..The Church of England has just released what is known as the Pilling Report, the conclusions of a Working Group commissioned by the House of Bishops to report and make recommendations on issues of human sexuality. I am sorry to say that it is very flawed. If this report is accepted I have no doubt that the Church of England, the Mother Church of the Communion, will have made a fateful decision. It will have chosen the same path as The Episcopal Church of the United States and the Anglican Church of Canada with all the heartbreak and division that will bring.
The problem is not simply that the Report proposes that parish churches should be free to hold public services for the blessing of homosexual relationships, but the way it justifies this proposal. Against the principle of Anglican teaching, right up to and beyond the Lambeth Conference of 1998, it questions the possibility that the Church can speak confidently on the basis of biblical authority and sees its teaching as essentially provisional. So Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth conference, which affirmed that homosexual practice was ‘incompatible with Scripture’ and said it could ‘not advise the legitimisation or blessing of same sex relationships’, is undermined both in practice and in principle.
The proposal to allow public services for the blessing of same sex relationships is seen as a provisional measure and the Report recommends a two-year process of ‘facilitated conversation’ throughout the Church of England which is likened to the ‘Continuing Indaba’ project. This should be a warning to us because it highlights that the unspoken assumption of Anglican Indaba is that the voice of Scripture is not clear. This amounts to a rejection of the conviction expressed in the Thirty-nine Articles that the Bible as ‘God’s Word written’ is a clear and effective standard for faith and conduct.
As a matter of conscience, one member of the Working Group, the Rt Rev’d Keith Sinclair, Bishop of Birkenhead, was unable to sign the Report. He issued a dissenting statement which I strongly endorse as an alternative way forward which honours the authority of Scripture and expresses a deep pastoral concern for the transforming power of the gospel in a society which is moving into ever greater confusion about sexual morality and identity.
We should pray earnestly that the English House of Bishops steps back from endorsing this Report, but the developing situation in the Church of England, the historic Mother Church of the Communion, underlines the need for our Global Fellowship to build on the success of GAFCON 2013 and implement our commitments. As we noted in the Nairobi Communiqué, the GFCA is becoming an ‘ important and effective instrument of Communion during a period in which other instruments of Communion have failed both to uphold gospel priorities in the Church, and to heal the divisions among us.’
we repent of our sins
and ask for saving grace
to rescue us from impending
In every imaginable way
we have strayed from your
paths; gone to bed with Satan
and allowed the Spirit of Babel
to deceive us.
Deliver us from false cries of “revelance”;
disperse the darkness with your fiery light.
Let the evil one taste
afresh the blade of your Word.
Let Christ’s truth strengthen
us, especially the brethren in
the COE. Stir hearts and raise
a mighty intercession for your
Holy Bride in the UK.
Grant wisdom to your Bishops
as they deliberate over the report
and give them, especially the ones
who love your Word, the courage
to stand firm and to
testify to the Truth. Bind them
close to yourself, as they
speak the truth in love. Let
Holy resolve prevail in this dark
Recommendation 16. We believe that there can be circumstances where a priest,
with the agreement of the relevant PCC, should be free to mark the
formation of a permanent same sex relationship in a public service
but should be under no obligation to do so. Some of us do not
believe that this can be extended to same sex marriage. (Paragraphs
120, 380–3) [Pilling Report Page 151]
Read it all and the 18 recommendations on pages 149 to 152
The Bishop of Birkenhead has issued a dissenting report at page 119 including:
after much prayer and soul searching, I have concluded I cannot sign.
As Justin Reckers watched his parents go through a nasty divorce, the wrenching experience gave him a first-hand view of some the worst mistakes couples can make when parting ways.
It also helped shape his career choice. He is now chief executive of Pacific Divorce Management and director of financial planning at Pacific Wealth Management.
Mr. Reckers describes his parent's breakup, which occurred just as he graduated college, as "probably the worst possible divorce scenario you could imagine." There were angry confrontations and the couple ended up bankrupt, he said....
Now 32, the son wants to help others find a less troubled path.Read it all.
While at Taizé, I felt called by God to choose the unique experience of spending the week in silence. This meant that I would join a small group of other pilgrims staying in the quiet and quaint village of Taizé in a house near the main grounds. The accommodations were simple and comfortable, providing a private room to be fully immersed in the gift of silence.
Spending a week in silence may not immediately sound like the kind of experience to put at the top of your bucket list. Yet this experience was so formational, I would not hesitate to do it again. It was initially challenging to allow my mind to become quiet and my spirit to settle, but after the first few days, my rhythm became one of great joy in silence. I would spend the morning reading scripture and in the afternoon, I would take time for personal prayer, enjoy a holy nap, and walk through the beautiful French countryside. While the days themselves seemed to pass slowly, the week went by very quickly.
Besides the inspiring prayer services, a poignant part of my week was sitting at the table and sharing meals with my fellow pilgrims. We gathered for meals in a beautiful common room that overlooked the hills of Burgundy. As each meal began, the aroma of freshly peeled tangerines filled the room. The only spoken words that broke the silent fellowship were the Taizé prayers we sang before eating. Each face around the table was of a different nationality—French, German, American, and others. As we served each other in the sacred silence, the real blessing was that we spoke the common language of service to one another. In these moments at mealtime, it was as if I were joining Jesus and the disciples at the table of servanthood.
Billy Graham has gotten weaker since celebrating his 95th birthday at a celebrity-studded party last month in Asheville, but he is “not in any imminent danger,” and his “vital signs are quite good,” Graham spokesman Mark DeMoss told the Observer in an email on Sunday.
DeMoss, citing Graham’s medical and personal staff, said Graham has not been as strong lately as he was at the Nov. 7 party at the Omni Grove Park Inn, but that his health is not as dire as some news reports have suggested.
Those reports were reacting to recent comments by Franklin Graham, son of the Charlotte-born evangelist.
The prominent family division judge announced last month that he is to retire early from the bench in April next year, saying he wanted to concentrate on his foundation which works to bring down the divorce rate.
But he has now disclosed that the lack of “support” he received from the legal profession for his stance on marriage was a crucial factor in that decision.
In an interview with The Tablet he said that he could have continued in his role for several more years had it not been for this.
The Atlantic has a story out about how the aging of the baby boom will lead to a housing crash. I am skeptical, because research I am doing with Hyojung Lee suggests that old people do not move out of their homes very much, and so as boomers age, they will not be glutting the market with their houses.
But there is another reason to think that the homeownership rate could fall: people are getting married at a decreasingly low rate. Susan Brown at Bowling Green has a study that shows that the marriage rate has dropped by 60 percent since 1970; right now slightly less than half of American households are married couple households. As recently as 1960, 3/4 of American households were married couple households.
Aside from a pastor's personal weaknesses, what cultural forces make it harder for pastors to stay true in their calls?
We have a cultural tendency to elevate leaders. Maybe it's because they have an extraordinary education or a title or a position. Maybe it is because they have had a great deal of success in the growth of their church, or as an author or speaker. Whatever the reason, we're creating minigods in our minds and hearts. That creates expectations in leaders, and expectations are the foundations for disappointment.
What does that look like in a local church?
Maybe the pastor receives disproportionately large gifts compared to what's given to associates or other staff. Or the senior pastor is seen as the person that we all go to. It's people saying, "The pastor sat at my table," or, "The pastor was over at my house." As if the pastor is a movie star or sports figure.
I don't know how many times in Peacemakers' work, after coming in to help a church, I've heard elders say, "I wanted to say something, but I thought, Who am I?" We elevate pastors to a place where we feel they know so much more than we do, so we don't hold them accountable to some fundamental issues.
Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, the Most Revd Thabo Makgoba wrote a prayer:
"Go forth, revolutionary and loving soul, on your journey out of this world, in the name of God, who created you, suffered with you and liberated you. Go home Madiba, you have selflessly done all that is good, noble and honourable for God’s people.
"We will continue where you have left off, the Lord being our helper. We now turn to you, Lord, in this hour of darkness, sadness, pain and death, in tears and mourning. We wail, yet we believe that you will console us, that you will give us the strength to hold in our hearts and minds, and the courage to enact in our lives, the values Madiba fought and stood for....
Doctors choose the more expensive drug more than half a million times every year, a choice that costs the Medicare program, the largest single customer, an extra $1 billion or more annually.
Spending that much may make little sense for a country burdened by ever-rising health bills, but as is often the case in American health care, there is a certain economic logic: Doctors and drugmakers profit when more-costly treatments are adopted.
Genentech, a division of the Roche Group, makes both products but reaps far more profit when it sells the more expensive drug. Although Lucentis is about 40 times as expensive as Avastin to buy, the cost of producing the two drugs is similar, according to scientists familiar with the drugs and the industry.
I for one applauded the move of John Paul II to explain that Episcopal Conferences, unlike the Universal Roman Primacy and unlike the Local Primacy of the Bishop in his own Church, do not have any existence by divine right. And I very much doubt if the papal title 'Patriarch of the West' is any older than the Byzantinising of Pope Gregory I. And so when Benedict XVI, as one of his first moves, divested himself in the Annuario Pontificio of the title 'Patriarch of the West', "Goodie", I cried, "at last we have pope who knows what he isn't".
We Anglican Catholics know what Intermediate Primacies can lead to if left without a check or a balance. They can lead to the mess that the Anglican Communion finds itself in. They lead to the concept of the Infallible Local Synod whose heretical decisions are irreformable.
Leaders: what kind of culture are you fostering in your ministry? In a world ever more primed for speed and convenience, should the church lean into the trend or cling to more grounded values? Engage this piece from Craig Detweiler, and respond in the comments.
Jeff Bezos is a brilliant man and a remarkable marketer. He realizes that in the wake of Steve Jobs’ death, the role of technologist-in-chief is up for grabs. And while Google is offering us Glass and Facebook and Twitter are aggregating our friends and followers, Amazon is appealing to a different felt need—for speed. By turning 60 Minutes into a platform to announce “drone delivery,” Bezos shifted the news cycle towards Amazon on the same day that Christians have traditionally initiated Advent. While people of faith were shifting into a season of waiting and anticipation, Amazon offered the promise of “Prime Air” that could go above and beyond UPS or Federal Express to deliver our choices in an even faster, more convenient manner—via octocopters.
It doesn’t really matter when this innovation will arrive. By getting us talking and thinking about the virtues of Amazon’s delivery methods, Bezos enjoyed a miraculous public relations coup.
Maybe it's the waning light and earlier evenings as we head into winter. Or the book I just read on the effects of environmental toxins on fetal development and breast milk quality. Or the upcoming anniversary of the Newtown shootings. Whatever the reasons, as we enter Advent, I am increasingly aware of the darkness of this world into which I am bringing my child, due any day now.
It's a deeply disturbing realization. Welcome, little one, to a place where kids are shot in schools and on street corners, wars rage, and corporate interests often trump the common good. The things I see and hear about every day rattle my heart with worry.
Growing up with an overprotective mother, I told myself would never be that fearful and worried about my own children. Now, I realize it is only natural....
Mobile distributed computing paradigm will lead to explosion of new services.
Mobile and cloud computing are converging to create a new platform—one that has the potential to provide unlimited computing resources. Mobile devices are constrained by their memory, processing power, and battery life. But combined with cloud computing, data processing and storage can happen outside of mobile devices. What IDC calls the "Third Platform" will allow for better synchronization of data, improved reliability and scalability, increased ease of integration, anytime-anywhere access to business applications and collaborative services, rich user experiences, and an explosion of new services.
IEEE Computer Society resources: Rock Stars of Mobile Cloud, scheduled for 6 May in Boston, will cover insights into this emerging paradigm shift from leaders in the field.
2. From Internet of Things to Web of Things
Need connectivity, internetworking to link physical and digital.
The live broadcast of Holy Eucharist from St Helena's, Beaufort, SC [pictured] today has ended but the service will be available to listen to each Sunday at 10:15 am Eastern Time [3:15 pm London Time] here
Sermons are available here
Almighty God, who hast revealed thyself to us in Jesus Christ thy Son, and given thy Word and Spirit to testify of him: We bless thee for the men of faith whom thou didst inspire to write the holy Scriptures; for the labours of all who have preserved, copied, and translated them; for the wisdom given to those who have interpreted them; and for that measure of light and understanding thou hast granted unto us; and we pray that, learning what is thy will, we may ever obey thee and live to thy glory; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.
“Woe to those who are at ease in Zion,
and to those who feel secure on the mountain of Samar′ia,
the notable men of the first of the nations,
to whom the house of Israel come!
Pass over to Calneh, and see;
and thence go to Hamath the great;
then go down to Gath of the Philistines.
Are they better than these kingdoms?
Or is their territory greater than your territory,
O you who put far away the evil day,
and bring near the seat of violence?
World War II pilot Henry Heim, now 92, says he can still hear the sounds of the attack on Pearl Harbor vividly.
Looking back on the fateful morning of December 7, 1941, when Japanese bombers pounded the U.S. Pacific fleet, Americans like Heim are marking the anniversary on Saturday with solemn public ceremonies and private moments of reflection.
The surprise Japanese air and naval assault on the Hawaiian island of Oahu claimed 2,390 American lives and drew the United States into World War II.
The demonstration necropsy at the Charleston Animal Society was one element of a comprehensive program that is attracting attention nationally. The society’s education team developed the Veterinary Science Initiative, which is offered throughout Lowcountry classrooms in an effort to expose students to veterinary science and the shelter’s work.
“There aren’t a lot of resources in shelters, so if you’re going to invest time and money, you better make sure it’s effective and it hits multiple goals,” Tisa said. “The primary focus is getting kids interested in science.”
Read it all from the front page of yesterday's local paper.
Iain Dale: You said once that you’re always averse to the language of exclusion and what we’re called to do is love in the same way as Jesus Christ loves us, how do you reconcile that with the church’s attitude on gay marriage?
Justin Welby: I think that the problem with the gay marriage proposals is that they don’t actually include people equally, it’s called equal marriage, but the proposals in the Bill don’t do that. I think that where there is… I mean I know plenty of gay couples whose relationships are an example to plenty of other people and that’s something that’s very important, I’m not saying that gay relationships are in some way… you know that the love that there is is less than the love there is between straight couples, that would be a completely absurd thing to say. And civil partnership is a pretty… I understand why people want that to be strengthened and made more dignified, somehow more honourable in a good way. It’s not the same as marriage…
Iain Dale: But if it could be made to work in a way that’s acceptable to the church you would be open to discussions on that?
Justin Welby: We are always open to discussions, we’ve been open to discussion, we’re discussing at the moment. The historic teaching of the church around the world, and this is where I remember that I’ve got 80 million people round the world who are Anglicans, not just the one million in this country, has been that marriage in the traditional sense is between a man and woman for life. And it’s such a radical change to change that.
I think we need to find ways of affirming the value of the love that is in other relationships without taking away from the value of marriage as an institution.
As planned, the Diocese filed a motion today in response to the TEC parties' petition for rehearing before the state Supreme Court. Our response was submitted at the request of the Court. You may read it [at the link provided when you click below].
Which bill in Congress affects the deficit, abortion funding, gay rights, religious liberty, peace, nuclear arms, Israel, and even homeschooling? The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
We reviewed the lobbying activity of over 300 religious interest groups. Of the over 500 bills that these interest groups lobbied on over the past two years, the annual defense spending bills were, by far, the biggest target of their advocacy.
The Pilling Report has one goal: to legitimize an ongoing dialogue about normalizing homosexual relationships in the church's life. In my opinion, this goal is incompatible with Lambeth Resolution I.10 and the position of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans.
Nearly eighteen years ago, the Episcopal Church USA initiated a process called "Continuing the Dialogue" on sexuality that sounds very much like the PR's idea of "facilitated conversation." The end result of that "dialogue" was never in doubt - approval of the gay rights agenda - nor were conservatives ever more than token participants. I would ask conservatives in the Church of England one simple question: can you imagine any circumstance in which the traditional teaching of the Church on the exclusive character of Holy Matrimony will be reaffirmed as a result of this dialogue?
Although the PR is primarily addressing the Church of England, it also calls for Communion-wide dialogue - as if we had not already experienced the "Windsor process" from 2004 and the "Lambeth Indaba" in 2008. For global Anglicans to return to such a fruitless endeavor would be to deter their mission and divert attention from ongoing social issues that really do affect them. Finally, many Global South churches over the past decade provided refuge to orthodox churches and clergy in North America. They may well need to do the same for English churches and clergy as well, if the recommended listening process is adopted and has the same divisive result in the Church of England that the parallel "dialogue" has had in North America.
For these reasons, I would urge GFCA churches to leave the PR alone, to pray for brothers and sisters in the Church of England who will be affected by it, and to move forward with the ambitious agenda set forth in Nairobi. For those churches and leaders that may view the PR optimistically as a way out of the divisions facing the Anglican Communion, I can only suggest they attend the wisdom of the old limerick:
There was a young lady of Niger
Who smiled as she rode on a tiger;
They returned from the ride
With the lady inside,
And the smile on the face of the tiger.
(Dana Gioia is one of my favorite living poets, please make sure to read, if you have not, the two previous posts both here and [especially] there)--KSH.
Roman Catholicism now ranks overwhelmingly as the largest religious denomination in the United States, with more than sixty-eight million members. (By contrast, the second largest group, Southern Baptists, has sixteen million members.) Representing almost one-quarter of the American population, Catholics also constitute the largest cultural minority in the nation. Supporting its historical claim of being the “universal” church, American Catholicism displays vast ethnic, national, linguistic, and social diversity. (In my first parish in Washington, D.C., it was not unusual at Mass to see congressional staffers, Central American immigrants, and urban homeless share the same pew.) While most Protestant churches continue to decline, Catholicism has grown steadily for the past two hundred years through a combination of immigration, births, and conversions. On purely demographic grounds, one would expect to see a huge and growing Catholic presence in the American fine arts.
If one asked an arts journalist to identify a major living painter or sculptor, playwright or choreographer, composer or poet, who was a practicing Catholic, the critic, I suspect, would be unable to offer a single name. He or she could surely identify a few ex-Catholics, such as Andres Serrano, Terrence McNally, or Mark Adamo, who use religious subject matter for satire, censure, or shock value. Catholic exposé is now a mainstream literary genre, from the farcical (Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You) to the tendentious (The Gospel of Mary Magdalene). If the question were expanded to include novelists—the most sociological of major art forms—a well-informed literary critic might offer a few names such as Ron Hansen or Alice McDermott, authors whose subject matter is often overtly Catholic. Those few figures would account for most of the Catholic artists visible in our culture. The journalist’s immediate reaction, however, would be to consider the question itself naive or silly.
When, after 27 years, Nelson Mandela was finally released from prison, the world marveled at his generous spirit, even temperament, genteel manners, disarming wit, ready smile and lack of bitterness.
Admirable as they were, those saintly virtues don’t begin to explain his political genius. Mandela was also cunning, iron-willed, bull-headed, contemptuous — and more embittered than he let on. He needed all of his traits — soft and hard — to engineer a political miracle: persuading a sitting government to negotiate its own abdication by yielding power to the very people it had ruthlessly oppressed.
Mr Powell said that Mr Mandela was a guide to him when he became the first black US secretary of state:
What I liked telling people was I was the first secretary of state who happened to be black, and I put that descriptor behind the title. We have to get beyond these labels depending upon your gender or your colour or your background. I'm proud of being black, and I'm proud of being an immigrant of British subjects, but at the same time I want to be seen as an American. And I think Nelson Mandela was able to create that kind of an image within South Africa. We are not black South Africans or white South Africans, we are South Africans who happen to be black or white. We are one family, one nation, one people.
Read it all and watch the whole video clip (approximately 3 1/4 minutes).
O God, who didst give to thy servant Ambrose grace eloquently to declare thy righteousness in the great congregation, and fearlessly to bear reproach for the honor of thy Name: Mercifully grant to all bishops and pastors such excellency in preaching, and fidelity in ministering thy Word, that thy people may be partakers with them of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
O God, Father of mercies, who didst so love the world that thou didst give thine only begotten Son to take our nature upon him for us men and for our salvation: Grant to us who by his first coming have been called into thy kingdom of grace, that we may always abide in him, and be found watching and ready when he shall come again to call us to thy kingdom of glory; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.
Some boast of chariots, and some of horses; but we boast of the name of the LORD our God. They will collapse and fall; but we shall rise and stand upright. Give victory to the king, O LORD; answer us when we call.
Nelson Mandela, the former South African president who died Thursday (Dec. 5), had a deep connection with religious institutions.
Mandela was educated, first at Clarkebury and then at Healdtown, Methodist boarding schools that provided a Christian liberal arts education.
“Both were important influences on his life,” said Presiding Bishop Zipho Siwa of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa. “Indeed, after his time at Clarkebury, the young Mandela said his horizons had been broadened.”
One memorable grade-school performance my wife and I attended six years ago included songs about dancing penguins and prancing polar bears sung by fifth-graders dressed in white polo shirts and beige pants, interspersed with poetic student readings about snow and ice (prompting visions of isolation, hypothermia and snow blindness). Imagine a GapKids commercial directed by Ingmar Bergman.
Now, these once-festive and joyous musical events have become monochromatic affairs—both visually and artistically—devoid of any seasonal context. At last year's high-school concert, all of the student performers were dressed in black—formal yes, but also funereal. Moreover, school music directors these days, overburdened by litigation-avoidance strategies, have committed the sin (if that word is still allowed) of not just erasing religion from these concerts but of basically abandoning musicality altogether.
Much of the music is simply bad: mindless melodies and meaningless lyrics, whether saccharine and syncopated or somber and staccato. To ignore the significant body of church music composed to celebrate Christmas—from English carols to Bach cantatas to the full oratorio of Handel —borders on musical malpractice, even if it is motivated by fear of the ACLU. No matter how technically well-executed, Broadway show tunes and "Glee" versions of pop standards will never inspire hope, goodwill and renewal. Wasn't that the whole point of these annual musical celebrations?