Saturday, March 28, 2009

Devotional: The Christian can have confidence...

The Christian can have confidence under adverse circumstances, for God knows. Darkness and light are alike to Him. More than that, He knows both the way and the wayfarer. He knows me! He understands my sigh of heart, my searching for guidance. He knows the faith that declared, however falteringly and faintly, "Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief!"

The Almighty does not abandon us in our moments of bewilder- ment. He is with us every moment although, like Job, we are not aware of His presence. We can be sure that "when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold;" sighing will become song; darkness will be changed to the delight of daybreak!

Thus there is always an "afterward" for us when we are disciplined by delay or distress. With assurance therefore we affirm with joy:"...he performeth the thing that is appointed for me" (Job 23: 10, 14) ...V. Raymond Edman image

Vast Spy System Loots Computers in 103 Countries

By JOHN MARKOFF
March 28, 2009

TORONTO — A vast electronic spying operation has infiltrated computers and has stolen documents from hundreds of government and private offices around the world, including those of the Dalai Lama, Canadian researchers have concluded.

In a report to be issued this weekend, the researchers said that the system was being controlled from computers based almost exclusively in China, but that they could not say conclusively that the Chinese government was involved. the rest

Liberation theology African style

by John L Allen Jr
Mar. 27, 2009

After the pope ended his Africa swing on Monday, my wife and I remained in Cameroon for most of this week, pondering the impact of the trip and taking stock of the African church. The experience reinforced an impression I’ve long had, and here it is in a sound-bite: What African Catholicism has to offer the global church is liberation theology without the hang-up over ecclesiastical authority.

First, the “liberation” part. Ask the typical American Catholic to tick off important issues facing the church, and you’re likely to get a dose of insider Catholic baseball: women in the church, teachings on sexual morality, the power of the pope or the bishops versus the laity, and so on. Put the same question to a typical African, and the answer is usually more outward-looking: war, corruption and bad governance, human rights, poverty.

The dominant concern in African Catholicism, in other words, is transforming society, usually in what Westerners would consider a fairly progressive direction. the rest

Food, Sex, and Us

March 28th, 2009
by George Weigel

George F. Will calls Mary Eberstadt “intimidatingly intelligent.” George must be easily intimidated these days, because Mary is one of the nicest (and funniest) people I know.

She’s also our premier analyst of American cultural foibles and follies, with a keen eye for oddities that illuminate just how strange the country’s moral culture has become.

In mid-2008, Mary penned the “The Vindication of Humanae Vitae,” the best defense of the encyclical written on its 40th anniversary. (If you missed it, you can retrieve it at firstthings.com). Now, in Policy Review, she’s written “Is Food the New Sex?”, a brilliant dissection of culinary puritanism and bedroom libertinism that includes the greatest subhead in recent magazine history: “Broccoli, Pornography, and Kant.” But don’t let the invocation of the Sage of Koenigsberg put you off your feed, so to speak; the article is quite accessible to those who last encountered The Critique of Pure Reason via Cliff Notes. the rest

Oregon Study Proves That People Who Want Assisted Suicide Need Care, Not Killing

By Wesley J. Smith
Friday, March 27, 2009

A new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, illustrates—yet again—that assisted suicide is not about unbearable suffering that can’t be controlled—as the scaremongering promoters claim—but rather understandable and treatable fears about the future.

the rest

Michael Nazir-Ali steps down as Bishop of Rochester

The Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali has announced his decision to step down as the Bishop of Rochester, one of the most senior positions in the Church of England.
By Jonathan Wynne-Jones,
Religious Affairs Correspondent
28 Mar 2009

Although Dr Nazir-Ali has been in charge of the Rochester diocese for nearly 15 years, the decision to quit - which will see him leave his post later this year - has come as a surprise.

The bishop is aged only 59 and potentially could have stayed in post for another decade.

He was a leading contender to succeed George Carey as Archbishop of Canterbury, but has become increasingly outspoken at the direction of the Church since Dr Rowan Williams’s appointment.

A spokesman for the bishop said that he wants to turn his attention to working with the persecuted church. the rest

Ruth Gledhill: Bishop of Rochester steps down early

House of Deputies Report Warns of Long Term Decline

March 27, 2009

More than five years later, tensions caused by the consecration of a partnered homosexual man as Bishop Coadjutor of New Hampshire continue to affect half of all Episcopal churches, according to census information compiled in the Blue Book prepared for the 76th General Convention, to be held July 8-17 in Anaheim, Calif.

The report, based on results from 783 completed surveys, is a sober snapshot of an aging denomination, struggling with unresolved conflict and in danger of long-term decline. It was written by the House of Deputies Committee on the State of the Church and included in the Blue Book report published in advance of Convention.

“In prior years the Committee on the State of the Church often heard the criticism that our church seemed unwilling to recognize the presence of a major source of internal controversy that some argued was having an impact on our common life, as reflected in declining membership and attendance statistics,” the Blue Book Report states. “The metaphor most often used was that we ‘failed to acknowledge the elephant in the room’, referring to what many viewed as the momentous decision by the 74th General Convention (2003) to consent to the consecration of the Bishop of New Hampshire.”

There are some indications that what the committee describes as “tensions” are growing in congregations. In a similar survey undertaken in 2005, 37 percent of congregations reported serious conflict that resulted in at least some members leaving. About one-third of those responding in 2005 attributed the conflict to decisions made during the 2003 General Convention. In a similar survey conducted in 2008, 64 percent of congregations reported some level of conflict over the ordination of homosexual clergy, with most reporting such conflict to be serious. the rest

Fifteen hundred ‘debaptised’ in one week in UK

Friday, 27th March 2009
By Toby Cohen

Fifteen hundred people paid to be ‘debaptised’ in the UK last week alone, as a new trend threatens to undermine the place of the Church of England.

The National Secular Society (NSS) has provided a ‘certificate of debaptism’ on its website for five years which has been downloaded by more than 100,000 people. They have recently introduced a new parchment copy for £3 which has proved incredibly popular, but the Church is refusing to recognize a need for the procedure.

The recipient of the certificate declares they “reject all [the Church’s] Creeds and all other such superstition in particular, the perfidious belief that any baby needs to be cleansed by Baptism of alleged Original Sin, and the evil power of supposed demons.”

It continues: “I wish to be excluded henceforth from enhanced claims of church membership numbers based on past baptismal statistics used, for example, for the purpose of securing legislative privilege.” the rest

Atheists call for 'debaptism'

Church authorities not to discipline Dutch 'atheist' pastor

27 March 2009
Andreas Havinga

Utrecht, Netherlands (ENI). Two regional church authorities in the Netherlands are reported to have decided to take no disciplinary action against a self-proclaimed atheist pastor, Klaas Hendrikse.

The decision of the authorities in the southern Dutch province of Zeeland was published in a letter to their congregations, the Protestant daily newspaper the Nederlands Dagblad reported on 24 March.

The church authorities said disciplinary proceedings against Hendrikse, who is a pastor of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands, would be likely to lead to, "a protracted discussion about the meanings of words that in the end will produce little clarity". The letter also noted that people have debated the issue of "God's existence" throughout time. the rest

Priest Condemns Nightclub 'Mockery' of Crucifixion

By Anne Thomas
Christian Today Reporter
Fri, Mar. 27 2009

LONDON – An Irish Catholic priest has condemned as “blasphemous” a plan by a Wexford nightclub to hold a mock crucifixion of Jesus at a party during the Easter weekend.

The Music Factory, which often has themed nights, is planning on holding the crucifixion on the night of Easter Sunday. It will feature an actor playing Jesus on the cross, who will also be whipped by dancers dressed as Roman soldiers.

The cross on which the crucifixion will reportedly take place is to be set up in the middle of the nightclub dance floor and will form part of a show called the Resurrection Section.

Peter May, co-owner of the nightclub, was quoted by the Irish Times as saying, “It will be done in a fun, lighthearted way. A lot of young people forget what Easter is really about. This is a way of reminding them. A lot of young people don’t really know what Easter is all about. This is where they come. If it’s there in their faces, maybe next year, they will think about it.” the rest

Thinking Epistemologically about Obama and Notre Dame

Francis Beckwith explains why Notre Dame's invitation is so controversial, and what it says about higher education.
Interview by Sarah Pulliam
3/27/2009

Francis Beckwith knows what it's like to be in the middle of controversy. In fact, he thinks he's a magnet for it. Beckwith, who is a philosophy and church-studies professor at Baylor University, triggered a debate when he resigned as president of the Evangelical Theological Society after converting to Catholicism.

Now Beckwith happens to be a visiting fellow at the University of Notre Dame, where a new debate is focused on the university's invitation to President Obama to speak at commencement.
"My wife says I'm like the Forrest Gump for controversy," he said. "But on campus, more people are concerned about whether the Fighting Irish would beat Kentucky." Beckwith spoke with Christianity Today about what the discussion means for Catholic and evangelical higher education institutions. Interview here

The Struggle for Notre Dame: Two Bishops and a Cardinal add their Voice

Blue Book's reports posted on General Convention's website

March 27, 2009

[Episcopal News Service] The Blue Book, the collection of reports to the Episcopal Church's General Convention of the work done by its committees, commissions, agencies and boards (CCABs) during the 2007-2009 triennium, is now available online here.

The Blue Book, which has a red cover for the 76th General Convention, also contains the resolutions that each groups will propose to the convention when it meets July 8-17 in Anaheim, California.

The online version, available here, is divided into individual reports.

The print version of the Blue Book will soon be mailed to members of the House of Bishops and House of Deputies, the two legislative houses of General Convention. It will include a CD-ROM with all the reports, supplemental materials that could not be included in the book and an indexed list of the "A" resolutions proposed by the CCABs. link

Friday, March 27, 2009

Devotional: The friend of the Bridegroom...

"The friend of the Bridegroom." John 3:29

In order to maintain this friendship and loyalty to the Bridegroom, we have to be more careful of our moral and vital relationship to Him than of any other thing, even of obedience. Sometimes there is nothing to obey, the only thing to do is to maintain a vital connection with Jesus Christ, to see that nothing interferes with that. Only occasionally do we have to obey. When a crisis arises we have to find out what God's will is, but the greater part of the life is not conscious obedience but the maintenance of this relationship - the friend of the Bridegroom. Christian work may be a means of evading the soul's concentration on Jesus Christ. Instead of being friends of the Bridegroom, we may become amateur providences, and may work against Him whilst we use His weapons. ...Oswald Chambers image

The Curmudgeon's take on the Colorado Court Decision

Wednesday, March 25, 2009
A.S. Haley

. . . and I am utterly undone." Thus King Pyrrhus is reported to have replied when a messenger reported that his army had triumphed over the Romans at Asculum, but with a loss of most of his men. And now the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Diocese of Colorado might want to reflect on the fate of King Pyrrhus as they celebrate the decision which Judge Larry Schwatz handed them yesterday.

The usual blogs are quick to shout "victory" in their headlines, but I will wager not many of their authors have actually taken time to read and digest the opinion. And not that I am blaming them---the reasoning is convoluted and strained, and even contradictory at times. First Judge Schwartz says one thing, then he appears to reconsider several pages later, and say the opposite.
Analysis here

Muslim Priest and Buddhist Bishop-Elect Are Raising Questions About Syncretism

For years, Episcopal Church leaders have taught that God can be found in other faiths. Now some clergy are pursuing him there.
George Conger
3/27/2009

Jesus saves, the Episcopal Church teaches, but a growing number of its clergy and leaders believe other faiths may lead to salvation as well. Long divided and distracted by questions of sexual ethics, the Episcopal Church (along with most mainline Protestant communities) are facing a cultural and theological shift towards religious pluralism—the belief that there are diverse paths to God.

The debate is not just academic. In two current cases, Episcopal clergy are under scrutiny for practicing and promoting other religions. On February 12 a devotee of Zen Buddhism was elected bishop of the Episcopal Church's Northern Michigan diocese. Meanwhile, a Seattle-area priest has been given until March 30 to decide whether she is a Muslim or a Christian as her bishop will not permit her to profess both faiths.

The Episcopal Church's problems with syncretism—the blending of belief systems—comes as no surprise to Wade Clark Roof, professor of Religious Studies at the University of California-Santa Barbara and a leading sociologist of religion. "Clearly there are people, including religious leaders, [who find] spiritual wisdom in faiths other than their own," he told Christianity Today.

the rest-Don't miss this!

Christians in Hawaii credited for gay civil unions defeat

Mar 26, 2009
by Michael Foust

HONOLULU (BP)--One month after its passage appeared all but certain, a bill to legalize civil unions in Hawaii was rejected Wednesday in the state Senate, and observers on both sides are pointing to an outpouring of opposition from Christians as a main reason.

The bill would have made Hawaii the sixth state to grant homosexual couples all the legal benefit of marriage minus the name. The bill deadlocked at 3-3 in a Senate committee Feb. 25 but nevertheless appeared headed for passage when Democratic leaders claimed they had majority support for it in the full body. But support plummeted in the following days, and on Wednesday an attempt to pull it from committee failed, with only six of 24 senators supporting the action. It needed nine votes -- one third of the body -- to be considered on the floor.

The turning point turned out to be a rally at the state capitol Feb. 22 in which 8,000 to 12,000 opponents -- most dressed in red -- urged senators to defeat the bill, which had passed the House, 33-17. the rest

Criticism over Obama invite mounts at Notre Dame

Mar 27, 2009
By TOM COYNE

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Jimmy Carter came to Notre Dame in 1977. So did Ronald Reagan in 1981 and George W. Bush in 2001.

The University of Notre Dame has a tradition of inviting new presidents to speak at graduation. But this year's selection of President Barack Obama has been met by a barrage of criticism that has left some students fearing their commencement ceremony will turn into a circus.

Many Catholics are angered by Obama's planned appearance at the May 17 ceremony because of his decisions to provide federal funding for embryonic stem cell research and international family planning groups that provide abortions or educate about the procedure. the rest

PB Schori to participate in interfaith event

By Joe Bjordal, March 26, 2009
[Episcopal News Service]

Leaders of the three great faiths that trace their heritage back to Abraham -- Judaism, Christianity and Islam -- will gather on March 27 in Omaha, Nebraska to talk about peace. The program will be broadcast live via the Internet.

The groundbreaking event, called "Dinner in Abraham's Tent," will draw 1,000 persons to the Qwest Conference Center. The webcast will begin at 8:00 p.m. Central Daylight Time/9 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time and may be viewed at http://www.trifaith.org/.

The "conversation on peace" will involve Rabbi Peter Knobel, immediate past president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Dr. Ingrid Mattson, president of the Islamic Society of North America.

The conversation, a worship service and dinner is the inaugural public event of the TriFaith Initiative, a partnership of Omaha's Temple Israel, the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska, and the American Institute of Islamic Studies and Culture. the rest

Tony Dungy speaks about the family, faith, and virtue


3/25/2009

The Indianapolis Colts head coach retired from the NFL in January. In response, Tyndale House rushed into print the 2007 Super Bowl champion's second book:
Uncommon: Finding Your Path to Significance.

Interview

Church of England clergy wanted for war-torn Sri Lanka

Friday, March 27, 2009

Clergy from the Church of England are being invited to provide respite for Sri Lankan priests in the war-torn country.

Clergy will be asked to take over from Sri Lankan clergy in safe regions, so that those clergy can provide respite for their countrymen in conflict zones.

Lanka Nesiah, speaking on behalf of Bishop Duleep de Chickera, in the Diocese of Colombo, explained: "There is a great need to provide relief to our clergy in the north and east.

"We will not place visiting clergy in conflict areas or expose them to any kind of danger. the rest

Albert Mohler: The Eclipse of Christian Memory

Friday, March 27, 2009

Excerpt:
Christianity once formed the worldview of New England. While it was never true that all New Englanders were believing Christians, it is true that the worldview that gave birth to colonial America was explicitly Christian in substance and, most specifically, in moral commitments. That first era of New England history was pervasively Christian and pervasively Protestant. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, New England was reshaped by the arrival of millions of immigrants from Europe, and millions of these were Roman Catholics. Thus, by the arrival of the twentieth century, many New England neighborhoods and city centers were shaped, very noticeably, by Catholic moral teachings.

Now, in the as the first decade of the twenty-first century draws to a close, the increasingly secularized character of New England helps to explain why the region is now ground zero for same-sex marriage.

The moral teachings of Christianity have exerted an incalculable influence on Western civilization. As those moral teachings fade into cultural memory, a secularized morality takes its place. Once Christianity is abandoned by a significant portion of the population, the moral landscape necessarily changes. the rest

MONEY TRUMPS PATRIOTISM

By TOM TOPOUSIS
March 27, 2009

Freedom is out of fashion at Ground Zero.

Once hailed as a beacon of rebirth in the aftermath of Sept. 11, the Freedom Tower has been stripped of its patriotic name -- which has been swapped out for the more marketable "One World Trade Center," Port Authority officials conceded yesterday.

More than seven years after the terror attacks and amid an effort to market the tower to international tenants, sentiment gave way to practicality. the rest image

Obama's Indelicate Exposure

Friday, March 27, 2009
by Suzanne Fields

Like the beat beat beat of the tom-tom, like the tick tick tock of the clock, like the drip drip drip of the raindrops, a voice within me keeps repeating, Obama Obama Obama.

With all due apologies to the author, Cole Porter's lyrics of "Night and Day" make a point lost on the president. No matter where he is, the Oval Office or Jay Leno's studio set, addressing Congress or holding up traffic in a motorcade on his way to a PTA meeting, the president is not an ordinary citizen. Like it or not, those days are behind him. The private man and the public man become as one in a president. What he does, says, or doesn't say or doesn't do, he does it before an audience.

Obama goes out of his way to seek a celebrity's attention, and he's still in his first hundred days. When he makes an off-hand jest about his bowling score and the Special Olympics -- the sort of tasteless attempt at dark humor that anyone might make within a tight circle of good friends -- the whole world hears it, and the pundits can't wait to leap. We should all "lighten up," but if a president can't resist going on television to banter with a comedian, he ought to leave the comedy to the comedian, who gets paid for sarcasm and irony. the rest

First gay, openly partnered man ordained into priesthood

Some congregants weep with joy
by Kenneth Harvey, Editorial Intern
Thursday, 26-Mar-2009

The first openly gay and partnered man in the Diocese of San Diego has been ordained into the priesthood.

On March 21, All Souls’ Episcopal Church, ordained Rev. Thomas Wilson, who has served as a deacon there for the past six months.

“For us the issue was ‘Is he duly called to be a priest? And was he living a godly life?’” the rector, or head priest, of All Souls’ Church, Rev. Mike Russell said. “We were all able to say ‘yes’ to that.” the rest

Tea Party in Buffalo

TAXES: Activist Thompson to lead reform effort on Saturday
March 26, 2009
By Mark Scheer
The Tonawanda News

They are mad as hell at Albany and they aren’t going to take it anymore.

A group of frustrated Western New York taxpayers are planning to gather Saturday in Buffalo to demonstrate their displeasure with the New York state government and its political leaders.

The event - dubbed the Erie County and Western New York Tea Party - won’t actually involve any dumping of tea into Buffalo’s inner harbor, according to its lead organizer, long-time community advocate and Grand Island resident Rus Thompson. the rest

Conservatives prevented from speaking on college campuses

By Don Feder
03-24-09

Excerpt:
Half of the audience of 300 came not to listen, question or debate, but to disrupt.

The mob scene was coordinated by the International Socialist Organization (a group found only on college campuses and in the Obama administration), the Pride Alliance, the Coalition Against Hate and the Campus Anti-War Network. Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade and the Committee for Justice for Sacco and Vanzetti were conspicuous by their absence.

Not more than 20 seconds into my address, the catcalls and heckling began. A group of young scholars turned their backs on me – a potent argument to their way of thinking. I felt like I’d stepped into Mr. Peabody’s Wayback machine and been transported to my student days at Boston University, circa 1969.

The honorary citizens of Crete unfurled banners, waved signs, chanted slogans, shouted insults and taunts, jeered, laughed derisively and generally demonstrated the self-control of toddlers with Tourette syndrome.

Their signs read, “Hate Speech Leads to Hate Crimes” (this from people who insist there’s no connection between pornography and sex crimes), “Free Speech Does Not Equal Hate Speech” (who decides what speech should be censored in the name of countering hatred? They do, of course) and – my favorite – “Abolish Hate.” Bravo! After that, we can abolish lust, greed, sloth and unhygienic habits (though the protestors might consider that a personal attack). My terrier has taken to toting around a sign that says “Abolish Cats!” the rest

UK: Abortion ads on television

By Sean Poulter
26th March 2009

Abortion clinics are to be allowed to advertise on television and radio for the first time.
Condom manufacturers will also be permitted to broadcast advertisements at any time of the day or night.

At present they are banned from advertising before the 9pm watershed except on Channel 4, where the cut-off is 7.30pm.

The proposals by the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) will give Britain among the world's most liberal broadcasting regimes on sexual health services. the rest

Canadian Anglican and Catholic bishops battle over oil

Friday, 27th March 2009
By George Conger

The development of the Athabasca oil sands has led to dueling pastoral letters from Northern Alberta’s Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops. Bishop Luc Bouchard of the Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Paul has called for a halt to mining, saying its development "constitutes a serious moral problem." However, Archbishop John Clarke of the Anglican Diocese of Athabasca has endorsed development, chastising those who were "vilifying one of the most exciting and challenging projects in Canadian history."

Spread across 54,000 sq miles of sparsely populated Northern Alberta, the Athabasca oil sands contain an estimated 1.7 trillion barrels of heavy oil or bitumen, and are roughly equal to the world’s total proven reserves of conventional petroleum. Commercial extraction of oil from the tar sands began in 1967, but recent developments in oil extraction technology as well as the spike in world petroleum prices has led to considerable private and government investment in the region. the rest

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Devotional: Pleading

O remember what my substance is; that I am:
dust and ashes, grass and a flower,
flesh and a wind that passeth away,
corruption and a worm,
like a stranger and a sojourner,
dwelling in a house of clay,
days few and evil, today and not tomorrow,
in the morning and not so long as till evening,
now and not presently,
in a body of death,
in a world of corruption,
lying in wickedness.
Remember this.
...Lancelot Andrewes
-found at Lent and Beyond

Grace Church breakaway becomes St. George's

March 26, 2009
MARK BARNA
THE GAZETTE

The Anglican parish worshiping at Grace Church downtown for the past two years has a new name, new corporate identity, a future home and a hopeful attitude.

On Palm Sunday and Easter, the 1,200-member parish will worship at 2760 Fieldstone Road, a vacant building in the Mountain Shadows area that formerly housed the Renaissance Academy, a private school.

On Wednesday, the vestry chose a new name, St. George's Anglican Church, after a judge on Tuesday ordered that the parish must not only vacate the Gothic church at 631 N. Tejon St. but also no longer call itself Grace Church & St. Stephen's. the rest

President Obama: Learning the Hard Way

Barack Obama may at last be getting a grip. But he still needs to show more leadership, at home and abroad
Mar 26th 2009
From The Economist

Excerpt:
But at home Mr Obama has had a difficult start. His performance has been weaker than those who endorsed his candidacy, including this newspaper, had hoped. Many of his strongest supporters—liberal columnists, prominent donors, Democratic Party stalwarts—have started to question him. As for those not so beholden, polls show that independent voters again prefer Republicans to Democrats, a startling reversal of fortune in just a few weeks. Mr Obama’s once-celestial approval ratings are about where George Bush’s were at this stage in his awful presidency. Despite his resounding electoral victory, his solid majorities in both chambers of Congress and the obvious goodwill of the bulk of the electorate, Mr Obama has seemed curiously feeble. Full story

Obama's Artful Dishonesty

The Language of Obamanomics

Anglican Leader Warns of Ecological 'Doomsday'

By Jennifer Gold
Christian Today Reporter
Thu, Mar. 26 2009

Speaking at a lecture in York Minster on Wednesday, Dr. Rowan Williams said wealthy countries had a responsibility to deal with environmental issues for the sake of the poorest in the world and for future generations.

“Ecological questions are increasingly being defined as issues of justice ... both to those who now have no part in decision-making at the global level yet bear the heaviest burdens as a consequence of the irresponsibility of wealthier nations, and to those who will succeed us on this planet – justice to our children and grandchildren,” said Williams, who speaks frequently about environmental issues. the rest

Lambeth’s £288,000 deficit due to incompetence

Thursday, 26th March 2009
By George Conger

Poor planning, inexperienced management, and weak financial controls contributed to a £288,000 deficit for the 2008 Lambeth Conference, a report released last week by the Archbishops' Council and the Church Commissioners has concluded.

The management team, conference structure and business practices were not up to the job, the report found, stating that the “arrangements in place for the 2008 conference were less robust than they needed to be.”

The conference's opaque management structure had left no one in charge, with the result that there had been a “disconnect between design on the one hand, and capacity and execution on the other.” The lack of clear lines of authority had led to cost overruns, with the financial team “not always aware” of the commitments made by conference management staff. Two examples cited by the report were the “failure to recognise a commitment for expenditure of £411,000 on the Big Top” the blue tent that served as the principle venue for conference meetings, and IT support.

The conference finance director “did not know” about the Big Top bill, while the conference “organiser did not know it was not in the budget.” Rather than charging a flat fee for internet usage by conference goers, the University of Kent changed the conference for individual log-ons, leading to a bill of £80,576---over £65,000 over budget. the rest

Meet Lila Rose: Taking on Goliath

by Deal W. Hudson
3/25/09

If you think the pro-life movement has run out of energy and new ideas, you should meet Lila Rose. You may not know her name, but you very likely have seen the media coverage of her various sting operations at Planned Parenthood clinics around the country.

Rose is 20 years old, but she is already entering her fourth year of covert operation, as it were, exposing the underhanded -- and, in some cases, potentially illegal -- practices at abortion clinics run by Planned Parenthood. She has already made appearances on The O'Reilly Factor and Hannity's America.

Posing as an underage pregnant girl, Rose has taken concealed audio and video equipment into these clinics. First, she makes sure the clinic personnel know she is underage and that the baby's father is an older man, repeating his name clearly. By law, the clinic personnel must then notify the police that the alleged father has had sex with a minor. the rest

Coalition condemns Obama's Notre Dame invitation

Madeline Buckley
3/26/09

A coalition of student groups formed an ad hoc committee to "lead student response" in condemning the University's invitation to President Barack Obama to deliver Notre Dame's 2009 Commencement address, according to a press release.

The coalition - including Notre Dame Right to Life, Notre Dame College Republicans, the Irish Rover student newspaper and six other campus groups - created a Web site, ndresponse.com, and released a formal statement Wednesday denouncing University President Fr. John Jenkin's choice of speaker.

"In response to the University's decision, we pledge ourselves to acts of witness that will be characterized by respect, prayerfulness, outspoken fidelity to the Church and true concern for the good of our University," the statement said of the coalition's purpose. the rest

WSJ Columnist and Notre Dame Alumnus Decries ND Response to Obama Scandal as "Moral Incoherence"

Trailer: Where the Wild Things Are

Albert Mohler: The Brand New Incredibly Old and Enduringly Faithful Concept of Church Planting

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Give Fred Barnes credit. He knows a good idea when he sees one. Writing for the "Houses of Worship" column of The Wall Street Journal, Barnes tells the story of how he and his wife came to leave The Falls Church near Washington, DC and then to join another congregation.

Barnes, one of the nation's best-known journalists, makes clear that he and his wife were not leaving The Falls Church out of a sense of frustration or disappointment. "We didn't leave in anger. We didn't have political or theological anxieties. Rather, we left for a new church because our old church wanted us to," Barnes relates. the rest

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Robert Gagnon: “What the Evidence Really Says about Scripture and Homosexual Practice: Five Issues.”

Here-pdf

New York Palace Hotel boss gets the door after Ash Wednesday slur

By Kerry Burke and Oren Yaniv
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS
Wednesday, March 25th 2009

The manager of one of the city's most luxurious hotels was given the boot after ordering a Catholic employee to clean up his forehead on Ash Wednesday.

"Wipe that f-----g s--t off your face," managing director Niklaus Leuenberger told a bell captain at the New York Palace Hotel on Feb. 25, sources said.

The unholy ultimatum ended up costing Leuenberger his job at the Palace, a swanky 55-story tower on Madison Ave. across the street from St. Patrick's Cathedral. the rest

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Devotional: O holy city, seen of John...

O holy city, seen of John,
where Christ, the Lamb, doth reign,
within whose foursquare walls shall come
no night, nor need, nor pain,
and where the tears are wiped from eyes
that shall not weep again!

Give us, O God, the strength to build
the city that hath stood
too long a dream, whose laws are love,
whose ways are brotherhood,
and where the sun that shineth is
God's grace for human good.

Already in the mind of God
that city riseth fair:
lo, how its splendor challenges
the souls that greatly dare--
yea, bids us seize the whole of life
and build its glory there.

...Walter Russel Bowie image

A.S. Haley: Fuzzy Logic and the Church We Know (II) - "Stealing" the Property

Monday, March 23, 2009

In January, Episcopal Life Online published a series of three opinion pieces on the subject of the lawsuits among Episcopalians over claims to church property. The first, by Church historian Joan Gundersen, argued the proposition that Episcopalians could not be faithful to their forbears if they allowed dissenters to leave and take Church assets with them, even when the dissenters constituted the majority of the parish. The second piece gave the views of the Rev. Timothy Safford, of Christ Church, Philadelphia: drawing lessons from Jesus' parables, he argued that the Church could accommodate the dissenters without alienating them, by allowing them to rent the property (or make the mortgage payments in lieu of rent), and should remain open to the possibility that they will one day return, like the prodigal son. The third piece, by the Rev. George Clifford of North Carolina, argued the Gospel view, and urged the Church to turn the other cheek. If the dissenters wanted to compensate the Church for the property, well and good, but if not, then the Church at least will have been witness to "a costly gift of love."

the rest

Archbishop Gomez: Covenant a Tough Sell in Divided Communion

March 24, 2009

As the Covenant Design Group readies its handiwork for deliberation by the Anglican Consultative Council, the group’s chairman acknowledges that selling a unity document to a divided communion will be neither automatic nor easy.

Retired West Indies’ Archbishop Drexel Wellington Gomez identified current Episcopal Church attitudes as a danger to ratification of the proposed Covenant.

Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori already has said General Convention this summer should decline to take up for consideration the design group’s yet-to-be perfected recommendations for measures aimed at respecting local autonomy while providing accountability for divisive actions.

“The Episcopal Church has its own agenda,” Archbishop Gomez said in Dallas March 22, “and that agenda does not have much accommodation with the rest of the Communion.” the rest

CANA Responds to Colorado Springs Ruling

HERNDON, Va. (March 24, 2009) – The Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) issued a statement in response to the ruling issued today by the El Paso County District Court in Colorado Springs, CO, concerning the ownership of Grace Church & St. Stephen’s. Judge Larry Schwartz ruled that title to the property of Grace Church & St. Stephen's is vested in the Episcopal Church of the United States and in the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado.

“While we are of course disappointed with today’s ruling, we will continue with our ministry and mission work in Colorado Springs and around the nation,” said CANA Missionary Bishop Martyn Minns. “The Gospel is not spread by church buildings or church property. It is the living Christ that works in people, and we are praying for the orthodox Anglicans in Colorado Springs that the work of the Lord will continue.”

“We remain steadfast in our effort to defend the historic Christian faith across the country. There is clearly a division within The Episcopal Church which broke its relationship with the worldwide Anglican Communion and fell out of step with much of Christendom by choosing to redefine and reinterpret Scripture,” Minns concluded. link

Colorado: Breakaway Springs congregation must give up church

By Electa Draper
The Denver Post
03/24/2009

An El Paso County judge today ordered a breakaway Episcopalian congregation to surrender Grace Church and St. Stephen's Parish in Colorado Springs to the Colorado Episcopal Diocese it left two years ago over theoogical differences.

District Judge Larry Schwartz ruled that the landmark Gothic-style church, rectory and other buildings along Tejon Street, valued at about $17 million, belonged to the diocese.

The judge said 138 years of shared history had created an implied trust between the Episcopal Diocese and the church that prohibited members who left the denomination from taking property with them. the rest

Armstrong camp loses Tejon Street church

In Over His Pay Grade

When science is made 'apolitical' and 'unencumbered by religion,' it's usually to hyper-politicize and hyper-sacralize it.
Mollie Ziegler Hemingway
3/23/2009

Only 53 percent of adults know how long it takes the earth to revolve around the sun, a national survey commissioned by the California Academy of Sciences showed. That's sad, if not surprising. But former President and Rhodes Scholar Bill Clinton also revealed a startling ignorance about basic science shortly after President Barack Obama increased federal funding of stem-cell research that destroys embryos.

After CNN presented him as a policy expert on the matter, Clinton referred a half-dozen times to human embryos as "unfertilized" and said they would only "become human beings" if they were fertilized, which couldn't happen with the embryos in question. the rest

Quiet Muslim-Only Town in N.Y. Founded by Alleged Terrorist

Monday, March 23, 2009
By Rick Leventhal

HANCOCK, N.Y. — If you didn't know where to look, you'd probably never find Islamberg, a private Muslim community in the woods of the western Catskills, 150 miles northwest of New York City.

The town, sitting on a quiet dirt road past a gate marked with No Trespassing signs, is home to an estimated 100 residents. There are small houses and other buildings visible from the outside, but it is what can't be seen from beyond the gate that has some watchers worried.

Islamberg was founded in 1980 by Sheikh Syed Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani, a Pakistani cleric who purchased a 70-acre plot and invited followers, mostly Muslim converts living in New York City, to settle there. the rest

From a 2007 article: Islamberg, New York: "You can hear gunfire up there. I can't understand why the FBI won't shut it down"

Proposition 8: Mapping Political Persecution

Chilling Free Speech
By Chuck Colson
Christian Post Guest Columnist
Sun, Mar. 22 2009

Dotting the streets on a certain online map are hundreds of red teardrops. Click on a teardrop at a particular address, and come up with the words, “Patricia Greenwood. Insurance agent. $100.”
Miss Greenwood had better watch her back. Angry supporters of same-sex “marriage” are using Google Maps to tell the world exactly where she lives, and that she donated money to support Proposition 8—the California initiative banning same-sex “marriage.” Now, I made up the name Patricia Greenwood, but the names and addresses on this map belong to real people.
The only point of identifying Proposition 8 supporters is to encourage people to harass them.

And the tactic is working.

Opponents of traditional marriage have sent threatening emails and vandalized churches. They have forced supporters out of their jobs and boycotted their businesses. They’ve made abusive telephone calls and even threatened their neighbors with death. Hundreds of cases of harassment have been documented. the rest

Added: Pestered Prop 8 donors file suit

Liturgy: the common language for Christians across the world

March 23, 2009

I know almost enough Spanish to be dangerous.

Through my exposure to Spanish radio, TV and newspapers, and even overheard conversations in Spanish while waiting in line at Taco Bell, I have picked up a word here, a phrase there over the years. Still, my comprehension leaves a little to be desired.

So, when I recently attended a house blessing with my Honduran friend Maria and Spanish-speaking members of her Hispanic church, I felt a little behind the curve. We spent a Sunday afternoon going from room to room in the house, praying that God would protect all the people who lived there, and that His powerful, beneficent influence would be felt in that place.

All the prayer was conducted in Spanish, but I was saved from utter incomprehension by just a few things. the rest

The Story of a Modern-Day Exorcist

By Gilbert Cruz
Monday, Mar. 16, 2009

When he first heard about a Vatican-sponsored course on exorcism for priests, journalist Matt Baglio was intrigued by the idea of this ancient ritual taking place in the modern world. In his new book, The Rite, Baglio follows American priest Father Gary — sent to Rome to train as an exorcist — and his apprenticeship with Father Carmine. Baglio talked to TIME about belief, skeptical priests and the particulars of the exorcism ritual.

Interview

Vast protest against Obama commencement address at Notre Dame gathers pace

By: Damian Thompson
Mar 24, 2009

Oh boy, have those Catholics who suck up to Barack Obama got a PR problem on their hands. As of tonight, 40,000 people - mostly Catholics - have signed a petition condemning the decision to ask the manically pro-abortion President to give the commencement address at Notre Dame University on May 17.

"Help Stop the Scandal at Our Lady's University" reads the message of this website, which gives out the phone number and email address of Fr John Jenkins, president of the historic Catholic institution in South Bend, Indiana. the rest

Hugh Hewitt:The President at Notre Dame


NRO: A Moral Exemplar?

Added:
First Things: Notre Dame’s Faustian Bargain

Monday, March 23, 2009

Devotional: I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not....

I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not. Isaiah 42:16

We cannot guess in which way deliverance can possibly come to us, but the Lord knows, and He will lead us till we shall have escaped every danger. Happy are those who place their hand in that of the great Guide and leave their way and themselves entirely with Him. He will bring them all the way; and when He has brought them home to glory and has opened their eyes to see the way by which He has led them, what a song of gratitude will they sing unto their great Benefactor! Lord, lead Thy poor blind child this day, for I know not my way! ...CH Spurgeon
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Paterson Craters, Now at 19% Approval

'The Speed of His Falling Numbers is Staggering'
Monday, March 23, 2009

Here's an idea for the accidental governor. Maybe he can gouge the rich some more. Oh wait, he's already got a secret plan for that. Oh well. Whatever he does, it's doubtful he can get out of this hole.

Gov. Paterson's job performance ratings have crashed thorough the floor, with less than one in five New Yorkers saying he's doing well, a new poll shows.

Just 19% of those polled gave him a positive rating, while 78% turned thumbs down, the Siena College poll found. That's down from 51% positive and 45% negative in the same poll just two months ago.

How bad have things gone for a governor? the rest

Harvard Researcher agrees with Pope on condoms in Africa

Cambridge, Mass.
Mar 21, 2009

Pope Benedict’s recent brief remark against condoms has caused an uproar in the press, but several prominent scientists dedicated to preventing AIDS are defending the Pope, saying he was correct in his analysis. In an interview with CNA, Dr. Edward Green explained that although condoms should work, in theory, they may be “exacerbating the problem” in Africa...

...According to Dr. Green, science is finding that the media is actually on the wrong side of the issue. In fact, Green says that not only do condoms not work, but that they may be “exacerbating the problem” in Africa. Full story

Notre Dame: Students May Boycott Their Own Commencement Over Obama Invite

posted March 22, 2009

In an exclusive interview with CMR, Mary K. Daly, the President of Notre Dame's Right to Life group, said that the school administration's decision to invite President Barack Obama to deliver the Commencement Address is a "slap in the face" to many Catholics and has many students questioning whether they can "in good conscience" attend their own college graduation."

"I think that this is a travesty that students should have to wrestle with whether or not to go to their own college graduation, after working very hard to gain admittance to this university and then working very hard to earn a diploma from this university," Daly said.

Daly expressed her "acute disappointment" with the administration's decision, adding that the invitation "undercuts the University's Catholic character." Daly said she believed the school should hold its Catholic Identity above that of secular prestige. the rest

"Obama Budget Will Bankrupt USA"



Hugh Hewitt: A longer view, please

Sioux Indians quit US [Episcopal] Church

Monday, 23rd March 2009
By George Conger

Members of nine congregations closed last year on a Sioux Indian reservation have quit the Diocese of South Dakota and formed the Lakota Oyate Episcopalian Church.

On March 14, the clergy and members of the nine redundant rural churches created the new group, which they say will not be affiliated with either the Episcopal Church or its rival Anglican Church in North America, to oversee the reservation churches.

Speaking to the Rapid City Journal, Lori Ann Two Bulls said the group has petitioned the tribe’s Land Committee to transfer ownership rights to the church properties from the diocese to the Lakota Oyate Episcopalian Church. It asked the tribal council to allow it to “continue operating the churches expelled by The Episcopal diocese,” she explained. the rest

Britain’s Naked Public Square

By Peter C. Glover
Monday, March 23, 2009

A series of high-profile legal battles and workplace rulings during the past several months has kept Christianity, or its lack, in the headlines in Great Britain. Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, caused outrage last year when he suggested that Shari’a law might replace British common law in some cases. But the piecemeal persecution of Christians in Britain is even more damaging—and it has now become routine.

The growing crime rate and out-of-control teenage pregnancies (the highest percentage in Europe and rising) are among the social problems that have created national anxiety. But what has caused the recent headlines are the major legal battles and workplace problems that reveal the existence of anti-Christian bias in Britain—a bias manifested by censorship in public debate and a media antagonistic to all things Christian. Is it too much to think that the social problems and the bias are related? By making Christian practice difficult, if not outright illegal in public life, the British courts and public authorities have contributed to an increasing awareness that a vacuum exists where the nation’s Judeo-Christian spine used to be.

the rest-Excellent!

We need British suicide clinics says former Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt

Paganism returns to the Holy Land

22/03/2009
By Ofri Ilani

Like many other soldiers who took part in the Gaza operation, Omer, 20, occasionally took a few moments to pray, but he did not pray to the Lord of Israel. Omer considers himself pagan, and has sworn allegiance to three ancient gods. During combat, he says they appeared before him, giving him strength during the most arduous moments.

Omer is still in the army, and therefore refused to be interviewed for this story. Yet he did say he belongs to a religion whose goal is to revive worship of ancient gods. the rest

Will the Jews return to Temple Mount?

Our Foundering Father

March 22, 2009
By Kathleen Parker

WASHINGTON -- What a relief to hear Barack Obama tell a California audience the other day: "I am the president of the United States of America."

Who knew?!

Lately, it's been hard to tell whether Obama himself knows that he is the leader of the country formerly known as The Most Powerful Nation on Earth. Obama's self-identification centered around the American International Group's bonus problem, which, Obama reminded us, he did not create, but ... "the buck stops here."

That cliche is awfully busy these days.

Most presidents doubtless have to pinch themselves for a while after arriving at the White House. The campaign over, Mr. President suddenly realizes that he is, in fact, in charge. The successful courtship ultimately leads to marriage and reality pitches a tent where hope once crooned the night away. the rest

Obama Sticker Shock

Kroft, 60 Minutes go soft and safe in Obama interview

Is Gitmo creating terrorists?

Canada: Anglicans and Lutherans plan joint gathering

Leigh Anne Williams
staff writer
Mar 21, 2009

The Anglican Church of Canada’s management team met with National Bishop Susan Johnson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and her senior staff on March 18 and 19 to discuss ways to strengthen the relationship between the two churches, including plans for a joint General Synod/National Convention to be held in Ottawa in 2013 and the possibility of sharing national office space in the future.

“If full communion is really going to have some sense of visibility across the Canadian church, there have to be some pretty bold steps that we take together to help people realize that we are, in fact, churches in full communion,” said Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, noting that it has been eight years since the two churches reached an agreement to be in full communion. the rest

Alaska volcano Mount Redoubt erupts 4 times

By MARK THIESSEN
March 23, 2009

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska's Mount Redoubt volcano erupted four times overnight, sending an ash plume more than 9 miles high into the air, but the state's largest city has likely been spared from any ashfall.

"The ash cloud went to 50,000 feet, and it's currently drifting toward the north, northeast," said Janet Schaefer, a geologist with the Alaska Volcano Observatory.

The first eruption, in a sparsely area across Cook Inlet from the Kenai Peninsula, occurred at 10:38 p.m. Sunday and the fourth happened at 1:39 a.m. Monday, according to the observatory. the rest

Pope decries 'clouds of evil' over Africa at Mass

Mar 22, 2009

LUANDA, Angola (AP) - Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass Sunday with an estimated one million Angolans and decried the "clouds of evil" over Africa that have spawned war, tribalism and ethnic rivalry that reduce poor people to slavery.

The biggest crowd of Benedict's seven day pilgrimage to Africa turned up in sweltering heat for the open-air service on the outskirts of Angola's seaside capital, Luanda, the last major event before the end of the visit on Monday. the rest

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Devotional: Casting all your care upon Him...

Casting all your care upon him—1 Peter 5:7

There are some things that God will not tolerate in us. We must leave them. Nehemiah would not talk with Sanballat about his charges and fears. He simply refused to have anything to do with the matter-even to take refuge in the temple to pray about it. How very few things we really have to do with in life. If we would only drop all the needless things and simply do the things that absolutely require our attention from morning till night, we would find what a small slender thread life is. But we string upon it a thousand imaginary beads and burden ourselves with cares and flurries that-if we had trusted more-would never have needed to preoccupy us. Wise indeed was the testimony of the dear old saint who said, in review of her past life, "I have had a great many troubles in my life, especially those that never came."

Trust and rest with heart abiding,
Like a birdling in its nest,
Underneath His feathers hiding,
Fold thy wings and trust and rest.
Trust and rest, trust and rest,
God is working for the best.
...AB Simpson
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UK haunted by religion, says archbishop

Riazat Butt
religious affairs correspondent
The Guardian
23 March 2009

Britain is not a secular country but it is "uncomfortably haunted by the memory of religion", the archbishop of Canterbury said yesterday.

In a lecture called Faith and the Public Square, delivered at Leicester Cathedral, Dr Rowan Williams said Britain was "not necessarily hostile" to faith and that the church continued to offer people something that could not be found elsewhere.

He said: "I don't believe we are living in a secular society and I don't believe we are living in a deeply religiously divided society. I believe we are living in a country that is uncomfortably haunted by the memory of religion and doesn't quite know what to do with it ... a society which is religiously plural and confused and therefore not necessarily hostile." the rest

Archbishop Peter Akinola: Pastoral Letter

22nd March, 2009

Excerpt:
We are especially concerned about those who are using large sums of money to lure our youth to see homosexuality and lesbianism as normative. We must consistently and faithfully teach about God’s commands on this ungodly practice and help those with such orientation to seek deliverance and pastoral counsel.

It was also our great delight to welcome to our meeting, the Rt. Rev Bob Duncan, Bishop of Pittsburgh in the USA, and Moderator of the Common Cause Partnership which is a fellowship of about 11 Anglican groups that are determined to maintain the Biblical and historic convictions of our faith, including CANA (also represented at this meeting by our own Bishop Martyn Minns). We have declared ourselves to be in full communion with the emerging province of the Anglican Church of North America, praying that they will remain solidly rooted in the foundations of our faith. the rest

ACNA Expects at Least Five Inaugural Dioceses

March 21, 2009

The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) expects to receive at least five, and perhaps as many as eight, applications for official recognition as a diocese when it meets for its first provincial assembly in June.

A letter sent in January by the Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan to members of the Common Cause Partnership encouraged the formation of dioceses.

“Consistent with all Anglican practice, congregations are a part of an Anglican province because they are part of a diocese, which in turn, is part of a group of dioceses banded together as a national (or international) church,” Bishop Duncan wrote. “This principle is critical to understanding the provisional constitution of the [ACNA], and to the steps we all need to take as we move toward our first provincial assembly.” the rest

Survey: Millions of Non-Christian Iraqis Watch Christian TV

By Ethan Cole
Christian Post Reporter
Sun, Mar. 22 2009

A new survey found that about 5.3 million Iraqis, or about 19 percent of the population, watch the Christian satellite programs on SAT-7, the ministry reported Friday.

As Iraq’s tiny Christian community numbers less than 600,000, it is safe to say that most of SAT-7’s viewers are Muslims. According to the CIA World Factbook, 97 percent of Iraq’s population is Muslim (Shia 60-65 percent, Sunni 32-37 percent).

Data collected in the recent nationwide study conducted by Intermedia, an independent audience research firm, found that 97 percent of Iraqis have access to satellite television, and 18.8 percent watch SAT-7. The study also found that 2.6 million are watching on a regular daily or weekly basis. the rest

Devendorf shoots Syracuse to 78-67 victory over Ariz. State

posted 3/22/09

MIAMI (AP) — With Syracuse's season on the cusp of slipping away, Eric Devendorf picked the perfect time to be at his best.

Devendorf hit a pair of three-pointers less than a minute apart to snuff out a big Arizona State rally, and the third-seeded Orange held on for a 78-67 win over the sixth-seeded Sun Devils in a South Regional second-round game Sunday.

Devendorf finished with 21 points and Andy Rautins added 17 for Syracuse (28-9), which moves on to play second-seeded Oklahoma (29-5) in Memphis on Friday, a spot in the regional final against either North Carolina or Gonzaga at stake for the winner. the rest