Saturday, December 02, 2006

On the day of the LORD his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives, which lies before Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley; so that one half of the Mount shall withdraw northward, and the other half southward. And you shall flee by the valley of the LORD's mountain, for the valley between the mountains shall reach to Azal; and you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of King Uzziah of Judah. Then the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.

On that day there shall not be either cold or frost. And there shall be continuous day (it is known to the LORD), not day and not night, for at evening time there shall be light.

On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea; it shall continue in summer as in winter.

And the LORD will become king over all the earth; on that day the LORD will be one and his name one.
Zechariah 14:4-9

Mississippi Presbytery votes against enforcing property
'Our unity rests in Christ, not in real estate'
By John H. Adams
The Layman Online
Friday, December 1, 2006

The Presbytery of Mississippi, which has historically opposed the property trust clause in the Presbyterian Church (USA), held a series of votes during a called meeting on Nov. 30 not to enforce it.

Mississippi is the first of the denomination's 173 presbyteries to repudiate the trust clause, which says, "All property held by or for a particular church, a presbytery, a synod, the General Assembly, or the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), whether legal title is lodged in a corporation, a trustee or trustees, or an unincorporated association, and whether the property is used in programs of a particular church or of a more inclusive governing body or retained for the production of income, is held in trust nevertheless for the use and benefit of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)" (G-8.0201 in the Book of Order).

Weighing its congregations' commitments to the great ends of the church versus the denomination's claim to their property, the commissioners resolved that they will take "no action to enforce any general trust interest claimed by any higher governing body against any property, real or personal, held by any of its particular churches while they remain under its jurisdiction."

Furthermore, the presbytery said it will not "resist any particular church of the Presbytery of Mississippi which would ask the courts of the State of Mississippi to clear its property of any claims made by higher governing bodies against that property."

The rest: Mississippi Presbytery votes against enforcing property clause

W.Va. city's Xmas scene has no Jesus
By TOM BREEN, Associated Press Writer
Fri Dec 1

ST. ALBANS, W.Va. - Christ is missing from Christmas in this small town. The community's holiday display has a manger with shepherds, a guiding star, camels and a palm tree, but no baby Jesus, Mary or Joseph.

The parks superintendent said Jesus was left out because of concerns about the separation of church and state. But Mayor Dick Callaway said it was done for purely technical reasons: "It's not easy to put a light-up representation of a baby in a small manger scene, you know."

In recent years, some communities around the country have dropped nativity scenes after the displays were challenged as unconstitutional. Some communities have tried to head off legal problems by incorporating nonreligious symbols, or symbols of more than one faith, to avoid the appearance of endorsing one religion over another.
the rest

Bishop Schofield's Address

Bishop Schofield Address to the Diocese of San Joaquin Convention 2006
Recorded December 1, 2006
Producer Kevin Kallsen

Episcopal diocese in Fresno affirms ties to Anglican faith
Associated Press

Dec. 02, 2006

FRESNO, Calif. - In a public rebuke to the Episcopal Church, the Diocese of San Joaquin voted Saturday to affirm its membership in the worldwide Anglican Communion after distancing itself from the American denomination over issues of sexuality and the ordination of women.
Some delegates to the convention called it a first step toward a formal break with the national church, although the proposal makes relatively minor changes to the conservative diocese's status.

"The national church has forced us to this point where we have to pick - is our ultimate authority scripture or is our ultimate authority an institution that has run amok?" said the Rev. Russell VanRozeboom, the diocese's chancellor. "This diocese has always shown itself to be resistant to the heresies of the national church."

Bishop John-David Schofield, who refuses to ordain women and gays, has publicly accused the church's newly elected female leader of promoting "heresy." Under his leadership, the Fresno-based diocese has stopped sending most funds to the national church and has considered a plan to affiliate with an Anglican diocese in Argentina. the rest

Bishop Scofield's Address to Convention of San Joaquin
Posted At : December 1, 2006
Posted By : Kevin Kallsen
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THE BISHOP’S ADDRESSAt the Forty-Seventh Annual ConventionOf the Diocese of San JoaquinSt. James’ Cathedral, Fresno, California
December 1, 2006

On trial for his life, the Apostle Paul began his defense before King Agrippa by saying: “I consider myself fortunate that it is before you, King Agrippa, I am to make my defense today against all the accusations of the Jews because you are especially familiar with all the customs and controversies of the Jews . . .” (Acts 26:2-3a)

The charges brought against St. Paul were none other than his proclamation of the Resurrection, his belief that a crucified carpenter from Nazareth is Lord, and that this same Risen Lord communicated directly with the Apostle in a personal relationship.

In his closing argument, Paul states: “I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout the countryside of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God and do deeds consistent with repentance.” (Acts 26:19,20)
the rest

Friday, December 01, 2006

If we are correct and right in our Christian life at every point, but refuse to stand for the truth at a particular point where the battle rages-then we are traitors to Christ. ...Martin Luther art

These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own. ...G. K. Chesterton

Muslims and the pope
Nov 30th 2006
From The Economist

Christians in the Muslim world need support from Muslims in the Christian world

“WELL, it was time somebody spoke up, wasn't it?” Quite a few Westerners, by no means all of them Christians or fans of the Vatican, will have muttered something like that as they watched Pope Benedict touring Turkey and speaking up for the rights of Christians and other non-Muslims.

By linking Turkey's hope of a European future to a change in its attitude to minority faiths, the pope has given heart to a growing body of people who demand “reciprocity” in relations between the Muslim world and the West. Their argument is that since Muslim minorities are free to practise their faith in historically Christian countries, the Western world should expect Muslim countries to show more respect for the rights of local Christians (and, indeed, Jews).
the rest

Lodi's St. John's Episcopal urged to leave diocese
Bishop wants diocese to break away, join the Anglican Church
By Ross Farrow
News-Sentinel Staff Writer
Friday, Dec 01, 2006

The priest at Lodi's St. John's Episcopal Church has been encouraged to leave the local diocese by the bishop who would like to see the diocese splinter off from the main church.

Rick Matters, priest at Lodi's St. John's, said his bishop, John-David Schofield, has encouraged the local parish to leave the diocese.

Schofield, based in Fresno, is an arch conservative who wants to leave the U.S. Episcopal Church and to instead serve under the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Anglican Church.
the rest

Protest at church called off
Abortion foes cancel it after Utica pastor apologizes for event honoring Arcuri.
Friday, December 01, 2006
By Renée K. Gadoua Staff writer

The Oneida County Right to Life Committee has canceled plans for a Saturday protest outside a Utica Roman Catholic church after the pastor apologized for allowing a reception there honoring newly elected Rep. Michael Arcuri.

Last week's event violated Syracuse Bishop James Moynihan's policy of not allowing people who publicly support abortion rights to speak at or be honored at diocesan facilities, said Dorothy Roback, chairwoman of the Oneida County Right to Life.
the rest

Faith on the rise among boomers
Churchgoing up among Protestant denominations

Marites N. Sison staff writer
Dec 1, 2006

Anyone who thinks that organized religion in Canada is dying “would be wise to think again,” says sociologist Reginald Bibby.

Mainline Protestants (Anglican, United, Lutheran and Presbyterians) in Canada have collectively experienced an increase in monthly-plus attendance in church services since a decade ago, from 26 per cent in 1995 to 31 per cent in 2005, according to Mr. Bibby of Alberta’s University of Lethbridge.

In his latest book, The Boomer Factor: What Canada’s Most Famous Generation is Leaving Behind, Mr. Bibby – who has been monitoring social trends in Canada for 30 years – said that while most observers have assumed that the “Mainliners” (whose numbers dropped to 20 per cent in 2001 from 50 per cent in 1931) have been losing adherents to evangelical groups and increasing secularization, the reality is that “they weren’t having enough kids and their immigration pipeline was going dry.”
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Experimental kids
Family: It’s a brave new world of alternative family models, but some “lopsided” children are beginning to speak out about what they missed growing up
Lynn Vincent

At 7 years old, Katrina Clark was a precocious little girl. When adults asked her questions like, "What does your daddy do?" Katrina had a ready answer: "I don't have a daddy," she would chirp cheerfully. "My mother was artificially inseminated."

For a time, Katrina enjoyed her novel lineage. She liked the way adults admired her grasp of donor-conception biology, which she explained to them as frankly as if she were explaining Barbie dolls.

"I knew all about the birds and the bees and the concept of someone donating genetic raw material," said Katrina Clark, now 18 and a freshman at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. "I could understand it technically, but not socially and psychologically."

the rest-Excellent!

Touchstone: God Rest Ye Merry
On Celebrating the Darker Meaning of Christmas
—Wilfred M. McClay

A number of years ago, our friend Joseph Bottum, editor of First Things, made a nice observation about his experiences of successive Christmases, one that has stuck in my mind as equally true for me, and perhaps for many of us. He observed that every year there seems to be a particular Christmas carol that grabs his attention early in the season, often because one particular line or image in that carol suddenly opens itself, revealing a fresh meaning that he’d never before noticed.
I’ve had the same experience. I remember being struck a couple of years ago when, in listening to the French carol we call “O Holy Night,” a song I always tended to find both schmaltzy and tedious, I noticed the words “Long lay the world in sin and error pining,/ Till he appeared, and the soul felt its worth.”
the rest

The Silence of the Wedding Bells
November 30, 2006
by Carey Roberts

Am I the only one who is worried about the collapse of the traditional American family right before our very eyes?

Census Bureau bureaucrats are not in the habit of making apocalyptic pronouncements, but last year Mark Mather reported that the “dramatic decline” in the married population is “one of the biggest demographic stories of the past several decades.” Now, married couples now account for a minority – 49.7% to be exact – of all U.S. households.

The cause of this extraordinary demographic shift is two-fold. First, Americans are getting married only half as often as we used to. Second since 1960, the share of divorced Americans rose from 2% to 10%.
the rest photo

The elephant and the embryo
By Kathleen Parker
Friday, December 1, 2006

When does an elephant become an elephant? That is the question.

At least it's the one that popped into my mind as I viewed images from an upcoming
National Geographic documentary: "In the Womb: Animals."

The film, scheduled to air Dec. 10, may be the best weapon yet for the pro-life movement. That wasn't the purpose of the documentary -- the first ever to record animals in the womb -- but these images of gestating life pack a powerful wallop.

The mind makes a natural leap to questions of how we consider and treat the pre-born.

Let's just say that the thought of aborting a baby elephant, even in the earliest gestational stages, is repugnant in a way that transcends intellectual arguments about constitutional rights to privacy.
the rest

Financial firms warned of Qaeda cyber attack
By Kristin Roberts

Thu Nov 30, 2006

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government warned American private financial services on Thursday of an al Qaeda call for a cyber attack against online stock trading and banking Web sites beginning on Friday, a source said.

The source, a person familiar with the warning, said the Islamic militant group aimed to penetrate and destroy the databases of the U.S. financial sites.

The Department of Homeland Security confirmed an alert had been distributed but said there was no reason to believe the threat was credible.
the rest

South Africa: Gay marriage becomes legal

Cape Town - Same-sex couples can legally get married from Thursday with the Civil Union Bill having been signed into law by deputy president
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

Mlambo-Ngcuka approved the legislation in her capacity as acting president during President Thabo Mbeki's absence, while he attends a conference in Nigeria.

The Act seeks to regulate the solemnisation and registration of civil unions, by way of either marriage or a civil partnership, and provides for the legal consequences of the solemnisation and registration of civil unions.
the rest

Same-sex marriage hearing expedited
Judge rules SJC should take on suit
By Andrew Ryan, Globe Correspondent
December 1, 2006

Governor Mitt Romney will get another chance to rally against gay marriage before he leaves office in January after a single justice ruled yesterday that the full state Supreme Judicial Court should rush to hear his lawsuit seeking to override the Legislature and put a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would ban same-sex marriages .

California Homosexual 'Marriage' Bill Returns from the Grave
Thomasson: "To continue to push for full-blown 'gay marriage' licenses is unlawful, unconstitutional and undemocratic."

Christian Newswire/ -- A San Francisco assemblyman is bringing back his "gender-neutral marriage" bill in an attempt to create homosexual "marriages" in California.

On December 4, when the California State Assembly convenes for a one-day organizational meeting, gay activist Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) will reintroduce his bill, which is sure to become California's biggest legislative battle of 2007.

"As Californians prepare to celebrate Christmas, the Democrats have declared war upon marriage between a man and a woman," said Randy Thomasson, president of Campaign for Children and Families (CCF), a leading California-based pro-family organization that led the statewide battle to protect marriage in 2004 and 2005.
the rest

Episcopal diocese in Fresno ponders break with church
Associated Press

FRESNO, Calif. - Differences over the Bible and sexuality within the Anglican faith may push the Diocese of San Joaquin to become the first in the nation to split with the Episcopal Church.
Bishop John-David Schofield, who refuses to ordain women and gays, has publicly accused the church's newly elected female leader of promoting "heresy." Under his leadership, the Fresno-based diocese has already stopped sending most funds to the national church and has considered a plan to affiliate with an Anglican diocese in Argentina.

Should delegates decide to formally break with the national church at a convention Saturday, all parties expect a protracted legal battle over the diocese's millions of dollars in real estate.
the rest

'Asian Tiger' to discuss Anglican missions in U.S.
By Stephen P. Clark
Staff Writer
Published December 1 2006

The recently retired leader of a Christian missionary organization that was borne out of a rift between the worldwide Anglican Communion and its American wing will speak at a conference in Fairfield this weekend.

The Most Rev. Datuk Yong Ping Chung, a co-founder of the Anglican Mission in America, will speak at Roger Ludlowe Middle School on the significance of sending Anglican missionaries to America and on what it means to live as a devoted Christian in Malaysia, a country dominated by Muslims who cannot legally convert to other religions.

Chung, 65, affectionately known as the "Asian Tiger," retired as archbishop of the Anglican Province of Southeast Asia in February after serving for five years. In 2000, he and Anglican Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini of Rwanda started a missionary organization to offer an alternative to members of the Episcopal Church disillusioned with the denomination's acceptance of homosexuals, and to recruit millions of Americans who do not attend church. They also established another North American organization, the Anglican Coalition in Canada.

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Thursday, November 30, 2006

"Spirit filled souls are ablaze for God. They love with a love that glows. They serve with a faith that kindles. They serve with a devotion that consumes. They hate sin with fierceness that burns. They rejoice with a joy that radiates. Love is perfected in the fire of God." ... Samuel Chadwick photo

Network Bishops Reject ‘Primatial Vicar’ Offer; Recommit to Mediated Solution

Speaking on behalf of the Anglican Communion Network of which he is moderator, the Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan, Bishop of Pittsburgh, said he was heartened by the “primatial vicar” proposal that Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori announced earlier today and reiterated his commitment to find a mediated solution. Seven Network dioceses, including Pittsburgh, have requested alternate primatial oversight (APO).

“We will study this
proposal,” Bishop Duncan said in a prepared statement. “However at first glance what is proposed is neither primatial, nor oversight, nor is it an alternative to the spiritual authority of one who, by both teaching and action, has expressly rejected the Windsor Report and its recommendations.”

The response, drafted at a Nov. 27
meeting in New York, provides for the appointment by the Presiding Bishop, in consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury, of a primatial vicar as the Presiding Bishop’s designated pastor to bishops and dioceses that have requested such oversight. The primatial vicar, in episcopal orders, could preside at consecrations of bishops in those dioceses.

Bishop Duncan noted that the new proposal appeared to be less than what was offered and rejected at a meeting in New York in September. Neither the new proposal nor the one in September adequately addressed the needs of Network parishes located in non-Network dioceses, according to Bishop Duncan.

“We really do want to talk about all the issues,” he said. “We want to have this conversation and find a way forward that allows all of us to get on with our mission.”

The Living Church

Episcopal leaders make concessions to conservatives
Associated Press

NEW YORK - Episcopal leaders offered conservatives more independence from the national church Thursday, just ahead of a California diocese's vote on whether it should split from the denomination.

A "yes" vote by the Diocese of San Joaquin, based in Fresno, would put it on the brink of leaving The Episcopal Church in its feud over the Bible and sexuality. Church leadership supports same-gender relationships and installed an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire three years ago. However, traditionalists believe gay partnerships violate Scripture.

The church's new proposal would create a leadership position called a "primatial vicar."
The vicar would work with conservative dioceses, performing functions that normally fall to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, including consecrating local bishops.

A representative of Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, spiritual leader of the global Anglican Communion, would have a role on a panel of church leaders supervising the appointee. However, the vicar would ultimately be under the authority of Jefferts Schori. The Episcopal Church is the U.S. wing of the 77 million-member Anglican family.
the rest

More Muslims Gaining Political Ground
Although Md. Delegate-Elect Doesn't Trumpet Faith, His Win Signals New Surge
Michelle Boorstein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 30, 2006

Since Gaithersburg software engineer Saqib Ali was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates this month, he has been flooded with calls and e-mails from across the country asking: How'd you do it?

The calls come from American Muslims like Ali, who, longtime political watchers and Muslim activists in the area say, is the first Muslim elected to a statewide -- or districtwide -- office in Maryland, Virginia or the District.

Although the 31-year-old made little of his faith during the campaign -- in fact, he bucked those who said he should put it on his campaign literature -- he is part of a concerted march of Muslims into civic and political life. His campaign was part of a push that began after Sept. 11, 2001, with worries about civil liberties and immigration policy and has blossomed this year.

Minnesota Democrat Keith Ellison became the first Muslim to be elected to Congress. In the D.C. area, eight Muslims ran for office in Maryland this year, significantly more than in previous years, although only Ali won. And initial polling data and anecdotal evidence suggest that significantly more Muslims in Virginia registered and voted this month than in previous elections.
the rest

UK: Sharia Law is spreading as authority wanes

Six Christians Murdered by Muslim Mob in Ethiopia

Abortion Foes Look To the Big Screen
By Robert D. Novak
Thursday, November 30, 2006

An invited audience that included Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez gathered at National Geographic Society's auditorium Monday night for a screening of "Bella," an independently produced feature film. No mere movie, it offers hope for the beleaguered antiabortion movement to reverse the political tide running against it.

This was the eighth such screening in Washington. Monday night's audience reflected the reaction in more than 100 showings nationwide: an emotional experience for a stunning exhibition of cinema art that unexpectedly won a Toronto International Film Festival award. It is no propaganda film but a dramatic depiction of choices facing an unmarried pregnant woman.

"Bella," unknown to the general public, has generated excitement and anticipation in conservative Catholic and other antiabortion circles. The problem is getting the film in theaters around the country for its public premiere early next April. That is never easy for an independent film with no box-office names, but the problems are magnified when its message runs counter to the social mores of Hollywood.
the rest

Truro May Leave Episcopal Church
City's Episcopal church may split from U.S. Episcopal Church, homosexuality a major issue.
By Ari Cetron
November 29, 2006

Truro Episcopal Church, an institution in the City of Fairfax with roots dating to colonial times may soon split off from the Episcopal Church of the United States.

The church's vestry — the governing board of the church — voted to recommend the split last month. The congregation as a whole will vote on Dec. 10 to decide their fate. If Truro decides to make the split, it will be the first church in Virginia to do so.

The split, also being considered by The Falls Church in Falls Church, is the culmination of 40 years worth of theological differences, said Jim Pierobon. While a parishioner at the Falls Church, Pierobon is acting as spokesman for both churches.

The issue came to a head in 2003 when the church confirmed an openly gay bishop. "Among the presenting issues was Gene Robinson's consecration in New Hampshire," Pierobon said.The vestries of the two churches decided that they could not accept the liberalization in the American church. They wish to adhere to what they say is a strict interpretation of the Bible which forbids homosexuality.

While the church may vote to split off, they hope to remain within the worldwide Anglican Church under the auspices of its Nigerian branch, Pierobon said. "Churches, especially in Africa, are very conservative and even orthodox in their views of scripture and the Bible," he said.
the rest

Episcopal bishop hopefuls to face faithful
Herald Staff Writer
Thu, Nov. 30, 2006

MANATEE - On Friday, Episcopalians across the region will have their only chance to question candidates hoping to be the next bishop of the Diocese of Southwest Florida.

The final slate of candidates is down to seven, including four from the diocese, said Jim DeLa, a diocese spokesman. A diocese search committee picked three candidates from outside the area. Four others nominated by petition have local roots.

A new bishop will be elected Dec. 9 at St. Peter's Cathedral in downtown St. Petersburg.

Current Bishop John Lipscomb, who wants to eventually retire, has the option to work with his coadjutor/assistant until May 2010, DeLa said.
the rest

Bishop Duncan: Rift matter of faithfulness
The leader of the Episcopal reform movement meets with Florida Anglicans.
By JEFF BRUMLEY, The Times-Union

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The leader of a national movement to reform or break away from the Episcopal Church was in Jacksonville Wednesday for a meeting of Florida Anglicans.

The denomination is in the midst of a rift caused in part by the 2003 ordination of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire, which resulted in the departure of parishes and dioceses across the country - including some or all of 16 North Florida congregations.

Bishop Robert Duncan, 58, of Pittsburgh, is the spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion Network, an association of current and former Episcopalians who believe the church has rejected biblical authority. He spoke on everything from the state of the Episcopal Church to local legal disputes over church property to what he termed the "hardened" hearts of those he is battling.


Bishops develop proposal responding to 'Appeal to the Archbishop of Canterbury'
Thursday, November 30, 2006

[Episcopal News Service/Anglican Communion News Servic] A group of bishops, including Presiding Bishop
Katharine Jefferts Schori, has developed a proposal responding to "An Appeal to the Archbishop of Canterbury" addressing what other petitioning bishops and dioceses have termed "alternative primatial oversight" or "alternative primatial relationship." Full texts of the group's response and accompanying statement follow here.

A Response to "An Appeal to the Archbishop of Canterbury"

Some bishops and dioceses of the Episcopal Church have requested that the
Archbishop of Canterbury provide what they have variously called "alternative primatial oversight" or an "alternative primatial relationship." In consultation with the Presiding Bishop, the Archbishop of Canterbury proposed that a number of bishops from the Episcopal Church meet to explore a way forward. A first meeting took place in September, and a second meeting in November developed the following proposal that seeks to address the concerns of those parishes and dioceses which for serious theological reasons feel a need for space, and to encourage them to remain within the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.

1. Taking seriously the concerns of the petitioning bishops and dioceses, the Presiding Bishop, in consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury, will appoint a Primatial Vicar in episcopal orders to serve as the Presiding Bishop’s designated pastor in such dioceses. The Primatial Vicar could preside at consecrations of bishops in these dioceses. The Primatial Vicar could also serve the dioceses involved on any other appropriate matters either at the initiative of the Presiding Bishop or at the request of the petitioning dioceses.
the rest

The Living Church: Bishops Propose Primatial Vicar for Petitioning Dioceses

A group of bishops, including Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, has developed a proposal responding to requests articulated in "An Appeal to the Archbishop of Canterbury" regarding an alternate primatial relationship for petitioning dioceses. The proposal has been submitted to the Archbishop of Canterbury and to the bishops of the petitioning dioceses. the rest

Bishop Schofield Responds to Bishop Schori’s Letter of November 20th
November 28, 2006

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts-Schori
The Episcopal Church Center
815 Second Ave.
New York, NY 10017

Dear Bishop Schori:

Greetings in the name of our Lord and only Savior Jesus Christ.

I am in receipt of your letter to me and wish to make clear from the outset that I have always remained faithful to my vows as an ordained bishop in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. At my consecration, I vowed to “guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church of God.” I was charged by my chief consecrator to “Feed the flock of Christ committed to [my] charge, guard and defend them in his truth, and be a faithful steward of his holy Word and Sacraments.” I carry out my vow by defending and propagating “the historic Faith and Order” which The Episcopal Church commits to upholding in the preamble of its own Constitution.

The rest at titusonenine

Ancient Greek artefact was an 'astronomical computer'
By Steve Connor, Science Editor
Published: 30 November 2006

An astronomical instrument built by the Ancient Greeks in the 2nd century BC has turned out to be a complex computer for calculating the relative position of the sun, the moon and the planets.

Scientists studied the internal workings of the machine by using a sophisticated medical scanner. They concluded it was at least 1,000 years ahead of its time.

The Antikythera Mechanism was rescued from a Roman shipwreck at the turn of the last century but its precise function was little understood because it was broken into 82 pieces.

Made of bronze and wood, the device was evidently an instrument of some sort because it used a complicated set of gears to move a series of concentric wheels and pointers that appeared to predict movements of astronomical objects. But scientists were surprised to find it was in fact a sophisticated analogue computer that acted as a long-term calendar for predicting lunar and solar eclipses and planetary movements.
the rest

33,000 Sought for Radiation Testing in Ex-Spy Death Probe
Thursday, November 30, 2006

LONDON — As many as 33,000 passengers on flights that traveled between London and Moscow — including those who flew on a Russian air carrier — are being sought for radiation testing as the fallout from the poisoned spy scandal spreads.

Traces of radiation have been found at a dozen sites in Britain and five jets were being investigated for possible contamination as authorities widened their investigation into the poisoning of a former Russian spy, the country's top law enforcement official told Parliament on Thursday.
the rest

UN sends antisemtic Anglican to 'investigate' IDF action
Source: The Jerusalem Post
November 30, 2006

The United Nations has commissioned an openly anti-Israel church cleric to head a "fact-finding" mission to the Gaza Strip.

South Africa Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu is a staunch proponent of Liberation Theology with a record of criticising Israel and championing the Arab effort to rob the Jews of their land.
He insists that Israel practises apartheid policies, the racist system of government in South Africa that Tutu publicly resisted and ultimately saw fall.

Tutu's destination in Gaza is the Kassam rocket-launching center of Beit Hanoun, a terrorism snake pit which Israel has repeatedly been forced to act against in its efforts to protect Jews from the Arab attacks.
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Feast of Saint Andrew
November 30

Matthew 4:18-22
As Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea-- for they were fishermen. And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fish for people." Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.

Almighty God, who gave such grace to your apostle Andrew that he readily obeyed the call of your Son Jesus Christ, and brought his brother with him: Give us, who are called by your Holy Word, grace to follow him without delay, and to bring those near to us into his gracious presence; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. BCP

Happy feastday!
St. Andrew's in the Valley, Syracuse NY

Lord, we ask for your blessing and mercy on the faithful people of St. Andrew's. Fill us with the power of Your Holy Spirit, with all grace and mercy, with wisdom, understanding and discernment for the uncertain days ahead. We bless those who persecute us and ask that their hearts be turned toward You. Pour into our hearts a mighty zeal to spread the good news of Your Gospel.
In Jesus' Name. Amen.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. ...CS Lewis photo

Pope comes through most dangerous day
Richard Owen in Ephesus
November 30, 2006

Ankara and the Vatican breathed a joint sigh of relief yesterday as the Pope arrived in Istanbul for the last leg of his four-day trip after holding a Mass at a Marian shrine on a hillside at Ephesus — the only open air event of the journey.

The Pope honoured a priest murdered in Turkey, and offered encouragement to the Catholic minority in a country where a number of priests have been attacked.
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Formal Complaint Filed Against Milwaukee Bishop

The ecclesiastical trial against the Rev. Martha Ann Englert, rector of Grace Church, Madison, Wis., is scheduled to resume Saturday at Good Shepherd Church, Sun Prairie, Wis. Ms. Englert is accused of making inappropriate remarks and disclosures about her parishioners.

A formal complaint also has been filed against the Rt. Rev. Steven A. Miller, Bishop of Milwaukee. The complainants allege that Bishop Miller mishandled the formal complaint against Ms. Englert and prejudiced the diocesan review committee against her.

The complaint against the bishop appears to have met the number of signatories stipulated by the Canons of the General Convention. Notarized signatures were received from 14 lay Episcopalians and two clergy in June and the complaint was filed with Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold. The Presiding Bishop and others involved in the ecclesiastical process are prevented canonically from commenting publicly on any aspect of a complaint until after a decision on whether to go to trial has been reached by the review committee. In some cases this can be more than 18 months after the complaint is filed.

the rest at The Living Church

Christian Magistrate Forced To Resign For Refusing to Place Children In Gay Homes
Says to do so would go against his religious belief that homosexuality is immoral
By Meg Jalsevac
BRITAIN, November 28, 2006

( – Andrew McClintock, an 18 year veteran in magistrate court on the South Yorkshire Bench, is suing the British Department for Constitutional Affairs for discrimination against his religious beliefs. McClintock says that he had no option but to resign when his superiors told him that he would not be permitted to refuse to place children in adoptive homes with homosexual parents. McClintock says to do so would directly contradict his Christian beliefs that homosexuality is immoral.

The Civil Partnerships Act was passed in Britain in 2005 and granted legal recognition to same-sex unions. The British government is currently debating instituting Sexual Orientation Regulations which would prevent homosexuals from being discriminated against in the "provision of goods and services". Among other things, the suggested regulations could require sex education classes in schools to teach heterosexual and homosexual material equally.
the rest

New York Times Caught in Abortion-Promoting Whopper - Infanticide Portrayed as Abortion
By John-Henry Westen
November 27, 2006

( - On April 9, New York Times reporter Jack Hitt produced what may be called a 'hit piece' against the pro-life movement in El Salvador. The piece, laden with scare tactics, culminates in his tale of woe of a woman who he says had an illegal abortion when she was 18 weeks pregnant and was sentenced to thirty years in prison. The only problem with the story is that the woman was found guilty of strangling her full-term baby shortly after her birth.

Writing in an editorial in one of the largest papers in El Salvador, Julia Cardenal, who was interviewed for the New York Times Hitt piece, excoriates the Times for false reporting. Referring to Hitt, Cardenal asks what the intention was of the NYT piece. "To cause indignation in the United States so that they will pressure us to legalize abortion?," she asks rhetorically.

Hitt described his visit to Carmen Climaco in prison. "I was there to see Carmen Climaco. She is now 26 years old, four years into her 30-year sentence," wrote Hitt. The New York Times article concludes, "She'd had a clandestine abortion at 18 weeks, not all that different from D.C.'s, something defined as absolutely legal in the United States. It's just that she'd had an abortion in El Salvador."
the rest

Three Controversial Church Leaders Executed Secretly in China

MIDLAND, Texas, Nov. 29 /
Christian Newswire/ -- China Aid Association learned that three controversial church leaders were executed secretly sometime last week.

According to Mr. Li Maoxing's wife, she was asked by the Intermediate Court of Shuangyashan City, Heilongjiang province at 2:30pm on November 28 (Beijing time) to collect her husband's ashes at the court as soon as possible. According to attorney Li Heping who is the defense lawyer for Mr. Xu Shuangfu, the founder of the Three Grade Servant church group, Mr. Xu, Mr. Li Maoxing and Mr. Wang Jun were already executed secretly sometime last week. Neither of their attorneys nor any of their relatives was informed in advance about the execution. The Defense team for the three executed argued that there is no evidence to prove Xu and the other two church leaders were directly involved or took part in organizing and abetting the murder of the members of the Eastern Lightening religious group.

Attorney Li Heping told CAA that he was deeply disturbed by the secret arbitrary execution without even notifying the family members of the executed in advance. CAA confirms that so far 15 individual believers and leaders had been executed in related to this case.
the rest

The Nativity Story Turned Down at US Festival
The city of Chicago in the US is not allowing The Nativity Story to be presented at a major public Christmas festival.
by Kevin Donovan
Posted: Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The city of Chicago in the US is not allowing The Nativity Story to be presented at a major public Christmas festival.

Officials have asked organisers of the German Christkindlmarket to reconsider using New Line Cinema, the maker of movie The Nativity Story, as a sponsor because it is worried ads for its film might offend non-Christians. The film hit the headlines at the weekend when it became the first movie to premiere at The Vatican.

New Line Cinema had planned to play a loop of the new film on televisions at the event before they were dropped. The decision has left the studio and a prominent Christian group disappointed.

But city officials defended themselves, saying they were only trying to be fair.
the rest

The New Atheism?
R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
Christian Post Guest Columnist
Sat, Nov. 25 2006

2006 has been a big year for atheism. The release of several major books – all widely touted in the media – has put atheism on the front lines of current cultural conversation. Books such as Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion, Daniel Dennett's Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, and Sam Harris' Letter to a Christian Nation are selling by the thousands and prompting hours of conversation on college campuses and in the media.

Now, WIRED magazine comes out with a cover story on atheism for its November 2006 issue. In "The New Atheism," WIRED contributing editor Gary Wolf explains that this newly assertive form of atheism declares a very simple message: "No heaven. No hell. Just science.

"WIRED is itself a cultural symbol for the growing centrality of technology in our lives. On the other hand, the magazine is not simply a celebration of emerging technologies nor a catalogue of soon-to-be-released marvels. Instead, the magazine consistently offers significant intellectual content and it takes on many of the most controversial issues of the times. Considering the relatively young readership of the magazine, the decision to put atheism on the front cover indicates something of where they think the society is headed – at least in interest.
the rest

Media No Substitute for Personal Evangelism, Says Pentecostal Leader
Lillian Kwon
Christian Post Reporter
Wed, Nov. 29 2006 09:32 AM ET

The Assemblies of God just came out of a milestone campaign in New York City that drew an unexpected large response. In the end, the Pentecostal group was left with only a few extra gospel booklets and an awareness of the gripping human need in society and the power of prayer.

Despite flashy ad spots of "God Gives Hope" running on Times Square's News Astrovision Screen, volunteers quickly found no substitute for personal evangelism.

"I just quickly was convinced that we had to have people on the ground, ministering on the ground to make that electronic media effective," said Scott Temple, director of Intercultural Ministries for the Assemblies of God.

Nearly 100,000 18-page booklets were distributed on the grounds throughout the two-week outreach, which ended Sunday. The Assemblies of God had only anticipated passing out 20,000. Hundreds of students, missionaries and local churchgoers spanned the populated city as hundreds more stood by around the clock at satellite prayer centers across the nation.
the rest

Anglican bishop threatens to close youth clubs in protest at gay rights

A senior Church of England bishop have warned that Anglican youth clubs, welfare projects and charities may close because of new gay rights laws.

The Bishop of Rochester, the Right Reverend Michael Nazir-Ali, said that the Church of England's charities would be "affected" by the rules, which will force them to give equal treatment to homosexuals.
the rest

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

There is one thing that keeps many from zealously improving their lives, that is, dread of the difficulty, the toil of battle. Certainly they who try bravely to overcome the most difficult and unpleasant obstacles far outstrip others in the pursuit of virtue. A person makes the most progress and merits the most grace precisely in those matters wherein he gains the greatest victories over self and most mortifies his will. True, each one has his own difficulties to meet and conquer, but a diligent and sincere person will make greater progress even though he have more passions than one who is more even-tempered but less concerned about virtue. ...Thomas a Kempis art

Open Letter Attacks Requests for Alternative Primatial Oversight
The Living Church

November 28, 2006

An open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury
Regarding requests for “alternative primatial oversight”

Dear Archbishop Williams:

We write as members of The Episcopal Church to express our deep concern about the requests for “alternative primatial oversight” that have come from eight of our dioceses since the 2006 General Convention. Such a request is unprecedented, and we believe that granting any of these requests would pose a grave danger to the Anglican Communion.

An important aspect of our Anglican identity is our comprehensiveness as a reformed and catholic church in which our unity is expressed in common prayer rather than adherence to a formal confession of faith other than the Creeds. Historically, Anglicans have been willing to live together with a wide spectrum of theological perspectives. As you remind us in your June 2006 statement “The Challenge and Hope of Being an Anglican Today,” our distinctive Anglican inheritance includes “a reformed commitment to the absolute priority of the Bible for deciding doctrine, a catholic loyalty to the sacraments and the threefold ministry of bishops, priests and deacons, and a habit of cultural sensitivity and intellectual flexibility that does not seek to close down unexpected questions too quickly.” Drawing on these three components together, we are rooted in Christ, and our focus in Christ enables us to live with diverse and even at times conflicting points of view. Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane has recently commented: “It is because Jesus Christ, second person of the Trinity made flesh, is our goal, our end, our telos, the central focus and direction of our lives, that Anglicanism has found through the ages that we can afford to live with messiness, ambiguity and anomaly at the edges.”

Those seeking “alternative primatial oversight” are in effect asking to walk away from the messiness and ambiguity of our current disputes about gays and lesbians in the church. In so doing, they give to these questions a doctrinal weight not in keeping with historic Anglican understandings. Allowing dioceses to reject the oversight of the duly selected primate of The Episcopal Church because of disagreements about this matter would open the door for others, here and elsewhere in the Anglican Communion, to reject pastoral and sacramental leadership on the basis of non-essential matters. This would lead to fragmentation of the Anglican Communion rather than deeper unity in Christ.

the rest of the letter and signatures

Major Christian Leaders Are Widely Unknown, Even Among Christians
November 27, 2006

(Ventura, CA) – A new survey conducted by The Barna Group found that the most positive feelings Americans had toward 16 public figures, including politicians, entertainers and ministers, were awarded to actor Denzel Washington. The least favorable image was associated with singer Britney Spears. The range of opinions was significant: 85% had a favorable view of Mr. Washington and just 2% held a negative view of him. In contrast, 34% had a positive view of Ms. Spears but 54% had a negative opinion of her.

The survey discovered several unexpected patterns in people’s reactions to the 16 public figures assessed. Among those insights is the comparative lack of awareness of some of the nation’s leading Christian ministers and the fact that bestselling authors do not generate high levels of public awareness.
the rest

Pope defuses tensions on visit to Muslim Turkey
Tue Nov 28, 2006
By Philip Pullella and Selcuk Gokoluk

ANKARA (Reuters) - Pope Benedict told Turkey on Tuesday he backed its bid to join the European Union and believed Islam was a religion of peace, hoping to soothe rows overshadowing a delicate visit to the mainly Muslim country.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan hailed the comments, which he said Benedict made to him in their private talk at the airport, and Turkish commentators said they changed the tone of a visit clouded by disputes over the Pope's view of Islam.

Asked about Turkey's EU entry bid, which Benedict opposed before his 2005 election as Pope, spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the Vatican took no political stand but supported Turkey's entry "on the basis of common values and principles."
the rest

US gets first free-to-air gay channel
Tuesday, November 28 2006
James Welsh,
International Editor

WGAY-TV, America's first free-to-air terrestrial TV station aimed at LGBT audiences, will launch in Key West, Florida at midnight on January 1, 2007.

The station plans to expand nationally on cable, and will be carried on cable in Key West from launch."

Our goal is to offer a variety of free programming both online and through local cable affiliates that will appeal to the diverse gay and lesbian population," said Jason Sherwood, the station's co-founder and general manager.
the rest

Don't Sit Up Straight, It's Bad For Your Back
28 Nov 2006

It seems that sitting up straight, something many of us are taught from a very early age, is not good for your back, say researchers from Scotland and Canada. They found that sitting up straight strains your back unnecessarily. Ideally, you should lean slightly back, at an angle of about 135 degrees, they say.

The researchers, at Woodend Hospital, Aberdeen, Scotland, used a novel form of MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) on 22 healthy volunteers to identify which positions are best, and which are worst, for our backs. The Positional MRI Machine allows the patient to move around during the examination.
the rest

The American Jesus
World Magazine Blog

Here's a fascinating -- and convicting -- essay on the response to American Christianity of atheistic Chinese students studying in the U.S.. It's posted by Michael Spencer, a blogger who goes by the handle "Internet Monk" and says he is "deconstructing and moving past my evangelicalism; rediscovering what it means to be vitally connected to Jesus." Here's a small portion of Spencer's long-but-worth-reading post:

I doubt [these Chinese students] will become Christians because they are seeing American Christianity, and it’s far more American than Christian. They’ve helped me to see my own cultural religion, and it’s been a disturbing revelation.

When they attend chapel, they frequently hear moralistic preaching. Their own Confucian and Maoist culture gives them morals and moralism, and produces a far more moral person than their typical American peer. They hear sermons on being a good person, staying off drugs, not having sex and staying in school. They were doing all this when they came here and will do it when they leave.

They see American Christians without a Bible most of the time. We have few spiritual disciplines and are hungry and thirsty for the things our culture values more than the gifts and callings of Christ. They hear us talk about Jesus, but the Jesus we talk about is not compelling enough to cause us to live truly sacrificial or revolutionary American Christians they simply see another American, with a slightly different set of consumer interests. Same American. Different t-shirt slogan

Full essay: Internet Monk: Do Chinese Students Need An American Jesus?

Reasons to clarify property title apart from wanting to leave PCUSA
By Lloyd J. Lunceford
Monday, November 27, 2006

For many months I have read numerous letters to the editor offering suggestions to churches that may be considering leaving the PCUSA or churches concerned about retaining or clarifying ownership and use of local church property. Many of the suggestions have been very insightful. Some of the suggestions, however, though well-intentioned, may not accomplish their stated purposes. Indeed, some of the suggestions could have unintended, adverse consequences. As legal counsel advising several churches around the country, and as one who recently negotiated a court judgment to which both local church and presbytery agreed and jointly submitted for court approval, I'd like to offer a little food for thought.

First, I think consideration should be given to whether it might be appropriate in some circumstances to de-link the issue of property rights from denominational affiliation/disaffiliation. Resolving the issue of property rights does not always have to take place in tandem with, or in the throes of, debating over whether to leave the denomination. It can be helpful to "divide the question" and address those two issues at separate times and in separate venues. There are important reasons to clarify property title apart from whether one wishes to stay with or leave the PCUSA. A bank won't lend money to a local church if there is a question about whether the borrower has clear title to the property which is serving as the collateral securing the loan. Nor will some potential large donors give to a local church capital campaign if similar questions are present. For these reasons alone, wholly apart from the separate issue of staying with or leaving the denomination, a local church may need to obtain a declaratory judgment from a civil court. As explained below, de-linking these two issues can have important practical consequences in litigation and negotiation.
The rest

Book: A Guide to Church Property Law:Theological, Constitutional and Practical Considerations

Pastor Arrested in India for ‘Offending Hindu Sensitivities’
Police in India’s Orissa State, Rourkela District, have arrested a young pastor under charges of “offending Hindu sensitivities”.
by Daniel Blake
Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Police in India’s Orissa State, Rourkela District, have arrested a young pastor under charges of “offending Hindu sensitivities”, US-based human rights group, International Christian Concern (ICC) has reported.

Pastor Ashish Kumar Muna, 25, has reportedly been in jail in the Rourkela district since November 15, after a Hindu fundamentalist belonging to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) lodged a complaint in Udit Nagar police station in Jhirpani Taluka accusing him of “conversions”.

Dr Sajan George of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) explained that Pastor Muna got into trouble when he prayed for a woman suffering from tuberculosis and kidney problems, not knowing that she was the wife of Jibardhana Chouhan, the Rourkela district coordinator of the VHP.
the rest

"The Nativity Story" -- In Season and On Message
Posted: Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Albert Mohler

My family and I attended a media screening for
The Nativity Story last night. Here is my instant review -- the movie is in season and on message. In other words, the movie faithfully presents the main thrust of the Christmas story. That is no small achievement.

The movie, directed by Catherine Hardwicke, takes some liberties with the biblical accounts found in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Nevertheless, the invented scenes and dialogue do not distract from the biblical storyline. The screenplay by Mike Rich presents key truths such as the virgin conception and deity of Jesus with unambiguous clarity and artistic force.

The gospel accounts are the starting point for any telling of the story, of course. At the same time, there is no comprehensive biblical narrative that fills in every detail. We are left with huge questions. Joseph is described in the New Testament merely as a "righteous man" who believed God and obeyed angelic visions. When Mary is found to be "with child," Joseph decides the put her away privately, rather than to defend his own honor through a public accusation against his betrothed bride. Beyond these facts, we know little of Joseph the Carpenter. Yet, as a character in this movie, Joseph is almost as developed as the character of Mary.
the rest

Celling a Strategy
Opposition to embryo-destroying research is not a losing issue. At least it shouldn’t be.
By James Kelly

“How can you side with those people?”

In 2002, a paralyzed research advocate who actively supports embryonic-stem-cell and human-cloning research asked me this question. By “those” people she meant Christians, conservatives, and pro-life groups.

“It’s simple,” I said. “Why is it in our interest to sit in these wheelchairs for the rest of our lives so science can puzzle over safety problems linked to embryonic stem cells and human cloning, while ignoring the cells that nature designed for the treatments we need?”

In the discussion that followed I explained why embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are inferior to adult stem cells or cord blood for every medical condition commonly used to justify massive public funding of ESC research and human cloning. I offered head-to-head peer-reviewed research studies to support my case. With nothing left to cling to, my former friend slammed the door on the discussion:

“Well…I support science!” she said with self-righteous anger.

“I support cures,” I replied.
the rest

Chicago Christmas Festival Nixes 'Nativity Story' Ads Over Fears of Offending Non-Christians
Tuesday, November 28, 2006

CHICAGO — A public
Christmas festival is no place for the Christmas story, the city says. Officials have asked organizers of a downtown Christmas festival, the German Christkindlmarket, to reconsider using a movie studio as a sponsor because it is worried ads for its film "The Nativity Story" might offend non-Christians.

New Line Cinema, which said it was dropped, had planned to play a loop of the new
film on televisions at the event. The decision had both the studio and a prominent Christian group shaking their heads.

"The last time I checked, the first six letters of Christmas still spell out Christ," said Paul Braoudakis, spokesman for the Barrington, Ill.-based
Willow Creek Association, a group of more than 11,000 churches of various denominations. "It's tantamount to celebrating Lincoln's birthday without talking about Abraham Lincoln." the rest

How the imams terrorized an airliner
By Audrey Hudson
November 28, 2006

Muslim religious leaders removed from a Minneapolis flight last week exhibited behavior associated with a security probe by terrorists and were not merely engaged in prayers, according to witnesses, police reports and aviation security officials.

Witnesses said three of the imams were praying loudly in the concourse and repeatedly shouted "Allah" when passengers were called for boarding US Airways Flight 300 to Phoenix.

"I was suspicious by the way they were praying very loud," the gate agent told the Minneapolis Police Department.

Passengers and flight attendants told law-enforcement officials the imams switched from their assigned seats to a pattern associated with the September 11 terrorist attacks and also found in probes of U.S. security since the attacks -- two in the front row first-class, two in the middle of the plane on the exit aisle and two in the rear of the cabin.
the rest

Monday, November 27, 2006

We ought never to forget, brethren, that we have renounced the world. We are living here now as aliens and only for a time. When the day of our homecoming puts an end to our exile, frees us from the bonds of the world, and restores us to paradise and to a kingdom, we should welcome it. What man, stationed in a foreign land, would not want to return to his own country as soon as possible? Well, we look upon paradise as our country, and a great crowd of our loved ones awaits us there, a countless throng of parents, brothers and children longs for us to join them. Assured though they are of their own salvation, they are still concerned about ours. What joy both for them and for us to see one another and embrace! O the delight of that heavenly kingdom where there is no fear of death! O the supreme and endless bliss of everlasting life! ...Cyprian photo

Here is a meditation found at Lent and Beyond. Be sure to check there often to take advantage of their Advent devotionals and prayers.

Preparing for Advent
Stir up our wills, O LORD — Today please, not in the far distant future!
Peter Toon

Excerpt: The weakness of the will of baptized believers in the Christian life of obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ was well recognized by the apostles (see Romans 7-8) and by the bishops and teachers in the Early Church. This is why they called upon all to use the means of grace provided by the Gospel and to pursue sanctification before God. He who knows his own heart well knows that it is prone to lethargy; that it seems always ready to relapse into slumber as if it were satisfied with present attainments in the moral sphere. It needs constantly to be re-charged as it were by heavenly power and prompted to godly action. In fact, at times it needs to be released from servitude to selfish motivation.

The rest of the meditation

Jordan Hylden: Schori’s Agenda
First Things
November 27, 2006

No one thought it possible, but there is a wave of nostalgia sweeping through the ranks of conservative Episcopalians for their old presiding bishop, Frank Griswold. Of course, he may well have been heretical, but no one could really tell for sure. His statements were a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside a bureaucracy, raising what commonly is known as “Episco-babble” to something of an art form. By and large, we conservatives could confidently ignore what he said, resting assured that no one understood him anyway.

But those days, alas, are now gone. Our new presiding bishop, Katherine Jefferts Schori, is by comparison a model of clarity, and within the span of a month has managed
to offend a rather astonishing range of people, including Catholics, Mormons, individuals without a graduate degree, and mothers with children. Lord Carey, former archbishop of Canterbury, has said that conservatives ought to give her a chance, which is of course the charitable thing to do. But for those less inclined to charity, there is good reason to believe she intends nothing less than to run conservatives out of the church, finalize the split between the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, and set up an international communion of liberal Anglicanism as a rival to Canterbury. In short, from her recent actions and public statements, it is reasonable to infer that her term is likely to tear the Episcopal Church in two—and, what’s more, that that is precisely what she intends.

the rest

Bishops Decline Invitation to Second Summit

Released by The Diocese of Fort Worth on November 27, 2006:

The Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan, Bishop of Pittsburgh, and the Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker, Bishop of Fort Worth, have declined an invitation from the Rt. Rev. Peter Lee, Bishop of Virginia, to attend a second Summit Meeting of bishops requesting Alternate Primatial Oversight with the Presiding Bishop and two co-conveners, Bishop Lee and the Rt. Rev. John Lipscomb, Bishop of Southwest Florida. In fact, none of the bishops of those dioceses that have requested APO will be attending. The proposed meeting was scheduled to begin today. The first Summit, convened at the request of the Rt. Rev. and Most Hon. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, was held in September at the offices of the Church Pension Group in New York City. Bishop Iker enumerated the reasons for the decision in a reply he sent to Bishop Lee on Tuesday, Nov. 21, on behalf of Bishop Duncan and himself.

The full text of the reply:

Pakistan Christians get 15 years for blasphemy
November 27, 2006

FAISALABAD, Pakistan -- A Pakistani court has sentenced two Christians to 15 years of hard labor on charges of desecrating the Koran under the country's tough blasphemy laws, officials said Monday.

James Masih, 25, and Boota Masih, 60, were found guilty of burning pages of the Muslim holy book, Judge Mohammad Aslam said in a verdict Saturday after a trial in the industrial city of Faisalabad.

Both men, who are not related, were also fined 25,000 rupees ($416), court officials said.

"Scores of people gave evidence against the convicts," said police officer Mian Mian Muhammad Akram, adding that a member of the local council in the city's Nishatabad neighborhood had lodged the case against them.

"We saved their lives from an angry mob of Muslims who wanted to kill them, and took them into custody," senior police officer Sarfraz Falki added.

The Christian community would challenge the verdict, Christian provincial legislator Pervez Rafiq said.
the rest