Friday, January 02, 2009

Devotional: Grant me, O Lord, to know what I ought to know...

Grant me, O Lord, to know what I ought to know,to love what I ought to love, to praise what delights Thee most, to value what is precious in Thy sight, to hate what is offensive to Thee. Do not suffer me to judge according to the sight of my eyes, nor to pass sentence according to the hearing of the ears of ignorant men; but to discern with a true judgment between things visible and spiritual, and above all, always to inquire what is the good pleasure of Thy will. ...Thomas a Kempis image

Clothing and the Character of the Child

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008
by Dr. Timothy Paul Jones

Our daughter Hannah is rapidly closing in on thirteen years of age. She is tall for her age. Her dark curls and tawny skin mirror the features of the birthparents who brought her to a Romanian orphanage when she was eight months old. Hannah has been part of our family since she was seven years old. She is the apple of her Daddy’s eye, the princess of her Daddy’s heart, and—at this moment—she’s in need of some new clothes. In our household, this means a Daddy-Daughter Date Day, primarily because, in our family, Dad tends to have more patience than Mom when it comes to the quest for appropriate clothing.

And so here I am, meandering into a local mall, hoping that this year’s range of suitable selections is better than last year’s.

It isn’t. the rest-Excellent!

Traditional family defenders now in 'gay' agenda bull's-eye

Licensing proposal could require lawyers to endorse homosexuality
January 01, 2009
By Bob Unruh
© 2009 WorldNetDaily

One of the top lawyers in the nation in the battle to protect traditional marriage, historically Christian lifestyle choices, parental rights and the key freedoms provided by the U.S. Constitution is warning that there eventually could be no lawyers left to take up those disputes.

That's because of a recommendation before the State Bar of Arizona – the organization that licenses attorneys – to require all new lawyers to swear they won't let their personal religious perspective on homosexuality affect their representation of any client. Mathew Staver, chief of Liberty Counsel, warns that the proposal is just the "tip of the iceberg."

According to reports in Arizona, the state bar is considering a major change to its existing oath that requires lawyers to affirm they won't "permit considerations of gender, race, age, nationality, disability or social standing to influence my duty of care" to clients. the rest

Legislation drafted for women bishops

staff reporter
January 2, 2009

FLYING BISHOPS would remain in the C of E in all but name to serve those who cannot accept the ministry of women bishops, under a draft Measure and Code of Conduct pub­lished on Monday. Critics of the legislation fear it would lead to a series of petitions for judicial review.

The drafts have been produced by the group chaired by the Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Revd Nigel Mc­Culloch (minus the Revd Jonathan Baker, who resigned from the group after the General Synod rejected any structural provision for traditional­ists last July).

The draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure states that “The archbishop of each province [Canter­bury and York] shall, from time to time, nominate one or more suf­fragan sees in his or her province from which the holders (being men) may be selected by diocesan bishops of that province to exercise, in relation to parishes in their dioceses whose parochial church councils have, on grounds of theological conviction, requested arrangements to be made . . ., episcopal functions.” the rest

Truth and Freedom

First Things
By Michael Novak
Friday, January 2, 2009

Human liberty depends on an accurate grasp of the human condition, not as we might like it to be, but as it is: “The truth shall set you free.”

Let us suppose, for instance, a situation in which truth is rendered servile by some contemporary enthusiasm. If truth is held captive by a powerful force of attraction, can the human beings who live under that force ever find a way to liberty? Only by luck, great courage, and long perseverance.

During the past hundred years, ideologies have often trumped the unimpeded search for truth. Here is where the sentence from Orwell becomes pivotal. “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

To seek the true reality while everyone around you is applauding what many know to be false is to act as a grown woman or man. It is to show a mind that distinguishes reality from the prevailing prejudices of the age. In fact, a mind committed to finding reality—despite surrounding unreality—is the only free mind. the rest

Vatican breaks from Italian law

by Anne Thomas
January 2, 2009

The Vatican announced this week that it will no longer automatically adopt laws passed by the Italian Parliament.

The move, which came into effect on Thursday, ends 80 years of automatic adoption brought in by the Lateran treaties between the Pope and the Italian parliamentary system.

The Papal office said there were too many laws in the Italian civil and criminal codes and that many of them conflicted with the Church’s principles.

Vatican City State, the smallest sovereign state in the world, will now consider laws passed by parliament on an individual basis before adopting them as their own. the rest

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Devotional: The workshop of character is everyday life...

Good habits are not made on birthdays, nor Christian character at the New Year. The workshop of character is everyday life. The uneventful and commonplace hour is where the battle is lost or won. ...Mattie D. Babcock image

Boozy Britain's bloody New Year: A 999 call every seven seconds in alcohol-induced mayhem

By Neil Sears
01st January 2009

Violence scarred celebrations and led to a bloody New Year across the country as emergency services endured a chaotic end to 2008.

Ambulance control centres reported receiving 999 calls as often as once every seven seconds - the second highest volume of calls since the Millennium - as binge drinkers turned nasty in the freezing temperatures.

Many of the calls related either to alcohol-fuelled assaults or excessive drunkenness. the rest

I don't want to be Britain's next Catholic leader, monk tells the Pope

I don't want to be Britain's next Catholic leader, monk tells the Pope
By Simon Caldwell
01st January 2009

A monk chosen by Pope Benedict XVI to be the next leader of the Roman Catholic church in England and Wales has declined the post at the last minute, it emerged last night.

Dom Hugh Gilbert, the Abbot of Pluscarden Benedictine Abbey in Scotland, had originally said he would be happy to succeed Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor as Archbishop of Westminster. the rest

Earthquake Swarm at Yellowstone Supervolcano: Update

January 01, 2009
James Pethokoukis

So what is the latest with the ongoing earthquake swarm at the Yellowstone supervolcano caldera? Here is my just-completed email chat with Dr. Jacob Lowenstern of the U.S. Geological Survey, top scientist at the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory:

How would you characterize the recent level of seismic level? Terms like "swarm" are pretty alarming. How would place this level of activity in historical context to what the USGS/YVO have tracked before?

Lowenstern: Swarm refers to seismicity when there isn't a typical mainshock/aftershock sequence. In other words, the events are more similar in size. Swarms are very common at Yellowstone. This one is clearly bigger than normal, and is the largest since 1985. There were also some large swarms in the 1970s, but the seismic network was much cruder at that time and we weren't able to locate earthquakes as well. the rest

Archbishop of Canterbury's New Year Message

January 1, 2009
ACNS

Archbishop of Canterbury’s New Year Message - the treasure that is our fellow human beings
On January 1st 2009 The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, will deliver his New Year Message on BBC One at 1.30pm and again on BBC Two at 6.55pm.

In the message, Dr Williams asks us to consider the importance placed on material wealth, to 'turn outwards' and appreciate the treasure that is our 'fellow human beings' during this time of financial crisis.

The Archbishop recognises that people are entering the New Year with “anxiety and insecurity” and “fears about disappearing savings, lost jobs, house repossessions and worse” but sees recent months as having provided an opportunity to “think about wealth and security and about where our ‘treasure’ is”. the rest

Mother has healthy baby boy despite abortion warning by doctor

A mother who was twice advised to have an abortion by doctors has gone on to have a 'perfectly' healthy son.
By Paul Stokes
31 Dec 2008

Gaynor Purdy was warned her first child could have a fatal chromosome defect and a life threatening heart condition.

But she rejected two suggestions to terminate the pregnancy and she and her husband Lee are celebrating life with their "perfect" ten-month-old son.

Mrs Purdy, 28, a quality control inspector, said: "We refused to give up on him, and decided throughout the pregnancy that as long as he was fighting, we would continue fighting with him." the rest

Pakistani Christians manage to celebrate Christmas

by Aftab Mughal
Thursday, January 01, 2009

The Christian community in Pakistan celebrated the birthday of Jesus Christ on Christmas Day 2008 with its usual fervor. Due to the security situation in the country, the government took special measures to protect the Christmas prayer services. The government announced an optional vacation for the day after Christmas for government servants belonging to the Christian community. Despite the government’s declaration of two holidays for Christmas, most Christians went to work.

Through his special Christmas message, President Asif Ali Zardari emphasized the need for inter-faith dialogue and harmony among people belonging to different religions and said the government would protect the rights of minorities in the country. “Let me also reiterate on this occasion the pledge made by the government that it will continue to uphold the rights of the Christians, indeed of all minorities, to be treated as equal citizens of the state and allowed to partake in its development on an equal footing,” President Zardari said. the rest

Washington Group Building Assisted Suicide Free Zones With Doctors, Hospitals

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
January 1, 2009

Olympia, WA (LifeNews.com) -- One of the leading groups that tried to defeat the November ballot proposal voters approved to make the state the second to legalize assisted suicide is no trying to counteract the measure. The Coalition Against Assisted Suicide is working with hospitals and doctors to create assisted suicide free zones.

Katie Martin of CAAS tells LifeNews.com that she is hearing from Washington citizens who want to patronize doctors and medical centers committed to refusing to be involved in assisted suicides.

"We have received calls from across the state from Washington residents concerned about their hospitals, care facilities or doctors participating in assisted suicide," she said.

"Senior citizens, people with disabilities and caregivers have contacted us to ask how to make sure the facilities in their communities remain safe harbors, 'assisted suicide-free zones,'" Martin elaborated. the rest

Elm Grove church first in Wisconsin to break from Episcopalians

By Annysa Johnson
of the Journal Sentinel
Dec. 31, 2008

An Elm Grove congregation is the first in Wisconsin to announce it will split from the Episcopal Church in the United States to align with a more conservative, rival province being formed in North America.

Wednesday's announcement by St. Edmund's Episcopal Church comes less than a month after a group of breakaway dioceses and parishes announced that they were forming a new, more theologically conservative North American province. Those churches have been angered by the liberal views of the U.S. Episcopalian and Canadian Anglican churches.

"We are not leaving the Episcopal Church; they have left us," said Marsha Ohlgart, a board member and spokeswoman for the 125-member parish at 14625 Watertown Plank Road.
"This is a lateral move. We're just joining with the traditional, conservative Anglican Church in the world," she said. the rest

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Devotional: I'm pressing on the upward way...

I'm pressing on the upward way,
New heights I'm gaining every day;
Still praying as I'm onward bound,
"Lord, plant my feet on higher ground."

My heart has no desire to stay
Where doubts arise and fears dismay;
Though some may dwell where these abound,
My prayer, my aim is higher ground.

I want to live above the world,
Though Satan's darts at me are hurled;
For faith has caught the joyful sound,
The song of saints on higher ground.

I want to scale the utmost height
And catch a gleam of glory bright;
But still I'll pray, 'til heaven I've found
"Lord, lead me on to higher ground."

Lord, lift me up and let me stand
By faith on heaven's table-land,
A higher plane than I have found:
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.
...Johnson Oatman Jr. image

To the readers of this blog:
May the Lord Jesus bless and lead you to ever higher ground as you enter the New Year. May you leave behind all that holds you back- fear, regret, guilt-and move forward in your life of faith, running the race set before you, seeking His will and not your own, and may you know the peace of Him who holds our lives in the palm of His hand and trust in His sovereign mercy for all things!
A happy and blessed New Year to all!-Pat Dague

The Guardian and Radio 4 team up for a gruesome study of the Virgin Birth

Damian Thompson
Dec 31, 2008

The Guardian/BBC (have they officially merged yet?) has produced a news story/documentary on the "science of the Virgin birth" which suggests that Mary may have suffered from various gruesome gynaecological abnormalities.

The author of the Guardian article, Aarathi Prasad, is also presenter of tomorrow's Radio 4's programme. If you follow the link, you'll notice that "the miracle of Mary's virgin pregnancy" is followed by the word corrected in bold type. This because the Guardian does not know the difference between the virgin birth and the immaculate conception: hence also the disappearance of the original headline, "Immaculate deception" (geddit?).

That's odd, given that Prasad claims to have spent "many years with nuns" contemplating the virgin birth. She can't have been paying attention...

...Incidentally, what a nice touch of Radio 4, scheduling the programme for the Catholic solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. I look forward to a programme examining the ethics of the sexual relationship between the pre-pubescent child Ayisha and the middle-aged Mohammed – scheduled, of course, for the appropriate Islamic feast day. the rest

The Good Life

First Things
By Amy Julia Becker
Wednesday, December 31, 2008

In a letter to the editor of the New York Times, William Motley, a geneticist of Oxford University, writes, “Fighting Down syndrome with prenatal screening does not ‘border on eugenics.’ It is a ‘search-and-destroy mission’ on the disease, not on a category of citizens. . . . ” Similarly, a pediatric cardiologist writes about Down syndrome: “Tremendous social, medical and monetary burdens are inevitable parts of this disorder . . . these (prenatal) tests are invaluable, should be made available to all, and may help individuals possibly avoid a very significant life-changing illness.” Much as Mr. Motley might want to claim that prenatal screening is not about a category of citizens, the practical result of what he advises is indeed to eliminate an entire group of persons.

In a recent collection of essays titled Theology, Disability, and the New Genetics, Hans Reinders states a countervailing claim: “Life is good as it is.” Life is good as it is. It sounds simple. Theologically, it rings true. And yet the vast majority of individuals in our culture choose to terminate a pregnancy if they learn that their baby will be born with a disability. Why? If life is good as it is, why is it considered good by many in our culture to ensure that children with disabilities are not born at all?

the rest-Excellent!

African American churches leave the inner city for the suburbs

Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra
12/30/2008

Urban blacks have been following the pattern of so-called "white flight" for the past several decades, leaving the city for the suburbs as they reach the middle class. Now their churches are beginning to follow, church leaders and observers say.

"Traditionally, African Americans were driving back to the home church in the central city," said Michael Emerson, founding director of the Center on Race, Religion, and Urban Life at Rice University. "But as you get into the second generation, they don't want to drive back to where they aren't from. That trend is only going to continue as you leave poverty behind."

Suburban churches are also attractive because they have a more contemporary model of worship, often including ministries such as after-school programs for children, according to Derrick Harkins, pastor of Nineteenth Street Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.

But when churches leave, they take with them a lot of services, funds, and charity work, said Lawrence Mamiya, professor of religion and Africana studies at Vassar College. "Black churches," he said, "have been the major institution in the black communities—the only stable institution to have emerged from slavery." the rest

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Devotional: Obedience makes the difference...

Many times we are content with sitting on the sidelines, always hearing about other's lives being changed in huge ways and God being so important in their life. We go to church and hear people talk about what God has been doing in their life. We go to events and conferences that we hope will microwave our Christian maturity to well done. We read books on how other's lives were changed. And that is good enough for us, but deep down inside, we wish we could have that happen in our own life. So we make promises to try harder. We recommit our lives to Jesus. We might begin having devotions more often. But, after a while, the desire dies off and the excitement has turned into duty and we give up.

Obedience makes the difference in a life that is sold out for God. It is seeing what God does with our attitude of following what He has in the Bible that brings about change in our hearts and a Christian walk that is on fire. ...Zach Conrad image

New Jersey Rules Church Group Discriminated Against Same-Sex Couple

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
December 29, 2008

A lesbian couple from New Jersey who were barred from holding a civil union ceremony last year at a beachfront pavilion owned by a church group won a legal victory on Monday.

The New Jersey Division on Civil Rights ruled that the refusal of the church group, the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, a Methodist organization that owns a square mile of beachfront property in Ocean Grove, near Asbury Park, to rent the spot to the couple violated the public accommodation provisions of the state’s Law Against Discrimination. the rest

Newdow Lawsuit Challenges Inaugural Oath and Invocation

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Michael Newdow's website reports that a lawsuit was filed yesterday in Washington, D.C. federal district court challenging two elements of the upcoming inauguration ceremony planned for Barack Obama. The complaint (full text and links to Appendices) in Newdow v. Roberts, (D DC, filed 12/29/2008) asks the court to enjoin the Chief Justice-- who will administer the oath of office-- from adding "so help me God" to the constitutionally prescribed presidential oath (Art. II, Sec. 1). It also asks the court to declare unconstitutional the use of clergy to deliver an invocation and benediction. Plaintiffs allege that both of these practices violate the Establishment Clause, Free Exercise Clause and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. In addition to the Chief Justice, defendants include the Presidential Inaugural Committee and its leaders, and the clergy scheduled to take part in the ceremony. Over 25 individuals and organizations-- atheist and secular humanist in belief-- are named as plaintiffs.

the rest

Bishop Robinson comes to Seattle

by Joel Connelly
December 30, 2008

With support and sponsorship from the church in Western Washington, Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson will speak and worship in Seattle over the two day period of January 12 and 13.

Robinson, the Bishop of New Hampshire, is the first acknowledged, non-celibate gay man to lead a diocese in the Episcopal Church. He was confirmed in office by a vote of America's bishops at the 2003 General Convention of the church. the rest

Church of England puts its faith in Al Gore's investment arm

Tuesday, 30th December 2008
By George Conger

The Church of England’s Church Commissioners have gone green, investing £150 million with former US Vice-President Al Gore’s environmentally minded investment firm, Generation Investment Management.

On Nov 18 the First Church Estates Commissioner, Andreas Whittam Smith reported that in late September the Commissioners had placed the funds with Gore’s boutique management firm which follows an “environmentally sustainable global equities mandate.” Funding for the investment came from “cash and Treasury bills”, he said, and not from the sale of UK equities as initially planned.

In Oct 2007 Mr Gore was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in raising awareness of the potential threats from climate change. Generation Investment Management was founded in 2004 by Mr Gore and David Blood, former head of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, and had almost £5 billion under management before the market collapse. the rest

Jerusalem bishop warns Gaza health services 'overwhelmed'

Tuesday, 30th December 2008
By Nick Mackenzie

The Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem has called for an immediate cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, warning that health services there are failing to cope with the injuries sustained in the Israeli attacks.

The Rt Rev Suheil Dawani, said that the three Abrahamic Faiths have observed their Holy Seasons with a sense of peace and goodwill, “therefore, we are greatly grieved by the severity of the ongoing military operations in Gaza that are occurring in heavily populated areas and impacting the civilian population.” the rest

Women bishops want male authority

Sydney Morning Herald
Andrew West
December 31, 2008

WOMEN bishops must enjoy the same authority as their male counterparts if they are placed in charge of an Anglican diocese, say two pioneering Australian churchwomen.

Barbara Darling, who was consecrated Assistant Bishop of Melbourne this year, said she opposed any plan that would diminish traditional authority of bishops over their dioceses.

In an attempt to heal the rift within the worldwide Anglican communion over women bishops, the Church of England has proposed a compromise that would permit its two most senior clerics, the archbishops of Canterbury and York, to appoint men as "complementary bishops" to care for parishes that do not accept women in the ministry. the rest

Church tries to quell dissent over female bishops with new role

Riazat Butt, religious affairs correspondent
The Guardian
Tuesday 30 December 2008

The Church of England has unveiled plans to create a new kind of clergy in an attempt to quell dissent over the ordination of female bishops, a historic change threatening its unity.

According to a series of official documents, published for the first time yesterday, the archbishops of Canterbury and York can nominate men as "complementary" bishops who will tend to parishes opposed to women's ministry. Such a bishop would perform functions in areas where the diocesan bishop is either a woman or a man who ordains women.

It is one of several steps designed to heal a rift over the ordination of women as bishops, a row that peaked last July during an emotional, sometimes angry, meeting of the General Synod, the Church of England's national assembly, while also removing the legal obstacles currently barring women from holding the office. the rest

Opt-out for parishioners opposed to women bishops

Attorney Generals to Challenge President Bush's New Abortion Rules for Docs

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
December 29, 2008

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) -- Attorney General Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut says he will lead a fight against a federal rule issued by the Bush administration to protect doctors and medical facilities from being pressured to participate in abortions. The rule enforces federal law protecting the conscience rights of medical professionals.

Though the new regulations have nothing to do with birth control, Blumenthal is echoing the arguments from leading pro-abortion groups who claim its access will be adversely impacted by them.

"I will fight this outrageous rule -- the outgoing Bush Administration's latest and last swipe at women's health," he said in a statement LifeNews.com obtained. "This rule is an appalling insult and abuse -- a midnight power grab to deny access to health care services and information, including even to victims of rape." the rest

Uganda Rebels Accused of Massacre at Church

By Associated Press Writer
Godfrey Olukya
Mon, Dec. 29 2008

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Attackers wielding machetes hacked to death dozens of people at a church in remote eastern Congo, witnesses said Monday, and the Ugandan army accused the Lord's Resistance Army rebels of the massacre.

A European aid worker said more than 100 people are reported to have been killed in the attack the day after Christmas and that the Congolese military put the number dead at 120 to 150.

The accused Ugandan rebel group, which has waged one of Africa's longest and most brutal wars, denied responsibility. Spokesman David Matsanga said the Lord's Resistance Army had no fighters in the area and he accused Uganda's army of the killings. the rest

For Good Self-Control, Try Getting Religious About It

By JOHN TIERNEY
December 29, 2008

If I’m serious about keeping my New Year’s resolutions in 2009, should I add another one? Should the to-do list include, “Start going to church”?

This is an awkward question for a heathen to contemplate, but I felt obliged to raise it with Michael McCullough after reading his report in the upcoming issue of the Psychological Bulletin. He and a fellow psychologist at the University of Miami, Brian Willoughby, have reviewed eight decades of research and concluded that religious belief and piety promote self-control. the rest

Albert Mohler: Ten for the History Books from 2008

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The year 2008 began with the anticipation that history would be made, and on that count the year certainly did not disappoint. Nevertheless, the year unfolded with more surprises than usual. The intellectual task of reviewing a year is always fascinating, usually difficult, and often humbling. That is certainly the case with the year 2008.

As a matter of fact, a good deal more time must pass until the meaning of 2008 and its events come into clearer view. In the meantime, here is a personal list of the events that shaped the year. Some may not make a list created by the historians of the future, but each is noteworthy in its own right. The list is not ranked in a specific order of relative significance, though the list is generally weighted toward the top.

List

Voted for Prop 8? You're fired

Same-sex marriage activists target businesses, employees
December 29, 2008 By Drew Zahn
© 2008 WorldNetDaily

Protests following the passage of California's Proposition 8, which defined marriage as between one man and one woman, made news headlines, but the Pacific Justice Institute reports a growing number of cases where those opposed to the ballot measure have taken out their anger more quietly: by harassing – and even firing – employees who voted for it.

PJI, a non-profit legal defense organization specializing in religious freedom, claims to be representing a San Francisco woman who was fired for voting for Proposition 8, but whose name remains confidential to protect her privacy and legal case. the rest

Firefighters ordered into 'gay' parade back in court

Monday, December 29, 2008

Devotional: When we grow old our God will still be the I AM...

And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.
Isaiah 46:4

The year is very old, and here is a promise for our aged friends; yes, and for us all, as age creeps over us. Let us live long enough, and we shall all have hoar hairs; therefore we may as well enjoy this promise by the foresight of faith.

When we grow old our God will still be the I AM, abiding evermore the same. Hoar hairs tell of our decay, but He decayeth not. When we cannot carry a burden and can hardly carry ourselves, the Lord will carry us. Even as in our young days He carried us like lambs in His bosom, so will He in our years of infirmity.

He made us, and He will care for us. When we become a burden to our friends and a burden to ourselves, the Lord will not shake us off, but rather He will take us up and carry and deliver us more fully than ever. In many cases the Lord give His servants a long and calm evening. They worked hard all day and wore themselves out in their Master's service, and so He said to them, "Now rest in anticipation of that eternal Sabbath which I have prepared for you." Let us not dread old age. Let us grow old graciously since the Lord Himself is with us in fullness of grace. ...CH Spurgeon image

Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson Discusses Rick Warren and Proposition 8

Monday December 29, 2008
By Kevin Eckstrom
Religion News Service

Openly gay New Hampshire Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson has spent the last five years seeking reconciliation with those who saw his election as immoral, unbiblical or, as one Nigerian archbishop put it, a "satanic attack on God's church."

Yet the choice of megachurch pastor Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at the Jan. 20 presidential inauguration left Robinson deeply disappointed after Warren campaigned for Proposition 8, a California constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages.

Robinson talked about seeking reconciliation with those who, like Warren, take a more conservative view against homosexuality. Some answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Interview

Women reach for bishops' chairs in Church of England as last barriers fall

From The Times
December 30, 2008
Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent

When traditionalists mutter that dark forces are plotting to undermine the tradition of men-only bishops in the Church in England, they are closer to the truth than they know.

The first woman bishop is likely to be drawn from a group of senior Anglican women priests that goes by the name of Darc - deans, archdeacons and residentiary canons - and meets twice a year to offer mutual support.

Since women were first ordained in 1994, about 4,000 have been priested. Of those, nearly 3,000 are still active in the ministry, representing about a third of the total number of serving priests. Women priests are likely to outnumber men within a few years.

To these women, and many of the worshippers who have experienced their ministry, an episcopacy without women is unthinkable. One by one, the provinces of the Anglican Communion are succumbing. In 1988 the first women bishops were elected in the United States and New Zealand. Barbara Harris, the American bishop, turned up to that year's Lambeth Conference. the rest

No Lay Discipline in Proposed Canon Changes

December 29, 2008

In a change from an earlier draft, the Title IV Task Force on Disciplinary Policies and Procedures will not propose new canons to address discipline of members of the laity.

The much-anticipated new draft of its proposed changes to The Episcopal Church’s canon on discipline will be included in the church’s so-called ‘Blue Book’ of pre-filed General Convention legislation.

“It is the judgment of Task Force II that the time is not yet propitious for the inclusion of disciplinary provisions for the laity other than as already provided in the Book of Common Prayer, and no inclusion of laity is contemplated at this time,” the task force wrote.

The 48-page document includes a six-page introduction summarizing the work of the task force, listing the underlying theological principles upon which the task force based its revisions and brief description of the extent of changes. the rest

Bishop Schori's statement on Gaza

by Michael Paulson
December 29, 2008

Today comes the following statement from Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori:

"Yesterday afternoon in New York, outside the Episcopal Church Center, a demonstration took place in front of the Israeli consulate. The demonstrators included orthodox Jews. All were calling for an immediate end to the attacks in Gaza. I join my voice to theirs and those of many others around the world, challenging the Israeli government to call a halt to this wholly disproportionate escalation of violence. I challenge the Palestinian forces to end their rocket attacks on Israelis. I further urge the United States government to use its influence to get these parties back to the negotiating table and end this senseless killing. President-elect Obama needs to be part of this initiative, which demands his attention now and is likely to do so through his early months in office. I urge a comprehensive response to these attacks. Innocent lives are being lost throughout the land we all call Holy, and as Christians remember the coming of the Prince of Peace, we ache for the absence of peace in the land of his birth.

Immediate attention should focus on vital humanitarian assistance to the suffocating people of Gaza. In March of this year, I spent a day in Gaza visiting religious and community leaders and the Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City, run by the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem. Since that visit, the situation, which was already devastating, has only worsened, with supplies of food, fuel, power, and medical supplies either cut off or indefinitely delayed. Our hospital must now try to treat the wounded under the most impossible circumstances.

I ask all people of faith to join with the Episcopalians in Jerusalem who this Sunday dispensed with their usual worship services and spent their time in prayer for those who are the objects of this violence. I pray for leaders who will seek a just peace for all in the Middle East, knowing that its achievement will only come when they have the courage to act boldly. But they must do so now, before the violence escalates further. It is only through a just and lasting peace that the hope of the ages can be fulfilled, that hope which we mark in the birth of a babe in Bethlehem."

Found here

Comments at TitusOneNine

The Anglican Communion will finally split in 2009

This will be the year of unavoidable schism in the church
Monday 29 December 2008

A silence has descended on the Anglican Church in the United States – or should that be, Anglican Churches? Since the foundation of the conservative Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) at the start of December, all has gone quiet. Too quiet. Why is this, and how can we then predict what might happen in 2009? Is this, finally, going to be the year of the great schism?

First, a bit of theological background. Jesus made unity an intensely personal thing. St John quotes him praying to God the Father that his disciples "may be one, even as we are one". St Paul took up the theme: "We, being many, are one body in Christ." It is impossible to be a biblical Christian and not make unity a priority.

The reason that unity is such a good thing is that it affirms that Christ's Spirit is in everyone, however uncongenial they may seem. It is a fundamental belief that all are equally sinful and in need of God's grace (which is given freely). A schism occurs when one group believes itself to be better than another. There's a difference between unity and uniformity – everybody who shops around for a church he or she feels comfortable in, rejecting the ones that don't feel right, is indulging in schismatic behaviour to a degree; but because there isn't a group thing going on, this can be a mild, neutral judgement. the rest

Church of England unveils measure to allow women bishops

Monday, 29th December 2008
By Judy West

The Church of England has unveiled the legislation that could pave the way for women to be consecrated as bishops.

After an acrimonious debate at the Church’s General Synod in York last July, the draft measure and an example of a Code of Practice, were published this morning.

“We have published our further report at the earliest opportunity to give everyone the chance to study it before debate. We finished our discussions only just before Christmas,” said the Rt Rev Nigel McCulloch, Bishop of Manchester.

The Bishop is the chairman of the legislative drafting group on women in the episcopate, which has been under pressure from both sides in the debate.

“The General Synod mandated us to draft a Measure including special arrangements, within existing structures, for those unable to receive the ministry of women bishops and to do that in a national code of practice. We believe we have achieved that by providing for male complementary bishops, as we suggested in our earlier report, and now hand our work to the Synod to discuss the drafts in detail.” the rest

Massive Pro-Family Rally Floods Spain

By Associated Press Writer
Daniel Woolls
Sun, Dec. 28 2008

MADRID, Spain – Hundreds of thousands of people attended a Mass in central Madrid on Sunday designed to promote traditional family values in a predominantly Roman Catholic country that has legalized gay marriage and made it easier for people to divorce.

The service started with a message from Pope Benedict XVI, who urged Spanish Catholics to keep their families strong.

"Dear families, do not let love, openness to life and the incomparable links that join your homes weaken," the pope said in a message read out in Madrid. "The pope is by your side," the pontiff added.

The archbishop of Madrid, Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, added: "the future of humanity depends on the family, the Christian family." the rest

Marriage and Family

What Matters Most, Part 2
By Chuck Colson
12/29/2008

This has been a great Christmas. Our son Wendell and his daughter Rebekah are about to arrive. And Emily and our grandson Max were just with us. As you may have heard me say before, Max, who is autistic, can be a handful. I marvel at Emily’s love for him and at the strength God has given her to be such a good mother. I am so proud of her, as I am of my sons Chris and Wendell, and their families.

In fact, I experience no greater joy than simply basking in the love of my wife, children, and grandchildren.

But I am also aware of how painful Christmas can be for many who mourn the loss of loved ones, or who are separated from their families—in the military or through imprisonment, or most sadly, through broken relationships. the rest

Part I here

Tale of two presidential workout fanatics

Michelle Malkin
December 27, 2008

Chris Matthews won the Media Research Center’s quote of the year with his Obamedia-topping Leg O’ Thrill and Tingle remark. But Matthews only took first honors because Washington Post reporter Eli Saslow waited until Christmas to file his tribute to Obama’s sun-kissed pectorals. Have they no shame? No, they do not.

The gushing reminded me of a blog post I did three years ago on how Bush-deranged journalist Jonathan Chait reacted to President Bush’s workout regimen. It’s the subject of my syndicated column today. More liberal double standards: It’s just how they roll. Here

Hope? Change? Try lowered expectations

Weekly Standard: Obama's blind spot-Don't Know Much About Economics

Abortion industry asks Obama for billions in funding

The Majority Of UK Nurses Against Assisted Suicide Legalisation

Date: 28 Dec 2008

A recent survey carried out on Nurses.co.uk showed that only 20.9% of UK nurses think that assisted suicide should be legalised here.

With the recent high profile cases of UK citizens opting for assisted suicide in clinics overseas it raises the question of whether it should be legalised here in the UK. European countries such as Switzerland, Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg already allow assisted suicide to take place legally and there are growing calls in other European countries including the UK to follow suit. the rest

"You can church-shop and find a local parish that is accepting”

Membership in homosexual-oriented churches nosedives as mainline religions – including Catholicism – become more ‘gay-friendly’
December 29, 2008

Membership in homosexual-oriented churches founded as an alternative to traditional religions is dwindling as mainline churches become more “gay friendly,” the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports. As one example, the newspaper noted that membership in the homosexual Catholic organization Dignity has declined by nearly half over the last 10 years.

Press-Enterprise reporter David Olson interviewed Mark Shirilau, who calls himself the archbishop of the Ecumenical Catholic Church, which he founded in 1987 “to provide a religious home for gays and lesbians.” The Ecumenical Catholic Church “adheres to the majority of Roman Catholic teachings and uses a blend of Roman Catholic, Episcopal and Lutheran liturgy,” according to the newspaper.

Shirilau, who resides in Riverside, told the Press-Enterprise that even he no longer worships in the Ecumenical Catholic Church, preferring instead to attend an Episcopal church. the rest

The Anglican vicars, father and son, who became Catholic priests

Times Online
December 29, 2008
Ruth Gledhill Religion Correspondent

In what is believed to be a "first" in the modern era, two former Anglican priests, father and son, have become Roman Catholics and are now both serving as Catholic priests in the UK.

And in a further ecclesiastical twist, Father Dominic Cosslett, 36, and his father, Father Ron Cosslett, 70, are both serving in the same archdiocese under the leadership of Archbishop Vincent Nichols in Birmingham, the favourite to succeed Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor as Archbishop of Westminster when he steps down early next year.

Father Dominic, formerly an Anglican priest at the Church of Christ the King at Lourdes, Coventry was ordained by Archbishop Nichols on Saturday 20 December.

Fr Ron Cosslett, aged 70, also a former Anglican priest, was ordained as a Catholic priest by the Archbishop of Birmingham on July 3, 2005. He is now priest-in-charge at St Joseph’s, Darlaston in the West Midlands. the rest

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Devotional: You will never find Jesus so precious...

You will never find Jesus so precious as when the world is one vast howling wilderness. Then he is like a rose blooming in the midst of the desolation, a rock rising above the storm.
...Robert Murray M'Cheyne image

Churches More Diverse, Informal Than 8 Years Ago

Adelle M. Banks
Religion News Service
December 26, 2008

(RNS) -- U.S. congregations have changed significantly in the last eight years, according to a new study, with them becoming more ethnically diverse, more technologically savvy and more informal in worship.

Predominantly white congregations reported greater racial and ethnic diversity between the first and second surveys of U.S. houses of worship by the National Congregations Study.

When the study was first conducted in 1998, 20 percent of churchgoers reported attending a church that was all white and non-Hispanic. In the second round, conducted in 2006-07, that figure had dipped to 14 percent.

The study also found that the percentage of congregations with no Asian members decreased in the same period from 59 percent to 50 percent, and the percentage of congregations with no Latino members dropped from 43 percent to 36 percent. the rest

Episcopal property dispute heads to Va. Supreme Court

By Gregg MacDonald
Loudoun Times-Mirror
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 27 2008

A long-awaited property- settlement decision in Fairfax Circuit Court apparently will not be the end of a two-year-long conflict between a minority group of conservative congregations in the Episcopal Church that broke away from the church to join the Anglican District of Virginia.

On Dec. 19, Fairfax Judge Randy Bellows upheld the long-debated Division Statute, which was the backbone of the Anglican Church's case.

The break-away congregations include several from Fairfax and Loudoun counties. They had decided to break off from the parent organization after determining that church leadership was not following a proper reading of Scripture, particularly on the issue of homosexuality. the rest

Bishops deliver damning verdict on Britain under Labour rule

Leading bishops in the Church of England have launched a withering attack on the Government questioning the morality of its policies.
By Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Religious Affairs Correspondent
28 Dec 2008

Five of the Church’s most senior figures said the Government now presided over a country suffering from family breakdown, an unhealthy reliance on debt and a growing divide between rich and poor.

The Bishop of Manchester accused Labour of being “beguiled by money” and “morally corrupt”.

The Bishop of Hulme said they were “morally suspect” and the Bishop of Durham said they had reneged on their promises.

They were joined by the bishops of Winchester and Carlisle who claimed ministers had squandered their opportunity to transform society and run out of steam. the rest

Bishops hit out at ‘immoral’ Government

Human Dignity

What Matters Most, Part 1
By Chuck Colson
12/26/2008

Two weeks ago, headlines across the world announced the release of the Vatican’s official position on bioethics. Naturally, the Catholic Church’s stance on the destruction of human embryos, the creation of designer babies, and the like was greeted with scorn by liberal Catholics and by many medical professionals and scientists.

But two things truly fascinate me about the release of this document. The first is its title: “Dignitas Personae”—or, in plain English: “On the Dignity of the Person.”

Now that’s an interesting title for the Catholic Church’s official teaching on bioethics. Actually, it’s the perfect title because the question of human dignity is at the root of virtually every major question facing humans today. Not just bioethics, but also medicine, the economy, and the environment.

And the question of human dignity hangs on the answer to this question: Where do humans come from? If human beings are the products of random chance, then human dignity is merely the product of our fevered imaginations. If we truly are the end result of a coincidental convergence of atomic particles, then the phrase “human dignity” is meaningless. We would have no more right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness than would a mossy fern. the rest image

Mild earthquake shakes Lancaster County near Three-Mile Island

By Steve Esack
December 27, 2008

A minor earthquake rattled Lancaster County early Saturday morning, according to the U.S. Geological Survey...

...Grant said his office received calls from Lancaster County emergency dispatch and Three Mile Island Nuclear Facility.

"Three Mile Island always calls us when something is happening," Grant said. "They see what is happening on their seismographs." the rest

Tick tock ... tick - Extra second added to 2008

Sun Dec 28, 2008
By Jim Wolf

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Those eager to put 2008 behind them will have to hold their good-byes for just a moment this New Year's Eve.

The world's official timekeepers have added a "leap second" to the last day of the year on Wednesday, to help match clocks to the Earth's slowing spin on its axis, which takes place at ever-changing rates affected by tides and other factors.

The U.S. Naval Observatory, keeper of the Pentagon's master clock, said it would add the extra second on Wednesday in coordination with the world's atomic clocks at 23 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds Coordinated Universal Time, or UTC. the rest