith. And shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry to Him day and night, and He is long-suffering over them. I say unto you, He will avenge them speedily.’ Andrew Murray

Holy God, our Episcopal Church staggers and groans. To the world (and even to many of us in the church) we look to be drunk, deranged or dying. But you have shown us, through your saints across time and place, that these agonies can be the pains of birth, and that we can bear new life that will prosper in your service. Give us the Holy Spirit to guide us through these spasms and groanings. Bring forth the life of Christ that is too great for us to hold back but that we are afraid to let out. Open our church again, that Christ’s real presence may come forth and bring your love, your compassion, your hope and your glory to the whole creation. Let the Episcopal Church experience new life, and let us quickly and unreservedly consecrate that life to you. With Hannah, Monnica and all those who were not ashamed to cry out, we call on you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Prayer and meditation by Fr. Tim Fountain at Lent and Beyond

Profiles in public service

Are there still public servants in Washington? Not grasping for power, but ready to give it up? That’s at the heart of a Christian understanding of how to live. John the Baptist said that Jesus “must increase and I must decrease.” But such thinking is foreign to many in Washington, who consider it folly to be a true public servant rather than a power accumulator. Here are two exceptions, departing White House faith-based programs chief Jim Towey and Indiana congressman Mark Souder.

By Marvin Olasky, Russ Pulliam

Excellent article here!

America Honors God, Marks National Day of Prayer
Thursday, May. 4, 2006

EST NEW YORK - Prayers are being said all across the nation today in observance of the 55th annual National Day of Prayer. Churches in Manhattan have already begun congregating to honor God in their unity and prayers with a total of some 50,000 sites across the states expected to host prayer activities and services.

Throughout the Greater New York area, Concerts of Prayer is facilitating prayer services in more than 20 venues with many churches, some NDOP first-timers, joining hands. American Bible Society kicked off its day-long prayer event this morning with each hour devoted to the five centers of power - the government, church, education, family and the media.

And Injoy, an organization founded by John C. Maxwell that develops thousands of new and emerging leaders, has also expressed support, recognizing and encouraging the national prayer movement as it gathers leaders at 600 satellite locations for a "life at work" session today.

As this year's theme - America, Honor God - calls the nation to stop and remember the One who has blessed the nation from the beginning, Christian leaders are calling attention to a world that is in urgent need of prayer.
the rest

Navy Chaplain May Face Court-Martial For Praying
Clergyman Prayed In Uniform Outside White House
May 4, 2006

NORFOLK, Va. -- A chaplain stationed at Naval Station Norfolk said he could face court-martial for praying in uniform outside the White House.

Lt. Gordon Klingenschmitt said he prayed at a March 30 protest opposing Department of Defense rules forbidding military chaplains from invoking the name of Jesus Christ.
He's accused of violating an order not to appear in uniform at news conferences in support of personal or religious issues.

The issue seems to hinge on whether his praying at the event was permissible participation at a bona fide religious service. Klingenschmitt is rejecting non-judicial punishment in favor of trial by court-martial.
the rest

How come Planned Parenthood doesn't get it?
You can't have Mother's Day without babies!
By Amber Dolle,
May 4, 2006

Washington, D.C. "How is it possible for Planned Parenthood, operator of the nation's largest chain of abortion clinics, to conduct a fundraising campaign with a Mother's Day theme?" asked American Life League president Judie Brown. "It's simply horrifying to think that anyone involved in abortion, even Planned Parenthood, could have the audacity to claim any association at all with a day designed to salute a mother's selfless love for her children."

Over the years, Planned Parenthood has committed more than three million abortions. "That's three million instances in which mothers permitted their children to be killed at this organization's hands," said Mrs. Brown. "For many of these women, Mother's Day is an annual reminder of the unspeakable evil they permitted to be perpetrated on their own flesh and blood."
the rest

Tutu to make Seattle visit

He served as a key leader in ending South Africa's apartheid regime -- and he received a Nobel Peace Prize for his work.

Next week, Archbishop Desmond Tutu will make two appearances in Seattle -- including one talk that is open to people on a first-come, first-served basis.

As part of the 75th birthday celebrations for Saint Mark's Episcopal Cathedral, Tutu will speak at a gala Wednesday dinner and award ceremony that starts at 5:30 p.m., according to the Seattle institution's Web site.

The cathedral is honoring him for his contributions to "reconciliation and social justice."
the rest

Lava Flowing From Indonesian Volcano
May 4, 3:30 AM (ET)

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) - Red-hot lava began flowing from the crater of Indonesia's rumbling volcano Mount Merapi early Thursday as vulcanologists warned residents an eruption may be imminent.

Burning streams of molten lava started pouring down the slopes at about 2 a.m. local time, said Subandriyo, the chief of Merapi's Volcanology and Monitoring offices, who goes by a single name.

Residents still near the 9,700-foot peak were urged to leave immediately, even though officials said they were not yet raising the alert to the highest level.

"The volcano has shown significantly more activity," Subandriyo said.

Merapi is one of at least 129 active volcanoes in Indonesia, part of the Pacific "Ring of Fire" - a series of fault lines stretching from the Western Hemisphere through Japan and Southeast Asia.

It last erupted in 1994, sending out a searing cloud of gas that burned 60 people to death. About 1,300 people were killed when it erupted in 1930.

6.0 Earthquake Strikes Tonga
Thursday, May 04, 2006

BANGKOK, Thailand — A strong earthquake of magnitude 6.0 strikes near the Pacific Island nation of
Tonga, the U.S. Geological Survey reports.

The quake came a day after a 7.8-magnitude temblor struck near Tonga, prompting a tsunami warning to countries as far away as Fiji and New Zealand. The tsunami warning was canceled, but Tonga reported it never received a warning.

Calif. Episcopalians May Elect Gay Bishop

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - What's left of unity in the Episcopal Church is at stake heading into a weekend election for bishop of California that sets up a major clash over gays' role in the church.

Three of the seven candidates are openly gay, and choosing one of them to head the Diocese of California would further alienate Episcopal conservatives already feeling betrayed that the church approved a gay bishop three years ago. It could also fracture the strained relationship between America's 2.3 million Episcopalians and their parent body, the worldwide Anglican Communion.

A vote against a gay bishop would likely preserve the fragile truce.

The Rev. Paul Zahl, dean of the conservative Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pa., likened the election of a gay bishop in California to "a terrorist bomb, which is timed to destroy a peace process."
the rest

Gay-rights measure closer to ballot
Senate likely to OK bill to put benefits question to voters
By April M. Washington,
Rocky Mountain News
May 4, 2006

It's likely Coloradans will vote in November on whether gay couples should enjoy the legal rights and benefits afforded married couples.

On Wednesday, the Senate gave initial approval to a measure that would put the question on the ballot.

The Senate is expected to give formal approval to House Bill 1344 today and return it to the House, where passage also is expected.

The referred ballot measure, as it is called, does not require Gov. Bill Owens' signature.

Wednesday, several Republicans vehemently denounced the measure, calling it a surreptitious attempt to sanction gay marriage.
the rest

'Gay History' Pushed in Calif. Textbooks
Thursday, May 4, 2006 10:53 a.m. EDT

A Senate committee approved a bill Wednesday that would require California's textbooks to include the contributions of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people to the state and nation's history.

The bill outraged some religious and conservative family groups, which said it would indoctrinate students in what they view as an unacceptable lifestyle.

The Senate Education Committee passed the bill by state Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, 8-3, along party lines. It now goes to the full Senate.
the rest

On T-shirts for tweens, "I'm Hot" isn't a weather report
Trevor Stokes
Columbia News Service
May. 3, 2006 04:27 PM

Frank Lukawecki, a Montreal teacher, has observed a fashion shift toward highly sexualized T-shirt messages among the female students in the hallway of his school. One girl struts her stuff with "I'm Hot" boldly splashed across her chest. Another shirt says "Spicy and Juicy." Others wear the Playboy bunny logo, or shirts with the word "sexy" spelled in rhinestones.

Perhaps if Lukawecki were teaching high school, such messages might be expected. But what troubles the teacher is that these girls range in age from 8 to 12.

"Some of these shirts are so abrasive, pretty soon I'll start wearing goggles to class," Lukawecki said. "I want to send these girls home to change -- either that or throw a blanket over them."

German bishops act over Pope show

Catholic leaders in Germany have acted to try to prevent music channel MTV from showing the controversial cartoon series Popetown.

The first episode of Popetown - which features a Pope on a pogo stick - is due to be aired in the country.

But bishops from Pope Benedict XVI's home state of Bavaria say the satirical series is insulting to Catholics, and have filed a legal injunction.

the rest

Dear Readers,

Today is the National Day of Prayer and the beginning of a 40 day commitment of prayer leading up to the ECUSA'S General Convention in June. Anyone who is informed about the terrible conflict within the Episcopal Church, the turning away from the truths of Holy Scripture by many, all the issues we are struggling with, should also be involved in bringing these things boldly before the throne of God. Prayer is the key! What seems impossible to us is not impossible with God. Commit yourselves to daily prayer and believe that God can do a mighty work.

I am committing to pray for the Central New York delegation to the General Convention and invite all those in this diocese to join me.

To pray specifically for each person:
Here is the link to the names of those in that delegation

In Christ,
Pat Dague

40 Days of Prayer for ECUSA: DAY 1

Yesterday, we here at Lent & Beyond announced a new prayer effort which begins today: 40 Days of Prayer for ECUSA, as we are now within 40 days of the beginning of General Convention 2006. You can read the
full announcement about the prayer effort here. Our focus will be twofold:

1) Praying from Scripture and listening to God from His Word re: what He has to say to us and to our church
2) An “adopt-a-diocesan delegation” effort, encouraging folks to pray by name for the bishops, clergy and lay deputies who will be attending GC06

The first entry for the campaign is Tim Fountain’s reflection and prayer drawn from the lectionary for
St. Monnica’s Feast Day, below.

And here is the announcement about the
Adopt-a-Diocese for prayer effort.

All posts will be included in the
GC2006 Category, so we encourage readers to bookmark that. Also, we have compiled a list of previously-posted prayers and prayer-resources for GC2006 here, and will be adding to that list.

We will have several new contributors here during this prayer effort, I’ll introduce them as they come online. We also eagerly welcome contact from readers regarding prayer materials you have found helpful since one of our main goals is to help network and encourage those committed to intercessory prayer. You can contact us at
May God draw our hearts to Him as we seek Him in prayer during this season.

Link to Lent and Beyond

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

This book contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy.

It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the travelers map, the pilgrims staff, the pilots compass, the soldiers sword, and the Christian's character. Here paradise is restored, Heaven opened, and the gates of hell disclosed. Christ is its grand object, our good is its design, and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully. It is given you in life and will be opened in the judgement and will be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labor, and will condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents. Anonymous

By the light of nature we see God as a God above us, by the light of the law we see Him as a God against us, but by the light of the gospel we see Him as Emmanuel, God with us. Matthew Henry

Prophets of the "New Thing"
Matt Kennedy+

The Episcopal Church humbly tells everyone and anyone who will listen that when gathered together at Convention she hears directly from God. After she prays, she votes. And in the very act of coming to “democratic” decision “the Spirit” makes his will known to the world.

It is fascinating that God has chosen the Episcopal Church, of all places and people, as his primary revelatory vehicle to the modern world and even more fascinating that, by way of contrast with his past utterances through lesser vehicles (like the bible, tradition, the Church as a whole), God has chosen not to critique and challenge human social norms, but to embrace them.

It turns out that God’s new thing looks a lot like the world’s old thing. Whereas before God was not quite on board with things like gay sex and gnosticism, now he’s not only willing to give them the old college try, he’s ready to take the lead.

We know all of this because the Episcopal Church is “prophetic”.
The rest

Profiles of 2006 Nominees for Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church
AAC Press Release
May 3, 2006

Part I here

Part II

Anglican Panel of Reference to Review Canadian Diocese Divisions
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Panel of Reference is due to meet next week on 9th May, and it has been reported that the panel will review the ever-widening divisions within the Diocese of Westminster in Canada.
Posted: Wednesday, May 3 , 2006, 11:17 (BST)

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Panel of Reference is due to meet next week on 9th May, and it has been reported that the panel will review the ever-widening divisions within the Diocese of Westminster in Canada, according to the Church of England newspaper.

The Executive Director of the Anglican Network in Canada, Cheryl Chang, has stated that it had been told by Panel representatives “that our application has been sent to the Panel members and is currently under consideration,” report the Church of England Newspaper.

The Panel was given the commission by Dr Williams to offer mediation and guidance following the February 2005 Primates’ Meeting that took place in Northern Ireland. However, since that time much criticism has been given to the Panel due to its apparent slowness in reaching
decisions and conclusions.

An evangelist blows the doors open for global outreach via technology.
May 3, 2006

International (MNN)--Evangelist
Sammy Tippit is launching a new part of ministry aimed at the technologically savvy.

Beginning this week, he's offering a live webcast and podcast on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Broadcasts on Tuesday will be an exciting discussion on spiritual renewal.

Tippit says they're sharing revival thoughts from Christian leaders from around the world--places like South Africa, Russia, Uganda, and Iran. There are also interviews with people like Dr. Henry Blackaby, Dave Butts, Chairman of the National Prayer Committee; and Dr. Crawford Loritts.

Wednesday's topic covers family life, with heart-to-heart talks between Tippit and his wife,Tex. The pair host the discussions along with Dr. David Walker and his wife, Shirley. In delving into spiritual legacy, they'll get comments from Byron Paulus, Executive Director of Life Action Ministries.

It's a means to reach out to busy people globally who might not be able to otherwise join the community of believers. For details, go to Sammy Tippit's website. link
Website here

The dangers of being Christian
Religious freedom in the Islamic world
May 3, 2006
by Chuck Colson

This past Good Friday, a man entered Mar Girgis Church in Alexandria, Egypt, and stabbed one worshipper to death and wounded two others. He then went to another church and stabbed three other Christians.

The events in Alexandria were a reminder of the, at best, tenuous status of Christians in the Islamic world.

The Egyptian government immediately dismissed the possibility that animus toward Christians played a role in the attacks. Egypt’s Interior Ministry said that the attacker suffered from “psychological disturbances.” How convenient.

Egyptian Christians, known as Copts, did not buy it, and for good reason: Police officials had a different version, announcing that “three men had been arrested in four simultaneous church assaults.” According to the police, these assaults had killed one and injured another seventeen.
the rest

Conservative Insurgency
Phyllis Schlafly
May 02, 2006

A new conservative uprising is stirring and no one should be surprised. The Republican Establishment has been drifting leftward, and a backlash had to come against the Big Government spenders in legislatures and against supremacist judges who order the spending.

Witness the conservative complaints against the Texas Republican leadership for trying to railroad through, in a special legislative session, a brand new tax on businesses. This would impose $3 billion in new taxes on the most productive workers in Texas.

Is this justified by a shortfall in the budget? No; Texas has a budget surplus of over $8 billion this year and business is booming.

Contrast that with California, which runs annual multibillion-dollar budget deficits and has a bond rating that ranks as low as hurricane-damaged Louisiana. The major difference is income taxes; California has the highest effective top rate (factoring in lack of deductions), while Texas has no personal or business income tax.
the rest

At One With Dual Devotion
`JuBus' blend the communal rituals of Judaism with the quiet solitude of Buddhism. Most adherents are at peace with the paradox.
By Louis Sahagun, Times Staff Writer
May 2, 2006

The altar in Becca Topol's living room carries a statue of Buddha and a garden stone painted with the Hebrew word for peace, shalom.

In April she celebrated Passover with a "Zen Seder" feast that opened with a modified Haggada narrative comparing Israel's exodus from Egypt to Buddha's liberation from suffering.

"I'm a Jewish Buddhist — a JuBu," said Topol, 37. "My Buddhist practice has actually made me a stronger Jew."

While Buddhism has enriched Topol's Judaism — giving her a deeper sense of spirituality — it has produced confusion in fellow JuBu David Grotell. Grotell, 41, is so worried about breaking Judaism's ban against idol worship that "although I have a meditation spot in my home, as a Jew, I just can't allow myself to put a statue of Buddha there."
the rest

8.1 Magnitude Quake off Pacific Island Nation Prompts Tsunami Warning
Wednesday, May 03, 2006

BANGKOK, Thailand — A magnitude 8.0 earthquake struck early Thursday near the South Pacific nation of
Tonga, the U.S. Geological Survey said. A tsunami warning was issued for Fiji and New Zealand.

The temblor, classified by the USGS as a "great" quake, struck 95 miles south of Neiafu, Tonga, and 1,340 miles north-northeast of Auckland, New Zealand. It occurred 20 miles beneath the sea floor.

U.S. Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued the tsunami warning but said it was not known whether the quake generated a potentially deadly giant wave. the rest

While Europe Slept: Two book reviews
By David Forsmark
May 3, 2006

While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within

By Bruce Bawer(Doubleday, $23.95, 247 pp.)

Menace in Europe: Why the Continent's Crisis is America's, Too
By Claire Berlinski(Crown Forum, $25.95, 271 pp.)

In some of the most decadent liberal areas of Western Europe, where tolerance is considered the greatest (and often, alas, the only) virtue, non-Muslim women wear a hijab when they go out to avoid harassment by aggressive young Muslim men. In the suburbs of major cities of Old Europe that have large and expanding Muslim populations, such as Amsterdam and Paris, honor killings, forced marriages and spousal abuse are on the rise.

Such trends are at least a decade old. But for the European media and political elites, the symbol of dangerous cultural changes is not a crescent but Golden Arches. That's right -- McDonald's, although anything else that's quintessentially American will do.

In Europe's supremely politically correct climate, Christianity has all but disappeared, but it is still fashionable to bash practitioners, particularly fundamentalists. On the other hand, it is considered racist and culturally oppressive to negatively talk about anything that is even peripherally related to Muslim immigration. Some countries, including the Netherlands and Norway, are even passing laws to restrict such speech.
the rest

Prayer goes online at
By Kevin Cullen

KENTLAND -- For Josh Thomas, spirituality isn't confined to an hour in church on Sunday morning.

It's an ongoing, evolving, universal thing ... just like the Internet.

So he is using the Net to bring a beloved Episcopal tradition to all. By typing "," anyone, anywhere, can pray the daily office, at any time.

The "office" changes daily. Each includes a psalm of praise, a scriptural passage and a brief set of prayers for morning, noon, evening and late night.

"A person prays when he needs to, and that is not always at 10 a.m. on Sunday," he says. " ... It's like a church that's always open, that you can get to instantly from anywhere ... You don't have to have a Bible or a prayer book handy, or even know how to pray."
the rest

Daily Office found here

Church fights for building
Lawsuit unsteadies St. Luke's fate
By Marshall Allen Staff Writer

LA CRESCENTA - The conflict between St. Luke's of the Mountains Anglican Church and the Episcopal denomination now enters a legal phase, as the two sides battle in court over the parish's stone church.

In 1924, the congregation laid the cornerstone of the church, located in the 2500 block of Foothill Boulevard. It was built and maintained with contributions from church members, and is owned by a nonprofit organization established by the parish.

In 1940, the church joined the Episcopal Church USA, where it remained until February, when members voted to leave the 2.3 million-member denomination to join the Anglican Church of the Province of Uganda.

The ECUSA, the American branch of the Anglican church, has been in turmoil since its liberal members elected an openly gay bishop in 2003. Traditionally, the Episcopal and Anglican churches have professed that the Bible defines homosexual behavior as sin. Hundreds of congregations that cling to the traditional interpretations of the Bible have left the denomination or stand opposed to its liberal direction.
the rest

Archbishop Williams Won't Attend General Convention

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, has declined an invitation to attend the 75th General Convention in Columbus, Ohio, next month, citing pre-existing obligations.

The Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold, and the Archbishop of Canterbury “did talk about this some time ago and it is not possible on the Archbishop's mid-June calendar,” an aide to Bishop Griswold told The Living Church.

Sources at Lambeth Palace note the absence of the Archbishop of Canterbury is not intended as a snub to the Episcopal Church, but arises from the scheduling of a “series of consultations” designed to keep the Anglican Communion from falling into “schism.”

On April 24 Archbishop Williams met with the Archbishop of York and the bishops of Bristol, Durham, Exeter, Manchester, Norwich and Winchester, along with leadership from the Church Mission Society, the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, the Anglican Consultative Council, and Anglican Mainstream at Lambeth Palace to discuss the Church of England’s options given different potential outcomes of the June 13-21 General Convention.
the rest

US body criticizes religious freedom in allies
Wed May 3, 2006
By Alan Elsner

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. government commission warned on Wednesday of rising religious persecution in Iraq and Afghanistan, two countries invaded by the United States in the past five years to free their people from tyranny and abuse.

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, in its annual report to Congress and President George W. Bush's administration, also harshly criticized three key U.S. allies -- Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Egypt -- for their poor performance on religious rights.

The commission designated 11 countries as being "of particular concern" because of extreme religious persecution: Burma, North Korea, Eritrea, Iran, Pakistan, China, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

Another seven states were placed on a watch list because of serious violations: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Cuba, Egypt, Indonesia and Nigeria.
the rest

Moscow's anti-gay protesters held
By Damian Grammaticas
BBC News, Moscow

Thirty nine people have been arrested in Moscow after protesting outside a gay nightclub on Monday.

Riot police were brought in to control a mixture of right-wing and religious activists, who picketed the club and shouted insults at people leaving it.

For two nights in a row, Russia's gay and lesbian clubs have been targeted.

A leading gay rights activist said the rallies were the result of homophobic remarks by the city government and religious leaders.
the rest

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Spiritual Sowing

He that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. (Galatians 6:8)

Sowing looks like a losing business, for we put good corn into the ground never to see it anymore. Sowing to the Spirit seems a very fanciful, dreamy business; for we deny ourselves and apparently get nothing for it. Yet if we sow to the Spirit by studying to live unto God, seeking to obey the will of God, and laying ourselves out to promote His honor, we shall not sow in vain. Life shall be our reward, even everlasting life. This we enjoy here as we enter into the knowledge of God, communion with God, and enjoyment of God. This life flows on like an ever-deepening, ever-widening river till it bears us to the ocean of infinite felicity, where the life of God is ours forever and ever.

Let us not this day sow to our flesh, for the harvest will be corruption, since flesh always tends that way; but with holy self-conquest let us live for the highest, purest, and most spiritual ends, seeking to honor our most holy Lord by obeying His most gracious Spirit. What a harvest will that be when we reap life everlasting! What sheaves of endless bliss will be reaped! What a festival will that harvest be! Lord, make us such reapers, for thy Son's sake.
CH Spurgeon photo

Attacks Continue on NY's Marriage Laws
Liberty Counsel Files Briefs in Defense of Traditional Marriage
By Allie Martin
May 2, 2006

(AgapePress) - A Christian law firm is defending traditional marriage in New York's highest court. Florida-based
Liberty Counsel has filed two separate briefs at the New York Court of Appeals defending that state's marriage laws.

In the case of Hernandez v. Robles, a judge declared in February 2005 that New York's marriage laws are unconstitutional. Judge Doris Ling-Cohen ruled at that time that individuals have a "fundamental right to choose one spouse," that same-sex marriage "would cause harm to no one," that there is "no legitimate purpose, let alone a compelling interest" in the marriage laws, and ordered that the terms "husband," "wife," "groom," and "bride" be construed as "spouse." The First Department of the Appellate Division later reversed that ruling and upheld the marriage laws.

In the second case -- Samuels v. New York State Department of Health -- Judge Joseph Teresi upheld the state's marriage laws against a challenge brought by 13 same-sex couples. Upon appeal, the Third Department of the Appellate Division also upheld the marriage laws.
the rest

Gay Episcopal bishop: God 'very happy' with gay activism
Robinson joins gay Tory in urging Log Cabin to fight within GOP
May 1

Gay Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson encouraged attendants of a gay Republican convention to continue fighting for social and political equality.

"It's not a lot to ask," he said, "and it would make God very happy."

Robinson, who spoke April 28 at the Log Cabin Republicans National Convention in Washington, D.C., said the struggle for gay rights ultimately is a struggle for inclusion.

He challenged members of the nation's largest gay GOP group to seek fair and equal treatment in society, in politics and in church.

Robinson echoed other convention speakers — including Alan Duncan, the first openly gay Conservative in the U.K.'s Parliament — who criticized the GOP push for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

"The notion that my love for my partner somehow undermines another person's marriage is just idiocy," he said. "Isn't it?"
the rest

Dreaming of a Future for North American Anglicanism
Richard Kew

Excerpt: "I have a dream of a very different American Anglicanism some fifty years down the road, but as a sixty-year-old I know I will never see it, at least from this side of the grave. I dream of an Anglicanism that has been cleared of the debris of these turn-of-the-millennium crises, and is moving gracefully and faithfully across what will be a very different post-Christendom landscape reflecting in its love and dynamism the Good News of our biblical heritage.

I see it as an Anglicanism that is flexible and not wooden in its structures, recognizing that it needs to be moved forward by mission opportunities not held back by political in-fighting and turf-wars. I see this Anglicanism as self-giving and self-sacrificing, moving ahead without counting the cost, toughened as it engages in spiritual conflict rather than weak, flabby, compromised. I see it as a caring partner with other Christian traditions, teaching them and yet eager to learn from them.

This Anglicanism I envision will be rooted and grounded in the triune God who has revealed himself in Jesus Christ, and thoroughly biblical. It will have thought through the biblical faith in such a way that it will have shed its Enlightenment age packaging and come up with something a lot more appropriate and beautiful for that time. Indeed, because it is missional it will be constantly willing to test all its theology and attitudes against Scripture, modifying them where they are found wanting."

Complete commentary at The Kew Continuum

Jack Estes: Times Up. Point of Decision for the Episcopal Church USA

There are two visions competing for the heart and soul of the Episcopal Church. They are separate and distinct. They are irreconcilable. The two cannot be brought together in unity, because at the very heart of each reside fundamental assumptions and principles that are radically opposed to one another. In order to merge the Progressive vision with the Orthodox vision, a compromise would be required of such a serious nature that either vision would cease to exist. Since General Convention 2003, the proponents of each have played the waiting game, hoping to garner strength from within, from the ranks of the faithful, and acceptance from without, in the fellowship of the Anglican Communion. But now, time is up.

Time is up for the Progressives, who have managed to sustain their vision in the face of considerable outcry from the Anglican Communion abroad, and steadfast opposition from the Orthodox at home. They have done so by acknowledging regret and appealing for unity. Yet, those who believe in a progressive theology and practice for ECUSA remain as deeply committed to their agenda as ever. They desire to wait out the opposition, while using every persuasion possible to bring others around to their point of view, or at least to a place of tolerance and mutual acceptance. However, their ability to keep waiting is rapidly diminishing.
The rest

Time Magazine: Archbishop Peter Akinola
The Strength of a Lion

Posted Sunday, Apr. 30, 2006Nigerian Anglican Archbishop Peter Akinola captured headlines last year for leading the worldwide revolt of evangelical Anglicans against the ordination of gay bishops in the U.S. by the Episcopal Church. But to caricature his ministry with that one issue would severely underestimate his importance. Akinola personifies the epochal change in the Christian church, namely that the leadership, influence, growth and center of gravity in Christianity is shifting from the northern hemisphere to the southern. New African, Asian and Latin American church leaders like Akinola, 61, are bright, biblical, courageous and willing to point out the inconsistencies, weaknesses and theological drift in Western churches.

With nearly 18 million active Anglicans in Nigeria, Akinola's flock dwarfs the mother Church of England's membership. And since he is chairman of the 37 million—member Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa, when he speaks, far more than just Anglicans pay attention. Akinola has the strength of a lion, useful in confronting Third World fundamentalism and First World relativism. He has been criticized for recent remarks of frustration that some felt exacerbated Muslim-Christian clashes in his country. But Christians are routinely attacked in parts of Nigeria, and his anger was no more characteristic than Nelson Mandela's apartheid-era statement that "sooner or later this violence is going to spread to whites." I believe he, like Mandela, is a man of peace and his leadership is a model for Christians around the world.
the rest

Sudanese crucible

Sudan: Since 2003, the situation in Darfur has escalated into what the United Nations calls the world's worst refugee crisis but talks continue to stall on how to end the suffering Jamie Dean
Some three million Sudanese living in impoverished displacement camps in the country's war-ravaged region of Darfur awoke on Monday to a stark new reality: Citing a lack of funds, the U.N. World Food Program (WFP) began cutting in half its already-minimal food rations for the beleaguered refugees.

While some refugees manage to supplement their rations with food from other sources, many depend solely on WFP for their nutrition. "This is one of the hardest decisions I have ever made," said program chief James Morris. "Haven't the people of Darfur already suffered enough?"

Since 2003, the suffering in Darfur has escalated into a calamity that the United Nations has called the world's worst refugee crisis. The Bush administration calls it genocide. Talks between warring factions, along with promises of cease-fires, have borne little fruit in the past.
the rest

Christian Rock and Mainstream Music Move Closer Together

One of this season's most eagerly anticipated rock albums comes from a band that almost never shows up on MTV, in Rolling Stone or on the Billboard rock charts. It's called, "Coming up to Breathe" (INO), a title that fits the music: the album epitomizes the raspy, melancholy (and sometimes bland) genre that rock radio programmers call "modern rock." But this is a "modern rock" CD that rock radio programmers may well take pains to avoid.

"Coming Up to Breathe" is the latest from MercyMe, and if that name doesn't ring bells — or show up on airplay charts — that might be because MercyMe is one of the country's most popular evangelical bands. Every song on every album is about salvation through Christ, and MercyMe's touring itinerary includes plenty of churches. On Monday, the band played a short acoustic set for New York-area fans, but it wasn't at a club: it was at Jesus Book & Gift Store in Green Brook, N.J., and it was sponsored by Star 99.1 FM, the local contemporary Christian music station.
The rest

'Day of Truth' Breaks the Silence
Tuesday, May. 2, 2006

Thousands of Christian students across 45 states ''broke the silence'' of the gay advocacy community last Thursday by wearing T-shirts, handing out fliers, and speaking out about what they believe is the truth of God regarding homosexuality.

"We basically said homosexuality is wrong and that God does not like it,” said Marina C. Rojas, a student at the College of Sequoias in Central Valley, Calif., who rallied 140 high-school and junior high-school students to participate. “It’s just a sin as stealing, gossiping, telling lies, and it’s real simple.”

The Day of Truth was created last year as an alternative to the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network’s Day of Silence – a day where students are encouraged not to speak as a mark of support for their gay and lesbian peers.

According to organizers of the 10th national Day of Silence, which this year fell on April 26, some 500,000 students at 4,000 schools nationwide participated in the event.
The rest

Statistical Illusion
New study confirms that we go to church much less than we say.
by Bob Smietana
posted 05/02/2006

Did you go to church this week? That's the question that Gallup pollsters have been asking Americans for more than 75 years. And each year since 1939, about 40 percent of those polled have said yes. (The actual question: "Did you yourself happen to attend church or synagogue in the last seven days?")

That doesn't mean that, on any given Sunday, 118 million Americans (40 percent of the population) will actually be in church. According to sociologists who study religion, the actual number of people in church each week in the United States is significantly lower than the Gallup Poll indicates. Just how low is a matter of some debate.

"We ask the question because George Gallup did, so it's helpful to follow the trend," says Frank Newport, editor in chief of the Gallup Poll. But the results "should not be taken as a precise indicator of actual churchgoing behavior." Newport says that while polls can accurately track opinions, using them to ascertain behavior—like weekly church attendance is much more difficult.

Kirk Hadaway, an Episcopal Church researcher, argues that the actual attendance rate is 20.4 percent, about half the Gallup figure. Hadaway co-authored, with Penny Marler of Samford University, a report last fall on a "count-based" estimate of church attendance in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.
the rest

New York Has Worst State Tax Climate
Tuesday, May 2, 2006

The states with the best tax environments are Wyoming, South Dakota, Alaska, Florida and Nevada, according to an in-depth analysis by the Tax Foundation.

The Foundation compiles a State Business Tax Climate Index (SBTCI) to help business executives, policymakers and the media gauge how each state's tax system compares with other states, and ranks the 50 states according to the best and worst tax climates.

Wyoming and South Dakota, No. 1 and No. 2 respectively, have no corporate income tax and no individual income tax.
the rest

AP: Government Drafts Pandemic Flu Plan

WASHINGTON (AP) - Employers should have plans to keep workers at least three feet apart, colleges should consider which dormitories could be used to quarantine the sick, and flight crews should have surgical masks to put on coughing travelers under a draft of the government's pandemic flu plan obtained by The Associated Press.

The Bush administration forecasts massive disruptions if bird flu or some other super-strain of influenza arises in the United States. A response plan scheduled to be released at the White House on Wednesday warns employers that as much as 40 percent of the work force could be off the job and says every segment of society must prepare.

"The collective response of 300 million Americans will significantly influence the shape of the pandemic and its medical, social and economic outcomes," says an undated 228-page draft version of the report that had not been finalized. "Institutions in danger of becoming overwhelmed will rely on the voluntarism and sense of civic and humanitarian duty of ordinary Americans."
the rest

Monday, May 01, 2006

Raymond Dague: Proposed Episcopal Church Canons Target the Laity

On a late afternoon last fall, Fr. Paul Kowalewski made a phone call to my rector. At the time Kowalewski was the canon to Bishop Gladstone “Skip” Adams of the Diocese of Central New York. Several years back Bishop Skip gave Fr. Kowalewski the title “canon visionary." The purpose of his call was to complain to my rector about an essay which I published online in June of 2005 entitled "The Theology of Heresy in Central New York".

That essay was highly critical of a diocesan invitation to bring Jesus Seminar theologian Marcus Borg to present a series of talks to Central New York clergy. Dague’s essay was divisive, said Fr. Kowalewski. Raymond Dague should be subjected to church discipline for his conduct, Fr. Kowalewski told my rector. Flabbergasted by the suggestion, my rector said, “You want me to excommunicate him for writing an essay critical of Marcus Borg and the diocese!?” My rector immediately said “no” to the diocesan canon’s suggestion, and then called to tell me about the phone call.

I immediately hit the books to look into how a diocese could exercise church discipline against a lay person. I discovered that a bishop and the diocese cannot discipline a layman in the Episcopal Church. This is a legacy from colonial times when an American church was as nervous of the arbitrary power of bishops as it was of the arbitrary power of the British king. Since its founding in the days before the United States Constitution was written, no bishop or diocese of the Episcopal Church can discipline any layman. Only clergy are subject to a bishop’s discipline.

But if some folks have their way at General Convention 2006 that will all change. Laity, including chancellors, church lawyers, bloggers, wardens, vestrymembers, treasurers, secretaries, clerks, lay activists, or even the directress of the parish altar guild would be subject to punishment by bishops which can include removal from any church position or office.

The mechanism for this is a complete revision of the entire chapter on church discipline. This proposed replacement to the existing Title IV of the Canons can be found in the 2006 Blue Book as part of the report of the
Task Force on Disciplinary Policies and Procedures.

Catherine M. Waynick, the Bishop of Indianapolis, in the summary of the revisions identifies what she says is “a need to be able to hold lay members of the Church accountable in their formation and behavior in leadership and ministry roles in the community of faith.” According to Bp. Waynick the “new canon proposed in this report reclaims the broader meaning of discipline.” And because this new canon is so complicated and different from the existing disciplinary canons, the committee which proposed the canons says that “we have enlisted the help of professional communicators, who have graciously offered their talents as a gift to this work” to explain them to us.

Well, the “professional communicators” have not delivered their verdict as of this writing, so as a canon lawyer, I will lend a few thoughts to the endeavor. Others in the coming weeks will give a detailed legal analysis of these disciplinary canons covering them section by section. I will not do that here. My analysis is geared to the lay person, not the canon lawyer. I will review how these proposed disciplinary canons affect the laity.

The first thing the proposed canons do to accomplish their desired result is to define “minister” to mean “any lay person who is an adult member of this Church.” Proposed Canon IV.2 In other words, everyone other than the kids in the nursery are defined as ministers.

Then under the “Accountability” provision it says that a “Minister shall be subject to proceedings under this Title for: the commission or omission of any act which would justify the use of the Disciplinary Rubrics in the Book of Common Prayer [or] knowingly violating or attempting to violate, directly or through the acts of another person, the Constitution or Canons of this Church or of any Diocese.” Proposed Canon IV.3.1(a)(b)

Under current rules, only my rector could discipline me using the Disciplinary Rubrics in the Book of Common Prayer found on page 409 of the prayer book. It is called excommunication, or denial of the sacrament of the Eucharist. It can only be done to “a person who is living a notoriously evil life.” And who better to know that than your priest. But under the new proposed canons, anyone could charge me with that.

Does this mean I could file charges against Gene Robinson’s same sex partner for being “a person who is living a notoriously evil life,” and he could file counter charges against me for filing “homophobic” charges against him? Could Gene Robinson’s same sex partner be charged for taking a hotel room with Gene for the night within the boundaries of a traditionalist diocese? And then some diocesan court somewhere decides? Traditionalist and revisionist activists could make a cottage industry out of following their enemies and charging them with offenses. This should make for an interesting church experience for us all.

Also under the proposed canons, violation of any canon of the church or any canon of any diocese could result in charges. Every lay person better start taking his copy of the canons around with him along with the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer. And you better have a good canon lawyer on retainer, since the average layperson does not know what is in the canons or how to apply them.

Which bishop or diocese can try the layperson on charges? According to Proposed Canon IV.19.5(a)(b) a lay person shall be subject to disciplinary proceedings in the diocese where he is “canonically resident or in any diocese in which an Offense is alleged to have occurred.”

Canonical residence? In the existing canons, only clergy, not laity have canonical residence. Under the new proposed rules, we laity now will all have “canonical residence” where we live or attend church. Proposed Canon IV.19.6

In addition even a bishop or diocese where we are not canonically resident can charge us “in any diocese in which the Minister has performed his or her Ministry.” I suppose this means that I as a New Yorker could be hauled up on charges in California for giving a speech there, or Episcopal bloggers might be brought up on charges anywhere the internet goes.

How far can a bishop reach back to bring a layperson up on charges? According to Proposed Canon IV.4 there is no statute of limitations. Something I do the day after the new canons take effect can be used against me 30 years later. The civil law with statutes of limitation are not this draconian.

I am the assistant chancellor for the diocese of Albany. Can my bishop in Albany protect me from charges elsewhere? Nope. Under Proposed Canon IV.19.5(c)(d) my Albany bishop’s decision that the charges against me from somewhere else should be resolved in his court can be overruled by the president of two different disciplinary boards, depending on where the charges were filed against me.

How much evidence does the court need to prove that I did something wrong? Not much, say the new rules. According to Proposed Canon IV.19.15 the church uses the standard of proof by “a preponderance of evidence.” For the non-lawyers, that is the lowest level of proof in the law.

The toughest standard of proof is “beyond a reasonable doubt” which is used in criminal cases. Below that there is the lesser standard of “clear and convincing evidence” which is used in lots of situations where the matter is very weighty, yet it is not a criminal case, such as in New York family courts when you are charged with neglecting or abusing your children. The lowest standard is “a preponderance of evidence,” which is used with personal injury cases.

The existing standard of proof in the current disciplinary canons (which cover only clergy) is “clear and convincing evidence.” The existing rules presume that church discipline is a matter of much importance. The irony of the church lowering the standard in these proposed canons to the level used in an automobile negligence lawsuit is too obvious for comment. I suppose this is consistent with lowering standards of sexual morality.

Space does not permit me to describe the long and convoluted procedures used under the proposed canons to conduct these disciplinary proceedings. Clearly we will need to await the professional communicator’s report to figure them out. As a canon lawyer, I am still working on them. If someone is brought up on charges, given the complicated nature of the procedures, there will be a tendency to just ignore the whole thing as a bad dream. But alas, that too can land you in trouble, since Proposed Canon IV.3.1(c) says that one of the grounds for discipline is “failing without good cause to cooperate with any investigation or proceeding” for discipline. So merely ignoring the process of discipline is ground for discipline irrespective of whether you did anything wrong in the first instance.

A lay person brought up on charges under this new system will have two choices: either quit and worship at another church down the street, or scrape up lots of money to pay a canon lawyer who understands this complicated process to fight for vindication.

Bluntly put, these proposed disciplinary canons are a disaster. This is church discipline from hell. They are the product of a siege mentality by an institution which seeks to stomp out opposition to the agenda of the higher-ups by removing any laity who stand in their way. The very threat of this process will make all but the most stout-hearted soul acquiesce.

The introduction to these proposed canons claim to help the laity develop “habits which can form all members of the Church in healthy and responsible ministries and which can produce reconciliation and healing when failures occur.” They will not do that. They will be mechanisms of tyranny by bishops and other diocesan leaders against any laity who do not do the bidding of the diocese, be it revisionist or traditionalist.

In the words of the proposed Canon IV.1 the leadership can under these new rules “hold each one accountable” for what they do in the church. And there is no mechanism to stop a bishop who controls his diocesan judicial process from “disciplining” any lay person who opposes the bishop or the diocese on any matter.

Traditionalist laity on a vestry in a revisionist diocese can be removed, or for that matter, revisionist laity of a parish vestry in a traditionalist diocese can be booted. Only canon lawyers will benefit from these new rules. They will be an expensive mess for anyone else caught up in this process. In a church which calls itself “Christian” these proposed disciplinary canons should be “dead on arrival” at the General Convention.

The supreme irony of all this is that today’s Episcopal Church has shown itself so dysfunctional that it cannot even discipline someone wearing a miter since the days of Bishop Pike in the 1960s and Bishop Righter in the 1980s. So now we will take a crack a cleaning up the laity?

What will the deputies to the General Convention do with this draft of the Proposed Canons. Maybe with all the discussion of the Windsor Report and the confirmation of gay bishops, nobody will notice as it is quietly passed into church law. But if they are smart and alert in Ohio in June they will politely hand them back to Bp. Catherine Waynick and her “professional communicators” and say, “thank you, but try again three years from now.”

Then if cooler heads prevail, church discipline against this canon lawyer for publishing an essay which offended the bishop’s canon visionary will have to wait another day at least three years hence.

Raymond Dague is an attorney in Syracuse, New York, a member of St. Andrew’s in the Valley in Syracuse, and assistant chancellor to the bishop of the Diocese of Albany.

Messing with Methodists

According to
Renew, a Methodist renewal organization for women, an outspoken lesbian activist has been invited to give a keynote address to 8,000 United Methodist women on music and spirituality. And according to the official website of the United Methodist Women:

Emily Saliers of the folk-pop group Indigo Girls, joins her father Don E. Saliers of Candler School of Theology, as keynote speakers at the United Methodist Women's Assembly 2006 in Anaheim, Calif.

She is a self-avowed lesbian. But, Methodist women are reassured

that the father-daughter team was invited to speak because of their spiritual and theological understandings and their commitment to justice for women and children.

Her lesbianism has nothing to do with whatever she may have to say to Methodist women about spirituality, you see. Apparently spirituality has nothing to say about sexual disorders. Thus are official positions taken, without making them official. And her father, who teaches "theology and worship" should know better. And if he doesn't, someone else might instruct him.


Vatican: Numbers of European priests fall

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- The number of priests has decreased worldwide in the last quarter-century, with the sharpest fall in Europe - where there are now 20 percent fewer Roman Catholic clerics, the Vatican said.

Experts say the reasons for the drop are complex, but they cite increasing secularization in Europe; some also cite a broader culture that devalues celibacy.

The Vatican, in figures released Saturday, said the number of priests worldwide fell from 420,971 in 1978 to 405,891 in 2004 - a decrease of 3.5 percent. A Vatican statement called the decline "rather disappointing."

In Europe, the number of priests fell by 20 percent - from 250,498 in 1978 to 199,978 in 2004.
the rest

Taking a stand
Immigration: John Collins's non-Latino co-workers are at work today after he protested the company's decision to close in support of immigration-related protests, but Mr. Collins is not there
Lynn Vincent

John Collins worked his way up from day laborer to area manager at the Oklahoma City branch of TruGreen LandCare, a division of the national conglomerate Servicemaster. But on April 27, he quit -- the direct result of TruGreen's decision last week to close down operations in its Red River region on May 1 so that its Latino workers could participate in immigration-related protests.

But it wasn't just that: In Oklahoma City, non-Latino TruGreen workers wouldn't be allowed to work either. And all work missed on May 1 would be made up on Saturday, May 6 -- normally a day off.

The trouble began before that. Angered by demonstrations earlier this month in which Latinos and their supporters poured into the streets demanding amnesty for illegal workers, Mr. Collins, 32, had already written to his congressmen and senators. Watching the massive marches on television was "like driving a knife right through me," said the 10-year military veteran. "I couldn't believe people would stand for that. That is absolutely against every American principle that I fought for and believe in."
the rest

Hospital Served “Cease and Desist” Order After Threatening Life-Support Removal
By Gudrun Schultz

HOUSTON, Texas, May 1, 2006 ( – Sunday was scheduled to be the day of Andrea Clark’s death, on the order of her doctors, but efforts by her family have managed to buy her at least two more days of life.

The family’s lawyer has served the hospital administration with a cease and desist letter to stop plans for removing life support from the 54-year-old woman until a Houston court can be contacted with a request for an injunction against the hospital.

St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital agreed to keep Andrea on life support until at least Tuesday, after plans to move her to a Chicago facility fell through last Friday, reported the North Country Gazette. Her family is trying to find another facility that will accept Andrea’s care, but there is no guarantee the hospital will continue to wait until they do.
the rest

More at Midwest Conservative Journal

Leading Archbishop Warns Against Voting BNP
The Archbishop of York has warned against the British National Party in the run-up to the forthcoming local elections, as politicians continue to urge voters not to vote for the far-right party.
Monday, May 1 , 2006

The Archbishop of York has joined the chorus of condemnation aimed at the controversial British National Party in the run up to the local elections, as he joins church leaders and politicians in urging voters to reject the party in this week’s local elections.

The call comes after fresh evidence against the BNP emerged last week when both Sky News and The Sunday Times reported of conversations recorded secretly last year in which a BNP describes black people as genetically inferior to whites.

Numerous politicians and community leaders have even gone as far as to call on local constituents to vote for rival parties rather than give votes to the far-right party, with the local government minister of Manchester, Phil Woolas, the latest to announce he would rather see votes cast for the Tories or Liberal Democrats than the BNP.

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, told voters on the BBC Radio Four’s Sunday programme that voters in England have an opportunity to shun parties playing on xenophobia and seeking to clamp down on immigration.
the rest

When is it Dangerous to Look at Jesus?
John Piper

When Is It Dangerous to Look at Jesus? On vacation, I kept a copy of Jonathan Edwards' sermons on my bedside table as a way of going to sleep with a God-centered mind. One of those sermons was called, ?Keeping the Presence of God.? It was preached at a Colony-wide fast day in April, 1742.

The second wave of the First Great Awakening had crested in the vicinity, and Edwards was seeing both the good and bad fallout of revival. He saw spiritual dangers lurking everywhere. In the next year, as he preached his famous series on The Religious Affections, he would become the most careful analyst and student of human hearts that had been wakened in the revival. What he saw in those hearts was mixed.
the rest

Modern Times -- The High Cost of Speed
Albert Mohler
Posted: Monday, May 01, 2006

Tony Long contributes a thoughtful piece on the speed of modern life in "
A Sour Note on Modern Times," published at Wired magazine. Long begins with a lament on the fact that classical music stations, in a desperate attempt to attract new listeners, are chopping up symphonies for quick bite-sized listening.

Take a look at his lamentation:

I tuned into my local classical music station the other day and was pleased to hear the andante from Beethoven's Sixth Symphony. I would like to have heard the movements that followed it, too, but the station chose to play Ludwig's scene by the brook as if it were written as a stand-alone piece of music.

The standard symphonic form contains four distinct movements (although the Sixth has five to accommodate Beethoven's sudden summer squall) with a total duration lasting anywhere from 20 minutes (common in Mozart's and Haydn's day) to an hour (for those expansive Romantics Beethoven, Mahler and Bruckner).

Regardless of its length, the symphony -- or concerto, or chamber work -- was meant to be heard as a unified piece of music, not chopped into bits and served as finger food. Yet increasingly, classical stations everywhere are doing exactly that. There are some legitimate reasons, survival being foremost among them.
the rest