Saturday, August 08, 2009

Religious Identity: States Differ Widely

Catholics most prevalent in East, while other Christians are concentrated in the South
by Frank Newport
August 7, 2009

PRINCETON, NJ -- The states of the union differ remarkably from one another in terms of their residents' religions. Non-Catholic Christians -- the largest religious group in the country today -- are heavily concentrated in the South and nearby states, while constituting only a minority of residents of Northeastern states, and of many Middle Atlantic and Western states.

States that have lower percentages of non-Catholic Christians are proportionately much more heavily dominated by those of other religions, particularly Catholics, who are heavily represented in the Middle Atlantic and New England states.

Americans with no religious identity at all tend to be found most frequently in the Northeast and Northwest (plus Hawaii), while members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are most prevalent in Utah and surrounding states, and Jews in Mid-Atlantic states. the rest

Palin says Obama's health care plan is 'evil'

Aug 8, 2009
By MARK THIESSEN

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin called President Barack Obama's health plan "downright evil" Friday in her first online comments since leaving office, saying in a Facebook posting that he would create a "death panel" that would deny care to the neediest Americans.

"The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care," the former Republican vice presidential candidate wrote.

"Such a system is downright evil," Palin wrote on her page, which has nearly 700,000 supporters. She encouraged her supporters to be engaged in the debate.

The claim that the Democratic health care bills would encourage euthanasia has been circulating on the Internet for weeks and has been echoed by some Republican leaders. Democrats from Obama on down have dismissed it as a distortion. The nonpartisan group FactCheck.org, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania says the claim is false. the rest

Spanking the IRS

August 07, 2009

The Internal Revenue Service gets a rhetorical spanking and a legal loss Friday, in a decision by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that looks intriguing.

Take it away, Judge Janice Rogers Brown, who vividly starts the majority opinion in Cohen v. United States this way:

"Comic-strip writer Bob Thaves famously quipped, 'A fool and his money are soon parted. It takes creative tax laws for the rest.' In this case it took the Internal Revenue Service’s (“IRS” or “the Service”) aggressive interpretation of the tax code to part millions of Americans with billions of dollars in excise tax collections. Even this remarkable feat did not end the IRS’s creativity. When it finally conceded defeat on the legal front, the IRS got really inventive and developed a refund scheme under which almost half the funds remained unclaimed."

Ooh, snap. And for the IRS, it gets worse. States Rogers:

"In sum, the IRS unlawfully expropriated billions of dollars from taxpayers, conceded the illegitimacy of its actions, and developed a mandatory process as the sole avenue by which the agency would consider refunding its ill-gotten gains."

The case argued on Cohen's behalf by Michael A. Bowen and Robert J. Cynkar involves Mr. Cohen's challenge to a 3 percent excise tax for long-distance phone service. In five different appellate circuits, courts ruled against the IRS. The government stopped collecting the tax based solely on transmission time in August 2006 and then constructed a Rube Goldbergian scheme for refunds. So then aggrieved parties sued over the reform scheme. the rest

The Evangelical Fellowship of Irish Clergy response to ‘Communion, Covenant and the Anglican Future’

August 8th, 2009
Anglican Mainstream

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s clear rejection of the blessing of same-sex unions and the ordination of practicing homosexuals is to be welcomed for its biblical basis. We rejoice that the traditional teaching on marriage, sexual behaviour and clergy lifestyle has been maintained and recognised as normative teaching within the Anglican Communion, and hope that faithful Anglicans can partner together in mission and spiritual growth.

However, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s proposed “two-tier” or “two-track” Anglican Communion is problematic in all sorts of ways, as he acknowledges himself, and we would urge him and others to think very carefully about the risks entailed. the rest

Maryland: Unionville church joins ACNA

August 08, 2009
By Ron Cassie
News-Post Staff

After 25-plus years in Unionville, the Life in Jesus Church officially changed its name to Jesus Our Shepherd last Sunday. The name change is not superficial, but highlights a switch in affiliation to the new Anglican province in North America where the Rev. Philip Zampino believes the church has found a home.

Zampino, 67, a graduate of the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale University, founded the Life in Jesus Church, which today has just a handful of congregants. He initially formed it under the Episcopal House of Bishops as a religious community, but Zampino left the Episcopal Church U.S.A. -- and took his community with him -- in the early 1990s.

Upset over evolving Episcopal U.S.A. positions on issues such as abortion, women's ordination, homosexuality and biblical interpretation, Zampino later associated his church with the International Communion of the Charismatic Episcopal Church. That relationship was not a good fit in the end, Zampino said recently.

So, when the Anglican Church in North America formed, he became interested in joining the new movement, which has come about largely as a result of schisms in several U.S. dioceses over decisions by the national church leadership, including the ordination of gay and female clergy.

"In the Episcopal church, for 25-30 years, small groups have been breaking off forming splinter associations and going on independently," Zampino said. "And what has finally taken place over the last several years, is that several U.S. dioceses have broken with the Episcopal Church U.S.A."

The Anglican Church in North America unites 700 Anglican parishes in 12 Anglican jurisdictions in North America into a single church, according to an ACNA press release sent out last spring after recognition by the Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion). The jurisdictions coming together include the Anglican Coalition in Canada, the dioceses of Fort Worth, Texas, Pittsburgh, Quincy and San Joaquin, Calif., the Anglican Mission in the Americas, the Anglican Network in Canada, the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, the Reformed Episcopal Church and several missionary initiatives.

By forming the new Anglican Church in North America and seeking recognition from African provinces, the province of the Southern Cone of South America and other Anglican provinces, the ACNA hopes to join the worldwide Anglican Communion, but separately from the Episcopal Church U.S.A. the rest

Anglican Bishop to Appeal Calif. Court's Pro-Episcopal Ruling

By Joshua A. Goldberg
Christian Post Reporter
Sat, Aug. 08 2009

Attorneys for a bishop deposed by The Episcopal Church say they plan to appeal a judge's ruling recognizing another bishop as the head of the Diocese of San Joaquin.

Though Episcopal leaders say they removed John-David Schofield as the head of the Fresno, Calif.-based diocese last year after he and other conservative church members attempted to remove the diocese from the American arm of Anglicanism, the bishop maintains that he possesses continuing authority as the leader of the diocese, which he claimed simply realigned itself with the more conservative Anglican Province of the Southern Cone in South America.

The Episcopal Church, however, disputes the ability of a diocese to transfer from one province to another without the consent of its original province.

Furthermore, as the Superior Court of Fresno County ruled last month, The Episcopal Church maintains that the Diocese of San Joaquin being led by the TEC-elected Rt. Rev. Jerry Lamb is "not a new organization" but that it is "the older organization from which ([defendant] Schofield and the other) defendants removed themselves." the rest

Friday, August 07, 2009

Devotional: No person has a right to lead such a life of contemplation...

No person has a right to lead such a life of contemplation as to forget in one's own ease the service due one's neighbour; nor has any person a right to be so immersed in active life as to neglect the contemplation of God. ...Augustine picture by R. Dague

Intolerant Tolerance

George Cardinal Pell
posted August 7, 2009

Some secularists seem to like one-way streets. Their distaste for Christianity leads them to seek to drive it not only from the public square but even from any provision of education, health care, and welfare services. Ironically, intolerance of Christianity and Christian culture is proclaimed most often in the name of tolerance: Christianity must not be tolerated because of the need for greater tolerance.

At present, the most preferred means for addressing perceived intolerance seems to be antidiscrimination legislation. Across the Anglosphere and in many Western nations, the idea of antidiscrimination has shown enormous power to shape public opinion. It is being used to redefine marriage and to make a range of relationships acceptable as the foundation for new forms of the family. Antidiscrimination legislation, in tandem with new reproductive technologies, has made it possible for children to have three, four, or five parents, relegating the idea of a child being brought up by his natural mother and father to nothing more than a majority adult preference. The rights of children to be created in love and to be known and reared by their biological parents receives scant consideration when the legislative agenda is directed to satisfying adult needs and ambitions.

Until relatively recently, antidiscrimination laws usually included exemptions for churches and other religious groups so that they could practice and manifest their beliefs in freedom. That word exemptions is actually a misnomer, suggesting as it does some sort of concession from the state to eccentric minorities. These provisions are better described as protections of religious freedom—and such protections are increasingly being refused or defined in the narrowest possible terms in new antidiscrimination measures, with existing protections eroded or construed away by the courts. the rest

Bishop Lamb Bemoans ‘Astronomical’ Cost of Property Dispute

August 7, 2009

The Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin will appeal a California Superior Court ruling that The Episcopal Church is hierarchical and that the Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield had no standing to break the diocese’s ties with the larger church.

Judge Adolfo M. Corona of the Superior Court of California, County of Fresno, issued an order for summary adjudication on July 21. The lawsuit was filed by the Rt. Rev. Jerry A. Lamb, acting bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, and The Episcopal Church against Bishop Schofield, several bodies formed by the departing diocese, and the investment firm of Merrill Lynch.

“Defendants' right to amend their constitution and canons is not unrestricted and unlimited,” Judge Corona wrote. “The constitution of the diocese has always permitted amendments. … However, from the inception of the diocese as a missionary district, it acceded to the constitution of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America and recognized the authority of the General Convention of the same.” the rest

Noonan: Voters send a message to Washington, and get an ugly response

‘You Are Terrifying Us’
By PEGGY NOONAN
AUGUST 7, 2009

We have entered uncharted territory in the fight over national health care. There’s a new tone in the debate, and it’s ugly. At the moment the Democrats are looking like something they haven’t looked like in years, and that is: desperate.

They must know at this point they should not have pushed a national health-care plan. A Democratic operative the other day called it “Hillary’s revenge.” When Mrs. Clinton started losing to Barack Obama in the primaries 18 months ago, she began to give new and sharper emphasis to her health-care plan. Mr. Obama responded by talking about his health-care vision. He won. Now he would push what he had been forced to highlight: Health care would be a priority initiative. The net result is falling support for his leadership on the issue, falling personal polls, and the angry town-hall meetings that have electrified YouTube.

In his first five months in office, Mr. Obama had racked up big wins—the stimulus, children’s health insurance, House approval of cap-and-trade. But he stayed too long at the hot table. All the Democrats in Washington did. They overinterpreted the meaning of the 2008 election, and didn’t fully take into account how the great recession changed the national mood and atmosphere.

And so the shock on the faces of Congressmen who’ve faced the grillings back home. And really, their shock is the first thing you see in the videos. They had no idea how people were feeling. Their 2008 win left them thinking an election that had been shaped by anti-Bush, anti-Republican, and pro-change feeling was really a mandate without context; they thought that in the middle of a historic recession featuring horrific deficits, they could assume support for the invention of a huge new entitlement carrying huge new costs. the rest

White House Move to Collect 'Fishy' Info May Be Illegal, Critics Say

Mr. President, Americans are not an 'angry mob'

Physicians speak out on health care bill

Americans planning to start a civil war in the Church of England

By Jonathan Wynne-Jones
August 7th, 2009

Could the American Church be about to start planting churches in England? That’s the intriguing possibility raised by one of its most influential clerics, who has indicated that this might be the only option given that Rowan Williams has sided with the conservatives.

Geoffrey Hoare, the Eton-educated vicar of All Saints Atlanta, one of the largest churches in TEC, has asked colleagues to consider how they could begin “seeking partners throughout the world” if effectively evicted from the Anglican Communion.

Given the Archbishop’s comments last week, which were much bolder and firmer than many expected, it looks as though the liberals would be second-class citizens in any two-tier Church. This should come as no surprise considering how they have continually defied the agreed position of the Communion and refused to heed the archbishop’s warnings. the rest

Catholic Health's $856,093 Nun

August 6, 2009

Since the election and during the buildup toward health care reform, Sister Carol Keehan and the Catholic Health Association she leads have come up for sharp criticism from prolife advocates. For her public support of the president's pro-abortion appointees to her campaign to enact health care reform now, she is accused of being at odds with the USCCB and the prolife cause, both of which have serious reservations about current health care proposals.

Part of this uproar is due to confusion over the nature of the Catholic Health Association and Sister Carol's role.

CHA is not a repository of Catholic social teaching with regard to health care or an association of moral theologians or a charity in service of the poor. It is a trade association. There is nothing wrong with a trade association, but too many reporters, including members of the Catholic press, have sought comment from CHA without recognizing they are primarily an organization with a vested financial interest in the outcome of the health care debate. the rest

Time for Rome to rescue Christians trapped in the Anglo-Catholic wreckage

By Damian Thompson
August 6th, 2009

Here is an article I’ve written in the new issue of The Catholic Herald, inspired by reports that Forward in Faith is – finally – in serious talks with the Vatican. Thanks to Luke Coppen for letting me reproduce it here.

A few months ago I witnessed a little miracle: an Anglican friend of mine was received into the Church. It was a miracle because this particular friend had been adamant that he would not become a “Roman”, despite his love of traditional Catholic liturgy. There were many factors in his change of heart, but two words explain why he suddenly took the plunge: Pope Benedict.

At the centre of my friend’s Christianity is public worship, and (so far as I can judge from many conversations with him) the main reason he did not leave the Church of England is that he could not accept the claims of a Church which did not get its worship right. His objection was not to Vatican II, but to a casual approach to the celebration of Mass that made it harder to believe in the unique universal status of the Roman Church. the rest

‘A Jesuit would have sorted me out’

Ed West discusses faith, feminism and Dawkins with the author of this summer's most talked-about religious novel
7 August 2009

For the first time in about seven years the most talked-about religious novel of the summer is not one of the Da Vinci Code's step-children about conspiracies and lost arks, but a story set in the more historically accurate, but equally fantastic, world of a 16th-century Italian convent.

Sarah Dunant's Sacred Hearts, which takes place in the aftermath of the Council of Trent, has received rave reviews in the Times, Telegraph, Financial Times and Washington Post, and has already been serialised on Radio 4. the rest image

Bush Quietly Saved a Million African Lives

By Paul Kengor
7/31/09

What if a president, on his own initiative, under no demands from staff or from supporters or opponents, set out to spend an unprecedented amount of money on AIDS in Africa, literally billions of dollars, at a time when the nation could not afford it, citing his faith as a primary motivation and, ultimately, saved more than a million lives?

Wouldn’t the story be front-page news, especially in top, liberal newspapers? Wouldn’t it lead on CNN, MSNBC and the “CBS Evening News”? Might statues be erected to the man in the nation’s more “progressive” cities?

What if the president was George W. Bush?

I pose these uncomfortable questions for two reasons: 1) President Bush did precisely that regarding the African AIDS tragedy; and 2) a study claims that Bush’s remarkable action has indeed saved many precious lives.

And as someone who has closely followed Bush’s humanitarian gesture from the outset, I’m not surprised that the former president continues to not receive the accolades he deserves — including even from conservative supporters — for this generous act. the rest

Florida Quarterback Tebow Leaves Reporters Speechless: "Yes I am" Saving Myself for Marriage

Also says he is grateful that his mother's story has helped women choose not to have an abortion
By John Jalsevac
July 30, 2009

(LifeSiteNews.com) - Last week Florida Gators Quarterback Tim Tebow's photo may have graced the cover of Sports Illustrated, the same magazine that is best known for its annual "swimsuit issue," but the contrast between the two cover stories couldn't have been more glaring.

At 21 years of age and graced with boyish good looks, Tebow is one of the most talked about rising stars of the NCAA; but the football superstar literally left reporters speechless last week when he answered a question during a press conference about whether or not he is "saving himself" for marriage.

"Yes I am," said Tebow briefly, who then indicated he was ready for the next question. However, in the video of the press conference, a reporter is heard stumbling over his words in the background as he tries to ask a follow-up question. Tebow then laughs, obviously reacting to the reactions of the reporters in the room. the rest

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Devotional: Since the days of Pentecost...

Since the days of Pentecost, has the whole church ever put aside every other work and waited upon Him for ten days, that the Spirit's power might be manifested? We give too much attention to method and machinery and resources, and too little to the source of power. ...Jeremy Taylor imageby prakhar

New pro-life campaign will insist that abortion is not health care

Washington D.C.,
Aug 6, 2009

(CNA)- Pro-life advocates hoping to ensure that abortion is not furthered in proposed health care legislation are planning a campaign of public prayer vigils, rallies, lobbying and demonstrations urging “Abortion is Not Health Care.”

The campaign is scheduled to begin on September 12, with a large rally and 28 hours of prayer beginning September 13 on the West Lawn of the Capitol in Washington, D.C. According to a press release from the campaign, it is being organized by the Christian Defense Coalition and other national pro-life organizations.

Campaign goals include ensuring that taxpayer money is not used to pay for abortion and that conscience protections are maintained for healthcare providers who decline to perform abortions. Organizers also hope to prevent federal mandates which require health plans to cover abortions and to prevent the invalidation of state laws restricting abortions. the rest

Cal Thomas: Sebelius to America: Don't Sweat the Details

Activists say no letup for health protests

By ERICA WERNER (AP)
posted August 6, 2009

WASHINGTON — Conservative activists are vowing to keep up their fight against President Barack Obama's health care plans, even as the Democratic Party pushes back hard, accusing Republicans of organizing angry mobs.

Democrats and the White House are claiming that the sometimes rowdy protests that have disrupted Democratic lawmakers' meetings and health care events around the country are largely orchestrated from afar by insurers, lobbyists, Republican Party activists and others.

"This mob activity is straight from the playbook of high-level Republican political operatives," the Democratic National Committee says in a new Web video. "They have no plan for moving our country forward, so they've called out the mob."

Some of the activists who've shown up at town hall meetings held recently by Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., Rep. Steve Kagen, D-Wis., and others are affiliated with loosely connected right-leaning groups, including Conservatives for Patients' Rights and Americans for Prosperity, according to officials at those groups. Some of the activists say they came together during the "Tea Party" anti-big-government protests that happened earlier this year, and they've formed small groups and stayed in touch over e-mail, Facebook and in other ways.

But they insist they're part of a ground-level movement that represents real frustration with government spending and growth. the rest

The Transfiguration of Jesus: 'Tis good, Lord, to be here...

’Tis good, Lord, to be here,
Thy glory fills the night;
Thy face and garments, like the sun,
Shine with unborrowed light.

’Tis good, Lord, to be here,
Thy beauty to behold
Where Moses and Elijah stand,
Thy messengers of old.

Fulfiller of the past,
Promise of things to be,
We hail Thy body glorified
And our redemption see.

Before we taste of death,
We see Thy kingdom come;
We fain would hold the vision bright
And make this hill our home.

’Tis good, Lord, to be here.
Yet we may not remain;
But since Thou bidst us leave the mount,
Come with us to the plain.
...Joseph A. Robinson

Britain's secret mission to expose Scientology leader as 'fraud'

British diplomats compiled evidence 30 years ago that the founder of Scientology, L Ron Hubbard, was a "fraud", according to National Archive papers.
By Alastair Jamieson
06 Aug 2009

Whitehall officials discovered the science-fiction writer, who invented a religion now followed by celebrities such as Tom Cruise, awarded himself a PhD from a sham college he had acquired in California.

The information was gathered in secret by workers at the British consulate in Los Angeles on behalf of the government, which feared a libel action following its 1968 decision to ban followers from entering Britain to visit the sect's headquarters in East Grinstead, West Sussex.

The documents show Britain was not alone in probing Scientology. The dossier of evidence, gathered during the 1970s, included the extraordinary claim by an American official that the sect had sent bogus doctors to hypnotise a legal investigator and declare him ‘mentally ill’ to thwart his inquiries into their activities. the rest

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Devotional: ...we must add a cheerful spirit...

True fidelity consists in obeying God in all things, and in following the light that points out our duty, and the grace which guides us; taking as our rule of life the intention to please God in all things, and to do always not only what is acceptable to Him, but, if possible, what is most acceptable; not trifling with petty distinctions between sins great and small, imperfections and faults, for, though there may be such distinctions, they should have no weight with the soul that is determined to do all His will.

To this sincere desire to do the will of God, we must add a cheerful spirit, that is not overcome when it has failed, but begins again and again to do better; hoping always to the very end to be able to do it; bearing with its own involuntary weakness, as God bears with it; waiting with patience for the moment when it shall be delivered from it; going straight on in singleness of heart, according to the strength that it can command; losing no time by looking back, nor making useless reflections upon its falls, which can only embarrass and retard its progress. ...Francois Fenelon image

Archbishop to Pakistan: Protect Vulnerable Christians

August 5, 2009

Responding to deadly attacks last week by Muslims against Christians in the Diocese of Faisalabad in the Anglican Church of Pakistan, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has called on the government of Pakistan to assure citizens’ protection and see that justice is done.

Muslim extremists are blamed for fires set in Christian neighborhoods in two villages July 30 and August 1, resulting in at least seven deaths and the destruction of more than 175 homes and two churches.

In his August 4 statement, Archbishop Williams called the attacks “an abuse of real faith and an injury to its reputation as well as an outrage against common humanity. The whole country is injured and diminished by the violence that has occurred.” the rest

Albert Mohler: A House Divided?

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Less than a month after the Episcopal Church voted to end its commitment to a moratorium on the election of openly homosexual priests as bishops, one of the largest and most liberal dioceses of the Church has nominated two openly homosexual clergy to election as bishop. The stage is now set for the Episcopal Church to break with the larger Anglican Communion and thus fully to normalize homosexuality within their church.

The diocese of Los Angeles announced Sunday the nomination of six priests as candidates for two openings as auxiliary bishop. Two openly homosexual clergy are on the list, a man and a woman. The Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, Bishop of Los Angeles, affirmed "each and every one of these candidates," noting his pleasure in "the wide diversity they offer this diocese."

Acting just prior to the Diocese of Los Angeles, the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota also announced candidates for election as bishop. The three candidates include the Rev. Bonnie Perry, pastor of All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago, Illinois. According to the Chicago Tribune, Rev. Perry has been in a committed homosexual relationship with another female Episcopal priest for 22 years.

All this adds up to a context of extreme volatility. The Episcopal Church now threatens to turn the Anglican Communion into absolute turmoil. Given the circumstances, the Anglican Communion will have no choice but to act. Conservatives, led by archbishops from the "Global South," have long warned the communion that they and their churches will not accommodate themselves to the normalization of homosexual behavior and relationships. As they rightly recognize, such an accommodation is nothing less than a denial of scriptural authority and an act of defiance against the clear teachings of the Bible. the rest-Don't miss this!
image by Darwin Bell

The End of The Episcopal Church? Not Likely

August 5th, 2009
by Austin Bramwell

The past three weeks have been some of the most momentous in the history of the Anglicanism — by some reckonings, let us not forget, the second largest Christian denomination in the world.

To recap: The Anglican Communion — the global network of national churches symbolically headed by the Archbishop of Canterbury — has been splitting apart ever since The Episcopal Church (historically, the Anglican province in the United States) approved the consecration of a non-celibate gay bishop in 2003. In response, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates of the various Anglican Provinces called for an “Anglican Covenant” that would clarify the Provinces’ duties to one another. In the meantime, they asked TEC to refrain from blessing same-sex unions or consecrating bishops living in sexual relationships outside of marriage. Whether Anglicanism would survive as a global church hinged on whether TEC would honor these moratoria.

As of three weeks ago, we know the answer: No. TEC’s bishops voted overwhelmingly to approve resolutions (i) stating that individuals in same-sex unions may be called to “any ordained ministry” and (ii) calling for the development of liturgies for the blessing of same-sex unions. Despite subsequent tergiversations from TEC, these resolutions constituted a frank repudiation of the Anglican Communion’s call for moratoria.

Two weeks later, the Archbishop of Canterbury issued a long statement announcing that efforts to hold Anglicans together had failed. The Archbishop now envisions a “two-tiered” Anglican church. One tier would be fully Anglican in the sense that member Provinces would be in full communion with one another and abide by the Anglican Covenant. The other tier would be in some as-yet-undefined sense less than fully Anglican – Anglican-identified, perhaps. TEC would clearly fall into the second tier.

Theologically, the outcome is sad but also encouraging. A more coherent Anglican church has emerged out of the crisis. Just a few years ago, even the most optimistic of those who conceive of Anglicanism as a third branch of the one Catholic church (the others being the Roman Catholic church and Eastern Orthodoxy) could not have imagined that the Anglican Provinces would move to strengthen their “instruments of communion” and bind themselves to a common Anglican Covenant. Anglicans have long had to experience their Catholic identity vicariously — that is, by preserving tenuous resemblances to the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox churches, whose claim to be Catholic is not in doubt. Now that vicarious experience is becoming more meaningful. The Archbishop of Canterbury himself argues that Covenant Provinces must, before making decisions, consult not only with each other but also with “ecumenical partners” (i.e., the Roman and other churches). The Vatican, meanwhile, has welcomed the emergence of a more unified Anglicanism. The Anglican Communion may yet become the “third branch” of the Catholic church that the Oxford Movement championed. the rest

Liberals question Archbishop on gay response

Wednesday, 5th August 2009
By Toby Cohen

The liberal backlash has begun against the statement by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, criticising the Episcopal Church’s move to consecrate more partnered gay Bishops and bless same-sex unions.

The English liberal groups have put on a united front in allegiance with the Episcopal Church to face the axis of traditionalists seeking to expel them from the Communion.In Communion, Covenant and our Anglican Future, Dr Williams relegated liberal Churches like the Episcopal Church to an inferior position in a two-tier Communion. the rest

Gov't insurance would allow coverage for abortion



By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR
Associated Press Writer
posted Aug. 5, 2009

WASHINGTON – Health care legislation before Congress would allow a new government-sponsored insurance plan to cover abortions, a decision that would affect millions of women and recast federal policy on the divisive issue.

Federal funds for abortions are now restricted to cases involving rape, incest or danger to the health of the mother. Abortion opponents say those restrictions should carry over to any health insurance sold through a new marketplace envisioned under the legislation, an exchange where people would choose private coverage or the public plan.

Abortion rights supporters say that would have the effect of denying coverage for abortion to millions of women who now have it through workplace insurance and are expected to join the exchange.

Advocates on both sides are preparing for a renewed battle over abortion, which could jeopardize political support for President Barack Obama's health care initiative aimed at covering nearly 50 million uninsured and restraining medical costs.

"We want to see people who have no health insurance get it, but this is a sticking point," said Richard Doerflinger, associate director of pro-life activities for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. "We don't want health care reform to be the vehicle for mandating abortion." the rest

Obamacare: If Health Care Rationing Isn’t on the Agenda, Why Is It Being Pushed So Hard?

A Kidnapped "Fetus"?

Wednesday, August 05, 2009
by Brent Bozell

Darlene Haynes was only 23 years old when another woman brutally slashed her open and removed her 8-month-old baby girl from her womb. Her decomposing body was found on July 27, wrapped in a blanket and dumped in a closet inside her apartment in Worcester, Mass. The body was so mutilated that when they found it, the police said they couldn't immediately determine its gender.

The suspected murderer, 35-year-old Julie Corey, lived in the same apartment building and was found soon after the crime in Plymouth, N.J., claiming the baby was her own.

This heart-rending story is also notorious for how the "pro-choice" media sputter and struggle to deny the humanity of a baby, even as the child is slashed away and stolen by a psychopath. I would highly doubt Corey said to bewildered onlookers, "Look at my new fetus." the rest

US Soldier Impaled By Live RPG and Survives



"The BEST Docs in the world...the reason we will walk into fire and not be afraid."

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Porn pervasive in workplace

By the writing staff
Tuesday, August 04, 2009

A computer based forensics company claims that porn is pervasive on work computer systems.

Sharon Nelson, president of Sensei Enterprises, a Virginia-based computer forensics company said that 26 percent of companies surveyed in the first half of 2009 have fired employees for violating e-mail policies. More than 26 percent have sacked employees for violation of Internet policies.

More than 60 percent of companies surveyed in 2007 were monitoring Internet connections and 65 percent were using software to block Web sites.

Porn appears on law enforcement agencies and government agency computers and has often been used as evidence when employees file sexual harassment or hostile work environment cases, she said. the rest

"Sexting" craze on the rise among children

Aug 4, 2009
By Stefano Ambrogi

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - A growing number of British teenagers are swapping sexually explicit images of themselves on mobile phones leaving them open to bullying and victimization by their peers, police and a children's charity said on Tuesday.

The practice, known as "sexting," has also resulted in intimate images of children being posted on websites used by pedophiles without the knowledge of the sender, according to Britain's Child Exploitation and Online Protection Center (CEOP).

"We are getting an increasing number of reports from the public, children and parents alike, who are concerned about this kind of behavior," said Helen Penn, head of education at CEOP, a law enforcement agency tied to the British police. the rest

American Babies Are Ruining Everything

The truth is more brains will likely mean cleaner energy technologies.
By WILLIAM MCGURN
August 3, 2009

Forget about the birthers, and the nutty claims that Barack Obama was not born in the United States.

More and more, we are hearing from people who might best be described as anti-birthers. Their claims have nothing to do with long- versus short-form Hawaiian birth certificates. Instead, they advance a simple proposition: that the birth of each additional American child is a kind of calamity for the environment.

The most recent example of anti-birth thinking comes from Paul Murtaugh and Michael Schlax of Oregon State University. In a study called “Reproduction and the carbon legacies of individuals,” they suggest that if you truly care about the environment, it’s not enough to trade your SUV for a Prius, use the right lightbulbs, or limit your lawn to organic fertilizers. To the contrary, you need to start thinking about something way more important: i.e., having one less child.

The “basic premise,” the study reports, is that “a person is responsible for emissions of his descendents.” the rest

Fairfax, Va., Board Approves Saudi Academy Plan

Zoning Exemption Opposed by Some Neighbors, Activists
By Michael Birnbaum
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Saudi-funded academy was granted a zoning exemption Monday that allows it to expand at its 34-acre Popes Head Road campus in Fairfax County, culminating a years-long campaign to enlarge the school at that location.

Hearings this spring and summer on the Islamic Saudi Academy's plans drew scores of speakers and brought together in opposition an uneasy alliance of neighbors and critics of the school's curriculum. Many of the neighbors fought the expansion because of traffic concerns. Some of the other opponents came from as far as Florida to speak against the school because of ideological concerns about what it teaches.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, whose permission was required for the expansion, stressed Monday that the 6 to 4 decision was based on zoning questions, not on what happens in the school's classrooms. the rest

Anglicans at Risk of Schism. The Two Roads of the Archbishop of Canterbury

The first for the traditionalists, the second for the modernists. This is the solution that Rowan Williams has devised in order to keep together both those who accept and those who reject sacred orders for gays and lesbians. The Vatican is offering him support
by Sandro Magister

ROME, August 3, 2009 – In a last-ditch attempt to ward off yet another schism among his faithful, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Primate of the Anglican Communion, Rowan Williams (in the photo with his wife Jane), has even asked the Vatican for help. And they've immediately gone running to his aid.

The implicit request for help came in a text that Williams published on July 27 on his website, entitled "Communion, Covenant and Our Anglican Future."

The Vatican's support was expressed in an article in "L'Osservatore Romano" on the following day, and in a statement on July 29 from the pontifical council for Christian unity.

In addressing the 77 million Anglicans in the world, Williams has taken into account the fact that the danger of schism among them is real, especially after the resolutions approved in mid-July by the Anglicans of the United States, where they are called Episcopalians. But he has urged them to do everything possible to remain united. And in order to convince them, he has also pointed to the disaster that schism would bring in ecumenism, the journey to union with the other Churches and Christian communities, and with the Catholic Church first of all. the rest

Pope Benedict album set for holiday release



Friday, July 31, 2009

An album of music and prayers by Pope Benedict will join new releases from the likes of Jay-Z and reality TV contestant Susan Boyle in stores at the end of the year.

Geffen Records, which is owned by Universal Music Group, announced the project on Friday, saying the as-yet-untitled album will be released Nov. 30.

The album features the pontiff singing one prayer and reciting seven others, in different languages. The vocals originate from broadcasts on Vatican Radio, which owns the rights to them.

Accompanying the Pope's portion is the Choir of the Philharmonic Academy of Rome, conducted by Msgr. Pablo Colino.

The contemporary classical music backing tracks are performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, which recorded its part at London's Abbey Road studios. the rest

Liberal Anglicans declare war on conservatives in the Church

From Times Online
August 4, 2009
Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent

Liberals in the Church of England declared war on conservatives including the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams tonight.

Condemning as “flawed” Dr Williams’s recent declaration that the way forward lay in a “twin-track” Anglican Communion, liberals revealed plans to bring in same-sex blessings and gay ordination in England, as has happened in the Episcopal Church in the US.

Their strategy will be to attempt to win the General Synod, the Church’s governing body currently dominated by evangelicals, over to the liberal cause. The opportunity will come next year when the quinquennial elections for a new synod are due.

Liberals from organisations such as Inclusive Church, set up and led by Giles Fraser, the new canon chancellor of St Paul’s, and the long-established Modern Churchpeople’s Union, will attempt to win key seats throughout the Church’s 44 dioceses in what look likely to be the hardest fought elections since the synod came into being in 1970 and which could turn into a battle for the soul of the established Church. the rest

Church of England enjoys revival in France - thanks to Roman Catholic buildings

August 1, 2009
The Times
Adam Sage in Paris

They sing All Things Bright and Beautiful and enjoy tea and coffee with the vicar in the church hall after the service. Welcome to France, where the Church of England is enjoying an unlikely boom — in Roman Catholic churches.

Far from the falling congregations and controversies that have marked recent Anglican history in Britain, French chaplaincies say that they are attracting an increasing number of worshippers. Tomorrow, for instance, hundreds of people will attend services in the Dordogne and other regions that have become home to British expatriates.

Almost all will be held in churches lent by the local Catholic clergy, who are often happy to see otherwise underused buildings resonate to the sound of hymns and prayers, albeit in English.

In St Joseph’s Church in Biarritz, southwest France, for example, Catholics will attend Mass at 9.30am. As they leave an hour and a quarter later, the Rev Peter Dawson and his flock will begin a Church of England service. the rest

Bill Gates an obstacle to new monastery

Julia Duin
Sunday, August 2, 2009

For some unknown reason, I recently began getting slick advertising brochures for "mystic monk" coffee.

Reading further, I realized these 14 monks living at the Carmel of the Immaculate Heart of Mary monastery in Clark, a small town outside of Cody, Wyo., had a sense of humor.

"Yes, we are REAL monks," one of the brochures assured me. Names for their brews ranged from "Hermit's Bold Blend" to "Midnight Vigils Blend," referring to matins and lauds, two nighttime prayer services observed by cloistered monks worldwide.

And one of the discount codes they offered was coded "MARYQUEEN333," a combination of the Virgin Mary and the Trinity, I am guessing.

Why the push to raise funds? Vocations (the term for people called to the religious life or priesthood) are increasing, they say, and they need more room than their packed-to-the-gills single-family home can provide. In the past year, their numbers have nearly doubled to 20.

"It's almost constant, the flow of young men who are coming," said Brother Peter Joseph, a native Kentuckian who joined up in 2004. "When a religious community is faithful to its tradition, God will send the vocations."

But according to the Cody Enterprise, the monks have lost out to a fearsome adversary: billionaire Bill Gates. the rest image

Former Prime Minister Now Professes Christ

01 July 2009
Adrienne S. Gaines

A former prime minister of Ethiopia who spent years as a freedom fighter says he’s on a new mission: to help his nation find freedom through Christ.

“I believe that the gospel is the only solution for my country,” said Tamrat Layne, 54, who served as prime minister of Ethiopia’s transitional government from 1991-1995. “For development, democracy, for politics, for economic development—the only way out, the only key is the gospel.”

A former atheist who embraced communism at age 18, Layne was part of a coalition that ousted Ethiopia’s military regime in 1991 and was a top leader in the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front coalition. In addition to serving as prime minister, Layne was deputy prime minister and defense minister. the rest

Time To Go, Grampa

August 4, 2009
by Patrick J. Buchanan

With “controlling costs” a primary goal of Obamacare, and half of all medical costs coming in the last six months of life, “rationed care” takes on a new meaning for us all.

London’s Telegraph reported Sunday that the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence, known by its Orwellian acronym NICE, intends to slash by 95 percent the number of steroid injections, such as cortisone, given to people who suffer severe and chronic back pain.

“Specialists fear,” said the Telegraph, “tens of thousands of people, mainly the elderly and frail, will be left to suffer excruciating levels of pain or pay as much as 500 pounds each for private treatment.”

Now, twin this story with the weekend Washington Post story about Obamacare’s “proposal to pay physicians who counsel elderly or terminally ill patients about what medical treatment they would prefer near the end of life and how to prepare instructions such as living wills,” and there is little doubt as to what is coming. the rest image by Andrew Beeston

Researchers launch study of ocean garbage patch


Scripps, Project Kaisei set sail on 4-week, $1.1 million inquiry
By Julia Love
July 30, 2009

SAN DIEGO — A plastic vortex of trash twice the size of Texas floats about 1,000 miles off the coast of California, invisible to the naked eye.

Just about the only thing researchers know for sure about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is that it can't be good for the environment. The plastic and toxins it attracts have become a part of the Pacific Ocean's ecosystem, killing everything from fish to birds to sea turtles.

On Sunday, researchers from UCSD's Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla and Project Kaisei, a nonprofit based in San Francisco, will board two ships for a $1.1 million, nearly four-week voyage that will launch the most extensive study of the waterborne landfill to date.

Project Kaisei founder Doug Woodring says his ultimate goal – after several more trips – is to clean up the mess, a feat that several leading researchers have said is impossible. But even in the worst-case scenario, the voyage will raise awareness about the harmful effects of plastic products, Woodring said. the rest

Michelle Malkin On "The View"

Michele Malkin: Into the lion’s den: My encounter with The View

The Anchoress: Michelle Malkin, The View, The Book

Pneumonic plague reported in remote western China

Three deaths and several illnesses are reported. Health officials close access to Ziketan, a town of 10,000 in Qinghai province that is mostly populated by Tibetans.
By Barbara Demick and Joshua Frank
August 4, 2009

Reporting from Beijing -- Chinese health officials have cordoned off a remote western town after three deaths caused by the rare but deadly pneumonic plague.

The victims lived in Ziketan, a town of 10,000 in Qinghai province, which is mostly populated by Tibetans.

The first victim was a 32-year-old herdsman who died Thursday, four days after falling ill with a fever and cough. State radio reported that the man contracted the illness from his dog, which apparently was infected by a flea. The herdsman's 37-year-old neighbor died Sunday and a 64-year-old man died Monday.

Nine other people were reported to be ill or under observation, one of them in critical condition, at the Tibetan Hospital of Xinghai county.
the rest

New HIV strain leapt to humans from gorillas

HERNDON, VA: A Cloud of Witnesses: A Perspective on the 2009 CANA Meeting

by The Rev. Darren Simpson
August 2, 2009

There's something very special that happens when faithful Christians; in this case, Anglicans, meet together to worship, learn, and shape the future of their Church. For nearly a week, that "special something touched everyone that walked into the annual CANA Council Meeting that took place at Church of the Epiphany in Herndon, Virginia.

Pictures of the meeting can be viewed here.

In the midst of the hotbed of hostilities perpetrated by a vengeful and increasingly litigious Episcopal church, (Epiphany is just one of the parishes that the Episcopal church is trying to regain control of), there was a feeling of genuine peace, excitement, and joyful celebration where the Holy Spirit could palpably be felt by one and all.

The whirlwind schedule of lectures, classes, seminars, and council meetings were punctuated by worship and prayer services that reminded me of why I became an Anglican.

There were many different facets of the Anglican Communion represented here. From Anglo-Catholics to Evangelicals and everywhere in-between, there was a place of honor and mutual respect and cooperation that was like a breath of fresh air.

Refreshingly absent from the affair was the banter of liberal, revisionist, and homoerotic activists trying to peddle their agendas and propaganda to the crowds that usually gather at TEC events. There was no one here that denied scriptural integrity and infallibility. No bishop came to the lectern to preach that the doctrine of personal salvation was heresy and error. No denials of the divinity and uniqueness of Jesus Christ.

No, this gathering was gleefully devoid of these distractions.

the rest at Virtueonline

(Having attended this gathering, I can only say "amen" to these observations. I came back home encouraged, refreshed and renewed and eager to go forward to do the work of the kingdom. More photos by Raymond Dague below. -PD)




Quakers call for law change on same-sex weddings

Tuesday, 4th August 2009
By Michael Brown

The Quakers, one of the most respected religious movements in the world, reignited debate on same-gender unions last week after agreeing to perform marriage ceremonies for gay couples.

The body, also known as the Religious Society of Friends, already offers religious blessings to couples in civil partnerships.But last Friday, at its annual meeting at York University, the movement -- long seen as a liberal organisation -- opted to extend this to same-sex weddings.

The Friends will now ask the Government to change the law, which does not recognise gay marriage, to allow Quaker registering officers to register same-gender partnerships in the same way as marriages.

the rest

Monday, August 03, 2009

Devotional: This is the deep mystery of prayer...

"Likewise also the Spirit helpeth our infirmities; for we know not what to pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God" Rom. 8:26, 27

This is the deep mystery of prayer. This is the delicate divine mechanism which words cannot interpret, and which theology cannot explain, but which the humblest believer knows even when he does not understand.

Oh, the burdens that we love to bear and cannot understand! Oh, the inarticulate out-reachings of our hearts for things we cannot comprehend! And yet we know they are an echo from the throne and a whisper from the heart of God. It is often a groan rather than a song, a burden rather than a buoyant wing. But it is a blessed burden, and it is a groan whose undertone is praise and unutterable joy. It is "a groaning which cannot be uttered." We could not ourselves express it always, and sometimes we do not understand any more than that God is praying in us, for something that needs His touch and that He understands.

And so we can just pour out the fullness of our heart, the burden of our spirit, the sorrow that crushes us, and know that He hears, He loves, He understands, He receives; and He separates from our prayer all that is imperfect, ignorant and wrong, and presents the rest, with the incense of the great High Priest, before the throne on high; and our prayer is heard, accepted and answered in His name. ...AB Simpson image-rawkblog4

Robert P. George: Gay Marriage, Democracy, and the Courts

AUGUST 3, 2009

We are in the midst of a showdown over the legal definition of marriage. Though some state courts have interfered, the battle is mainly being fought in referenda around the country, where “same-sex marriage” has uniformly been rejected, and in legislatures, where some states have adopted it. It’s a raucous battle, but democracy is working.

Now the fight may head to the U.S. Supreme Court. Following California’s Proposition 8, which restored the historic definition of marriage in that state as the union of husband and wife, a federal lawsuit has been filed to invalidate traditional marriage laws.

It would be disastrous for the justices to do so. They would repeat the error in Roe v. Wade: namely, trying to remove a morally charged policy issue from the forums of democratic deliberation and resolve it according to their personal lights.

Even many supporters of legal abortion now consider Roe a mistake. Lacking any basis in the text, logic or original understanding of the Constitution, the decision became a symbol of the judicial usurpation of authority vested in the people and their representatives. It sent the message that judges need not be impartial umpires—as both John Roberts and Sonia Sotomayor say they should be—but that judges can impose their policy preferences under the pretext of enforcing constitutional guarantees. the rest

Queen Elizabeth II must apologize, says the Episcopal Church

3rd August 2009
By George Conger

The Queen must apologize for the wrongs committed by Henry VII and repudiate the “Christian Doctrine of Discovery,” the 76th General Convention of the Episcopal Church has declared.

On July 17, the triennial meeting of the Episcopal Church’s synod endorsed resolution D035: Repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery. The doctrine, “which originated with Henry VII in 1496, held that Christian sovereigns and their representative explorers could assert dominion and title over non-Christian lands with the full blessing and sanction of the Church,” the resolution explained. The principle of the “Doctrine of Discovery” arose in 1493 when Pope Alexander VI gave Spain and Portugal the right to claim non-Christian lands in the new world and Africa, while Henry VII authorized John Cabot to take possession of all lands discovered for the Crown.

Beginning in 1823 the US Supreme Court held that Henry’s charter provided the legal basis for the American government’s ownership of Indian lands as Indian tribes were not independent nations, but “domestic dependent nations”. the rest

RU 486 Users Risk Automatic Excommunication

Bishop Elio Sgreccia says use of it incurs "automatic excommunication", but Archbishop Fisichella refuses to concur
By Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
ROME, August 3, 2009

(LifeSiteNews.com) - When the Italian drug agency approved the sale of the deadly abortion drug RU 486 late Thursday night, senior Vatican officials responded strongly saying that doctors who prescribe it and the women who take it risk excommunication. The Italian Pharmaceuticals Agency (AIFA) said the drug, to be sold under the brand name Mifegyne, would not be sold in pharmacies and only be administered by physicians in hospitals.

Bishop Elio Sgreccia, a bioethics professor, author and former vice-president of the Pontifical Academy for Life (PAV) told Corriere della Sera newspaper, "This is a compound which kills the foetus and one much promoted by the pharmaceutical industry. It is an incitement to abort. It is absolutely unacceptable and leads to automatic excommunication."

He added, "First abortion was legalised to stop it being clandestine, but now doctors are washing their hands of it and transferring the burden of conscience to women." the rest

Four earthquakes hit Mexico’s Gulf of California

August 3rd, 2009

(CNN) — Four earthquakes — with magnitudes of 5.8, 6.9, 5.0 and 5.9 respectively — struck nearly next to each other in the Gulf of California, between the western Mexican states of Baja California and Sonora, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. There were no immediate reports of damage.

Two earthquakes hit within minutes of each other, just before 11 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time (2 p.m. ET). A third one hit about 30 minutes later and a fourth 10 minutes after that.

All four quakes occurred at a depth of about 6 miles, the USGS reported. the rest

Report: 6.9 Magnitude Earthquake Hits Mexico's Gulf of California

Episcopal dioceses are fast to list gay nominees for bishop

Aug 03, 2009

Less than three weeks ago the Episcopal Church cleared the decks for full participation by openly gay members -- all the way up to the role of bishop. And already, two dioceses are nominating gay and lesbian candidates for that role, despite the clear dismay of the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, head of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

In a way, the issue is moving full circle. The election of the church's first gay bishop, Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, was ratified at the Church's tri-annual governing meeting in Minneapolis in 2003. Late last week, the Diocese of Minnesota announced that one of three nominees for bishop is a lesbian priest from Chicago. The vote will be held at the diocesan convention in October.

The most recent governing meeting -- where a de facto moratorium on electing and confirming gay bishops was voted down by Church leadership -- was in Anaheim in July. And this weekend the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles released a slate of six nominees for suffragan bishop including two who are gay. The vote will come in early December. the rest

Minnesota Episcopal Diocese considering lesbian for bishop

2 Episcopal Dioceses Announce Openly Gay Ministers as Nominees for Bishop

Julia Duin: Episcopalians race to elect a gay bishop

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Bishop David Bena: “Mrs. Jefforts Schori, tear down this wall!”

Bp. Bena speaking to the ordinands
(photo-Raymond Dague)

(This is the text of Bp. Bena's sermon at the ordination of the three military chaplains at CANA Council on August 1, 2009. It is very providential in its timing in the light of Mrs. Shori's recent letter to the House of Bishops. -Pat Dague)

“And we all, with unveiled faces, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” 2 Cor 3:18

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

I have indeed been given a gift by Bishop Minns, to preach at your ordination, gentlemen. I am excited that you as chaplains are being ordained into the Anglican Communion.

Three points to today’s sermon – unveiled faces, transformation, your ministry.

Let’s start with the first point: unveiled faces. Do you have camouflaged uniforms? I’m sure you do. The idea is that by wearing your uniform and maybe some coloring of your face and hands, you can blend in with the terrain, either sand colored or forested, and even though you’re right there, you are veiled from the sight of the enemy. I don’t know if Paul knew about camouflage, but that’s what he is talking about when he declares, “and we all, with unveiled faces, behold the glory of God.” He’s referring to Moses in Exodus 34:33. When Moses spoke with God, his face would shine with splendor. His face was unveiled before God. But the people couldn’t handle the great shining. They did not have the courage. So he wore a veil before them. Even though he was right there with them, they would not have to look upon the shining. In a sense, Paul states in second Corinthians that the people couldn’t see behind the veil. They did not see the splendor of being with the Lord. Even though the Lord was right there with them, he was camouflaged. They had to depend on Moses to look upon the shekinah glory of the Lord with an unveiled face.

In Second Corinthians, Paul talks of Jesus getting rid of the camouflage. Because Jesus, God incarnate, died for our sins and was physically resurrected, he tore away the veil. And because of Jesus, you and I, if we have the courage, can confess our sins, accept Jesus into our lives, and begin to behold the glory of God. Listen again to the words of Paul, “and we all, with unveiled faces, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

I remember once being deployed to a base in the Egyptian desert. One hundred troopers living out there in an old Russian compound with resupply only once a week. People got a little testy at times in that environment. There was a lot of soul searching. There was one man who was going through a great trial in his soul. After getting to know me as his chaplain, he asked one day if we might take a walk. As we walked, he bared his soul, his lack of confidence in his abilities, his fear of God, and his ambivalence about even staying alive. I listened to him; I loved him; I explained the gospel love of God to him; and I prayed aloud for him. That day the veil between God and this man was torn away, from top to bottom. God reached down and touched his life, and he was transformed right there in the Sahara Desert. It was a beautiful thing. I got a letter from him several years later stating that he had become a spirit-filled catholic Christian. Alleluia!

But many today still don’t see Jesus because of the veil. They’re not able to rejoice at seeing the shekinah glory of God. Why is that?

For some, the veil is still there because they can’t seem to repent and turn away from their favorite sin or addiction or material fixation. Until we can let go of the sin which binds us, the love of God does not penetrate us and we don’t behold his glory. As chaplains, you’re called upon to represent Christ, and us, to an often marginalized portion of American society- armed forces personnel and their families. You’re called to help tear down the veils that prevent people from being saved and living in glory. Sometimes that takes just being honest about where we see our people are stuck. And telling them the truth.

Which brings a second reason the veil is still there for some. They listen to religious leaders who teach bad religion, who don’t tell them the truth. For a Christian leader to stand and say, with the whole nation listening in, that personal salvation is a heresy? In my humble opinion, that teaching insults our Heavenly Father, who wishes each one of us to have a personal, saving relationship with his Son. Perhaps this leader has not read, marked, heeded and inwardly digested Romans 10:9, “because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” and a thousand other passages from the scriptures covering the same subject are there, just lookin’ at ya.

I’m happy to say that many people to whom this unfortunate statement was made a few weeks ago recognize it to be false teaching, teaching which is not true. Many have heard this type teaching so often that they are leaving denominations which teach such unchristian things. The veil has been removed from their eyes and they want freedom and truth in their church. They are leaving these denominations for churches which teach the gospel truth. And that’s where we have some trouble today.

You see, it’s about property. Congregations who want to leave are often prevented from leaving because they fear they will lose their property. Even though they built and maintained their property and the deeds are in the name of the congregation, they are in danger of having their properties taken from them if that denomination can convince the court that said denomination is a hierarchical church and that a controversial church canon which somehow got in the canons in 1979 gives the denomination the right to own all buildings. This is a sin against us, brothers and sisters. This litigation to take these buildings from their owners, which is being visited across our country, is like the communist wall during the cold war. The communists did not want anyone to leave so they built a wall to prevent escape. What they wound up with by building this fearsome wall was a group of resentful people who mostly gave up hope for freedom and found escape in their minds through addictive behaviors. And that’s what is happening in much of that denomination today. The veil is over their faces. This wall of litigation is killing the people of that denomination. It is crippling them of any spiritual growth. The wall of litigation must come down. And so I say humbly as one sinner to another,

“ Mrs. Jefforts Schori, tear down this wall!”

Lift the litigation. Let all Episcopalians freely decide which Anglicanism they wish to follow in America. And have the decency to allow them to take with them the buildings they erected and maintained, and on whose deeds are their names. Let my people go! And then the veil will be lifted, and people will see the shekinah glory of our Lord, and will be transformed.

Which brings us to point two: transformation. Once the veil is lifted and we can gaze at the shekinah glory of our Lord, we begin to change, to be transformed. What is this word transformation?

As we have studied the word transformation, we know it is the English word for metamorphein, metamorphosis. A worm becomes a beautiful butterfly through the process of metamorphosis. Theologically speaking, that same spiritual process happens in us, moving us from a sin-filled, worm-like existence into a forgiven, beautiful, butterfly existence. Paul likens the result to looking in a mirror and being surprised to see the glory of God on our faces. All of us look in the mirror from time to time. It can be a pretty scary experience as you get older. One woman, looking into her mirror, asked her husband, “honey, you don’t think I look fifty, do you?” and his absent minded response was, “no. Not anymore.” there will be big trouble in that house tonight…
And one of the neat things about being a chaplain is that while you are being transformed more and more into Christ’s likeness, you are right there in the trenches helping our people become profoundly transformed. You are God’s catalysts for transformation among armed forces personnel and their families. I still remember a middle aged commander of troops asking me to go for a ride with him. As we drove along in his jeep, he described his angst, which was making him behave and think in bizarre ways. Eventually I got what he was saying: he was going into a mid-life crisis. He just didn’t know he was middle aged. Nor did he know that this “disease” threatens only 100% of middle aged men. Because he trusted me as his chaplain, God was able to use me to touch his life, to pray for him and to give him some spiritual reading material which dealt with mid-life crises. And he was transformed from an unhealthy, forty-five year old teenager into a holy and healthy middle aged guy. And a lot of the people under his command were thrilled about his transformation.

So the veil is lifted in us and in the people God has given us – point one. We are transformed and enabled to be midwives of transformation in the lives of the people God has given us – point two. That leaves point three: putting it together in your ministry as chaplains.

There is a full length mirror on the way out of a barracks at marine corps air station, Kanoehe, Hawaii. And a sign beside the mirror says, ‘You are a marine. Do you look like one?’ The sign doesn’t say, ‘you can be a marine if you look sharp.’ They already are marines. They’re just being reminded about how they are called to represent the marine corps. ‘You are a marine. Do you look like one?’ And so I say to you chaplains, and to all Christians gathered here this morning: “You are a minister for Christ. Do you look like one?” For we all are called to see Christ with unveiled faces, to be profoundly transformed from a life that is sin-centered to a life that is Christ-centered, and to assist others to know Christ.

You have a unique ministry, chaplains, as you fulfill that call. You are to be a visible reminder of the holy to a very violent world. That’s your ministry – to bring the love of Christ to a population that has to use or threaten the use of controlled violence as a way of quelling chaotic, evil violence. You are a visible sign of the holy.

So if you will please stand, chaplains, I will give you your charge. It is also from second Corinthians – this time chapter five, verses 17-20, slightly personalized –“since you are in Christ, chaplains, you are a new creation. The old has passed away. Your new life has come. All this is from God, who through Christ has reconciled you to himself and has given you the ministry of reconciliation; that is, God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to you the message of reconciliation… so you are ambassadors for Christ in the armed forces, God making his appeal through you.” May God continue to bless you in this most important ministry.

A Message from the Presiding Bishop on Property Issues

August 1st, 2009
by Katharine Jefferts Schori

To the House of Bishops:

I am immensely grateful to all of you for the way in which we conducted ourselves at General Convention. There was enormous pastoral sensitivity and real caring for those with different opinions, and I firmly hope that kind of compassion continues to be boldly expressed. When we are in deeply faithful relationship as brothers and sisters in Christ we can indeed move mountains, as Sandra Montes reminded us in Montaña – "si tuvieras fe como un grano de mostaza, tú le dirías a la montaña, muévete, esa montaña se moverá" (if you have faith like a mustard seed, you will say to the mountain, "move." and it will move).

I appreciated the conversation we had about property issues over two-plus afternoons, yet we weren’t able to hear from all, and I don’t think we finished. There is indeed more to be said, and a little more than an hour simply wasn’t adequate to the task. The Council of Advice engaged me in a lengthy phone conference shortly before General Convention, and did reach a reasonable consensus, so I know it’s possible. We can take this up again in March if you wish.

I will continue to uphold two basic principles in the work some of us face in dealing with former Episcopalians who claim rights to church property or assets. Our participation in God’s mission as leaders and stewards of The Episcopal Church means that we expect a reasonable and fair financial arrangement in any property settlement, and that we do not make settlements that encourage religious bodies who seek to replace The Episcopal Church.

Pragmatically, the latter means property settlements need to include a clause that forbids, for a period of at least five years, the presence of bishops on the property who are not members of this House, unless they are invited by the diocesan bishop for purposes which do not subvert mission and ministry in the name of this Church. the rest

Comments at Stand Firm

Astronomers Look for Clues in the Wake of the Jupiter Collision

Something invaded our solar system and whacked Jupiter, but professional astronomers were looking the other way at the time. Now, as the shock wave slowly subsides, astronomers are working around the clock to find out exactly what hit Jupiter–and why they didn't see it coming.
By Andrew Moseman
July 31, 2009

The biggest astronomy sighting of the year happened last week, and the world's professional astronomers missed it. Anthony Wesley, an amateur astronomer from Australia, spotted a tiny dark patch on Jupiter from his backyard telescope. Something had crashed into the solar system's largest planet, but no one saw exactly what it was. By the time Wesley called the pros, only the scar was left behind, evidence that couuld change or fade into oblivion at any time. Now scientists are racing to find clues of what happened and solve the mystery before it's too late. the rest image-NASA

Beleaguered Is The Peacemaker

The archbishop of Canterbury's latest move to prevent a schism in the worldwide Anglican Communion leaves both sides unhappy.
By Jacqueline L. Salmon
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 1, 2009

T he archbishop of Canterbury, the spiritual leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion, is not a popular man these days. Beset from both sides of his fractured flock, it seems that he can't do anything right.

His latest proposal to hold together the warring factions, a two-track system that could give his rebellious U.S. Episcopal Church a secondary role in the Communion, has disappointed just about everyone.

"It's well meaning but, I think, a futile attempt to paper over two irreconcilable truth claims," said Bishop Martyn Minns, former rector of Truro Church in Fairfax City, who heads a group of congregations that has broken from the Episcopal Church because its members think that the church does not follow the Bible closely enough.

Those on the other side aren't happy either. the rest

Eight Christians burnt to death in Pakistan

From The Times
August 3, 2009

Paramilitary troops patrolled the streets of a town in eastern Pakistan yesterday after Muslim radicals burnt to death eight members of a Christian family, raising fears of violence spreading to other areas.

Hundreds of armed supporters of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, an outlawed Islamic militant group, set alight dozens of Christian homes in Gojra town at the weekend after allegations that a copy of the Koran had been defiled.

The mob opened fire indiscriminately, threw petrol bombs and looted houses as thousands of frightened Christians ran for safety. “They were shouting anti-Christian slogans and attacked our houses,” Rafiq Masih, a resident of the predominantly Christian colony, said. Residents said that police stood aside while the mob went on the rampage. “We kept begging for protection, but police did not take action,” Mr Masih said. the rest

Conservative Anglicans Celebrate Growth; Lament Episcopal Actions

Bp. Minns and Maj. Michael Baumann at his ordination to the diaconate on August 1, 2009. Maj. Baumann is currently serving in the U.S. Army at Fort Drum in NY.

By Lillian Kwon
Christian Post Reporter
Sat, Aug. 01 2009

Conservative Anglican leader the Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns has a message for the Archbishop of Canterbury: "We're here; we're doing the work of Gospel; we are within the Anglican mainstream; and we are doing the very things that he declares that we should be about."

But he can't say the same for The Episcopal Church.

Minns celebrated the growth of his breakaway group, the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, this week during their third annual council in Herndon, Va.

It's a story of redemption, Minns said Friday. "Birthed because of a disaster, the abandonment of biblical Christianity by the leadership of [The] Episcopal Church," CANA grew by 15 congregations and 30 clergy during the last year, bringing the total to now 85 congregations and 179 clergy in 25 states.

And there is growing interest among Anglicans in the United States to join CANA and other conservative groups comprised of churches that left The Episcopal Church – the U.S. branch of Anglicanism. the rest (picture by Raymond Dague)

Both sides unhappy with archbishop of Canterbury
By Jacqueline L. Salmon
Washington Post / August 2, 2009

WASHINGTON - The archbishop of Canterbury, the spiritual leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion, is not a popular man these days. Beset from both sides of his fractured flock, it seems that he can’t do anything right.

His latest proposal to hold together the warring factions, a two-track system that could give his rebellious US Episcopal Church a secondary role in the Communion, has disappointed just about everyone.

“It’s well meaning, but, I think, a futile attempt to paper over two irreconcilable truth claims,’’ said Bishop Martyn Minns, former rector of Truro Church in Fairfax City, Va., who heads a group of congregations that has broken from the Episcopal Church because its members think the church does not follow the Bible closely enough...