..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.’
Note: The CofE House of Bishops consider the Pilling Report at their meeting on Tuesday, December 10th. Please pray for Christ's Church of England.
A prayer by R. Samuel, received via email–
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.
After decades of raising children and climbing the corporate ladder, they're weary of the same old routine. But they're so caught up in high-pressure jobs that they don't have the time and energy to figure out what to do next.
Enter the career break.
Inspired by high-school and college students who take "gap" or "bridge" years, more baby boomers are taking an extended leave from the working world. Their goal: to relax, re-energize and reflect upon what they want to do next—which often means heading down an entirely new and more fulfilling career path.
...the launch by the Church of England of a phone app that gives the prayers and Bible readings of the day might short-circuit the arcana of religious practice. You could say your prayers with the help of your smartphone on the top deck of a bus.
Or it could be doubly alienating: a barrier for those who don’t know what worshippers get up to at Evensong, to whom Mag and Nunc sound like the names of glove-puppets, and a parallel wall excluding those who don’t really know what an app is. There are such folk.
I’ve just test-driven the ordinary online content provided (free) on the Church of England website by clicking on the link “Join us in Daily Prayer”....
The Church of England is on the brink of appointing its first gay bishop.
The Dean of St Albans, Dr Jeffrey John, came within one vote of being recommended as the new Bishop of Exeter, The Times has learnt. The successful candidate to succeed the Right Rev Michael Langrish is to be announced soon.
This is thought to be the first time that Dr John has made the shortlist for a diocesan post, although he has been longlisted several times. It means that he is back on the “list” of candidates for bishoprics. Senior insiders believe that it is only a matter of time before he gets a diocesan post, with the money being on the liberal-catholic diocese of Europe.
Britain’s most senior judges are preparing to make a landmark ruling over attempts to introduce a ”right to die” under human rights legislation.
A full panel of nine Supreme Court Justices, headed by Lord Neuberger, the court’s President, is to be convened next week to hear the culmination of three separate legal challenges to the current ban on assisted suicide.
The three cases have been put into one “super-case” to allow a sweeping judgment on the current state of the law in England and Wales.
The House of Bishops of the Church of England has today welcomed eight women as participant observers to its meetings. The welcome follows the election of the eight senior women clergy from regions across the country.
In February of this year the House decided that until such time as there are six female members of the House, following the admission of women to the episcopate, a number of senior women clergy should be given the right to attend and speak at meetings of the House as participant observers. The necessary change to the House's Standing Orders was made in May.
Almighty God, source of justice beyond human knowledge: We offer thanks that thou didst inspire Karl Barth to resist tyranny and exalt thy saving grace, without which we cannot apprehend thy will. Teach us, like him, to live by faith, and even in chaotic and perilous times to perceive the light of thy eternal glory, Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, throughout all ages. Amen.
Eternal God, who rulest the world from everlasting to everlasting: Speak to our hearts when men faint for fear, and the love of many grows cold, and there is distress of nations upon earth. Keep us resolute and steadfast in the things that cannot be shaken; and make us to lift up our eyes and behold, beyond the things that are seen and temporal, the things that are unseen and eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Despite rampant commercialization, the holiday season also has become a lifeline for nonprofits. One-third of all giving now takes place during the last three months of each year. About 18 percent of all giving to nonprofits last year occurred in December alone.
So far, it looks like that giving spirit will soar higher this year.
The Blackbaud Index, which measures charitable giving trends, announced last week that giving nationwide grew 2.3 percent for the three months ending October 2013 compared to the same time in 2012. Online giving increased almost 10 percent.
Read it all from the Faith and Values section of the local paper.
It has become conventional wisdom in recent years that America is in decline, perhaps terminally so.
Josef Joffe, a professor at Stanford and editor of the German weekly magazine Die Zeit, turns this mindset on its head in his new book: The Myth of America's Decline."
It's a cyclical phenomenon," Joffe says of the predictions of America's decline. But just as "declinists" were wrong about Russia in the 1950s and Japan in the 1980s, current forecasts about America playing second fiddle to China will also prove wrong, he says.
The Archbishop of Canterbury paid tribute to Nelson Mandela on Sunday at a special thanksgiving service for the life of the South African leader.
"Great injustice is overcome only by great courage. Evil can never be placated, it must be defeated. That means struggle, and struggles demand courage," Archbishop Justin said in a sermon at St-Martin-in-the-Fields church in Trafalgar Square.
The service, which was led by the Vicar of St-Martin-in-the-Fields, the Revd Dr Sam Wells, featured a live link to Christ the King church in Sophiatown in Johannesburg.
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.
It is at the intersection of genetic variation, personality and choice that the show presses into new territory. What does it mean to be free? Which will predominate in the long run, genetics or environment? What are the legal and moral limits to biological exploration? Who has the power to create, control and manipulate life? As the clones begin to figure out their place in a larger scientific experiment, they are sucked into a world of danger, intrigue and philosophical and scientific speculation, all while having to raise children, finish a dissertation or escape a destructive boyfriend.
The show is suspenseful and addictive. By the time you finish watching the first season, you may not even realize that it’s examining deep questions about the meaning of selfhood.
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.
Pope Francis said the church must pay attention to the 'sense of the faithful' ('sensus fidelium') when exercising its teaching authority, but never confuse that sense with popular opinion on matters of faith.
The pope made his comments Dec. 6, in an address to members of the International Theological Commission, a Vatican advisory body.
“Persecution is growing because Christianity is growing in the places where people are persecuted,” said Todd Johnson of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.
Speaking during a Dec. 5 media call, he characterized anti-Christian persecution as “growing fast.” His research estimates that one in five Christians, 500 million people, currently live in countries where Christians are likely to be persecuted. By 2020, their numbers are expected to rise to 600 million, 25% of the Christian population.
Johnson noted that the Christian population has significantly shifted from Europe and North America to the “Global South”: Africa, Asia and Latin America.
I read some C.S. Lewis, I read a good deal of the Bible, and I read a number of books of all schools of thought relating to Christian faith. Two years on after this started, a friend of mine who had gone to university a year before I was due to go, he got suddenly converted through the Intervarsity [IV] people, and when next we met, and thereafter, he took it on himself to try and explain to me that I didn’t have faith. By then I had got to the point where I was prepared to stand up for the creed in debate—we had a 12th grade atheist; most schools do—and we used to have fairly intense arguments. I argued for truth of the creed and I took for granted that since I believed the creed, that’s what it meant to have faith as this friend of mine naturally had. Came the day when I was due to go up to Oxford and he said very quickly before he went off to the university where he was studying, “I haven’t been able to explain it to you very well, but when you get to Oxford, link up with the Intervarsity people. They will be able to make it clearer than I have been able to do.”
At Oxford the Intervarsity people were out on the hunt and we met right at the beginning of my time. They organized a periodic evangelistic preaching service at the university. The first such preaching service that I attended the sermon lasted three-quarters of an hour and was preached by an elderly gentleman who within the first 20 minutes bored me. Then he started telling at length the story of his own conversion and suddenly everything became clear. I am not a person who gets much in the way of visions or visuals, but the concept called up a picture which was there in my mind was that here I am outside of the house and looking through the window and I understand what they are doing. I recognize the games they are playing. Clearly they are enjoying themselves, but I am outside. Why am I outside? Because I have been evading the Lord Jesus and His call.
A very thorough analysis by the Rev Andrew Symes, Executive Secretary of Anglican Mainstream, and well worth reading
...As we can’t know anything for sure, the report says we can only move forward with mutual respect by a listening process. This is explained in page 103f. Specifically not a series of debates, but relationship building, with no predetermined outcome. There is an assumption that this process will be entirely fair, where conservatives and liberals can meet and listen to each other in an unthreatening environment. The report does not seem to recognize the very real danger of bias as the dice are loaded – the culture is providing the weight on one side heavily inclining towards acceptance of homosexuality, and the choice of facilitators will be determined centrally and are much more likely to be liberal.
Blessing of same sex relationships
Now, on to the specific proposals about “blessing”. The legalization of gay marriage has brought an urgency to the question of pastoral care for same sex couples “who seek ecclesial recognition for their…relationship” (371). On one hand, to offer blessing, especially in church using formal liturgies, would be seen to be changing the doctrine of the church and to mimic marriage (384) which the Bishops have stated categorically should be reserved for heterosexual couples. But on the other hand, a failure of the church to celebrate faithful same sex couples continues to discriminate, and confirms the view that the church is not good news for gay people. So the report recommends “less formal approaches”, whereby a “pastoral accommodation” to pray informally with a couple need not entail a final moral judgement. Para 399 appears to go further, implying that such informal prayer may be an “act of worship to mark the formation of a same sex relationship”. The decision to do this should be left to individual clergy who must make the decision in consultation with their PCC.
Another “elephant in the room” comes up in the section about candidates for ordination. Guidelines from “Issues” of 1991 and the response to Civil Partnership legislation in 2005 confirmed that gay clergy could be in CP’s as long as they were celibate. The redefinition of marriage means that the sexual act is now no longer mentioned. CP’s will be converted to marriages. So it is theoretically possible that a gay person offering himself for ordination and his same sex partner could be “married” without being sexually active. While the report takes seriously the need for clergy “to order their lives according to the will of the Church”, it seems to assume that this will always be the case with partnered gay candidates who have verbally assented to the Church’s official teaching. Its not just conservatives who have pointed out that this is at the very least a charter for dishonesty, but much worse it is a deceptive witness to society. To expect people to believe that a gay clergy are not having sex with their partners could be more of a stumbling block for the average pagan than that Jesus died for their sins, rose again and is coming back as judge. To be fair, the report does call for this anomaly to be put on the table in the facilitated discussions, so that the requirement for sexual abstinence for gay clergy can be quietly dropped.
The dissenting statement
Bishop Keith Sinclair’s dissenting statement bravely refutes the report and clearly articulates the biblical vision for human flourishing which includes the proper place for sexual expression. The Bishop affirms the need to repent of homophobia in the way the report has defined it, but goes on to say that in the Gospel Jesus challenges everyone to repent, die to self and embrace a new identity in him. While the report affirms those who experience ssa and are celibate, it sees this as a minority choice which is optional, and so offers only confusion to those who want to know how to follow Christ. The report’s claim that it is not advocating a change in the church’s teaching is undermined by the recommendations to affirm gay relationships. Sinclair accuses the report of “cultural captivity” – trying to appease society, undermining historic Christian doctrine and ethics, and not protecting conservative ssa people who want the Church to help them avoid temptation. Rather, he says, Christians should be different from the world, offering an alternative account of what we are to do with our desires.
Bishop Keith says that a valid listening process should be for pastoral application of what we know clearly from Scripture. Instead, what is being proposed is that facilitated conversations will help us to work out whether we should find new ways of communicating the traditional line, or discover that that line is wrong and should be changed (452); in the meantime clergy and PCC’s can pre-empt the process and ignore the Church’s official teaching as part of local pastoral accommodation. Although Bishop Keith is much too polite to say so, this is dishonest and manipulative. He is however forthright enough to say that it will produce “liturgical anarchy” – although of course the official response will be that it’s not a liturgy, and it’s not a blessing, and we haven’t changed doctrine. There will be pressure on clergy with traditional views to perform blessings for same sex couples, and pressure on liberal clergy who believe in “permanent, faithful, stable” to bless couples who have no intention of living that way. Bishop Keith’s dissenting statement closes with a quote from Canadian theologian Edith Humphrey, that for the Church to invoke God’s blessing on an act for which repentance is required, is to replace God with an idol (481).
What can be done?
This is why we are faced with officially sanctioned apostasy in our own church. It has finally happened. What do we do? The first thing to say is that the report has not yet been endorsed by the house of Bishops. We must pray for them and lobby them as politely but intensively as we can before their meeting to discuss the document. Groups like Church Society, Reform, CEEC must play their part, but perhaps more importantly local DEF’s or other orthodox groupings at Diocesan level, and of course individual parishes. We need to make it clear to the Bishops that we stand by Bishop Keith, and urge them to do the same; that on their response to this report God will be judging their effectiveness as shepherds. As Peter Ould has said, this is the time for the godly among them to stand up and be counted. The bishops can vote to kick this report into touch, reaffirm the church’s traditional teaching without equivocation, and start again, building on +Keith’s vision and suggested course of action. Or they can challenge supporters of the report to put a motion to Synod to change the teaching of the church, and have a real public debate. If this does not happen, and the report is endorsed, then it is difficult to see how to avoid many cases of impaired fellowship between bible believing clergy and congregations, and Bishops who voted for the report. AMiE is now up and running and ready to help in those circumstances....
Shanghai warned children and the elderly to stay indoors for at least a seventh day out of the first nine this month, intensifying pressure on local authorities to control the worst smog since government monitoring began last year.
The city’s air quality index was at 238, or “heavily polluted” at 5 p.m., according to the local monitoring center. A warning to stay indoors is triggered any time the index exceeds 200. The index surged to a record 482 on Dec. 6 into the “severe” level, the highest of a six-tier rating system, according to the China Daily. That prompted the government to order cars off the road and factories to cut production.
Growing up in Greece, Vasileios Marinis encountered world-famous religious images on the walls of a thousand-year-old monastery not far from home.
The still-active monastery, called Hosios Loukas, is an acclaimed example of Middle Byzantine architecture. As a youth, Marinis learned to behold the building’s artful objects—mosaics, murals, icons—not as museum pieces frozen in time but as windows on eternity, declarations of faith that enlisted color, paint, fabric, wood and stone. These taught him to look, to see. Dreams of becoming an art historian—a byzantinist—were born.
“It was an astounding building,” recalls Marinis, assistant professor of Christian art and architecture at Yale Divinity School and Yale Institute of Sacred Music.
At a December 2 program at Georgetown University, two prominent Washington columnists, E.J. Dionne and Michael Gerson, assess Pope Francis’s call for the Catholic Church not only to make caring for the poor a higher priority but also to work for a more just economic system....
I found a divinity school…[where] we didn’t come to the Bible until about two weeks before commencement….[and as a result of my theological education]…during the first years of my ministry what I knew about God kept me from God….
[Later when I was reading I learned that] Rembrandt had a powerful painting on… [the subject of the raising of Lazarus in John 11], and it was quite obvious that Lazarus was not being raised in spirit only. The reanimated and bandaged corpse was realistically coming to life. Then I happened to turn to the back of the painting to see what the critic said of it. Critics have done much harm, but the words of that critic left there helped me into the Lord's bright blessing: “Rembrandt did everything he could think of to intensify the miracles of Christ.” I had intended to dampen their effect, but Rembrandt did everything he could think of to enhance them, to give them glory. For some reason those words of that unknown critic did me in. From then on, I too tried to do everything I could think of to intensify the effect of the miracles. When I turned that page, I changed sides….I had never raised my voice in.. [the] Presbyterian pulpit [in the parish where I served] before, but that day, since John said Jesus shouted, I shouted… [the words “Lazarus, Come out!”] as loudly as I could. And for the first time in my life someone asked me for a copy of my sermon.
--David Redding, Jesus Makes Me Laugh (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1973), pp.14-18, my emphasis
O God of hope, fill us, we beseech thee, with all joy and peace in believing, that we may abound in hope by the power of thy Holy Spirit, and show forth our thankfulness to thee in trustful and courageous lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, every one who pierced him; and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.
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.