Anglican Unscripted Episode 87, December 5, 2013 December 5, 2013Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, Church of England, The Episcopal Church.
Tags: National Cathedral, Pilling Report
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Anglican Unscripted is the only video newscast in the Anglican Church. Every Week Kevin, George, Allan and Peter bring you news and prospective from around the globe.
00:00 Anglicans have lost the Mother Church
14:38 Piling onto Pilling Report with Peter Ould
33:14 IRS and Clergy Housing Allowances with AS Haley
41:51 The National Museum in Washington DC
48:37 Closing and Bloopers
Tags: Guardian, Metropolitan Seraphim
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The essence of life, its meanings, symbols and motives, can be found in television; reporting on the condition of man is reducible to vignettes from Seinfeld and Yes Minister.
This profundity came to me late last night as I perused The Guardian‘s report on the political and civil debate over same-sex unions in Greece. As my colleagues at Get Religion have shown, balance is not a requirement for many mainstream media outlets when reporting on gay marriage. The article “Bishop threatens to excommunicate Greek MPs who vote for gay unions” is unbalanced with only one side of the debate presented.
That is a commonplace of European-style advocacy reporting and The Guardian is not shy in proclaiming its leftist credentials. However in this instance the reporter’s desire to preach overcame her news gathering skills. Presented with a golden opportunity of promoting the rightness of the cause of gay marriage in the face of intolerance, The Guardian neglected to do its home work. It did not ask basic questions that would have provided essential context.
But first, let us turn to the canon of journalistic scripture. Reading from episode 19, series 3 number 5, of Yes Minister, “The Bed of Nails” recounts Jim Hacker’s acceptance of the gift of “Transport Supremo” from the prime minister. Hacker is delighted to be offered the job of developing an “Integrated Transport”‘ policy for Britain. The episode recounts his discovery the Supremo post is fraught with peril and might end his career. Sir Humphrey and Bernard urge the minister to think through the implications of what he has been offered as danger lies ahead.
Hacker: Furthermore, Sir Mark thinks there may be votes in it, and if so, I don’t intend to look a gift horse in the mouth.
Sir Humphrey: I put it to you, Minister that you are looking a Trojan Horse in the mouth.
Hacker: You mean, if I look closely at this gift horse, I would find it’s full of Trojans?
Bernard: If you had looked the Trojan Horse in the mouth, Minister, you would have found Greeks inside.
Odd look from Hacker… Bernard: Well, the point is it was the Greeks who gave the Trojan Horse to the Trojans, so technically, it wasn’t a Trojan Horse at all, it was a Greek Horse. Hence the tag timeo Danaos et dona ferentes which you will recall, is usually and somewhat inaccurately translated as Beware of Greeks bearing gifts. Or doubtless, you would have recalled, had you not attended the LSE.
Hacker: Yes well I’m sure Greek tags are all right in their way, but can we stick to the point, please?
Bernard: Sorry. Sorry, Greek tags?
Hacker: Beware of Greeks bearing gifts. I suppose the EEC equivalent would be Beware of Greeks bearing an olive oil surplus!
Sir Humphrey: Excellent, Minister!
Bernard: Ah. Oh. Well, the point is minister, that just as the Trojan Horse was in fact Greek, what you describe as a Greek tag is in fact Latin. It’s obvious, really: the Greeks would never suggest bewaring of themselves, if one could use such a participle, ‘bewaring’, that is. And it’s clearly Latin, not because timeo ends in -o, because the Greek first person also ends in -o. Though actually, there is a Greek word ?????, meaning ‘I honour’. But the -os ending is a nominative singular termination of the second declension in Greek, and an accusative plural in Latin, of course. Though actually ‘Danaos’ is not only the Greek for Greek, its also the Latin for Greek, it’s very interesting really.
The moral of the story is that sometimes something that is too good to be true, is too good to be true. This can be seen in The Guardian story about Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus.
The Guardian reports:
A leading Greek bishop has warned lawmakers that they risk incurring the wrath of God – and will be excommunicated – if they vote in favour of legalising same-sex partnerships. In a letter lambasting homosexuality as “an insult to God and man”, the Metropolitan of Piraeus, Seraphim, pleaded with the country’s deputy prime minister, Evangelos Venizelos, not to condone gay unions.
The article discusses the content of a public letter released by Seraphim, whom The Guardian describes as a “57-year-old former monk, a prominent personality in Greece’s powerful Orthodox church” and offers a response from liberal critics. True to form, the article is one-sided. We hear from a spokesman for the Socialist Party, who likens the bishop to the Taliban, and from a gay activist. The Church of Greece is offered a chance to say they are against same-sex unions, but no argument is proffered against gay unions — save for Metropolitan Seraphim’s jeremiad.
The article then closes out with references to European court rulings endorsing gay unions and a slam at the country’s backward stance on gay issues. All rather predictable from The Guardian and pretty much as one would expect. But there is more to this story that The Guardian did not report, or did not know.
Who exactly is Seraphim? How influential is he? How should we weight his words? These questions are not asked nor answered — leaving the impression that Greece is a priest ridden small-minded country. A little research, or knowledge of the Greek religious scene, would reveal that Seraphim has form. In 2011 I reported:
Jews are to blame for a host of the world’s ills, from homosexuality to the Holocaust, a Greek Orthodox Church leader told an Athens television programme last month.
In a Dec 20 interview broadcast on the MEGA television network, Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus laid the blame for Greece’s financial meltdown on an international Zionist conspiracy and a cabal of Jewish bankers who sought to “enslave Greece and Christian Orthodoxy.”
I grant you The Church of England Newspaper is not a must read for journalists. Sadly the paper’s circulation has not changed in recent years. When it started in 1828 it numbered around 12,000 subscribers and I think its current numbers are about the same –perhaps we should prune the circulation list. Nonetheless Seraphim’s views on Jews, (he believes Hitler was a tool of a Zionist conspiracy), have been reported in the New York Times and other English-language outlets.
Would it have put Seraphim’s letter in context if readers knew of his fantasies about a Jewish world conspiracy? Would his views on Freemasons and the nefarious influence of secret societies seeking to create a new world order provide context to his views on civil unions?
Presented with a golden opportunity of a crazed cleric denouncing politicians who would support same-sex unions, The Guardian ran an advocacy story that boiled down to its essence said: “See how opponents of gay marriage think. You can dismiss all objections to gay marriage because the argument does not rise above Seraphim’s silliness.”
I am not seeking to address the question of the rights or wrongs of gay marriage in this post. What I am discussing is journalism. What a good newspaper should have done in this case it to note Seraphim’s other controversial views in its description of the cleric. Context is key and the omission of important information, whether through ignorance or editorial design, colors a story.
In short, readers you cannot trust The Guardian‘s account to give you a full and balanced picture. If you are looking to reinforce preexisting prejudices, you have something here that will do quite nicely. But it is not journalism.
Reporters — a story that is too good to be true, should be investigated — as it may well be too good to be true.
First printed in Get Religion.
Viva la Eurorévolution: Get Religion, December 3, 2013 December 3, 2013Posted by geoconger in Get Religion, Press criticism, Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Ukrainian Orthodox (Kiev Patriarchate), Ukrainian Orthodox (Moscow Patriarchate).
Tags: Guardian, Le Monde, Reuters, Ukraine
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The events unfolding across the Ukraine — protests against the government’s move away from Europe towards Russia — are not faith stories as defined by editorial desks in London and New York, but the clash of nationalism and politics in Eastern Europe cannot be understood without reference to religion.
The Guardian‘s reporter in Kiev has described the scene on Monday morning:
Throngs of anti-government protesters remained in control of parts of central Kiev on Monday morning, as police kept their distance and Viktor Yanukovych’s government pondered its next move. After huge protests on Sunday, during which several hundred thousand people took to the streets of Kiev to call for the president’s removal, protesters erected makeshift barricades around Independence Square – the hub of the 2004 Orange Revolution. Nearby, the main City Hall building was taken over by protesters without police resistance on Sunday evening.
Many of the windows were smashed and “Revolution HQ” was daubed in black paint on its stone Stalinist facade. Inside, hundreds of people milled around receiving refreshments; many who had travelled from the regions to Kiev were sleeping on the floor.
The independent Eastern European press has characterized the street protests as a revolution. Lviv’s Vissoki Zamok, stated that nine years after the Orange Revolution, “the Eurorevolution” was underway.
It is symbolic that on December 1, the anniversary of the referendum in favor of independence that took place 22 years ago, Ukraine was once again the theater of mass demonstrations in support of its sovereignty, the rights of its citizens and its European future.
Why is this happening? Protestors have taken to the streets to denounce President Viktor Yanukovych for refusing to sign an association and free-trade agreement with the European Union at the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius on November 29.
In a front page above-the-fold editorial on Monday the Parisian daily Le Monde stated:
Demonstrations of love for the European Union are sufficiently rare these days for them to be rather arresting. Absorbed by the debt crisis, the struggle for more growth and lower unemployment, the rise of populism and the management of its enlargement, the union has forgotten that it retains a formidable power of attraction. For people who do not benefit from the rule of law, Europe symbolizes the hope for freedom, democracy, and modernity.
This is the message sent to us by tens of thousands of Ukrainians who have been gathering day after day to protest on the squares of Kiev and the other cities of the country.
Reading Le Monde‘s editorial and related news coverage one might think les citoyens of Kiev were linked arm in arm marching to the seats of power singing La Marseillaise. But an American might well ask why a trade treaty would spark such an uproar. What is going on here?
It is in the secondary stories that we see glimpses of the religion ghosts. Reuters reports that when attacked by riot police, some protestors took refuge in an Orthodox cathedral and barricaded themselves inside a monastery.
Around 100 Ukrainian pro-EU protesters took refuge from police batons and biting cold on Saturday inside the walls of a central Kiev monastery. With a barricade of benches pushed up against a gate to keep police out, protesters – who had rallied against President Viktor Yanukovich’s decision to reject a pact with the European Union – checked their wounds in the pre-dawn light.
Some attended a 6 a.m. service in the lilac and gold St. Michael’s Cathedral on the monastery grounds after which a group of bearded, black-robed monks approached protesters to hear of their encounters with police and urge them not to seek revenge. “They gave us tea to warm us up, told us to keep our spirits strong and told us not to fight evil with evil,” said Roman Tsado, 25, a native of Kiev, who said police beat him on his legs as they cleared the pro-EU rally.
Further down in the story Reuters tells us what sort of church it was that gave shelter to the protestors.
The Ukrainian Orthodox cathedral, where the faithful light candles before gilded icons of saints, was destroyed during the religious purges of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and rebuilt after independence.
What Reuters neglects to mention is which Ukrainian Orthodox church belongs to. St Michael’s belongs to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Kiev Patriarchate — not the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Moscow Patriarchate.
What of it you might well ask. There are three principal churches in the Ukraine. One under the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church, or Moscow Patriarchate; an independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church or the Kiev Patriarchate; and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church.
And the three churches have taken differing stands on the protests, with the Kiev Patriarchate and the Greek Catholics backing the country’s realignment towards Europe, while the Moscow Patriarchate backs the president’s alignment with Vladimir Putin’s regime in Moscow.
Speaking at the Heritage Foundation in Washington last month Patriarch Filaret of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kiev Patriarchate) was reported to have said:
[T]he Ukrainian Churches would benefit from an Association Agreement. For one thing, it would place the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) in a new situation. With Ukraine committed to Europe and continued independence, that Church would have to decide which side it was on – that of Russia, or that of the Ukrainian people. By siding with Russia, the UOC-MP would assume the role of a fifth column for a hostile state. If, on the other hand, it sided with the Ukrainians, it would be obligated to unite with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyivan Patriarchate (UOC-KP) into a single Ukrainian Orthodox Church, independent of Moscow.
Statements released by the three churches in the wake of the uprising illustrate these religio-political calculations. The Kiev Patriarchate and the Greek Catholic Church have lent their support to the demonstrations — and as Reuters reports opened its churches to protestors as a safe haven from the police. The Moscow Patriarchate in Kiev has backed President Yanukovich — and its call for calm echoes the president’s public statements to date.
By raising these religion points, I am not stating the Eurorevolution is being driven by religion. I am arguing that a well rounded news report should touch upon the religion angles in this story — provide the context for a Western reader to understand. Not all of the protestors are motivated by religious fervor — but religion lies close below the surface of national politics east of the Oder and a good reporter should relate this information to his readers.
First printed in Get Religion
Tags: Albert Camus, depression, France, Le Monde, prozac, secularism
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The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.
Matthew Arnold, Dover Beach, stanza 3, (1867)
More bad news for France.
The lede in the back cover story (page 22) in the Nov 26, 2013 issue of Le Monde reports: « La France a perdu un record. Mais personne ne s’en plaindra. » (France has lost a record, but no one will be complaining.)
The article entitled « La France n’est plus leader dans la consommation d’antidépresseurs » reports La belle France has lost its coveted status as Europe’s number one country for pill-popping.
Parmi les champions d’Europe de la consommation d’antidépresseurs en tout genre, le pays est maintenant largement distancé dans sa fringale de psychotropes. Selon le rapport 2013 de l’Organisation de coopération et de développement économiques (OCDE) sur la santé (« Health at a Glance 2013 ») publié le 21 novembre, l’Hexagone se situe même sous la moyenne des 23 pays du classement, ex aequo avec l’Allemagne ! Une prouesse au pays de la « sinistrose ».
Once among the European champions in the consumption of antidepressants, the country has lost ground in its consumption of psychotropic munchies. According to the 2013 report “Health at a Glance” from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development published on Nov 21, l’Hexagone (France) is even below average of the 23 countries ranked, and is tied with the land of gloom, Germany. Quite a accomplishment!
The article reports that France is tied with Germany and Slovenia in 15th place in consuming 50 doses per 1000 people per day, while Iceland reigns supreme with 106 doses per day. The French are now less depressed than the Danes (4), Swedes (5), Portuguese (6), British (7), Belgians (9), Spanish (10), Norwegians (11), and Luxembourgers (12).
Greece did not turn in any data, the article adds, but notes the number of suicides in that country has risen 45 per cent from 2007 to 2011.
It is in its discussion of the “why” — why the increase in the use of antidepressants that this piece strays into Get Religion land. Quoting Gaétan Lafortune, the coordinator of the report, Le Monde writes:
La crise? « l’idée que la récession, le chômage ont plongé certains individus dans une profonde détres se », note M. Lafortune.
The crisis? “We can not rule out the idea that the recession and unemployment has plunged individuals into deep depression,” notes Mr. Lafortune.
However, he adds that in Germany where there is “almost full employment” the use of “antidepressants increased by 46 per cent between 2007 and 2011″, while the “lucky country” of Australia is second on the list of antidepressant consumers. Le Monde further muses on the apparent lack of correlation between economic well-being and consumption of antidepressants, finally coming to the conclusion the increase is due to the lack of stigma surrounding mental illness and over prescription of pills by physicians.
Perhaps, but is there not a religion ghost here as well? Could, or should, Le Monde have addressed the question whether the decline of religious faith, the moral ennui and entropy that has taken hold of Europe been considered? Would the discussion of the “why” been improved by a question or comment or two from psychologists or religious leaders addressing the issue of the meaning of life?
France is after all the land of Sartre, Camus and existentialism. Whether it was couched in faith, philosophy or psychology this story would have been stronger with a discussion of the “why” that moved beyond materialism.
“[F]or the world, which seems,” Matthew Arnold wrote in stanza four of Dover Beach,
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night
First posted in Get Religion.
Gov-Gen backs gay marriage/republic for Australia: The Church of England Newspaper, November 29, 2013 November 28, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Marriage.
Tags: gay marriage, monarchy, Quentin Bryce
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Governor-General Quentin Bryce has endorsed gay marriage and a republican form of government for Australia.
Appointed Australia’s first female governor-general in 2008 by then Labor Party Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Mrs. Bryce, the former governor of Queensland, stated on 22 November 2013 in a lecture delivered in Sydney that she hoped Australia would become a nation were “people are free to love and marry whom they choose”.
“And where perhaps, my friends, one day, one young girl or boy may even grow up to be our nation’s first head of state.”
The governor-general’s comments prompted some political leaders to call for her dismissal, while others endorsed her views.
NSW state MP David Elliott, who in 1999 led the “no republic” coalition that fought attempts to make Australia a republic and remove the Queen as head of state said: “If Quentin Bryce wants to debate policy and legislation she should run for parliament, not use her vice-regal position to pursue her own political agenda.”
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young told the Associated Press she was pleased the governor general had spoken out. “To have the governor-general step forward and say this is something Australians care about, and as the governor-general, she believes that marriage equality is a human right … it’s hugely influential across all voter groups.”
However, Liberal Party Prime Minister Tony Abbott – a staunch opponent of gay marriage a supporter of the monarchy — said he was not perturbed. “It’s more than appropriate for the governor-general approaching the end of her term to express a personal view.”
Mrs. Bryce is expected to step down in March, 2014.
“Cross does not save” says Australia’s first diocesan woman bishop: The Church of England Newspaper, November 29, 2013 November 28, 2013Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Church of England Newspaper, Women Priests.
Tags: Diocese of Grafton, Sara Macneil
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The Diocese of Grafton has appointed Australia’s first diocesan woman bishop.
On 17 November 2013 a twelve member Nomination Board appointed by the diocesan synod selected the Rev. Dr. Sara Macneil to be the 11th bishop of the New South Wales diocese.
In a statement released on the Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn website, Dr Macneil, the Senior Associate Priest at Holy Covenant in Jamison, ACT, said she was “surprised, overwhelmed, humbled” to be appointed Australia’s first female diocesan bishop.
“I am awed by the confidence placed in me by the [Grafton Diocese] appointment board and by their willingness to be trailblazers,” she said.
She told the ABC: “There’ll be lots of people for whom it’s unexpected that a woman has been elected. For some people for whom it will be unwelcome, I think there’ll be some scrutiny but there’ll also be, for a lot of people, a lot of excitement and joy.”
While women have been appointed assistant bishops in Melbourne, Canberra, Perth and Brisbane, none have been elected to the episcopate. While serving as Archdeacon of Canberra in 2008 she stood for election as bishop in that diocese, but was not elected.
In 2011 Dr. Macneil abruptly quit as Dean of Adelaide, telling the congregation of St. Peter’s Cathedral she was resigning as she could “no longer work with integrity at diocesan level.”A member of the liberal wing of the Australian church, Dr. Macneil rejects the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement, journalist the Rev. David Ould reports, and has argued the “cross does not save” but it is “Jesus’ presence among us” that saves. The bishop-elect also has gone on record endorsing the ordination to the priesthood of candidates who are in same-sex relationships — a stance at odds with the church’s teachings.
A onetime member of the Australian diplomatic corps, Dr. Macneil declined to elaborate on the reason she was resigning less than two years after her appointment as South Australia’s first female Dean – and the first woman to be appointed to the post in an Australian capital city.
Unlike other Australian dioceses, where the choice of bishop is made by the synod, in the diocese of Grafton a 12 member committee composed of six clergy and six lay members is elected by the synod to select and then appoint the bishop.
The choice of a new bishop for Grafton fell to a 12 member committee Other women have been consecrated as assistant bishops within Australian Anglican dioceses and, overseas, women have been made diocesan bishops but this is a national first for Australia.
Dr. Macneil’s election comes at a difficult time for the diocese. Her predecessor, the Rt. Rev. Keith Slater, resigned in May 2013 in the wake of an abuse scandal involving the Church of England North Coast Children’s Home in Lismore.
On 18 November 2013 a Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse began hearings on the diocese’s conduct in the North Coast Children’s Home affair.
However, Bishop-elect Macneil stated: “In recent times the Diocese of Grafton has faced financial difficulties and is now appearing before the Royal Commission… There is a determination among the people of the diocese to understand what has gone wrong in the past, to ensure that it does not happen again and to embrace the future with hope, trusting in God.”
Tags: Australia, Roy Morgan Research Ltd
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Islam is not a religion of peace in the minds of the majority of Australians, a survey conducted on behalf of the Q Society of Australia reports. The survey undertaken by Roy Morgan Research Ltd shows indicates a majority of Australians believe the assimilation of Muslim immigrants is not working as 70 per cent believe the country is not a better place because of Islam.
The survey, completed in late October, found a majority (53 per cent) of Australians want full face coverings banned from public spaces and 50.2 per cent want Islamic sharia law banned all together.
Older Australians and those who voted for the governing Liberal/National parties coalition were helding harsher views of Islam than did Green party supporters or younger voters. However, only 15 per cent of Australians think Islam and terrorism are not related, while proposals by secularist and multi-cultural advocates to cancel state Christmas, Easter or ANZAC Day celebrations in order not to offend non-Christians is endorsed by only 3.5 per cent of those surveyed.
Q Society spokesman Andrew Horwood said the poll results validate in their opinion the need for “new strategies and policies. While followers of most religions seem to get along well, Australian politicians must acknowledge Islam is not just another religion and the growing concern is not a fringe issue,” he said.
The Q Society of Australia is a civil rights advocacy group founded in 2010 whose members are “concerned about the socio-political problems associated with the rise of Islam and sharia law in Australia; as well as religiously-motivated human rights abuses against religious minorities in many OIC-member countries,” its website states.
Oxfordshire priest imprisoned for child abuse: The Church of England Newspaper, November 29, 2013 November 28, 2013Posted by geoconger in Abuse, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Christopher Tadman-Robins
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A NSM priest in the Diocese of Oxford and former magistrate has been sentenced to prison for child abuse.
On 22 Nov 2013 the Rev. Christopher Tadman-Robins (66) was sentenced to two and half years imprisonment by the Luton Crown Court after having been convicted last month of five counts of sexually abusing a ten year old girl.
Ordained in 1989 Dr. Tadman-Robins had sat as a magistrate in Witney, and had taught music. He was also the former musical director of the Northern Ballet.
While his barrister pleaded with the court for his client to be spared a term of imprisonment as no other complaints of abuse had been made, Judge Philip Bartle QC said his past good deeds would not spare him.
“Your victim was aged from 10 to 12 and you were in your 50s. The impact on her of these offences has been devastating. She has suffered untold stress and has self-harmed.”
“Your actions took away her innocence which is something from which she will never recover,” the judge said as he handed down sentence.
Following his conviction last month, the Bishop of Dorchester noted Dr Tadman-Robins had served as a non-stipendiary curate in the Burford Benefice from 1989-1992. “Since then he has held no ecclesiastical office in the Diocese of Oxford, but used to take occasional services at the invitation of the parish clergy in West Oxfordshire. His permission to officiate was withdrawn as soon as he was arrested last year.”
“Any case like this is a matter of sorrow and regret for the Church of England. We recognise that the suffering of survivors of sexual abuse is profound and long lasting. The Church of England will not tolerate abusive behaviour in its clergy or anyone else for whom we have responsibility. We take allegations of offences such as these extremely seriously and always work closely with the statutory authorities to ensure abusers are brought to justice.”
“We would expect Dr Tadman-Robins to be referred for barring and prohibited from ever holding office in the Church of England again as a result of his conviction,” Bishop Colin Fletcher said.
Tags: CBS Evening News
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I am reaching back a bit into my guilt file — stories I want to cover but for one reason or another have not touched. But the recent flurry of news stories about women priests and the Catholic clergy shortage led me to pull this item out of my bag.
The CBS Evening News reported earlier this year that there is a shortage of Roman Catholic priests in the United States. This may be news to some, I suppose, but the story has been getting a bit long in the tooth. However, the news “hook” CBS used in its segment was that the church was using Anglicans to plug the gap — hence the title: “Catholic Church turns to Anglicans to fill U.S. priest shortage.”
Yes, there is a shortage of Catholic priests in the United States.
No, the shortfall is not being met by using Anglicans.
Catholic dioceses in the U.S. and Europe are importing priests from India, Africa and Asia to meet pressing pastoral needs — this story has been told hundreds of times over the past few years in the secular press. A recent example of such stories is this well written piece in Der Spiegel reporting on an Indian priest’s acculturation to Germany.
The article begins with a recitation of the problem, profiling a Milwaukee priest who has the pastoral charge of seven congregations.
Sunday is anything but a day of rest for Father Tim Kitzke. On the Sunday we followed him, the priest said Mass at three different Milwaukee churches, held a luncheon for dozens of parishioners and baptized a baby. Kitzke and one other priest are in charge of seven churches in the Milwaukee Archdiocese. There used to be a time when 14 priests covered the seven churches. “It’s not only — maybe not the old model … but it’s the old reality,” he says.
The number of Roman Catholic priests in the United States has steadily dropped from nearly 59,000 in 1975 to just under 39,000 last year. But the number of Catholics in the United States has increased by 17 million. Asked if he worries, Kitzke says, “Definitely, yes, we obviously need more priests — that goes without saying, we need more vocations.”
The segment offers facts and figures on the priest shortage and then transitions to a former Episcopal priest who joined the Catholic Church and has since been ordained a Catholic priest.
Peer’s objections to central heating overruled by church court: The Church of England Newspaper, November 22, 2013 November 25, 2013Posted by geoconger in Canon Law, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Diocese of Chichester, Lady Margaret Baldwin, Re Burwash Weald St. Philip  Chichester Const Ct
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The Consistory Court of the Diocese of Chichester has overruled objections to the installation of a heating system for St. Philip’s Church in Burwash, holding the objections made by a nonegarian peer, while no doubt well intentioned, had “served in this instance only to obfuscate and delay the carrying out of the now long-overdue process of renewing the heating system”.
In Re Burwash Weald St. Philip  Chichester Const Ct, Chancellor Mark Hill QC, noted Lady Margaret Baldwin, a prominent member of the congregation, had made formal objections to the installation of a natural gas boiler and radiators to heat the church.
The chancellor wrote he had had “some difficulty in comprehending the nature of the objection advanced by Lady Baldwin,” which had been made in a “good number” of letters written in “dense text in a small font.”
“Their content strays considerably from relevant material – they are at times contradictory and at others repetitive.
“Lady Baldwin expresses herself to be animated by ‘habitual concern for the congregation’ – a worthy objective, but an intrusive and debilitating one if the concern is misplaced or rooted in a flawed understanding of the proposals.”
Chancellor Hill said the objections by Lady Baldwin, who was well into her 90’s, centered round fears the installation of central heating would damage the organ, which had been accidentally damaged during renovations in 1962.
The parochial council had engaged an “eminently qualified” architect to oversee the project had had raised the £51,000 necessary to undertake the project through a public appeal and a loan facilitated by the Diocesan Board of Finance.
He added: “As a dispassionate observer, I am saddened that Lady Baldwin’s ‘habitual concern for the congregation’ seems to have served in this instance only to obfuscate and delay the carrying out of the now long-overdue process of renewing the heating system.
“It has led to further faculty fees and may have increased the overall cost for the parish. That is much to be regretted,” the judge ruled in granting the faculty.
Westminster Hall debate highlights persecution of Christians in the Middle East: The Church of England Newspaper, November 22, 2013 November 25, 2013Posted by geoconger in British Foreign Policy, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
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Christians are in danger of being driven out of the Middle East, MP Fiona Bruce warned last week, urging the British government to aid the victims of the campaign of terror waged by militant Islamists.
In remarks made at a Westminster Hall Adjournment Debate on the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, Mrs. Bruce, the member for Congleton (Cons.) highlighted findings of a newly released report prepared by the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). The report, “Persecuted and Forgotten? A Report on Christians oppressed for their Faith 2011-2013”, found that intolerance had grown in 20 of the 30 countries surveyed.
“In virtually every country in and around the [Middle East], Christians report suffering either high, high to extreme, or extreme persecution,” she said.
Christians “have suffered from a domino effect of violence that began in Iraq, spread to Syria and overshadows Egypt, leaving the survival of the Church in jeopardy.”
“We should be crying out with the same abhorrence and horror that we feel about the atrocities towards Jews on Kristallnacht and on other occasions during the Second World War,” she said.
The member for Upper Bann, David Simpson (DUP) told the gathering ““Every hour, a Christian is tortured and murdered somewhere in the world.”
“Surely, in this day and age, something more can be done to protect people and their faith,” he said.
David Burrowes MP said: “The term ‘Christian persecution’ is sometimes bandied about carelessly… if there is Christian persecution in this country then at worst its victim is likely to be sued, but in the Middle East the victim will be killed. That is the stark reality that we are facing…”
The member for Rutherglen and Hamilton West, Tom Geatrex (Lab.) warned of problems facing Christians in Malaysia, where a court “has effectively outlawed the Bible, particularly in the eastern states of Malaysia”, after ruling that the word “Allah” may only be used in the context of the Muslim faith.
Other members of Parliament spoke of the persecution Christians faced in Iran, Egypt, Syria and Turkey. Mrs. Bruce observed the problem of militant Islam was not confined to the Middle East. “Western Muslims are going to fight alongside jihadists in Syria… returning home to become potential jihadists themselves.”
“Western countries are not fully grappling with this problem,” she said.
Foreign Office Minister, Hugo Swire MP, said the government was aware of the problem and noted that “protecting human rights, including religious freedom, is an important part of British foreign policy.”
Ban on divorced/remarried Catholics from receiving Communion reaffirmed: The Church of England Newspaper, November 22, 2013 November 25, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Marriage, Roman Catholic Church.
Tags: Archdiocese of Freiburg im Breisgau, Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Robert Zollitsch
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Divorced and remarried Roman Catholics may not receive Holy Communion, the Vatican has told the German Catholic church.
In letter dated Oct 21, 2013, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller directed the Archdiocese of Freiburg im Breisgau to retract its pastoral guidelines that permitted priests to “respect” the wishes of divorced and remarried Catholics who chose to receive the Sacraments.
The new policy introduced following the retirement of Archbishop Robert Zollitsch on 17 September 2013, said if divorced and remarried Catholics had made a “responsible moral decision” to receive Communion, their consciences should be respected.
The new policy was contrary to church teaching and “would cause confusion among the faithful about the Church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage,” Archbishop Müller wrote in his letter, published in the German Catholic newspaper Die Tagespost on Nov 11, 2013.
However, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich, told Die Tagespost Archbishop Müller’s letter was not the final word.
“The prefect of the Congregation cannot end the discussion,” Cardinal Marx said. “We will see that this is discussed further, but with what result, I do not know.”
Typhoon Haiyan rocks the Philippines: The Church of England Newspaper, November 18, 2013 November 24, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Disaster Relief, Episcopal Church of the Philippines.
Tags: Typhoon Haiyan
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Church aid agencies have issue a call for help following the landfall of Typhoon Haiyan in the Central Philippines.
At least 10,000 people are feared dead around the city of Tacloban, 375 miles south-east of Manila and the death toll is expected to mount sharply after communications are restored to the south-eastern province of Leyte.
The head of the Philippines Red Cross described the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan, renamed Yolanda in the Philippines, as “absolute pandemonium” while Philippine Consul General in London said “the world has never seen a storm like this before”. The Philippine National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council stated that approximately 4.28 million people have been affected by the storm, while UNICEF reports 405,000 children are in immediate need of food and shelter.
Oenone Chadburn, Tearfund’s Head of Disaster Management, reported: ‘We’ve been in emergency communication with our partners and their networks of churches, across the Philippines, all weekend.
“Together we’re initiating emergency food distributions and our church networks are planning emergency shelter-and-blanket distributions, as well as child-focused protection work. What we need now is the money to run these,” she said.
On 11 November 2013 the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said his “heart goes out to the people there. We are all deeply shocked and saddened to hear of the loss of thousands of lives and of the suffering of millions as a result of Typhoon Haiyan.”
“Our prayers are with all who have lost loved ones and all those who are traumatised by the disaster and in desperate need of food, water, shelter and medical attention. We pray for those who are most vulnerable in this crisis: children separated from their parents, the sick and injured, the disabled and the elderly.”
“As a Church, we will stand beside the people of the Philippines at this devastating time, offering all we can in practical and spiritual support as the scale of the disaster unfolds,” the archbishop said.
“May the victims of this terrible storm know God’s comfort and derive strength from their faith.”
Bishop of Wakefield to lead city church: The Church of England Newspaper, November 23, 2013 November 24, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: St Michael's Cornhill, Stephen Platten
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The Bishop of London has appointed the Rt. Rev. Stephen Platten to be rector of the medieval church of St. Michael’s Cornhill in the City of London. Bishop Platten will take up his appointment following the merger of the Diocese of Wakefield into the new Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales on Easter Sunday 2014.
Bishop Platten said: “Eleven years is the longest I have ever served in one place and one puts down real roots so I shall be sad to say farewell to so many people and friendships in and well beyond the Church of England.
“I shall also miss all those familiar and beautiful views in the landscape of such a fascinating diocese – thanks to all who have given me so much!”
In addition to his parish post, Bishop Platten will serve as an honorary assistant Bishop in the Diocese of London. In January 2014 he will also assume the chairmanship of the Hymns Ancient and Modern charitable trust. He will also continue in his post as chairman of the governors of the Anglican Centre in Rome.
Born in London and educated at the Stationers’ Company’s School in Hornsey and the University of London, Bishop Platten trained for the ministry at Cuddesdon Theological College and Trinity College, Oxford.
He served as a priest in Oxford, Lincoln and Portsmouth dioceses and as Tutor of Ethics and Chaplain at Lincoln Theological College, before becoming the then Archbishop of Canterbury’s Secretary for Ecumenical Affairs in 1990. In 1995, he became Dean of Norwich and was enthroned as the Bishop of Wakefield in July 2003.
Rochester vicar suspended for 8 years for sexual misconduct: The Church of England Newspaper, November 22, 2013 November 24, 2013Posted by geoconger in Abuse, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Diocese of Rochester, Paul Meier
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A disciplinary tribunal has banned a Diocese of Rochester vicar from serving in the ministry of the Church of England for eight years.
In a decision handed down last week, the Rev. Paul Meier vicar of St Margaret’s Church in Horsmonden and youth missioner for the Storrington deanery in West Sussex for the Diocese of Rochester, had engaged in gross misconduct for having had an affair with an 18-year old girl.
Mr. Meier had been suspended in October 2012 from his benefice after a complaint was made that he had engaged in a sexual affair with an 18 year old girl who had attended his youth group.
The tribunal learned the 47-year old married father of two whom he had known the girl and her family for at least six years prior to the incident and that the girl was “unbalanced”.
The relationship began in 2007, the tribunal learned, and in 2008 Mr. Meier invited the girl, then 18, to move in to his family home.
Mr. Meier had “hoped for further sexual intimacy” with the girl, Judge John Lodge, the chairman of the tribunal, observed. However, in 2008 the girl’s parents had their daughter admitted to a psychiatric unit for evaluation and treatment.
Judge Lodge held: ”The complainant became mentally disturbed, as evidenced by attempts to self-harm, and she acted bizarrely.
“Mr Meier admits the complainant self-harmed and that she told him about it. Rather than cease his misconduct and provide her with the support she needed and deserved, he allowed things to continue unchanged.”
Mr. Meier’s actions were “inappropriate to the work of a clerk in Holy Orders,” the tribunal ruled, and suspended him from the ministry for eight years.
Episode 86: Anglican Unscripted, November 23, 2013 November 24, 2013Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican.TV, Church of England, GAFCON, Quincy, The Episcopal Church.
Tags: Justin Welby
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Anglican Unscripted is the only video newscast in the Anglican Church. Every Week Kevin, George, Allan and Peter bring you news and prospective from around the globe.
Mau-mauing The Times of London: Get Religion, November 21, 2013 November 21, 2013Posted by geoconger in Get Religion, Press criticism.
Tags: flack, flak, Justin Welby, public relations, Ruth Gledhill, The Times
The Archbishop of Canterbury has stated the Church of England was moving away from using faith as a criteria for admission to its church-supported schools, The Times of London reported last week.
And the newspaper caught hell for it. The Church of England’s press office said this was untrue — a “creative piece of writing.”
Was this a he said/she said (or wrote) dispute? The “he” being Justin Welby the archbishop of Canterbury and the “she” Ruth Gledhill, The Times‘ star religion reporter. Or was this a case of what the archbishop said was not exactly what he meant? Were his words taken out of context? Did The Times deserve the drubbing it was given?
At this point — a week after the story entitled “Church in ‘move away’ from school selection” (behind a paywall I’m afraid) — a newspaper reader is not likely to be any the wiser as to what happened. The Church of England’s press office and the Lambeth Palace press office have thrown up such a wall of flak round the interview that the archbishop’s original statement is moot. The content of the denials are now the story — or the official line from the church.
On Nov. 14, 2013 The Times reported:
Church of England faith schools are moving away from selecting pupils on the basis of their religion, the Archbishop of Canterbury has revealed.
The Most Rev Justin Welby said that selection was not necessarily the key to good results and believes that throwing open the doors to all-comers can help the Church achieve its mission to alleviate poverty.
Church of England schools are not analogous to Catholic parochial schools in the U.S. They are not private schools funded by tuition and supported by a sponsoring denomination. In England they are state funded. The Church of England explains:
The English system of education has been built in partnership with the Christian churches. The Churches were the first providers of schools, funding building and staff costs through voluntary donations. The State gradually became convinced that it had a duty to provide education and gradually assumed a larger part of the task. But Government has always recognised that Church schools are important partners in providing education for all. That partnership enables the State to use around 8,000 school buildings and sites owned by the Church of England and Roman Catholic Church free of charge, but in return successive governments, irrespective of political party, have continued to provide financial support for church schools.
Some parents choose Church schools because they want to have their children educated in accordance with their Christian belief, others because it is the nearest school or because it is a school which takes spiritual as well as social, moral and cultural development seriously. Whatever the reason, Church of England schools are committed to offering high quality education to the whole community and are part of the Church’s commitment to serving the common good. Taxpayer’s money is therefore being used to provide high quality education for tax payer’s children.
Many Church of England schools, which educate a quarter of England’s primary school children, are over subscribed. Removing faith, or lessening its importance, from among the selection criteria for prospective students, would be a game changer in the admissions game.
Shortly after the story went live on The Times website, the archbishop’s interim press officer sent an email blast to religion reporters, saying the report was untrue.
In the course of a wide ranging interview for The Times on the subject of tackling poverty, the Archbishop of Canterbury was asked about the role of schools. He praised the work of church schools especially in areas of highest deprivation, and stressed the importance of home, family and excellent school leadership.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued the following statement regarding selection criteria for church schools: “I fully support the current policy for schools to set their own admissions criteria, including the criterion of faith. Nothing in my wider comments to The Times on this subject should be seen as “revealing” any changes nor dissenting from current policy.” The Most Revd Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury.
The Director of Communications for the Church of England issued a further denial, which stated in part:
The (erroneous) story in today’s Times Newspaper claiming that the Church of England ‘moving away’ from selecting school pupils based on religion was a creative piece of writing. So creative in fact that the Lambeth Palace issued a statement correcting the story which reads … The Archbishop himself douses the story in the Times with cold water …
The director of communications then went on to cite statistics about church schools and their roll in British education. These responses prompted confusion within the press as to what was said and what was important — other newspapers reported the change, the denials, both, or offered opinions as to why the change was a good idea.
Once a pejorative term, “flak” had its roots in the German word “fliegerabwehrkanone” — anti-aircraft gun. Its meaning as a noun has evolved over time to mean criticism: “I took a lot of flak over that statement”. And is also used an adjective to refer to a publicist who seeks to deflect adverse publicity.
“Flack”, the dictionaries tell me, has a close meaning but different history. Gene Flack, a 1930′s Hollywood press agent extraordinaire, is credited with being one source. Credit is also given to Tom Wolfe author of “Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak-Catchers” — “flack” being slang for “flak catcher”. Traditionally, a flack created flack (a publicist created publicity) while a flak deflected flak (press officer deflected criticisms). Now the words are all but interchangeable.
In The Times interview aftermath we see both sides of the trade — deflection of an unpopular story (church schools changing admissions policies) and creation of an alternative (church schools are the best schools in Britain). But what did the archbishop actually say?
Ruth Gledhill published the transcript of the interview, indicating the archbishop’s flaks/flacks doth protest too much.
What you are seeing in the Church schools is a deeper and deeper commitment to the common good. There’s a steady move away from faith-based entry tests. They are not selective in terms of education. And they are focusing, particularly the new church academies – and you can see that in diocese after diocese – are focusing on the areas of highest deprivation where the Church school adds the most enormous value. … What is absolutely clear is home and family is essential. Really good school leadership is absolutely critical. It is not necessary to select to get a really good school. There are unbelievably brilliant schools that are entirely open to all applicants without selection criteria apart from residence, where you live, and which produce staggeringly good results.
Did Lambeth Palace and the Church of England press office mau-mau Ruth Gledhill? Did the flacks throw up a barrage of flak to deflect criticism and to offer an alternate interpretation of what the archbishop said? My sense of things is that Ruth Gledhill has been treated unfairly.
She reported what the archbishop said. Perhaps it was not what he meant to say?
First published in Get Religion.
Oh, those pagan Irish Anglicans?: Get Religion, November 18, 2013 November 19, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of Ireland, Get Religion, Press criticism.
Tags: Diocese of Cashell & Ossory, Fellowship of Isis, Olivia Durdin Robertson, paganism, syncretism
Was it a case of good manners?
Did the editors at The Irish Times print the obituary of Olivia Durdin Robertson, who it described as, “the self-styled ‘high priestess’ of a Co Carlow-based cult devoted to an ancient Egyptian goddess, [who] has died aged 96,” without any comment or further investigation to avoid a scandal in the Church of Ireland? Or were they unaware of what they had in front of them?
The Church of Ireland is in a delicate state in terms of its unity. Divided roughly along North/South lines over the culture war issues — homosexuality, abortion and the like — the church funeral of Olivia Durdin Robertson might tip the church over the edge.
This Irish Times story marks the passing of a generation: English aristocratic eccentrics (in this case Angl0-Irish) with oddball country house antics. While Miss Durdin Robertson appears not to have aspired to the cat suits of Dianna Rigg, the conversion of her ancestral home, Huntington Castle in the Irish village of Clonegal in County Carlow, into a temple dedicated to “the Goddess” would not have been out of place in an episode of the ’60s television show, The Avengers.
The Irish Times reported:
Ms Durdin Robertson came to international attention in the 1970s when she co-founded the “Fellowship of Isis” with her late brother Lawrence Alexander Durdin Robertson – a former Anglican clergyman — and his wife Pamela.
Her nephew David Durdin Robertson, a craftsman and sculptor who predeceased her in 2009, created an Egyptian temple for her in the dungeons of the castle. In recent years this has been opened to the public for tours at Halloween.
Her funeral on Wednesday will begin with “a private ceremony in the temple, organised by the Fellowship of Isis, by invitation only” followed by a public Church of Ireland service at St Fiacc’s in Clonegal.
And then closes with odds and ends about the Fellowship and the castle.
Well, “what of it?”, you might ask. Why would the obituary of the priestess of an Irish-Egyptian cult come across GetReligion’s radar? Titillation value?
No — the two funerals notice is the clue. Anglican churches have a difficult time as it is permitting Freemasons Christian burial. But a church burial for a leader of a pagan cult, even if she is the local squire, is contrary to canon law.
Canon 32, “The burial of the dead”, of the Church of Ireland states in part:
(2) A member of the clergy may however exercise discretion in refusing to read the burial service in full where the deceased died unbaptised or had committed some grievous or notorious sin and not repented of it or had been excluded from Holy Communion under Canon 16 and had not been readmitted thereto.
And in such circumstances:
(3) And where this is not reasonably practicable such member of the clergy shall report the matter to the [bishop] thereafter.
I wrote to the priest in charge of St Fiacc’s (which is part of a larger conglomeration of parishes) asking whether questions had been raised about the propriety of holding a church service, and via email he responded:
Re your query, I am as alarmed as you are at the turn of events. The Christian gospel is compromised. The woman deserted Christ for paganism years ago and a Christian Church is no place for her funeral. Alas I am not the Rector, Just his assistant. I have been away for the w’end and have no details other than what you know already. I understand the Bishop was informed and his advice sought. I take it he has given permission. …
And I wrote to the bishop — and he did not respond.
This funeral has all the makings of an ecclesiastical row. The bishop in question, the Bishop of Cashel and Ossory, has led the charge in the Church of Ireland on liberalizing abortion laws in the Republic and on changing church teaching on homosexuality. (He is also the brother in law of the Archbishop of Dublin, but that wouldn’t influence things would it?) In 2011 the bishops of Northern Ireland refused to participate in a ceremony where the Bishop of Cashel and Ossory would be present, due to his allowing one of his priests to enter into a gay civil partnership. That crisis appears to have been smoothed over, but the hard feelings remain.
Will the bishop’s permission, or indifference, to the church funeral of a pagan priestess reignite the fires?
The moral of the story, from a journalistic point of view, is to pay attention and to have knowledge about the subject you are covering. It could well have been discretion that prompted the silence from the Irish Times on this oddball bit of news. But a religion reporter in Ireland would know that the Roman Catholic Church, and the principle Protestant Churches — Anglican, Presbyterian and Methodist, would forbid a funeral under these circumstances. An analogy might well be reporting a marriage between two persons of the same-sex in Ireland, and not noting that such a marriage would be unlawful under civil and religious law.
The Church of Ireland’s standing committee meets this week, and I expect this issue will be raised (unofficially) amongst the bishops. Let’s wait and see what happens.
First printed in Get Religion.
Don’t mess with C.S. Lewis: Get Religion, November 15, 2013 November 16, 2013Posted by geoconger in Get Religion, Press criticism.
Tags: Ayn Rand, C.S. Lewis, Religion News Service
This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.
Dorothy Parker in her review of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged (1957).
I cannot read Ayn Rand. I have tried. As a teenager, friends assured me I would love Atlas Shrugged. I didn’t.
The inimitable Whitaker Chambers spoke for me when he wrote in The National Review in 1957:
Out of a lifetime of reading, I can recall no other book in which a tone of overriding arrogance was so implacably sustained. Its shrillness is without reprieve. Its dogmatism is without appeal. In addition, the mind which finds this tone natural to it shares other characteristics of its type. 1) It consistently mistakes raw force for strength, and the rawer the force, the more reverent the posture of the mind before it. 2) It supposes itself to be the bringer of a final revelation. Therefore, resistance to the Message cannot be tolerated because disagreement can never be merely honest, prudent, or just humanly fallible. Dissent from revelation so final (because, the author would say, so reasonable) can only be willfully wicked. There are ways of dealing with such wickedness, and, in fact, right reason itself enjoins them. From almost any page of Atlas Shrugged, a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding: “To a gas chamber — go!”
Yet among my circle of acquaintances are serious thoughtful individuals who number Rand among the great thinkers and writers of the 20th century. Her economic and philosophical theories are on the tip of their tongues — and passages of her fiction are committed to memory. I have learned over the years to be certain of my references to her life and work when she pops up in a story — for if I make a mistake I will hear from her legions.
Rand is one of a select group of authors who have maintained a devoted following. Monty Python, Star Trek, Karl Marx, and the Aubrey-Maturin naval adventures in literature, Bob Dylan in music, for example, have spawned fans who have memorized the canon of their classics.
C.S. Lewis is one such figure. In this week’s Crossroads podcast I spoke with Lutheran Public Radio host Todd Wilken about the perils of C.S. Lewis reporting, citing my GetReligion post “C.S. Lewis the occultist and other rather obvious errors”.
In that post, I recounted a series of unfortunate errors about C.S. Lewis’ life — mistakes that had nothing to do with the issue at hand, but ones that cropped up in the filler — background material about Lewis’ life and work used to round out the story. I noted the claim that Lewis was involved in the occult was untrue, and cited a portion of his autobiography. I wrote:
While Lewis, like his friend and colleague J.R.R. Tolkein, was devoted to the Norse sagas and mythology, he was not an occultist. While some Christian groups have denounced Lewis’ work, saying it glorifies witchcraft and magic, the only evidence of a personal interest in magic comes in this passage in Surprised by Joy where he recounts how a matron at his prep school dabbled in the occult. (citation follows in the original.)
And irony of ironies, I was caught out by one of GetReligion’s readers on this point. My correction of the original story was incomplete, Lori Pieper wrote.
George, you really should have kept reading in Surprised by Joy. There more about Lewis’ interest in magic and the occult in it than you think. In a later chapter, about his life just before he went to Oxford, he describes the attraction to these things that arose from reading Yeats (his prose more than his poetry) and Maeterlinck. He says “If there had been in the neighborhood some elder person who dabbled in dirt of the Magical kind (such have a good nose for potential disciples) I might now be a Satanist or a maniac.”
So he did read about the occult, though the journalist’s description is simplistic and overstated. And by misstating when the reading occurred, the mythology and the magic are lumped together as one, something that Lewis would never buy. He saw the effects of the mythology as beneficial, as an appeal to the imagination and as a pointer toward genuinely spiritual hope (those he misunderstood this for a long time), while he always at least dimly perceived the occult as evil.
I should have taken my own advice and boned up on Lewis a bit more.
While I have never taken to Ayn Rand, I have devoured C.S. Lewis’ works — his Narnia books, science fiction and his Christian apologetic works. Yet, working from my own knowledge, rather than going back to the original sources, I made the same sort of error that I criticized.
And — this is what I like about new media — its ability to be self-correcting. I advanced the ball and Lori Pieper moved it down the field for a touchdown.
Thank you Lori, and the other readers of GetReligion, who have added their specialized knowledge to stories my colleagues and I have posted to this site. Well done.
First printed in Get Religion.
Interview: Issues Etc., November 15, 2013 November 15, 2013Posted by geoconger in Interviews/Citations, Issues Etc, Press criticism.
Tags: C.S. Lewis, New York Times, Religion News Service
GetReligion contributor George Conger discusses an editorial by “The New York Times” on religious liberty and the Affordable Care Act and a Religion News Service story about C.S. Lewis
Episode 85: Anglican Unscripted, November 14, 2013 November 14, 2013Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, Church of England, Disaster Relief, Property Litigation, Quincy, The Episcopal Church.
Published on Nov 14, 2013
Anglican Unscripted is the only video newscast in the Anglican Church. Every Week Kevin, George, Allan and Peter bring you news and prospective from around the globe.
St Peter’s relics to be placed on public display by the Vatican: Church of England Newspapaer, November 15, 2013 November 14, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Roman Catholic Church.
Tags: St Peter, Year of Faith
The Vatican will mark the conclusion of the “Year of Faith” with the first public exhibition of the the relics of St. Peter, the Apostle and first Bishop of Rome.
On 8 November 2013 Msgr. Rino Fisichella, president for the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, announced in an editorial published in the semi-official newspaper L’Osservatore Romano St. Peter’s relics will be removed from their grotto and placed on display to mark the close of the Year of Faith on 24 November.
The editorial did not offer further details, but announced the Year of Faith – a major evangelization initiative for the Roman Catholic Church – will conclude on Sunday the 24th with Pope Francis celebrating the Eucharist in St Peter’s Square.
Pensions Board asks for fossil fuels review: Church of England Newspaper, November 15, 2013 November 14, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Church of England Pensions Board
The Church of England Pensions Board has lent it support to a request by 70 global pension funds to the world’s major energy companies, asking them to investigate how the push to combat man-made climate change will impact the profitability of their businesses.
On 24 October 2013 the 70 pension funds published an open letter to the top 45 oil, gas, coal and electric companies asking them to complete the study by the end of the first quarter of 2014. Because the capital investments required to extract gas, oil and coal take years to recoup, the pension funds stated the risk of future regulations that would limit production or impose expensive pollution-control requirements could reduce the industry’s profitability.
The letter signed by the Church of England Pensions Board, Scottish Widows Investment Partnership, Rockefeller & Co., and the treasurers of half a dozen U.S. states, represents almost $3 trillion in investments.
“The underlying question here is the billions of dollars that are being invested” is prudent in light of the changing regulatory environment, the head of the California’s State Teachers’ Retirement System, Jack Ehnes, told the Associated Press.
Kenyan Anglican elected WCC moderator: Church of England Newspaper, November 15, 2013 November 14, 2013Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Kenya, Church of England Newspaper, WCC.
Tags: Agnes Aboum
A lay woman from the Anglican Church of Kenya, Dr. Agnes Aboum, has been elected moderator of the World Council of Churches.
The 150-member Central Committee of the Christian ecumenical organization elected Dr. Abuom last week at its 10th Assembly in Busan, South Korea held from 30 October to 8 November 2013. She will be the first woman and first African to hold the post.
As moderator Dr. Abuom will lead the WCC’s highest government body. The administrative head of the WCC is its general secretary the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit of Norway.
“My open prayer is that we shall move forward together, in the next years, despite our diversities that have the potential to divide us,” Dr. Abuom said shortly after her election, “…and that the WCC will continue to remain an instrument for providing a safe space for all who can come and share their hopes, aspirations and visions, and prophetic voice.”
According to a press hand out from the WCC, Dr. Aboum said the prophetic voice is vital for “ecumenism in the 21st century and the church in our world today.”
As the first woman moderator of the worldwide body, Aboum says the model of consensus discernment “resonates very well with femine decision-making processes,” consultative and careful listening and seeking to understand the other person’s perspective.
Dr. Abuom has served on the WCC Executive Committee, representing the Anglican Church of Kenya. She is also a development consultant serving both Kenyan and international organizations coordinating social action programmes for religious and civil society across Africa.
Dr. Abuom was the Africa regional president for the WCC from 1999 to 2006. She has been associated with the All Africa Conference of Churches and WCC member churches in Africa. She is a co-president of the Religions for Peace and the National Council of Churches of Kenya.
Nigerian plea to keep politics out of church: Church of England Newspaper, November 15, 2013 November 14, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Politics.
Tags: Emmanuel Chukwuma, Holy Ghost Adoration Camp Ground
A stampede that killed 28 people at the close of a vigil at a Catholic festival in South Eastern Nigeria has led to calls from church leaders to ban politicians from canvassing voters at church services.
Details as to the cause of the sudden rush of the crowd at the Holy Ghost Adoration Camp Ground in Anambra State remain unclear. But at approximately 6:00 am on Saturday 2 November 2013 the crowd of 100,000 began to rush towards the exits, trampling scores of worshippers and killing 28.
The National President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor , urged the Anambra governor Peter Obi to launch an inquiry into the tragedy. However, the chairman of CAN in South East Nigeria, the Anglican Bishop of Enugu,the Rt. Rev. Emmanuel Chukwuma, said the federal government should investigate the disaster.
Leaders of the governor’s political party have called for the arrest of opposition candidate in the forthcoming gubernatorial election, Senator Chris Ngigie saying his comments to the crowd had caused the stampede – a charge the senator has denied.
Speaking to reporters after the disaster, Bishop Chukwuma said: “It is my own duty as CAN chairman, South East to ban all politicians from attending our churches with their teams for campaigns. The church should also steer clear of partisan politics because there are different kinds of people in the church that belong to different political parties.”
“So it is wrong to come into the church and begin to talk about manifestos. It is not going to be acceptable any more because it causes commotion and disrespect for one another.
“We appeal to bishops, priests, pastors and clergymen to please avoid politicians coming to use churches as campaign arena. This does not augur well for our spiritual growth.
“We therefore urge the Federal Government to set up a probe panel to find out what actually happened because we feel very much worried. Since the state government is involved, I think there should be a neutral body for the investigation,” Bishop Chukwuma said on behalf of CAN.
Tutu calls for boycott of Commonwealth summit: Church of England Newspaper, November 15, 2013 November 14, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of Ceylon, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Desmond Tutu, Sri Lanka
Archbishop Desmond Tutu has lent his support to the call by Tamil leaders for a boycott of next week’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
On 7 November 2013 the South African Nobel Laureate urged Commonwealth heads of government to skip the meeting in protest over “war crimes” committed by the government of President Mahinda Rajapakse.
Approximately 40,000 civilians were killed in the final months of the Sri Lanka’s civil war, a 2009 U.N. report claimed, as government troops shelled rebel held territories in the north of the island. The U.N. report also accused the rebel Tamil Tigers of shooting civilians who attempted to flee the war zone. In the war’s aftermath the government has been accused of using violence to suppress political dissent and has jailed journalists for voicing critical views.
On 11 November the Indian government announced that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would honor the boycott and skip the meeting, while Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper last week said he would stay away in protest to Colombo’s treatment of the Tamils. Both governments will send lower level delegations to the 51-nation summit.
Prime Minister David Cameron stated he would attend, but will ask “serious questions” of Mr. Rajapakse after having viewed a “chilling documentary” detailing the closing months of the war.
“I will raise my concerns when I see president Rajapakse next week in Colombo,” Mr. Cameron said, “and I will tell him that if Sri Lanka doesn’t deliver an independent investigation, the world will need to ensure an international investigation is carried out instead.”
“If there are enough reasons to suggest that the Sri Lanka government have not been doing things with integrity, I think the world has to apply all the screws that it can,” Archbishop Tutu said. “And a boycott of the CHOGM could be one of them.”
The Boys from Buenos Aires?: Get Religion, November 14, 2013 November 14, 2013Posted by geoconger in Get Religion, Judaism, Press criticism, Roman Catholic Church.
Tags: anti-Semitism, Society of St Pius X, The Boys from Brazil
What is an ultra-conservative Catholic? A member of the Society of St Pius X? A faithful Sunday communicant? A Trappist monk? Or is it someone whose name appears on the subscription lists of both My Daily Visitor and The National Review?
There is nothing improper, from the perspective of good journalism, in describing someone as an ultra-conservative Catholic — newspapers make editorial assertions in their headlines and ledes all the time. It is what draws the reader into the story.
However, the main body of the story should define what the reporter means when labeling someone as an ultra-conservative Catholic. A report Tuesday in the Buenos Aires daily Clarín on disturbances at the city’s Roman Catholic cathedral illustrates the need to be precise with language and labels.
In an article entitled “Incidentes en la Catedral: un grupo ultracatólico quiso impedir un acto por el Holocausto judío”, a group of young people attempted to disrupt a service commemorating the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht — the night in 1938 when the Nazis burned destroyed hundreds of synagogues and thousands of Jewish owned shops throughout Germany, arresting tens of thousands of Jews. The “night of broken glass” presaged what was to come in 1942 — the Holocaust.
Un grupo ultraconservador católico trató de impedir esta noche, a los gritos y con insultos, una ceremonia ecuménica en la Catedral metropolitana al cumplirse el 75º aniversario de la “Noche de los cristales rotos”, considerada el inicio del Holocausto judío perpetrado por el nazismo.
A group ultraconservative Catholic tonight tried to stop with shouts and insults, an ecumenical ceremony in the Metropolitan Cathedral to mark the 75th anniversary of the “Night of Broken Glass”, considered the beginning of the Jewish Holocaust perpetrated by the Nazis.
Let’s start with the basics. Who: ultra-conservative Catholics; What: disrupted Kristallnacht ceremony; Where: Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral; When: Nov. 11, 2013, Why: That we do not know yet.
The story continues:
Según contaron testigos del episodio a la agencia oficial Télam, cuando el arzobispo de Buenos Aires, Mario Poli, intentó comenzar la liturgia de conmemoración, un grupo de feligreses se puso de pie y comenzó a rezar a los gritos para impedir el desarrollo de la ceremonia.
According to eyewitness testimony gathered by the official Télam news agency, when the archbishop of Buenos Aires, Mario Poli, tried to start the memorial service, a group of worshipers stood and began to pray and cry out in an attempt to stop the ceremony.
Los manifestantes también repartieron volantes con las leyendas “Fuera adoradores de dioses falsos del templo santo” y “Los pastores que llevan a los hombres a confundir el Dios verdadero con dioses falsos son lobos”.
The protesters also handed out fliers with the motto “Not worshipers of false gods holy temple” and “Pastors who lead men to confuse the true God with false gods are wolves”.
El accionar intolerante del grupo, compuesto en su mayoría por jóvenes, generó de inmediato el repudio de las autoridades diplomáticas, funcionarios y representantes de la comunidad judía presentes en la Catedral, así como de miembros de organizaciones de derechos humanos y de los credos cristianos.
The intolerant actions of the group, composed mostly of young people, were immediately repudiated by diplomats, civil servants and representatives of the Jewish community in the Cathedral, as well as by members of human rights organizations and Christian denominations.
The article continues with an account of the archbishop’s reaction to the protest, the content of the service, and background on Kristallnacht. What we do not learn is who these protesters were and why they did it.
The only description given is that they were ultra-conservative Catholics. May we assume these are members of the SSPX? Their anger appears not to be racial but theological. Their protests, as evidenced by the content of their banners as reported by Clarín and in their chants shown in the video above indicate they were opposed to the participation of Jews in worship held in a Catholic Church — not in Jews being Jews, per se. (As if that were an excuse.) Leaders of the SSPX have made the news in recent years through outbursts of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.
But what if were not the SSPX but Roman Catholics giving voice to views once propounded by the inquisition? Suspicion and hatred of conversos or Marranos? (Descendants of Jews who had converted to Christianity but suspected of secret adherence to Judaism.)
Or, are the fair skinned and some light haired youthful protestors (Argentinians of European descent) pictured in the video Dr. Mengele’s children? Descendants of Nazi exiles to Argentina who have come out in the open? Preposterous as this sounds, if I were the editor of a British red top tabloid I would go with that explanation. Hitler and Nazis are tabloid gold in Britain.
If you are curious about this story, the Associated Press added this titbit:
The Rev. Christian Bouchacourt, the South America leader of the Society of Saint Pius X, said Wednesday that the protesters belong to his organization and that they have a right to feel outraged when rabbis preside over a ceremony in a cathedral. “I recognize the authority of the pope, but he is not infallible and in this case, does things we cannot accept,” Bouchacourt said in an interview with Radio La Red.
“This wasn’t a desire to make a rebellion, but to show our love to the Catholic Church, which was made for the Catholic faith,” Bouchacourt added. “A Mass isn’t celebrated in a synagogue, nor in a mosque. The Muslims don’t accept it. In the same way, we who are Catholics cannot accept the presence of another faith in our church.”
Would not this information been helpful — in fact necessary — for a reader to understand what was happening with this story? Using the catch all phrase “ultra-conservative” to describe what sort of Catholics were protesting tells the reader nothing.
First printed in Get Religion.
New York Times shilling for Obamacare: Get Religion, November 12, 2013 November 12, 2013Posted by geoconger in Get Religion, Press criticism.
Tags: Affordable Care Act, Joe Friday, New York Times, ObamaCare, religious liberty
Religious liberty claims advanced in opposition to the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) are a cloak for bigotry, the editorial powers that be at The New York Times tell us.
In an editorial published on Nov. 7 under the name of the editorial board, the Times summarized the Nov. 1 decision handed down in Gilardi v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Service by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. By a 2-1 vote, the court held ObamaCare violated the First Amendment to the Constitution by forcing business owners to purchase insurance that would provide contraception or abortifacients.
The court ruled wrongly, the Times believes, hoping the Supreme Court will overturn the decision.
The Supreme Court is expected to decide by Thanksgiving whether it will take up the issue. Its duty is to resolve the conflicting opinions by firmly rejecting the dangerous view that private employers can use their religious belief to discriminate against women.
One may not agree with the Times‘ reasoning, and reject its moral stance that religious liberty must be subordinated to the state. In its editorial the Times propounds the view that religion is a private activity that must not stray from the inside of churches or the human heart into the public square. Acting upon, or being true to the dictates of ones faith in civic life must take second place to the higher moral goods of abortion and contraception, the Times editorial team tells us.
This is, after all, an editorial.
Important for voicing one of the contending ethical and moral views in the healthcare debate — but it is merely one voice among many. Ignore it. Adore it. Do what you will. This is an opinion piece.
Where the GetReligion team has a problem — from the point of journalistic integrity — is when the editorial line overwhelms the news reporting. The Nov. 2 news article about the Gilardi decision is less strident and avoids the infelicitous language found in the editorial. But the attitudes to which the editorial gives voice are just as strong in the story “Court Rules Contraception Mandate Infringes on Religious Freedom.”
Let me show you how newspaper folks can rubbish a decision with which they disagree.
Start off with a neutral voice — channel Joe Friday. “Just the facts, ma’am.”
contraception infringed on individual religious liberty.’s mandate that employers provide free coverage for
The case, Gilardi v. the Department of Health and Human Services, was the latest setback for the Obama administration as it struggles to fix the crippled insurance enrollment website, HealthCare.gov. However, the fight over the mandate long preceded the law’s enactment and will most likely go to the Supreme Court.
The mandate “trammels the right of free exercise,” Judge Janice Rogers Brown wrote for a divided three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
But, just as Joe Friday never actually said “Just the facts, ma’am” – to shade a story without being called out for its biases, a newspaper just gives the facts — but only some of them. We see this unfold in this article. Paragraph three gives the sole quote from the decision. Paragraphs four and five background, paragraphs six through eight offers commentary from lawyers opposed to the mandate coupled with paragraph 11′s “no comment” from the government. The article then trails off and ends with two paragraphs that could be cut from the story without harm. Filler.
The hook comes in paragraphs nine and 10 where the dissenting voice from the court is heard.
Judge Harry T. Edwards wrote a dissent to the main part of the ruling, calling the Gilardis’ claim that a requirement on their companies imposed a burden on their freedom of religion “specious.”
Judge Edwards continued, “It has been well understood since the founding of our nation that legislative restrictions may trump religious exercise.”
Why is this significant? More space is given to the dissent, which is in line with the Times‘ editorial policy than is given to the controlling decision. What we never learn from this story is why the court ruled against the government. It is not as if there were not some powerful lines in the majority ruling. The court held:
The contraceptive mandate demands that owners like the Gilardis meaningfully approve and endorse the inclusion of contraceptive coverage in their companies’ employer-provided plans, over whatever objections they may have. Such an endorsement—procured exclusively by regulatory ukase — is a “compelled affirmation of a repugnant belief.” That standing alone, is a cognizable burden on free exercise. And the burden becomes substantial because the government commands compliance by giving the Gilardis a Hobson’s choice. They can either abide by the sacred tenets of their faith, pay a penalty of over $14 million, and cripple the companies they have spent a lifetime building, or they become complicit in a grave moral wrong. If that is not “substantial pressure on an adherent to modify his behavior and to violate his beliefs,” we fail to see how the standard could be met.
In this paragraph we have the “why”. Which leads me to ask why the Times chose to fill out its article with half a dozen subordinate paragraphs that offer opinions, forecasts, or non sequitors when it could have reported what actually happened.
Yet the Times felt it necessary to use the “specious” quote from Judge Edwards, but omitted Justice Brown’s statement: “The Framers of the Constitution embraced the philosophical insight that government coercion of moral agency is odious.”
Would not it have been better to balance “specious” with “odious”?
So what is going on here? Can this mistake be laid at the door of sloppy journalism? Perhaps, but this story passed through the hands of editors, whose job it is to ask questions. Why did they not ask the obvious (to me at any rate) question, “why did the court rule the way that it did?” Did the mistake happen here? Did an editorial hand slice out the court’s ruling in favor of filler?
Or are we seeing the Times engaged in the European advocacy model — in this case its news is written, unashamedly, from a a left-liberal point of view which espouses a liberal, even secularist line. Is this another case of Bill Keller syndrome, where there is no need for balance on a story about religion and culture?
Religion has no business in the public square most European newspapers and the Times believe. This argument is not confined to the salons of Manhattan. In the Proposition 8 case in California, Federal District Court Judge Vaughn Walker invalidated the California ballot initiative that defined marriage as being between one man and one woman. Judge Walker held the “moral and religious views” behind Proposition 8 were not “rational,” hence it was unconstitutional.
President Barack Obama, a former law professor, has argued that “What our deliberative, pluralistic democracy demands is that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values.”
While individuals may demand this, the basic rules of journalism do not. Ignoring the religious arguments in public policy disputes, or dismissing them out of hand is an attack on freedom — religious freedom and democratic freedoms. It is also poor journalism as it omits one of the essential elements of the story. Voices on both sides of the debate should be accurately quoted.
The solution to this problem in Europe is to take more then one newspaper. Unfortunately in the U.S. newspaper market few if any newspapers acknowledge their biases, and two newspaper towns are few and far between. The consumer then must read with a jaundiced eye, aware that he is playing journalism’s version of the three card monte — and must open some newspapers with the foreknowledge that he is not getting the whole story, but what the particular newspaper he is reading believes to be important.
First printed in Get Religion.
Australian diocese warns it may opt out of marriage: Church of England Newspaper, November 8, 2013 November 11, 2013Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Diocese of North West Australia, Gary Nelson, gay marriage
The Bishop of North West Australia has warned that if the state or federal governments legalize same-sex marriage, Anglican clergy in his diocese would no longer serve as marriage registrars.
The statement by the Rt. Rev. Gary Nelson follows the decision last month by the Australian Capital Territory to legalize same-sex marriage – a move that has been challenged by the federal government as being unconstitutional.
Bishop Nelson told The Western Australian “If we were compelled as marriage celebrants to marry same-sex couples then, as far as this diocese is concerned, I would be withdrawing my approval for ministers to act as marriage celebrants.
The bishop said his clergy would be permitted to perform marriage services according to the rites of the Church, but couples married in the church would need to go to a civil registrar to have their marriage recognized by the state.
Australia was in the midst of a culture war between those holding a traditional Christian worldview and post-modernists.
“The post-war rise of deconstructionism impacted ethical thinking, suggesting that humans are free to create their own natures and decide upon their own purposes — so marriage could be regarded as one social construct among many,” he said.
“But in forming an ethical position, you have to decide if you are committed to a relative or absolute set of values. For us as Anglicans and Christians, we ask what is the Bible, as God’s disclosed word, saying on any issue.”
Bishop Nelson told The Western Australian he would be voting “no” at the 14 November 2013 provincial council meeting when the Diocese of Perth motion on same-sex marriage is reviewed.
The bishop said the Perth motion “seems benign, but the underlying perspective is not consistent with the official view of the Anglican Church held recently and historically.”
Keep guns out of church, pleads Kenya’s archbishop: Church of England Newspaper, November 8, 2013 November 11, 2013Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Kenya, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Eliud Wabukala, gun control
The Primate of the Anglican Church of Kenya has denounced a call by Mombasa clergy that they be given guns to protect themselves from the depredations of criminals and Islamist militants.
“As church leaders, we should be on the forefront preaching for peace and reconciliation. Churches are places of worship and not a battlefield,” Archbishop Eliud Wabukala said on 1 November 2013.
On 20 October 2013 a pastor at a Pentecostal church in Mombasa was shot to death in his church’s sanctuary. At his funeral church leaders called upon the government to protect ministers – or give them the means to do so.
The call to arms received the cautious support of the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK), which last week issued a statement saying it supported the right of clergy to bear arms, if they complied with civil laws concerning the registration and use of guns.
However, Archbishop Wabukala told the congregation gathered at Bishop Hannington’s Teachers College in Mumias, guns were no guarantee of safety.
“AK47 rifle will never secure anyone’s security. I beg to differ with my fellow pastors because even if they are issued with guns, how will they protect themselves from a mob. They should ask Kenyans to repent and live in peace,” the archbishop said.
It was the responsibility of “government to provide security to all. No single person can protect himself. We need everyone to be protected regardless of their position in society.”
“The murder of the pastor was wrong; the attacks on churches should be stopped. All places of worship should be respected whether it’s a church, a mosque, a temple or even a traditional shrine. We should be tolerant with those who don’t believe in our religion because we are all Kenyans,” the archbishop said according to an account of his sermon printed in The Standard.
Episcopal Church sees 24% decline in 10 years: Church of England Newspaper, November 8, 2013 November 11, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, The Episcopal Church.
The number of Episcopalians at worship on Sundays in the United States has declined by 24 per cent over the last ten years, statistics released last week by the church’s national office in New York reveal.
The church’s Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) in 2012 for domestic and overseas dioceses was 679,923 – a decline of 2.6 per cent from 2011.
In 2002 the ASA for the domestic dioceses of the Episcopal Church was 846,640. In 2012 the domestic ASA was 640,142; a decline of 206,498 or 24 per cent over ten years. The secession of the Diocese of South Carolina last year is not reflected in these figures.
Baptized membership declined by 29,679 in 2012 to 2,066,710, the Episcopal Church reported on 31 October 2013, with growth in baptized membership reported in only 33 domestic dioceses. Twelve dioceses saw growth in their ASA in 2012. The Diocese of Nevada saw the greatest percentage and numeric growth in attendance of any diocese, 6.9 per cent or 165 people, while the Diocese of Ohio had the steepest decline: 1,150 or 14.4 per cent.
Perth archbishop vetoes same-sex marriage motion: Church of England Newspaper, November 8, 2013 November 11, 2013Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Diocese of Perth, gay marriage, Roger Herft
The Archbishop of Perth has withheld his consent to a synod motion affirming same-sex marriage.
On 28 October 2013, the Most. Rev. Roger Herft vetoed a motion put forward by the Rev. Chris Bedding that “acknowledge[s] that legal recognition of same-sex relationships may co-exist with legal recognition of marriage between a man and a woman.”
Mr. Bedding had brought the motion to the 2012 meeting of synod, where it passed on a majority vote. However, Archbishop Herft withheld his consent saying the motion could be construed as being contrary to church teaching on marriage.
Mr. Bedding brought the motion a second time to the 2013 Perth synod last month, where it received a two thirds majority from the clergy and laity. He told the AAP the motion sought to counteract negative comments on same-sex marriage voiced by some Christian groups.
“When they come out and say things like ‘it’s unnatural to be gay’ or ‘it’s against the bible’ or ‘all Christians reject homosexual behaviour’ … we want to say ‘that’s not the case’,” he said.
“And if the government … goes ahead with any kind of recognition, whether that’s something as simple as changes to superannuation laws or marriage equality, we’re comfortable with that,” Mr. Beddings said.
In his letter explaining his reasons for vetoing the motion, the archbishop stated the word “recognition” connotes “formal acceptance. The Church cannot formally accept certain behaviors. “
Archbishop Herft, who comes from the liberal Catholic tradition, noted the theology behind the motion was faulty. The first part of the motion which recognizes sexual diversity and differing theologies on sexuality in the diocese “gives our sexual identity and theology on sexuality a place of prominence that is not theologically sound.”
The motion could be construed as being a statement in support of same-sex marriage, he added, and this violated the Book of Common Prayer’s teaching on marriage. “The members of synod who passed the motion may not have intended to depart from the Fundamental Declarations and Ruling Principles of the Anglican Church of Australia,” but that is the “effect of the motion.”
Archbishop Herft stated that he had referred to the matter to a special meeting of the Western Australia Provincial Council on 14 November 2013 for adjudication of the dispute between bishop and synod.
GAFCON to be ‘an Anglican province’ in all but name: Church Times, October 31, 2013 November 11, 2013Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, Church Times, GAFCON.
THE Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) will effectively provide for Anglican traditionalists the fellowship and support that provinces give to dioceses, Dr Peter Jensen, a former Archbishop of Sydney, Australia, told the Church Times at the close of the GAFCON conference in Nairobi last week (News, 25 October).
The conference adopted by acclamation the Nairobi Commitment, pledging primatial support for an umbrella group for British traditionalists: the Anglican Mission in England. GAFCON would not legally be a province, Dr Jensen said, but “effectively, yes”.
In light of the impending release of the Pilling report, and of the expected endorsement by the Church of England’s General Synod of a Measure allowing women bishops, but offering no safeguards to those opposed to this, GAFCON decided to shift its energies from the US to the UK.
The Pilling report will not be released until later this year, but the view of many of those present at GAFCON was that, based on statements released so far, and the theological views of the Pilling panel, it would opt for rites for the pastoral blessings of gay civil partnerships.
The internal strength of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), and its acceptance by most provinces of the Anglican Communion, gave GAFCON the opportunity to redeploy its energies to the UK.
The Vicar of St Martin de Gouray, Jersey, Canon Gavin Ashenden, said steps had to be taken now to prevent conservative Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics from fragmenting into half a dozen groups, should the crisis occur. A “non-geographic” province would be an ecclesial Velcro, gathering the diaspora, he said.
Adopted on the closing day of the conference with little public dissent, the conference statement received strong support from participants. The Bishop of the Gulf Atlantic diocese of ACNA, the Rt Revd Neil Lebhar, welcomed the statement, calling it a “unity” document that would gather other Anglicans into the GAFCON fold.
The Vicar of St Matthew’s, Elburton, and chairman of Reform, Prebendary Rod Thomas, said: “It sets a clear gospel priority for GAFCON. It is designed to carry forward the work of encouragement and faithfulness. . . I’m delighted.”
A multi-national committee composed of delegates from Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, the Southern Cone, the US/Canada, and England produced the document from reports submitted by the nine “mini-conferences” that convened during the meeting. The committee chairman, the Bishop of the Mid-Atlantic diocese of ACNA, the Rt Revd John Guernsey, told delegates that the statement had not been pre-written, but was a product of the conference.
The conference received a draft copy of the statement last Friday, and was directed to break into national groups to offer substantive criticisms for review by the writing team. Over the course of the evening, eight revisions were produced, and the final document was presented for approval the next day.
Not all the delegates were pleased with it. The Bishop of Fort Worth, the Rt Revd Jack Iker, said that it showed the strength of the “Sydney contingent” at the meeting. He was “concerned” about the deletion of points that were important to Anglo-Catholics, and noted that GAFCON treated Anglo-Catholics as poor relations to the conservative Evangelical majority.
Within the English section, a debate over the degree of thanks to be given to the Archbishop of Canterbury arose. While some praised the Archbishop for his seeming endorsement of GAFCON, others were concerned about what they perceived as his indecisiveness.
The director of Christian Concern, Andrea Minichiello Williams, read to the group a part of Archbishop Welby’s address in the Lords on the Government’s Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act, arguing that his words had all but conceded the argument to those who supported gay marriage.
In the final document, words of commendation for the Archbishop became: “We appreciated that the Archbishop of Canterbury sent personal greetings via video, and gave us the assurance of his prayers, and we likewise pray for him.”
A behind-the-scenes fight over language describing the ministry of women also shaped the final document. It said: “We affirm the ministries of women and their vital contribution to the life of the Church: their call to the task of evangelism, discipling, and building strong marriages, families, churches, and communities. GAFCON 2013 upholds the Bible’s teaching that men and women are equally made in the image of God . . . excercising different gifts. We recognise that we have differing views over the roles of men and women in church leadership.”
Delegates from provinces that support women in episcopal leadership, however, fought for the inclusion of language in support of women bishops. The move was blocked by the dominant Nigerian bloc (almost 500 of the 1300 delegates), in alliance with conservative Evangelicals. When the final document was offered to the conference, a Ugandan woman clergy delegate voiced a lone “No” vote.
But the Nairobi Commitment was not a “Mosaic tablet”, Dr Ashenden said. It was “a fluid document,” produced by committee in a very short time, which addressed different audiences on different levels, while seeking also to express a vision for the future.
The confusion expressed in other areas was absent when addressing the situation in England. In the “Our Priorities” section, the document said GAFCON would continue to engage in cross-border support for Anglicans whom it believed were disowned by their ecclesial structures.
It stated: “In line with the Jerusalem Statement’s expectation that the Primates’ Council would intervene to provide ‘orthodox oversight to churches under false leadership’, the Primates’ Council will carefully consider working beyond existing structures as an obedient response to Jesus’s commission to take the gospel to all nations.”
The document spelled out where these cross-border actions might take place. “We commit ourselves to the support and defence of those who in standing for apostolic truth are marginalised or excluded from formal communion with other Anglicans in their dioceses. We have therefore recognised the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) as an expression of authentic Anglicanism both for those within and outside the Church of England, and welcomed their intention to appoint a General Secretary of AMiE.”
Nevertheless, none of those questioned by the Church Times would say on the record who they thought would provide episcopal oversight for the AMiE, nor how it would be structured. But many, though not all, of the English conference participants agreed that GAFCON should focus on recognising that the problem existed, and that a solution needed to be reached before the crisis fragmented traditionalist Anglicans.
First printed in The Church Times.
Missing Catholic voices in Belgium’s euthanasia debate: Get Religion, November 5, 2013 November 5, 2013Posted by geoconger in Abortion/Euthanasia/Biotechnology, Get Religion, Press criticism.
Tags: Associated Press, Belgium, euthanasia
Let me commend to you an excellent article on a horrible subject.
The Associated Press story “Belgium considering unprecedented law to grant euthanasia for children, dementia patients” reports on moves by the ruling Socialist Party to permit doctors to euthanize children as well as adults with dementia. This report — long at 1000 words from a wire service — offers a balanced account on the move to extend the right to die to children.
It is thorough, balanced, provides context and expert analysis to allow a reader to make up his own mind. Yet, are some voices missing? The article opens with a question:
Should children have the right to ask for their own deaths?
It lays out the issue:
In Belgium, where euthanasia is now legal for people over the age of 18, the government is considering extending it to children — something that no other country has done. The same bill would offer the right to die to adults with early dementia.
Advocates argue that euthanasia for children, with the consent of their parents, is necessary to give families an option in a desperately painful situation. But opponents have questioned whether children can reasonably decide to end their own lives. …
Belgium is already a euthanasia pioneer; it legalized the practice for adults in 2002. In the last decade, the number of reported cases per year has risen from 235 deaths in 2003 to 1,432 in 2012, the last year for which statistics are available. Doctors typically give patients a powerful sedative before injecting another drug to stop their heart. …
And offers opinion from a Catholic archbishop and medical ethicists.
“It is strange that minors are considered legally incompetent in key areas, such as getting married, but might (be able) to decide to die,” Catholic Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard testified. Charles Foster, who teaches medical law and ethics at Oxford University, believes children couldn’t possibly have the capacity to make an informed decision about euthanasia since even adults struggle with the concept.
“It often happens that when people get into the circumstances they had so feared earlier, they manage to cling on all the more,” he said. “Children, like everyone else, may not be able to anticipate how much they will value their lives if they were not killed.”
There are others, though, who argue that because Belgium has already approved euthanasia for adults, it is unjust to deny it to children. “The principle of euthanasia for children sounds shocking at first, but it’s motivated by compassion and protection,” said John Harris, a professor of bioethics at the University of Manchester. “It’s unfair to provide euthanasia differentially to some citizens and not to others (children) if the need is equal.” …
The AP’s sentiments are with those opposed to euthanizing children — closing with comments by an anti-euthanasia voice that lands a solid hit on those who call for death-choice. But it nevertheless offers both sides to the story and refrains from demonizing those with whom it disagrees. For a template on how to write a story about a contested moral issue, I would offer this piece.
Yet an American reader might question the use of the expert quotes. The commentary begins with a soft quote from the Catholic archbishop and then moves into a more rigorous back and forth on the topic between medical ethicists and physicians. Why do we not hear moral arguments from religious leaders? Where are the Catholic voices? (This is Belgium. after all.)
Selecting experts to respond to an issue is one way of shading a story — setting a dope against an expert, or a zealot against a rational voice is one way a newspaper can push the story in the direction it fancies. Should we then say the AP is unconcerned with the religious element to this story? Getting the soundbite out of the way from the archbishop before bringing in the important voices? Or, was there no faith voice comparable in stature to the ethicists and physicians available to speak?
There may be some of that present, but my sense is that the use of ethicists to discuss the issue rather than moral theologians reflects the state of the debate in a post-Christian society like Belgium. European anti-clericalism, the growing power of secularism coupled with the abuse scandals has driven the Catholic Church out of the public square in some parts of Europe.
A well-rounded Anglo-American or even French newspaper account of the debate on this issue would include faith voices. Not so in Belgium, the Netherlands, the Nordic countries or Germany where faith voices are heard less and less in the public square.The intellectual and political culture of those countries holds to the privatization of religion that does not welcome its insights into debates on public morality.
By including faith voices in moral debates in the Anglo-American press, are we privileging religion? Or are we giving it is fair place in the debate? Is the expected faith voice a political or intellectual choice? By that I mean do we hear from the Catholic churchman, Rabbi, or Protestant theologian because of the position accorded them by society — or because of the strength of their arguments?
As a journalistic issue, should we expect to hear religious voices opine on moral topics in irreligious societies?
Gafcon fears a fire over England: The Church of England Newspaper, November 1, 2013 November 5, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, GAFCON.
Tags: Anglican Mission in England, Gavin Ashenden, John Guernsey, Pilling Report, Rod Thomas
The fear of fragmentation over the Pilling report and women bishops has led the 2nd Global Anglican Future Conference (Gafcon) to adopt a statement pledging its members support to traditionalist evangelical and Anglo-Catholic members of the Church of England.
The Nairobi statement was adopted by the meeting on 26 October 2013 by acclamation, with only slight — but significant “no” voices raised. The Rev. Rod Thomas, vicar of St Matthew’s Elburton, Plymouth and chairman of Reform told The Church of England Newspaper he was very pleased. Mr. Thomas, a member of the writing committee that produced the document said “it sets a clear Gospel priority for Gafcon. It is designed to cary forward the work of encouragement and faithfulness … I’m delighted.”
The Rev. Dr. Gavin Ashenden,Vicar of St Martin de Gouray on Jersey, cautioned the document should not be read as a “Mosaic tablet. It is a fluid document” he explained that it was a multi-layered document written by committee for different audiences. However, the core principles enunciated were a reaffirmation for the 2008 Jerusalem Declaration and a shift of focus away from America to the U.K, he explained.
The Rt. Rev. John Guernsey, Bishop of the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic of the Anglican Church in North America and chairman of the writing team, told delegates the text was not written before the meeting, but arose from its proceedings. After the opening plenary sessions, conference participants broke into “mini-conferences” that addressed topical issues facing Anglicans. Gafcon 2 boasted no invited speakers, with all of the presentations and mini-conferences presented by delegates.
Each delegate participated in a single session over the course of the conference, choosing in his registration his group: The Challenge of Islam, The Work of the Holy Spirit, Marriage and Family, Children and Youth, Gospel and Culture, Being Women of God, Aid and Development, Theological Education, and Episcopal Ministry. Over the 11 hours of sessions, that were structured as seminars to allow each participant voice in the deliberations, the mini-conferences produced several hundred recommendations for issues and items to be included in a final statement.
A draft document was presented to a plenary session of the conference on 25 October 2013. Gafcon general secretary Dr. Peter Jensen and Bishop Guernsey asked the conference to break into national or regional groups to offer substantive corrections and criticisms for review by the writing committee, which was composed of delegates from Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, the Southern Cone of South America, US/Canada and England. Eight drafts were needed to produce the final document from the several hundred submissions, and the final four page document was presented in the closing session of the meeting.
Divided into two sections — an extended preamble and the Nairobi Commitment — the document began with a recital of the highlights of the conference and a history of the formation of the Gafcon movement, now identified as the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (GFCA). The document thanked the Archbishop of Canterbury as “he gave us the assurance of his prayers, and we likewise pray for him.’
It reaffirmed the GFCA’s evangelical theological principles and restated its denunciation of homosexual practices, affirmed the principle movements within the GFCA: Evangelicals, Anglo-Catholics and Charismatics, and recounted its support for the formation of the Anglican Church in North America.
The document went on to reaffirm its self-understanding as a fellowship of Anglicans, but noted at this stage in its life it needed to create institutional structures to support its work, asking delegates to provide funds for a staff and central/regional offices.
In the section entitled “Our Priorities” the document spoke to the core issues facing Gafcon and announced that it would provide support for embattled Anglicans whose provinces or dioceses had disowned them, or made their lives intolerable. Yet, the willy-nilly cross-border interventions of the past ten-years, which had been condemned in the Windsor Report, were ruled out. Future crossings of ecclesiastical boundaries by the Gafcon members would be taken only after the Gafcon Primates council came to a consensus on the need.
“Supporting genuine gospel initiatives, recognising that there are times when the maintenance of structures can constrain the proclamation of the gospel. In line with The Jerusalem Statement’s expectation that the Primates’ Council would intervene to provide ‘orthodox oversight to churches under false leadership’, the Primates’ Council will carefully consider working beyond existing structures as an obedient response to Jesus’ commission to take the gospel to all nations.”
Other priorities enunciated by the document included deepening “discipleship” as Christians, to the exclusion of “national, ethnic or tribal attachments.” Combatting the pernicious influence of secularism on the doctrines and discipline of the church, responding to the challenges of militant Islam and “work for the protection of the environment and the economic empowerment of those who are deprived of resources.”
These principles were then enunciated in the Nairobi Commitment, which included a specific pledge of support to traditionalists in the Church of England. “We commit ourselves to the support and defence of those who in standing for apostolic truth are marginalized or excluded from formal communion with other Anglicans in their dioceses. We have therefore recognized the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) as an expression of authentic Anglicanism both for those within and outside the Church of England, and welcomed their intention to appoint a General Secretary of AMiE.”
It was his hope that Gafcon would become a “non-geographic province”, Canon Ashenden said. “Not legally, but spirituality, psychologically” supporting clergy and laity marginalized by the existing order, he said.
Steps had to be taken now, he explained, so that if there was a crack up within the church over recommendations from the Pilling Report to provide pastoral rites for the blessing of gay civil partnerships, and when Synod endorsed the appointment of women bishops but declined to offer enforceable safeguards to those who could not accept this innovation, there would be one place to gather the diaspora.
While covering a vast amount of ground, the Nairobi Commitment was a clear call to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the House of Bishops of the General Synod of the Church of England. “Bishops have to decide,” Canon Ashenden said.between “Biblical orthodoxy” and the spirit of the age. “You must choose,” he said.
Makgoba urges Africa to end gay bashing: The Church of England Newspaper, November 1, 2013 November 5, 2013Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: gay bashing, Thabo Makgoba
The Primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa has lent his support to a campaign launched by the British NGO Human Rights Watch to combat gay bashing.
In a video released last week Cape Town Archbishop Thabo Makgoba said “Don’t fear … you’ve been given this task of helping the rest of humanity to realize that we are called to respect and we are called to honor each other. People may come and say this is un-African, and I’m saying love cuts across culture.”
The Human Rights Watch campaign seeks to push back against statements and policies put forward by African governments and leaders that it considers homophobic. ”When you violate somebody on the basis of difference you’re not only violating them but you are demeaning yourself,” Makgoba says in the video. He exhorts leaders to take up their “moral responsibility to stop the violence against people who are different.”
“Archbishop Makgoba’s statement should serve as a call to national, religious, and cultural leaders across Africa who support the rights of LGBTI people to speak out publicly,” said Graeme Reid, LGBT Rights director for Human Rights Watch. “And the archbishop’s message of respect for everyone’s rights should challenge leaders who have opposed the rights of LGBTI people to reconsider their positions.”
West Indian economic crash prompts episcopal calls for thrift: The Church of England Newspaper, November 1, 2013 November 5, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of the West Indies, Development/Economics/Govt Finances.
Tags: Diocese of Barbados, John Holder
An economic downturn and political turmoil in Barbados has prompted the Archbishop of the West Indies to challenge his countrymen to practice thrift and self-reliance. The Most Rev. John Holder has also tasked political leaders to set aside their political wrangling and work together to pull Barbados and the West Indies out of a protracted economic slump.
Last week the island’s Central Bank reported sharply lower foreign exchange reserves and a down turn in overseas investment, while economic growth was projected to be less than 1 per cent for the coming fiscal year. Last month the IMF forecast no grown for 2013 and 2014 for Barbados — marking it as one of the most sluggish economies in the hemisphere.
On 23 October 2013 Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler survived a no-confidence motion by a vote of 15-14. The Barbados Labour Party had charged the government with incompetence in managing the country’s fiscal affairs.
In response, Archbishop John Holder, the Bishop of Barbados, released a statement on 26 October with the church’s Advocacy and Social Justice Commission urging Barbadians to “use the coping and creative skills we have to ride out the recession and lay the groundwork for an economic rebound.”
“Barbadians of earlier times fought against the odds and laid the foundation for the quality of life we now enjoy,” the archbishop said, adding: “We are proud inheritors of such a spirit of fortitude and resilience, and we must show that we are capable of peacefully getting past the present economic setbacks and building a more prosperous and just nation.”
“We do have some control over our destiny. What we must not do is to throw up our hands in despair and just wait for the IMF’s dire forecast to be realised. Rather, we should use the unfavourable assessment as motivation to redouble our efforts to prove the predictions wrong.”
While crying up thrift for the people, the archbishop also challenged the government to institute social and economic reforms. “We must re-examine our systems and structures, and work to ensure that those Barbadians who consider themselves to be marginalised are given the opportunity to enjoy some of the benefits of a prosperous Barbados,” the statement said.
Politicians needed to do their part as well. “Leaders need to tone down the rhetoric and refrain from saying or doing anything which creates anxiety and despair. Instead, they should work together to find solutions to the problems which our nation faces. One up-manship and selfish actions will only serve to fracture the society at a time when unity is required,” the paper said.
Danish queen marks Anglican parish restoration: The Church of England Newspaper, November 1, 2013 November 5, 2013Posted by geoconger in Uncategorized.
Tags: Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe, Margrethe II of Denmark
Queen Margrethe II of Denmark joined the Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe, the Rt. Rev. Geoffrey Rowell in the re-dedication of St. Albans Anglican Church in Copenhagen last week. In 2012 the church began a campaign to restore the 125 year old church, built with the assistance of Queen Alexandra, the consort of Edward VII and Princess of Denmark. The 20 October celebration marked the completion of repairs to the church’s Victorian stained glass windows and its Queen Alexandra memorial.
In his sermon Dr. Rowell noted the generosity of the congregation in its support for the project hoping those present would “keep this forever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of thy people.”
Tags: Diocese of Qu’Appelle
Thieves have stolen the bishop of Qu’Appelle’s crozier from St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral in Regina.
The Diocese of Qu’Appelle reports that sometime in the last three weeks the antique bishop’s staff disappeared from the Saskatchewan cathedral. The police have been notified and local pawns shops informed of the theft.
The five and a half foot long staff was made in the 1880′s in London for the first bishop of the Canadian diocese and has a silver head encrusted with semi-precious stones. The Very Rev. Mike Sinclair, Dean of Qu’Appelle told the Regina Leader-Post the insurance value of the crozier was approximately C$15,000, but it was historical value made it irreplaciable for the diocese.
“It’s nearly impossible to sell,” he said, encouraging the thief to return the crozier.
“We’d love to have it back; it’s part of our family history, but at the same time we’re concerned for who has stolen it, that they don’t end up with more trouble than they need, when it would just be easy to return it.,” the dean said.
Anglican Unscripted Episode 84 – Gafcon Edition: November 3, 2013 November 3, 2013Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, GAFCON.
Published on Nov 3, 2013
Anglican Unscripted is the only video newscast in the Anglican Church. Every Week Kevin, George, Allan and Peter bring you news and prospective from around the globe.
This weeks show is everything you wanted to know about GAFCON I, II, and III but were afraid to ask.
C.S. Lewis the occultist and other rather obvious errors: Get Religion, November 3, 2013 November 3, 2013Posted by geoconger in Get Religion, Press criticism.
Tags: C.S. Lewis, CS l, G.K. Chesterton, occult, Religion News Service
Here’s a dirty little secret that reporters don’t want you to know. When writing the back story or filler for a news item, we often rely on our knowledge of a topic to flesh out a story.
While some newspapers used to boast that they fact-checked every statement before releasing a story to a waiting world, that degree of rigor has disappeared. Budgets cuts have reduced editorial staff who were once tasked with cleaning up stories, while at the same time more copy is demanded of writers at a faster pace.
Factual errors happen for many reasons. Reporters mishear or misread things, sources are misinformed, story subjects lie and other reporters try to trip you up. I am not as familiar with American media culture as I am with the British — but I have been led astray by my peers and I in turn have been less than helpful to others. And I have produced howlers that still haunt my dreams.
Often a mistake will not be caught — allowing a graceful correction in the next issue buried beneath the candle ads. But there are some topics that most reporters know not to mess with — items that are part of our collective memory, or items memorized by fanatics. Woe to he who mangles a Star Trek or Monty Python quote.
Religion News Service dropped a brick (several in fact) in its article entitled “Fifty years later, C.S. Lewis’ legacy shines in US, not his homeland”, making mistakes of fact that fans of Lewis would spot in an instant.
The article begins:
When he died on Nov. 22, 1963 hardly a soul blinked in Northern Ireland where he was born or in England where he spent most of his working life as one of the world’s greatest Christian apologists.
Clive Staples Lewis was a week short of 65 when he suffered a heart attack at his home in Oxford. The obituary writers barely noticed his demise, in part because he died on the same day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.
British indifference to Lewis half a century ago will be examined at a one-day seminar at Wheaton College on Nov. 1, co-sponsored by the Marion E. Wade Center, the Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals and Wheaton College’s Faith and Learning program.
Not much to worry about so far — save for the fact the conference was not about “British indifference to Lewis.” The circular for the conference states it will examine the “Oxford don’s influential presence within American culture. ” In other words, the conference will discuss not why Lewis has not caught on in the UK, but why he is so popular in America. There is a difference.
Dropping into the filler of this piece — where RNS gives a biography of Lewis — we see these statements.
Shattered by [his mother's] death, Lewis abandoned his inherited faith at the age of 15 and threw himself into a study of mythology and the occult.
His conversion to Christianity was slow and laborious. Reluctantly, he fell under the influence of Oxford colleague and friend J.R.R. Tolkien and G.K. Chesterton, who met every Tuesday morning at a local public house in Oxford and formed a debating club called ”Inklings.”
Tolkien and Chesterton were disappointed that their new convert turned towards the Church of England, not Rome.
C.S. Lewis went on to write acclaimed books about Christianity — “The Screwtape Letters,” “The Chronicles of Narnia,” “The Space Trilogy,” “Mere Christianity,” “Miracles and The Problem of Pain” — the latter written after he watched his American Jewish wife, Joy Davidman Gresham, die of bone cancer in 1960.
Chesterton was not one of the “Inklings”. In his spiritual autobiography, Surprised by Joy, Lewis acknowledges Chesterton’s influence upon his life.
I had never heard of [Chesterton] and had no idea of what he stood for; nor can I quite understand why he made such an immediate conquest of me. It might have been expected that my pessimism, my atheism, and my hatred of sentiment would have made him to me the least congenial of all authors. It would almost seem that Providence, or some “second cause” of a very obscure kind, quite over-rules our previous tastes when It decides to bring two minds together. Liking an author may be as involuntary and improbable as falling in love. I was by now a sufficiently experienced reader to distinguish liking from agreement. I did not need to accept what Chesterton said in order to enjoy it.
Chesterton, it could be said, baptized Lewis’ intellect the way that George MacDonald baptized his imagination, preparing the ground for his conversion to Christianity. In Surprised by Joy he writes:
In reading Chesterton, as in reading MacDonald, I did not know what I was letting myself in for. A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere — “Bibles laid open, millions of surprises,” as Herbert says, “fine nets and stratagems.” God is, if I may say it, very unscrupulous.”
While Lewis, like his friend and colleague J.R.R. Tolkein, was devoted to the Norse sagas and mythology, he was not an occultist. While some Christian groups have denounced Lewis’ work, saying it glorifies witchcraft and magic, the only evidence of a personal interest in magic comes in this passage in Surprised by Joy where he recounts how a matron at his prep school dabbled in the occult.
And that [the Matron's influence] started in me something with which, on and off, I have had plenty of trouble since – the desire for the preternatural…. it is a spiritual lust; and like the lust of the body is has the fatal power of making everything else in the world seem uninteresting while it lasts… The whole thing became a matter of speculation: I was soon (in the famous words) “altering ‘I believe’ to ‘one does feel…’” I passed into the cool evening of Higher Thought, where there was nothing to be obeyed, and nothing to be believed except what was either comforting or exciting. I do not mean that Miss C. did this; better say that the Enemy did this in me, taking occasion from things she innocently said. One reason why the Enemy found this so easy was that, without knowing it, I was already desperately anxious to get rid of my religion; and that for a reason worth recording.
This RNS piece would have benefited from fact-checking. My sense is that the back story was written from memories past — a press release in hand, a deadline approaching and off we go. These are not fatal flaws, but the article is incorrect as it stands. Not the best job from RNS I’m afraid.
First printed in Get Religion.
Anglican Unscripted: October 5, 2013 November 2, 2013Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, Church of England, GAFCON.
Published on Oct 5, 2013
Why did Time fabricate a quote?: Get Religion, October 31, 2013 October 31, 2013Posted by geoconger in Get Religion, Politics.
Tags: Air Force Academy, Jean-François Lyotard, nihilism, Time
“Jerry, just remember. It’s not a lie if you believe it.” George Costanza, “The Beard”, Seinfeld, Episode 102, 9 Feb 1995.
Time Magazine‘s “Swampland” blog appears to have fabricated a quote in its story about the revision of the Air Force Academy’s honor code. While one may well assume mistake or malice lay behind the creation of a quote, there is the suggestion of deeper purpose.
In reporting on the contretemps over the Academy’s honor code, Time might well have been making a statement on the purposelessness of honor codes in general. Could it be asking the philosophical question: “What is truth?” — offering an answer drawn from deconstructionism that posits that truth exists only in the eye of the beholder?
Follow me through this tale and tell me if you see what I see.
When published on 28 October 2013 the article entitled “On a Wing, But Not On a Prayer” the article began:
While there may be no atheists in foxholes, the Air Force Academy has decided there will be no mandatory God in the heavens. The academy — at 7.258 feet above sea level, the closest of all the nation’s military schools to God’s realm — has long had a reputation as the most Christian of the nation’s military learning institutions. But the Colorado Springs, Colo., academy has decided to make the “so help me God” coda to its cadet oath optional after a complaint from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (not surprisingly, the Christian Fighter Pilot group denounced what it calls a “dramatic change” on its website).
The version that appears on Time‘s website as of 30 October 2013 is slightly different. The subordinate clause contained in the parentheses in the concluding sentence is absent. Perhaps this is due to the Christian Fighter Pilot group not having said what Time claims it said.
The Christian Fighter Pilot website noted:
After pointing out that this website did not “denounce” the decision (in fact, quite the opposite) and that the “dramatic change” comment was clearly facetious, [Time] deleted the reference.
Time corrected but did not note its error in the story. But the question how, or why, the error occurred remains. The Christian Fighter Pilot website suggested:
Given that [Time] clearly didn’t read the article, one wonders how he came to the conclusion that it was ”not surprising.” It’s almost as if he has preconceived notions about Christians in the military.
That is certainly a possibility. It may well be that Time read the blog, but misunderstood what it read. Given the need for speed in preparing internet stories, misreading a source will happen. Or, the author relied upon information passed to him by a person whom he trusted — a form of the “hat tip” [h/t] some bloggers use in citing the source of information in their posts (usually with attribution to the source), but often not confirming its veracity. Mistake rather than malice explains most sins.
The suggestion of bias raised by the Christian Fighter Pilot, however, finds support in the tone of the Time piece. On first reading I thought the Time piece somewhat heavy-handed in its approach to the story — “closest” to God, “no mandatory” God. To my ears these attempts at wit rang a false note. A wan smile was all that they elicited from me — juvenile, but not dreadful.
But other possibilities soon emerged.
The article stated:
The academy’s original honor code dates to 1959 and reads:
We will not lie, steal or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does.
But it was modified following a 1984 cheating scandal to read:
We will not lie, steal or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does. Furthermore, I resolve to do my duty and to live honorably, so help me God.
The phrase “so help me God” was tacked on “to add more seriousness to the oath,” according to a former faculty member. Apparently, there was a subset of Air Force cadets who would cheat absent God as a wingman.
If you read this honor code extract against the knowledge the Time story violated such an oath when it fabricated the Christian Fighter Pilot quote, its cleverness is apparent. By using the ironic device of making a false statement in reporting on a code of conduct that condemns false statements, Time might well have been playing a language-game of the moral efficacy of honor codes. Why else would it suggest that morality is conditional?
Does not Time write: “There was a subset of Air Force cadets who would cheat absent God as a wingman” ? E.g., bad actions are not sinful in and of themselves. Lies are wrong when they are discovered to be lies, not before. And who has the authority to determine what is truth?
Time appears to be arguing for a post-modernist view of truth based not on Jacques Derrida’s deconstructionism, but on Jean-François Lyotard ‘s arguments that truth is inseparable from the age and system to which it belongs.
In lieu of meta-narratives we have created new language-games in order to legitimize our claims which rely on changing relationships and mutable truths, none of which is privileged over the other to speak to ultimate truth. [Lyotard, The Post-Modern Condition, 1994]
Or, “It’s not a lie if you believe it.”
Is Time making the argument that as it believes the Christian Fighter Pilot would have denounced the revision of the honor code oath in view of Time’s opinion o the Christian Fighter Pilot’s thinking, that fact that it did not denounce it is irrelevant? Did not CBS follow this line in what is now called the Dan Rather theory of journalism? “Fake but accurate“?
Or perhaps I have spent too much time on airplanes of late? There comes a time when to every man’s mind when the breaking point is reached when listening to Europop. What say you Get Religion readers? Is a cigar sometimes just a cigar?; “fake but accurate”; a mistake, what?
First printed in Get Religion.
Tags: Rihanna, The Independent, The National
What does “improper” mean when it comes to Rihanna — the Bajan pop star? The Independent in London circles hesitantly round this word in its report on Rihanna’s publicity stunt at a mosque in Abu Dhabi last week, but never quite explains what she did that violated Islamic taboos.
Did Rihanna pull the sort of stunt beloved by Madonna and Lady Gaga — actions that appear to have been undertaken to be provocative — theological marketing ploys designed to sell concert tickets? Are we seeing the start of a new theme in the arts and religious mockery? Will Terrance McNally’s “Corpus Christi” or Andres Serrano’s “Piss Christ” be joined by Islamic equivalents? Somehow I doubt it.
A 21 October 2013 story in The Independent entitled “Rihanna told to leave Abu Dhabi mosque over ‘improper’ photo shoot” begins in the breathless prose favored by celebrity gossip writers. This school of journalism works to a formula as strict as a murder mystery. A crime is committed:
Wearing a headscarf and with her body almost fully covered, Rihanna portrayed herself as a bad girl gone good this weekend. But it has emerged that the pop star was asked to leave Abu Dhabi’s Grand Mosque after posing for photographs.
The body discovered:
Mosque officials said they asked the pop star to leave the compound after she turned her visit into a photo shoot opportunity, which was considered to be at odds with the sanctity of the site.
Although Rihanna dressed conservatively in a head-to-toe black jumpsuit with her hair covered, the photographs were said to have been taken in an area normally off limits to visitors.
The detective investigates:
It said: “In the event of behaviour that violates the moral codes of access to the mosque, or other visit regulations – such as taking inappropriate pictures, posing in ways that are improper in the context of sacred place, talking loudly, or eating – the violators are directed in a polite manner that reflects the civilisational and tolerant attributes of Islam.
And the case, she is solved:
Rihanna, who was in UAE as part of her “Diamonds” world tour, has not yet publicly responded to the statement made by staff at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
Here was have the newspaper version of M. Poirot recounting the crime as the suspects are gathered in the drawing room, while Inspector Japp stands to one side ready to snap the manacles on the wrist of the criminal (the doctor?).
But no explanation as to motive is presented. Reading this article, I felt like Captain Hastings. “But why?”
The Independent tells its readers Rihanna violated the sanctity of the mosque, even though she was wearing clothing that covered her body and hair. Was her crime using the mosque as backdrop to her photos — crass commercialism with a tinge of vulgarity?
To find out more we need to turn to the Abu Dhabi newspaper, The National.
The mosque is open to non-Muslims but the body in charge, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre, ask visitors to respect religious sensitivities.
This includes women wearing an abaya and shayla, which Rihanna did not do.
Rihanna was bounced from the mosque for her dress, not her demeanor. The black body suit does not qualify as an abaya, the neck to toe dress worn by Muslim women in the Arabian peninsula, and her cap does not meet the requirements of the traditional shayla, or scarf, that covers the hair.
This is the sort of detail that provides context for an article. The information provided in The Independent article is insufficient for a reader to understand what happened — it draws upon Western assumptions about Islamic customs to flesh out the story. And that is a mistake.
On one level this is a non-story. Mockery of religion in art lost its edge about 100 years ago and is more often silly than profound. Whether touted as free speech, artistic integrity and the like — more often than not it is puerile foolishness. Rihanna’s handlers organized this stunt perfectly — an Islam-themed provocation. One that was “courageous” but rather insincere. The Independent could have pursued that story.
Instead it kept it simple, reimporting the facts ( just not all of them).
First published in Get Religion.
Arctic Cathedral in financial crunch: The Church of England Newspaper, October 24, 2013 October 27, 2013Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Canada, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: David Parsons, Diocese of the Arctic, St Jude's Cathedral Iqaluit
The financial collapse of a builder may leave the Diocese of the Arctic without a cathedral.
In May the Canadian building firm Dowland Contracting Ltd went into receivership and filed for bankruptcy protection in July. One of the construction giant’s projects had been the rebuilding of St. Jude’s Anglican Cathedral in Iqaluit, Nunavut [Baffin Island].
Last week the Rt. Rev. David Parsons, Bishop of the Arctic reported that Dowland’s receivers were demanding immediate payment of C$3 million plus $30,000 per month in interest. “This is a request that the diocese cannot meet without closure of the Cathedral and an end to the church’s ministry of compassion, hope and presence in the Arctic,” he said.
“We have always remained committed to paying the balance owing on the construction costs to date. But these new demands now threaten our very existence.”
In 2005 the igloo-shaped cathedral was destroyed when a young man set the building ablaze. The fire left the church unusable, while insurance proceeds were insufficient to cover the cost of a replacement. A nationwide fundraising campaign enable the diocese to begin rebuilding the cathedral and more than $7.5 million of the costs have been paid so far.
Bishop Parsons told The Church of England Newspaper the diocese was appealing for help and reaching “out across the Arctic and across Canada to ask people for their support and contributions toward paying off the Cathedral.”
“What I am doing is asking God to pay” the bill, he said. “I don’t know how God will work but let all know this, I, and I hope we, are looking to God for help and direction. We know that God often works through people and our plan is let our people and all else know that we need as many as possible to respond to our ongoing fundraising, so that our Cathedral will become debt free and we may have a service to consecrate it. Until it is paid off we cannot.”
The diocese will not lay off any of its employees, he said. “We actually wish to be able to expand our ministries and we are seeking God’s direction and our people’s help for this and the cooperation of the receiver. Until the receiver decides how he will respond to our situation, nothing will change,” he said.
“We have always been faithful stewards who have not gone back on our word. As we promised Dowland, we will pay our bills when the money comes in. Until it does, we cannot. Everyone, including the receiver for Dowland needs to know this,” the bishop said.
Teachers’ union denounces church reform plea: The Church of England Newspaper, October 24, 2013 October 27, 2013Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: South African Democratic Teachers Union
South Africa’s Teacher’s Union has denounced a plea from the Anglican Church of Southern Africa to devote itself to teaching and eschew politics, saying the church had become a tool of “imperialist” parasites and an ally of reactionary politicians.
Secular and religious education was among the chief topics of debate at the ACSA synod last week. Delegates gathered in Benoni, a suburb of Johannesburg, urged Anglican members of the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) to “either to transform the trade union into a body that truly serves the cause of education, or resign from Sadtu,” a church press release stated.
With 260,000 members the SADTU represents approximately 70 per cent of the country’s state school teachers. A political ally of the ruling African National Congress, the union has been criticized by education reformers for its frequent strikes, poor teaching standards and alleged corruption.
The synod denounced teacher “corruption and laziness which deprives our children of the education they deserve” and called upon the union to “refrain from destructive stay-aways.”
In a statement released last week, Sadtu responded the church’s complaints about the country’s poor state schools were misplaced. “We maintain that the majority of our members are dedicated to the profession but are frustrated by the fact that they are not receiving sufficient support like resources to teach in schools and are not sufficiently developed in order to teach the new curriculum.”
The church should stay out of politics, the union said. Its condemnation was an “opportunist”, “antagonistic” and “reactionary resolution”.
“We reject the synod’s call with the contempt it deserves and its attempt to interfere in labour issues and the rights that we fought for.”
Allah ban upheld by Malaysian court: The Church of England Newspaper, October 24, 2013 October 27, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of South East Asia.
Tags: al-Kitab, Bolly Lapk, Malaysia
A Malaysian Court of Appeal has forbidden a Catholic newspaper from using the word “Allah” to refer to God, ruling the use of the Arabic word for God was not a central tenet of the Christian faith.
On 14 October 2013 the three judge court of appeal overturned a 2009 Kuala Lumpur High Court ruling which rejected the Malaysian government’s ban against using the word “Allah” by the Herald, a Catholic newspaper published in Malay.
“Our common finding is that the usage of Allah is not an integral part of the Christian faith. We cannot find why the parties are so adamant on the usage of the word,” the court wrote last week.
Using “Allah” in a Malay language newspaper would confuse Muslims, the court said, and in the interest of public safety it granted the government’s appeal. “The welfare of an individual or group must yield to the interest of society at large,” wrote Justice Mohamed Apandi in his ruling.
Christian leaders reacted strongly to the verdict. The Primate of the Church of the Province of South East Asia, the Most Rev. Bolly Lapok, Bishop of Sarawak said Anglicans would continue to use the word “Allah”.
“For an outsider to say that the use of the word Allah is ‘not integral to the Christian faith’ is excessive, utterly irresponsible and grossly demeaning, to say the least. The Church does not need an apologist from outside to decree what is integral or not regarding her faith,” he said in a statement released after the decision was published.
“In fact, the ruling has far-reaching implications. It is not only insensitive to Christians in Sabah and Sarawak, but it is an insidious aberration to the spirit of Muhibbah (harmony), which the government has been so desperately trying to promote among all Malaysians. It is repugnant to the universal common sense.”
The government, however, was quick to assure Christians that the Allah ban applied only to the Herald and not to other Christian publications. The ban on the use of the word Allah only applies to the Catholic weekly, Herald, and not other Christian publications or the Al-Kitab, the Bahasa Malaysia bible which is widely used in Sabah and Sarawak, said Deputy Home Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.
First woman archbishop for Sweden elected: The Church of England Newspaper, October 24, 2014 October 27, 2013Posted by geoconger in Central Florida Episcopalian, Church of England Newspaper, Church of Sweden.
Tags: Antje Jackelén
The Church of Sweden has elected the Rt. Rev. Antje Jackelén, Bishop of Lund as Archbishop of Uppsala and primate of the Church of Sweden. The 15 October 2013 vote by the Swedish synod makes Dr. Jackelén the church’s first woman archbishop.
Dr. Jackelén is the second Archbishop of Uppsala to be elected by popular vote following the disestablishment of the Church of Sweden on 1 January 2000, and she succeeds Archbishop Anders Wejryd who was elected in 2006.
A native of Germany, Bishop Jackelén was ordained a priest in 1980 and served parishes in the dioceses of Stockholm and Lund from 1981 to 1996. In 1999 she earned a doctor of theology degree at Lund University, with a doctoral dissertation Zeit und Ewigkeit: die Frage der Zeit in Kirche, Naturwissenschaft und Theologie was published in English in 2005 as: Time & eternity: the question of time in church, science, and theology. She taught at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago from 2001 to 2006, when she was elected Bishop of Lund.
A member of the liberal wing of the Swedish Church, Bishop Jackelén is a prolific social commentator and was Sweden’s first twitter bishop and publishes a micro blog about her work and beliefs. In an interview published in the Swedish church newspaper Kyrkans Tidning, Bishop Jackelén defended herself against charges she was cold and aloof. “I think I have many warm and close relationships,” she said, but in her job as bishop she came in contact with “an incredible number of people, I cannot be everything to everyone.”
She also objected to making belief in the virgin birth of Jesus Christ a benchmark of the Christian faith. “It is strange that the question of the virgin birth has become something of a faith test,” she told Kyrkans Tidning, adding the Bible had been interpreted in different ways across time and cultures and that many different cultures had made use of a virgin birth as a way to show a particular person’s self-importance.
“I am more afraid of those who claim to know everything, than anyone who claims to wrestle with the Bible,” she said.
Tags: Diocese of Bathurst, Ian Palmer
The Bishop of Bathurst in New South Wales reports the Commonwealth Bank has frozen diocesan bank accounts in an attempt to recoup A$36 million debt.
In a letter to his diocese read to churches on 6 Oct 2013, the Rt. Rev. Ian Palmer reported the garnishment would not touch parish accounts or diocesan payroll accounts. “At the moment there are some accounts that are frozen, these are affecting myself ,“ he wrote, adding “it’s affecting things like being able to use a credit card, but it’s not affecting wages.”
“I am unable to see clearly what the diocese may look like in the future,” he said, as the debt “is large and we cannot repay the bank in full.”
Last year, Bishop Palmer’s predecessor, the Rt. Rev. Richard Hurford told the diocese it was a guarantor of $38 million in debts incurred by the Orange and Dubbo Anglican Grammar Schools and All Saints’ College in Bathurst. The diocese was unable to make a balloon payment of $8 million due in September 2012 prompting its creditors to push the diocese to liquidate properties to raise cash.
The September sale of the two grammar schools had “crystallised” the diocese’s debt leaving it in a “very difficult place” Bishop Palmer said. The diocese was in “intense” negotiation with the bank, he said and “we’re still doing our sums”
But “it’s a fairly urgent situation,” he reported, however, “the important thing is the parishes are continuing to operate as normal.”
“We will need to give financially and sacrificially for the work of the church in this diocese” to continue Bishop Palmer wrote, noting the November meeting of synod would be asked to review a variety of options to pay off the loans.