The Episcopal Church (TEC) is experiencing a precipitous decline in Sunday morning attendance. Without addressing some of its institutional pathologies, TEC will render itself evermore irrelevant. Yet the current proposals to restructure the church ignore its basic problems. 
The present practices, or likely outcomes in the very near future, of TEC raise a number of questions. Here is a sample:
● A proposed modification of the Book of Common Prayer Marriage Rite wherein the rubrics are malleable and the Biblical and canonical warrants  are ignored or abandoned;
● The BCP definition of marriage is subverted without constitutional procedure; 
● Tens of millions of dollars, perhaps over $40 million, have been spent on litigation without any budget line accountability; 
● The rewriting of the Title IV canon gives the Presiding Bishop metropolitical authority vis-à-vis fellow Bishops, against the Constitution's plain sense; 
● Bishops are disciplined for filing an amicus brief while other bishops and leaders file them with impunity with SCOTUS; 
● Bishops are declared to have renounced their Orders without ever doing so in the manner called for by canon; 
● The ‘National Church,’ when it is urged by GC to move its offices, simply ignores the recommendation;  and
● Mandatory Diocesan giving is called for without any constitutional authority; 
This list is incomplete, but it is sufficient to indicate the state of lawlessness into which the church has moved , and to pose the questions: Is TEC any longer a church of constitutional and canonical order? Is this Church acting decently and in order? How can there be a hope of restoring a level of trust across differences of theological conviction when the good order that this Church constitutionally and canonically expects is simply ignored? 
† If the BCP is to be changed, let it be done in accordance with the rules established to do that.
† If money is being spent on litigation, let there be a public accounting of that.
† If the Presiding Bishop is to be given new authorities, let the Constitution be altered in the manner required.
† If it is not proper to file an amicus brief in one case, then it is not proper to file one in another case.
† If Bishops are declared to have renounced their Orders, let it happen in the manner called for by the Constitution and Canons.
† If we are uncertain, we cannot provide assurance to the members of the church and those who are seeking a church home?
It seems that these are reasonable and fair requests to put before the leaders of this church as they prepare to meet in General Convention this summer.
“A breath of fresh air,” was how the Rev. Louise Weld, Associate Rector at St. James, Charleston, described the 224th annual Convention of the Diocese of South Carolina, which was held in Charleston, March 13-14, 2015. “I felt like there was a big emphasis on evangelism and sharing your story,” said Weld, “in the Bishop’s address, in presentations, in video clips. There was a new thrust - a breath of fresh air. We’ve moved on and are about the Lord’s work!...”
The convention welcomed two new mission congregations, which have joined the Diocese since our last convention: Resurrection, North Charleston, led by the Rev. Matthew McCormick and St. James, Blackville led by the Rev. Russell Reed, assisted by Deacon Tom Cuny.
Eight new clergy have joined the Diocese since the last convention: the Rev. Gary Beson, the Rev. Rags Coxe the Rev. Tom Cuny , the Rev. Stephen Davis, the Rev. Donnie McDaniel, the Rev. Luke Rasmussen, the Rev. Russell Read and the Rev. Jamie Sosnowski.
I still remember a letter I received as a young rector. The letter concluded with, “Always remember, Fr. Mark, the Church primarily exists to serve the needs of its long-time members.” Even in the relatively more churched-culture of the late 1980s it struck me as shocking statement. Former Archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple, wrote in the 1930s that the Church is the only institution in the world that exists to serve the needs of those who are not yet its members. But there is something more foundational than the recent debates about Missional vs Attractional. The Church by its very nature is missional. It is not that the Church one day decided to have a resolution, brought it forward and voted to be missional. It was the Risen Jesus Christ, whose mission we continue, who commands us—“As the Father has sent me so I am sending you.” The only thing left to ask is to whom, and where, and how He would have us go!
It is a fact well known to certain Episcopalians—both those who have left the Episcopal Church (USA) and those who have remained—that ECUSA and its dioceses have followed a pattern of suing any church that chooses to leave for another Anglican jurisdiction. But the full extent of the litigation that has ensued is not well known at all, either in the wider Church, or among the provinces of the Anglican Communion.
America’s churches are in trouble, and they are in trouble in communities that arguably need them the most.
One of the tragic tales told by Harvard scholar Robert Putnam in his important new book, “Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis,” is that America’s churches have grown weakest in some of the communities that need them most: poor and working-class communities across the country. The way he puts it, our nation’s churches, synagogues and mosques give children a sense of meaning, belonging and purpose — in a word, hope — that allows them to steer clear of trouble, from drugs to delinquency, and toward a bright and better future, warmer family relationships and significantly higher odds of attending college.
The tragedy is that even though religious involvement “makes a bigger difference in the lives of poor kids than rich kids,” Putnam writes, involvement is dropping off fastest among children from the least privileged background, as the figure below indicates.
What difference does a religious tradition make? If it is Christianity, Prof. Jim Papandrea of the Garrett-Evangelical Seminary at Northwestern University says it matters a great deal. Jim returns to our show for the third time (hat trick) and discusses his new book Seven Revolutions: How Christianity Changed the World and Can Change It Again, coauthored with Mike Aquilina. The general thrust of the book is that Christian theology introduced to the world (at least) seven new ways to envision human society, starting with the individual person and proceeding up through the state....
Our conversation ends with some reflection on Christianity in the “post-Christian era.” Jim qualifies that term by noting that there have been moments in history that have looked dire for the demise of the Christian faith, but he raises concern about a secular ethos that may be returning our culture towards the mindset of the pre-Christian era. We ruminate about the role that violent sport and reality TV (a form of entertainment that relishes in humiliation) and what role Christianity can play in addressing the contemporary culture. Jim ends on an optimistic note by asserting that Christianity is always primed for a revival and that by joining together across denominational lines, Christianity can remain highly relevant in the world.
Anti-IS Sunnis think they should be armed again, as they were when the Americans fought al-Qaeda in Iraq, IS’s predecessor. But nobody is willing to give them weapons. “We wanted a national army,” says Ghazi Faisal al-Kuaud, a tribesman fighting alongside the government in Ramadi. “Instead they formed the Shia equivalent of IS.”
And Shia distrust of the Sunnis grows at a pace that matches that of the losses from its militias. Overlooking Najaf’s sprawling tombs, gravediggers talk of the brisk business they are doing burying militiamen. “I’ve never had it so busy,” says one. “Not even after 2003 or 2006 [the height of Iraq’s civil war].” The Sunnis “never accepted losing power from the time of Imam Ali, so why would they now?” asks Haider, a Shia shop owner. “Wherever you find Sunnis and you give them weapons, you will find IS,” says Bashar, a militiaman. Many Shias feel that the fight against IS justifies them in excluding Sunnis from government and the security apparatus.
The state that IS wanted to build looks more unlikely than ever to become a lasting reality, and that is good. The ruined territory on which it hoped to build, though, may end up even more damaged than it was at the outset.
Archdeacon Treweek said: "Lots of people have spoken about it as if it is about saving the Church of England."
But it is not about this, she insists.
"It is about us gaining more confidence with what God is doing in growing His kingdom. I do not start from a place of a failing institution. For me it is not about starting from a place of fear and anxiety, but starting in a place of hope and confidence. I do feel hugely excited about the opportunities that lie ahead. The Church is in a very exciting time."
Passionate about faith and about the message Jesus had for society at large, she is not frightened either to discuss politics from an overtly-Christian, though not party political view. She will be the first woman bishop to sit with the 26 diocesans in the House of Lords, giving her voice additional significance and making her a woman to watch as well as listen to on the part of both secular and religious leaders.
“Each week that passes we learn of more brutal Boko Haram abuses against civilians,” Mausi Segun, Nigeria researcher at Human Rights Watch, said in the statement. “The Nigerian government needs to make protecting civilians a priority in military operations against Boko Haram.”
The notion that Facebook and other social networks will suffer most deeply when the bubble bursts sounds plausible because it rehashes the last tech boom and bust, when advertising revenue run-ups at huge web portals (remember those?) turned out to be funded mainly by venture capital investments. In 2001, revenue at Yahoo — the largest portal, and something like the Facebook of its time — plummeted by almost $400 million when start-ups stopped spending during the bust. Yahoo has never recovered its former glory. Could Facebook face the same fate?
Probably not — or not yet, at least. On closer inspection, the theory that Facebook’s growth depends on unsustainable venture capital is mostly overblown, another strain of Facebook Second Guessing Syndrome. It’s a story that misses important facts about Facebook’s advertising business. For one thing, as Facebook’s executives have repeatedly pointed out, ads from app companies make up a small percentage of the company’s overall business. Most of the social network’s revenue comes from video ads and ads for large brands.
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The theory also misses two other points. Not all these ads are coming from unproved start-ups. And the ads are set to be adopted more widely because they actually work.
According to several app makers and observers of the industry, the ads are tremendously effective at leading paying customers to new apps. It’s the effort to reach these paying customers — and not venture funding — that is often the reason for all the money pouring into ads for apps.
In Pope Francis's latest gesture towards Rome's homeless, the Vatican said on Tuesday homeless people will get a special private tour of its museums and the Sistine Chapel.
About 150 homeless people who frequent the Vatican area - where Pope Francis has already set up facilities for them to have showers - will make the visit on Thursday afternoon, the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano said.
We have no respect for a surgeon who goes in but does not cut deeply enough to cure nor a patient who backs out of an operation because it may hurt; yet people can go through their whole lives attending church, listening to searching exposures of human sin, without ever taking it to themselves, or meeting anyone with skill and concern enough to lay the challenge right in their own laps.
--Experiment of Faith (New York: Harper&Row, 1957), p.22 (emphasis mine)
What happens as the world becomes even more interconnected…and even more leaderless?
Some argue that globalization is grinding to a screeching halt. In a world of increased conflict and turmoil, where major powers jockey for influence, financial sanctions have become a go-to weapon and even the Internet threatens to splinter, then surely the cross-border flow of money, ideas, information, goods and services will begin to slow—or even reverse.
Others argue that globalization is really just Americanization by other means. After all, the United States still dominates the international financial system. Information hurtling through cyberspace promotes the democratization of information, because it creates demand for still more information and forces autocrats to care more about public opinion. As developing countries develop, aren’t they becoming more like America?
Read it all and note the link to the full report provided.
It is doubtless crucial for the Church of England to reconsider its form and presentation, but it cannot do this until it has established what its essential core actually is, and made every effort to communicate and inspire the next generation to its identity. Unfortunately, many of the panellists remained so unified on their desire for radical change, that the real debate about what this core might actually be rarely reared its head. So is there something about the church’s liturgy and worship, its structure and communion, its history and heritage that remains important? If so, is the radical task not to discard these in the name of modernisation, but to excite those to whom they appear foreign? Several times during the proceedings, the discrepancy between the beliefs and opinions of the clergy and those of the laity were noted—evidence again of a church that is lost to its academics and fatally disjointed from its people. But is the radical task, therefore, to give the church up to the people, or to inspire those same people about the riches, dynamism, and truthfulness of the doctrines and Scriptures that lie behind it?
As the church considers its future, one thing is certain: it must not fight for its own survival. Perhaps it will have the strength to realise that there is, actually, nothing distinctive about it that truly needs preserving amongst the denominations, and will show the greatest sacrifice for others by facilitating its own demise. Or, perhaps, it will understand that there is something about the Church of England as the Church of England that is important—something that is not worth fighting for in itself, but which is so crucial to its illuminating truth, so essential to its gospel message, and so intuitive to its mission, that it becomes the foundation of its fighting “for others.” But have we given up on this task? Doubtless reform is needed. But what is the core on which it must be founded? Are we so clear on our own ideas of what needs changing that we can no longer see what doesn’t? Perhaps we still need to ask: What does the Church of England offer the next generation?
The Church of England appointed its second woman bishop on Wednesday (March 25), only two months after it consecrated its first.
Alison White, 58, will become the next suffragan bishop of Hull, following closely on the heels of Bishop Libby Lane, who was consecrated in January as a suffragan bishop in the Diocese of Chester. A suffragan bishop is a bishop subordinate to a metropolitan or diocesan bishop.
White is married to the assistant bishop of Newcastle, Frank White.
The FBI improved its ability to fight terrorism in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, but a new report says the bureau still faces significant challenges as it strengthens its intelligence capabilities to deal with nimble enemies.
The finding was part of an exhaustive review requested by Congress to evaluate the FBI’s response to the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations in 2004 and determine if the domestic law enforcement agency was moving quickly enough to deal with fast-moving threats.
The lengthy report, “The FBI: Protecting the Homeland in the 21st Century,” is perhaps the most detailed, public examination of the FBI’s post-9/11 capabilities, highlighting the successes and limitations of the traditional crime-fighting bureau.
O God, who by the lowliness of thy Son hast raised a fallen world: Grant to thy faithful people perpetual gladness; and as thou hast delivered them from eternal death, so do thou make them partakers of everlasting joys; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.
A Song of Ascents. Of David. O LORD, my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a child quieted at its mother's breast; like a child that is quieted is my soul. O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and for evermore.
A senior military official involved in the investigation described “very smooth, very cool” conversation between the pilots during the early part of the flight from Barcelona to Düsseldorf. Then the audio indicated that one of the pilots left the cockpit and could not re-enter.
“The guy outside is knocking lightly on the door and there is no answer,” the investigator said. “And then he hits the door stronger and no answer. There is never an answer.”
He said, “You can hear he is trying to smash the door down.”
While the audio seemed to give some insight into the circumstances leading up to the Germanwings crash, it also left many questions unanswered.
AW: So much has been written about World War II and the Holocaust, yet you’ve come up with something entirely fresh and different. Take us through how and why you decided to focus on two adolescents, Marie-Laure and Werner, each saddled with their own hardships, coming of age in France and Germany during that time.
AD: Someone told me once that if you took all the pages of all the books written about WWII and dropped them on Germany, it’d cover the whole country! Who knows if that’s actually true, but I was acutely aware that there was a lot of writing about WWII already out there — much of it breathtakingly good, and written by people for whom the war was memory, not history. So for most of the 10 years I worked on All the Light, I was terrified that I’d settle into a pattern of narrative that had lost some of its power because it had been already done.
One strategy I tried was to mimic the language of fairy tale and allegory: the boy, the girl, the ogre, the cursed gemstone, the imaginary citadel. And another was to try balance that sense of otherworldliness against a hyper-realism; to detail everything as carefully as I could. I thought maybe the juxtaposition of those two techniques might help the novel feel different, in the way a Borges or a Calvino story always feels different, even when they’re describing our world.
Eventually I had to keep telling myself the old humanist dictum: the path to the universal runs through the individual.
One of the U.K.’s most visible ethical investors – the Church of England – outperformed its investing benchmarks last year thanks in part to its significant underweight position in energy stocks, a trade that benefited from the precipitous fall in oil prices.
Its fund, the CCLA, with around £5.6 billion ($8.34 billion) under management as of Feb. 2015, runs assets on behalf of the Church of England, as well as charities and local government authorities. The firm has long taken an ethical and activist stance, recently encouraging Royal Dutch Shell PLC, for example, to put forward a shareholder resolution on Climate Change at its 2015 Annual General Meeting.
Thanks to its ethical bearings, the CCLA allocated 50% less to oil and gas stocks than its benchmarks across its equity funds over 2014, and has avoided exposure to pure play coal and tar sands stocks, according to Michael Quicke, chief executive of the CCLA.
So what does our fascination with tales of the afterlife tell us? A few things, but the most important recurring theme in Entertaining Judgment is that we partake in narratives that ease anxiety about our lives. In other words, stories about the hereafter make us feel better about the here.
Tales of ghosts, for instance, “beckon us forward toward our future . . . to become the people we are called to become.” Stories from people who returned from the dead might “shine a light into the unknown and tell us something that might assuage our anxieties”; they tell us that human beings can change and grow. Vampire stories satisfy “our desire for an eternal life in which we will be perfected” and “tap into our spiritual and emotional desires to have that which is good now . . . and could only be better when we are perfected spiritual beings.”
Demons and devils may be symptoms of our failure to “take ourselves and our own evil seriously.” Angels teach us that “we are endowed with choice . . . that it is really up to us.” Tales of a heavenly realm have “helped to dry the tears of the suffering and offered the possibility of some greater meaning in our earthly lives.” Hell, too, can assuage doubts about the world’s goodness: For “every real-life spectacle that appalls or irritates—racial cleansing, chemical warfare, children kidnapped and held as sexual slaves, stop-and-go traffic—hell offers itself as a partial explanation, and as a powerful [image] that helps to explain, at least to some extent, the existence of such cruelty and suffering.”
For reporting purposes at Barna, we often combine atheists and agnostics into one group, which we call skeptics....
[There]..are five demographic shifts among skeptics in the past two decades.
They are younger. Skeptics today are, on average, younger than in the past. Twenty years ago, 18 percent of skeptics were under 30 years old. Today that proportion has nearly doubled to 34 percent—nearly one-quarter of the total U.S. population (23%, compared to 17% in 1991). By the same token, the proportion of skeptics who are 65 or older has been cut in half, down to just 7 percent of the segment.
They are more educated. Today’s skeptics tend to be better educated than in the past. Two decades ago, one-third of skeptics were college graduates, but today half of the group has a college degree.
look at the "amici" who actually filed the briefs. The ones that argue against redefining marriage can be counted on the fingers of one hand. More than ninety percent of the "friendly" briefs are from people and groups who want the laws against same-sex marriages struck down.
The latter include this particular amicus brief, filed by the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, President of ECUSA's House of Deputies, and joined by Bishops White and Hahn of Kentucky; Bishops Gibbs, Houghland, Ray and Ousley from Michigan; Bishops Hollingsworth, Bowman, Persell, Williams, Breidenthal, Price and Rivera from Ohio; and Bishops Johnson and Young of Tennessee, along with other denominations, groups and committees. Moreover, there is a list in Appendix A to the brief of nearly 2,000 priests, many of them Episcopal, who have joined in filing the brief as well. All say that they "support equal treatment for same-sex couples with respect to civil marriage" (Brief, p. 1; emphasis added.)
With a few short-lived and unsustainable exceptions, the story of the last 30 years appears to be one of constantly falling interest rates and disappointing growth. Central banks try to keep stimulating the economy, but investment demand never really seems to gather pace in response to their efforts. Instead, investment seems stagnant and unresponsive to policy during normal periods, but shoots up during events like the dotcom and real estate bubbles, which then burst and leave everyone worse off.
People have been puzzling over this pattern for decades, but it took a speech by Larry Summers to the IMF in 2013 to really crystallise the whole picture, and bring it into the public eye. Ever since, it’s been known by the term he gave the phenomenon: ‘secular stagnation’. But he didn’t invent it. It was first coined by Alvin Hansen in the post-Depression 30s, when technological progress seemed to have ground to a halt.
The revival of the term could be misleading on a number of levels.
Her Majesty the Queen has appointed the Revd Canon Alison White, priest-in-charge of Riding Mill in the Diocese of Newcastle and Diocesan Adviser for Spirituality and Spiritual Direction, as the Bishop Suffragan of the See of Hull.
As Bishop of Hull, Alison will also have diocesan-wide responsibilities both as Ambassador for Prayer, Spiritual & Numerical Growth and Ambassador for Urban Life & Faith.
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu said: “This is a joyous day! I am delighted to be welcoming Alison as the next Bishop of Hull. Whilst she will be working with others across the Diocese of York encouraging faith in urban life, she will have particular responsibilities for the vibrant city of Hull and the glorious coastline and countryside of the East Riding. Alison is a person of real godliness and wisdom – it is fantastic that she has accepted God’s call to make Christ visible together with all of us in this Diocese of York.”
The Ministry Division of the Church of England has expressed confidence in St Stephen's House, Oxford, in an inspection report which praised the college for its "clear and distinctive identity which informs all aspects of its life".
The report published today spoke of "a community at ease and comfortable with embracing a variety of perspectives and traditions on numerous issues whilst situated clearly within a distinct theological and spiritual tradition."
St Stephen's House received 12 out of a possible 16 'confidence' outcomes, covering a range of criteria including practical and pastoral theology, teaching, and ministerial, personal and spiritual formation. The report also made 20 recommendations, noting that "the majority of these are for making good practice better rather than highlighting substantive problems."
It's become evident in recent days that a significant number of readers are having problems logging in to T19 (unable to login). The problem has even affected the elves (though we have a super-secret emergency login process which we can use as a work-around. Sadly, this emergency log in process is not available to mere mortals)
Research and attempts to solve the problems on the part of the elves have failed. (Sob.) So, we've notified our Tech friends. Hopefully the problem can be solved soon.
Our sincerest apologies to all who have been inconvenienced by this problem and for the length of time it took us to realize the extent of the problem.
Robots and computer programs could almost wipe out human workers in jobs from cooks to truck drivers, a visiting researcher has warned.
Driverless cars and even burger-flipping robots are among the technological advancements gunning for low-skilled jobs across dozens of industries.
University of Oxford Associate Professor in machine learning Michael Osborne has examined the characteristics of 702 occupations in the US, predicting 47 per cent will be overtaken by computers in the next decade or two.
We beseech thee, O Lord, pour thy grace into our hearts; that we who have known the incarnation of thy Son Jesus Christ, announced by an angel to the Virgin Mary, may by his cross and passion be brought unto the glory of his resurrection; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
O thou who hast taught us that we are most truly free when we lose our wills in thine: Help us to attain to this liberty by continual surrender unto thee; that walking in the way which thou hast prepared for us, we may find our life in doing thy will; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
But how are men to call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher? And how can men preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach good news!" 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel; for Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?" So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ. But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have; for "Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world." Again I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says, "I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; with a foolish nation I will make you angry." Then Isaiah is so bold as to say, "I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me." But of Israel he says, "All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people."