Posted 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.
Posted by geoconger in Get Religion, Islam.
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:
The statement from the Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque, published today in local Abu Dhabi newspapers, did not mention Rihanna by name but instead alluded to a “singer”.
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.
Posted 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.
Posted 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.”
Posted 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.
Posted 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.
Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Church of England Newspaper.
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.
Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Anglican Covenant, Church of England Newspaper.
With little fanfare, and no debate, the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa has adopted the Anglican Covenant.
Meeting in Benoni, a town outside Johannesburg, the synod adopted a second reading of the covenant, which it had affirmed in 2010.
The motion was introduced by the Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Rev. Thabo Makgoba of South Africa and seconded by the Dean of the Province, the Rt. Rev. Rubin Philip, Bishop of Natal.
Bishop Philip told the synod the covenant would not change the existing synodical structures of the communion, but quoting from the document said “we recognise the importance of renewing in a solemn way our commitment to one another, and to the common understanding of faith and order we have received, so that the bonds of affection which hold us together may be re-affirmed and intensified. We do this in order to reflect, in our relations with one another, God’s own faithfulness and promises towards us in Christ.”
The proposed motion asked the synod to note its adoption of the covenant in 2010 and to “confirm” it. It recommitted the ACSA “to playing the fullest possible role at the heart of the Anglican Communion, working to promote its unity in diversity and strengthening of bonds of affection, in a life of mutuality and interdependence, shared between autonomous churches, acting each as we are called in our own particular contexts and according to our own ordering, in response to this common gift and calling we have received in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
And reaffirmed the synod’s “belief that this ordering of shared Communion life may be furthered as set out in the Preamble to the Covenant” which called upon the communion “to proclaim more effectively in our different contexts the grace of God revealed in the gospel, to offer God’s love in responding to the needs of the world, to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, and together with all God’s people to attain the full stature of Christ.”
The motion was adopted without dissent.
Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Tanzania, Church of England Newspaper, EU.
Tags: Christ Church Cathedral Stone Town, Zanzibar
Christ Church Cathedral in Zanzibar has been awarded a grant by the EU to build a heritage and education centre on the cathedral’s precincts to commemorate the abolition of slavery.
Construction on the coral stone Gothic cathedral began in 1873 on the site of Zanzibar’s old slave market, with the altar located on the spot of the slave market’s whipping post. Consecrated in 1903 the church has a barrel vault cement roof and incorporates perpendicular Gothic and Islamic architectural details.
Funds from the EU grant, supported by the U.S. State Department and the Governments of Tanzania and Zanzibar, will also go towards the material upkeep and repair of the cathedral.. The project will also provide heritage management training to the Wakf commission, which administers Islamic institutions on the island and is responsible for over 50 per cent of the historic housing stock in Stone Town, the island’s capital.
The project will be implemented by World Monuments Fund and its partners, the Anglican Church of Tanzania, the Zanzibar Stone Town Heritage Society and the UK charity Christian Engineers in Development.
“Our hope is that the preservation and promotion of this historical site in Zanzibar will fuel a sense of common belonging for the Zanzibari people and of ownership of their cultural heritage; it should contribute to building national identity in the diversity, tolerance and solidarity between faiths, communities and peoples.” said the EU Ambassador to Tanzania, Filiberto Ceriani Sebregondi.
Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Billy Graham, Newsmax
President Barack Obama’s slogan of “hope and change” was a cliché that ignored the unprecedented moral and economic decline for America, the Rev. Billy Graham declared. In an interview published 6 Oct 2013 the renowned evangelist also offered a scathing critique of the U.S. government’s domestic and foreign personal data collection programmes, calling them an attack on liberty.
“Americans have always fought for freedom. This is why America was founded — to worship the one true God openly with no fear of tyranny. Our early fathers led our nation according to Biblical principles. Hope and change has become a cliché in our nation and it is daunting to think that any American could hope for change from what God has blessed.”
America was “turning away from what has made it so great, but far greater than the government knowing our every move that could lead to losing our freedom to worship God publicly is to know that God knows our every thought,” he said.
The government was incapable of changing the human heart. “Hope is certain only through His Son Jesus Christ — not in the change agents of the world, and when the end of the world as we know it takes place at Christ’s return, no government can prevent it and no individual can escape it. Those who hope for it will welcome it; those who refuse to embrace its reality will never change its certainty,” he said.
In a discussion of his latest book, “The Reason for My Hope: Salvation,” Dr. Graham told Newsmax he also believed the signs of the times pointed to the imminent return of Jesus.
“While we are told not to speculate about dates, God keeps His promises and this is why we can be sure that the return of Christ is near,” Dr. Graham said.
“Scripture tells us that there will be signs pointing toward the return of the Lord. I believe all of these signs are evident today,” he said, adding “we cannot go on much longer in the sea of immorality without judgment coming. We are at a crossroads, and there are profound moral issues at stake. It is time to return to biblical truth. The warning is clear; prepare to meet thy God—followed by the voice of the gentle Shepherd—the Lord Jesus—saying, ‘Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest’ A new world is coming” the 94 year old evangelist said.
Since his first crusade in 1947 Billy Graham has preached to millions of people around the world. He told Newsmax that while he was no longer able to travel due to his physical infirmities, he hoped to record a television programme in November to encourage the “people of the world to turn to God.”
Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Diocese of Ballarat, Gary Weatherill
The Ballarat diocesan synod has voted to allow the ordination of women to the priesthood.
On 18 October 2013 the synod voted by over two thirds margins in the clergy and lay orders to permit women priests. The vote by the conservative Anglo-Catholic diocese means that only three Australian dioceses: the Anglo-Catholic diocese of The Murray and the conservative Evangelical dioceses of Northwest Australia and Sydney do not permit women priests.
In an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation after the vote, the Rt. Rev. Gary Weatherill noted the vote was highly symbolic. Ballarat had been one of the most conservative Australian dioceses on the issue of women’s orders. “Tt’s really a very significant change at that Australian level”.
“For ordinary people, there’s not going to be hundreds of women priests suddenly running into the diocese, it’ll just mean women can be ordained,” he said.
“I think there’s a changed understanding amongst many people that ministry is something that women can do well and the priestly ministry probably ought not to be exclusively for men,” the bishop said.
Reports from the synod proceedings stated the debate was unexceptional and that no new arguments had been put forward. Supporters argued it was a matter of justice for women to be allowed to be priests. One speaker stated that if women could be baptized then they should be able to be ordained.
Other supporters spoke of the pastoral skills women clergy would bring, and argued the question of women clergy was a second order issue that should not divide the diocese.
Opponents cited the example of the church’s traditions, Scripture and the ecumenical implications of the move. Support for the legislation was found among younger clergy and lay delegates, and age and retirements appeared to weaken the strength of the “no” lobby. Bishop Weatherill said he supported the decision and will give his assent to the legislation.
“Change is always tough. I feel a great weight for the people who are not happy for this to happen,” the bishop said.
Women were first ordained as deacons in the Anglican Church of Australia in 1986 and as priests in 1992.
Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand & Polynesia, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Diocese of Auckland, Eugene Sisneros, New Zealand Human Rights Tribunal, Ross Bay
The Anglican Church of New Zealand is exempt from laws banning discrimination against homosexuals, the Human Rights Review Tribunal ruled last week.
On 18 October 2013 the tribunal ruled the Bishop of Auckland, the Rt. Rev. Ross Bay, had not violated the country’s Human Rights laws by refusing to allow Eugene Sisneros to begin the ordination process.
Bishop Bay had declined to permit Mr. Sisneros from entering the process because he was in a same-sex partnership, and as such, did not meet the church’s requirement that aspirants be chaste.
Mr. Sisneros, a lay employee of St. Matthews-in-the-City in Auckland, responded by filing a complaint stating he “felt totally humiliated that I had spent six years of my life in study, for a process that I was not permitted to enter because I was a gay man and in a relationship.”
New Zealand’s Human Rights Act 1993 forbids discrimination in employment on the grounds of sexual orientation. However Part 2 Section 28 of the Act permits “exceptions for purposes of religion” and allows “different treatment based on religious or ethical belief” by churches in the employment of clergy.
In its decision, the tribunal held the church did not breach the Human Rights Act because it was complying with its own exceptions, and its denial of Mr. Sisnernos’ candidacy was allowed under Section 28 of the Act. “The Human Rights Act 1993 allows exceptions to some discrimination laws, including where organised religions are following their doctrine.”
“The Tribunal is not asked to deliberate on what the rules, doctrines or established customs within the Anglican Church are, or ought to be,” it held.
Bishop Bay welcomed the ruling, telling Radio New Zealand the decision balanced individual human rights with the autonomous nature of the Church, in a way that ensures freedom of religion.
Mr. Sisneros has a right to appeal the ruling.
Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, GAFCON.
Tags: Justin Welby
The Archbishop of Canterbury offered his encouragement to the Gafcon conference in Nairobi this week, but stopped short of offering the endorsement of his office to the global Anglican renewal movement.
Speaking at two services on 20 October 2013 at All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi, the Most Rev. Justin Welby offered his vision of a “Biblically-centered, practically loving” Anglican Communion that pursued a deliberate programme of “witness, worship, evangelism, and a passion for the Holy Spirit.”
He also stated the “colonial structures” of the past that comprised the communion’s Instrument’s of Unity were no longer fit for purpose.
The archbishop’s multi-layered sermon evolved over its two presentations – after being all but silent about Gafcon in his first sermon, in its second reading the archbishop spoke five times about the forthcoming Gafcon conference, set for 21-26 October 2013, at All Saints Cathedral. While the Lambeth Palace Press Office had released a statement saying Archbishop Welby was visiting Kenya to stand in solidarity with its people in the wake of the Westgate Mall terror attack, he made no mention of terrorism in his sermons and his time in Nairobi was spent exclusively on Gafcon.
The sermons sparked mixed responses. Archbishop Welby’s sermon was “outrageous”, Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria said after the first presentation. The archbishop’s “softly softly” approach in seeking to reconcile the Episcopal Church with the Global South churches implied a degree of moral equivalence that the retired Nigerian archbishop found disheartening.
However, in his second presentation Archbishop Welby walked back his moral equivalency comments. The former Archbishop of Sydney, Dr. Peter Jensen welcomed Archbishop Welby’s admission the Communion was not work. Archbishop Welby’s statement “the old ways are no longer appropriate, the old structures no longer work, given on the eve of Gafcon, give us hope,” he said.
The archbishop spent only 18 hours in Kenya, arriving in the early hours of Sunday. Travelling without his minders, the archbishop stayed at the home of Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Primate of Kenya, before preaching before the 9:30 and 11:30 congregations at the Cathedral. Following his sermons he went into a closed door meeting with the primates’ council, before leaving for Ireland to attend the Porvoo Primates meeting that evening.
Participants at the luncheon described the atmosphere as being cordial, noting Archbishop Welby was seated next to Archbishop Robert Duncan of the ACNA and Archbishop Wabukala. But the strength of the sentiments made in the presentations made by the Gafcon archbishops appeared to have stunned Archbishop Welby, who spoke for five minutes to the group.
One primate told the Church of England Newspaper no formal agreements were reached at the meeting, but he welcomed the start of a conversation with the English church leader.
In his sermons, the archbishop spoke of the centrality of Scripture in the life of the church, the “Bible must be at the heart of our study, our life, our walk with Jesus” he said, but a “church that only reads but does not act, disgraces the Bible.”
“There is a need for new structures in the Anglican Communion, “the archbishop said, adding the issues that divide us are “simple and complicated.”
To address them “we need a new way of being in communion, not the colonial structures” of the past, he said. But it was unclear as to what the solution was as each province offered its own solution to the problem, yet “we must find a way to live together, so the world will see” Jesus is Lord.
The Anglican world must be a sign to the world of the power of Christ and must engage in a deliberate program of “witness, worship, evangelism, and a passion for the Holy Spirit.”
“The more seriously we take the Bible” the more effectively we will be able to deal with our divisions, he said.
The archbishop also hinted the Communion may not be able to count upon the Church of England to hold the line on issues close to the heart of the Gafcon movement. Archbishop Welby recounted his strong public opposition to the British government’s same-sex marriage bill. “In England, we in the church disagree with same-sex marriage because we honor marriage, not out of hate, or fear or anger.”
“I spoke at great personal cost” against the bill and received opprobrium and “hatred” from those who supported changing marriage. But as the Letter to the Hebrews said we must keep “the marriage bed undefiled”, the church could not support this change, just as it could not support “adultery or pornography.”
A “church that flourishes” is a church that is “based on the Bible” he said. “We all fail,” he said, because “we all sin,” but a “Biblically-centered, practically loving” church is what God wants Anglicans to be.
Posted by geoconger in Church Times, GAFCON.
Tags: Henry Scriven, Paul Perkin
AT THE second Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), held this week in Nairobi, the General Secretary of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, the Rt Revd Dr Peter Jensen, said that the “future” of Anglicanism had “arrived” – and it was GAFCON.
The sentiment was apparently shared by most of the 1352 delegates from 40 countries, including more than 100 from the UK. Women clerics from Africa and the United States worshipped with conservative Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics (Comment, 18 October).
“We believe the apostolic faith,” Dr Jensen said in the opening session, “and we do not believe the faith of those who contradict the Bible, and who deny the uniqueness and supremacy of Christ.”
The first day of the conference was devoted to worship, and to a preparatory talk given by Dr Jensen. The second day alternated between worship and presentations by the Archbishop of Kenya, Dr Eliud Wabukala, who hosted the conference, and the Principal of Oak Hill Theological College, the Revd Dr Mike Ovey.
Shorter presentations were offered by the Vicar of St Mark’s, Battersea Rise, the Revd Paul Perkin; the Archbishop of Sudan, Dr Daniel Deng Bul; the Bishop of Jos, Nigeria, the Rt Revd Ben Kwashi; Andrea Minichiello Williams, of Christian Concern; the Bishop of Nelson, New Zealand, the Rt Revd Richard Ellena; and the vice-chancellor of Uganda Christian University, Canon John Senyonyi.
Dr Jensen characterised the Church’s problem as a failure of commitment. “We have failed to make disciples through teaching the commands of Jesus found in the Bible at depth. That is why so much of the Church in the West has simply collapsed, capitulated, and compromised before a virulent, antagonistic secularism.”
Delegates did not agree, however, on the extent of the collapse. The chairman of Reform, the Revd Rod Thomas, said that it was possible to be a conservative Evangelical cleric in the Church of England, but one should not expect the hierarchy’s preference, support, or sympathy.
Bishop Henry Scriven, the SAMS-CMS South American director, painted a less bleak picture. “Four of the five senior bishops of the C of E are Evangelicals,” he said; and the majority of the House of Bishops were “solid, orthodox men”.
Dr Wabukala said that the Churches represented at GAFCFON were “committed to the Anglican Communion”, and to the reform of its structures. GAFCON promised that it would work with the Archbishop of Canterbury in this.
The Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone, the Most Revd Tito Zavala, said: “What we seek is a new way of support and encouragement for one another. We want to keep this humble, simple.”
The old ways of the Anglican Communion were as “dead as the British Empire”, Dr Jensen said and a commonwealth of Churches would replace it.
First printed in The Church Times
Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church Times, GAFCON.
Tags: Justin Welby
ARCHBISHOP Welby’s attempts at shuttle diplomacy, holding private meetings with leading members of the Communion’s liberal and conservative wings, was met with scepticism in Nairobi.
The GAFCON leaders knew that, a week earlier, the Archbishop had breakfasted in London with the former Bishop of New Hampshire, the Rt Revd Gene Robinson, the first openly partnered gay bishop.
The office of Archbishop of Canterbury could not serve as an honest broker between the factions, conservatives warned Archbishop Welby, but must stand with or against them. The issues were not political, but spiritual, one archbishop said, and thus not amenable to compromise.
Archbishop Welby’s whirlwind visit to Nairobi on Sunday provided an opportunity for him to take the measure of six Primates and half-a-dozen other key leaders, including the General Secretary of GAFCON, Dr Peter Jensen, and the retired Nigerian Archbishop, the Most Revd Peter Akinola, in a private meeting at All Saints’ Cathedral.
The conservatives also had an opportunity to size up Archbishop Welby. All of those questioned after the meetings expressed a personal regard for the man, but were sceptical that his office could provide a solution to the divisions within the Church if it sought to take a neutral stance.
“Archbishop Welby’s statement ‘The old ways are no longer appropriate, the old structures no longer work,’ given on the eve of GAFCON, give us hope,” Dr Jensen said. Nevertheless, the future envisioned by Archbishop Welby “began with GAFCON 2008″, Dr Jensen said. “It’s time for him to catch up.”
First printed in the Church Times.
Posted by geoconger in Church of England, GAFCON, Get Religion.
Tags: BBC, Justin Welby
The BBC and the perils of press releases
The BBC’s internet news division stumbled badly this week in its initial report on a major meeting of Anglican church leaders in Africa. The 20 October 2013 story entitled “Archbishop of Canterbury makes Kenya detour on way to Iceland” has already had one correction and substantial alteration but the underlying premise of the story remains flawed.
It demonstrates the perils of relying on a single source in reporting the news.
The opening paragraphs of the original version, reprinted by the London Evening Post, and the revised BBC version are identical. They begin:
The Archbishop of Canterbury has made a detour of more than 8,000 miles to visit Kenya – on his way to Iceland. Archbishop Justin Welby, who arrived on Saturday night, gave sermons at All Saints Cathedral on Sunday morning. He made the “last-minute” 24-hour trip to offer condolences after the Westgate centre attack, Lambeth Palace said.He is also meeting conservative Church leaders who are in Nairobi for this week’s conference of the traditionalist Anglican lobby group, Gafcon.
The story offers background on the trip to Iceland and the al-Shabaab terror attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi. And then more details about the trip are added:
Archbishop Welby delivered sermons at 09:30 and 11:00 before having lunch with the Archbishop of Kenya and five Kenyan bishops. GAFCON2013 – the second such conference – will starts today and runs till Saturday. The original conference – held in Jerusalem in June 2008 – was organised in response to the appointment of actively gay men and women as bishops, especially in the US.
The stories then diverge. The original version stated:
Through the GAFCON movement, conservative Anglican provinces – mostly in parts of Africa but some in South and North America, Asia and the Middle East- have begun to function independently of the official Anglican Communion.
The revised version states:
Through the Gafcon movement, conservative Anglican provinces – mostly in parts of Africa but some in South and North America, Asia and the Middle East – have begun to function outside the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
And at the bottom of the revision we read this correction:
Correction 21 Oct 2013: This story has been amended to clarify that Gafcon remains within the Anglican Communion.
The problem here is the correction still is incorrect. As the correction notes the Gafcon movement remains within the Anglican Communion. To say they are acting “independently” is false. The churches who comprise the Gafcon movement represent the majority of all Anglicans. The correction stating they are outside the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury misunderstands the role of the office of the archbishop. He is not a pope nor are Anglicans outside the Church of England under his authority — and within the Church of England his authority is over the Province of Canterbury. The Archbishop of York holds authority in the Province of York. In short, the Archbishop of Canterbury has no more authority over Anglicans outside England than I, or you, do.
I should also note the facts presented in the story are false. For example, the BBC reports the archbishop had lunch “with the Archbishop of Kenya and five Kenyan bishops”. Yes, he did have lunch with these six people, but he also had lunch with the British High Commissioner, six other archbishops and a dozen or so Anglican worthies. I don’t know where the BBC got this information, but it certainly didn’t come from Nairobi.
And, the statement that the archbishop flew to Nairobi to offer support to the Kenyan people in the wake of the Westgate Mall bombing is false. It is not false in the sense that this is what the Lambeth Palace Press Office reported, but what Lambeth Palace said was untrue. If the BBC had bothered to contact the Gafcon conference organizers they would have learned the archbishop asked if he could meet the primates before the Westgate bombing took place.
How do I know this? I am in Nairobi reporting on the conference and I asked.
I might also add that in his sermons to the congregation of All Saints Cathedral the archbishop did not talk about al-Shabaab or terror. He spoke of Kenya’s Heroes’ Day (20 Oct) that commemorates the struggle against British colonial rule. He then focused on the Anglican Communion and the Gafcon conference. Nor did he visit the Mall or meet with ordinary Kenyans outside the cathedral.
By relying upon a single source and not verifying the information independently, the BBC propounded a false narrative. By being one sided and repeating information uncritically, the BBC let down the side.
A caveat, I may be violating one of Get Religion’s rules by reporting on a story in which I am peripherally involved. I am covering the conference for the church press and also appeared on the BBC’s Sunday programme after Archbishop Wabukala of Kenya offering my take on the latest perils of the Anglican Communion.
Ronald Reagan was right: trust but verify.
First printed in Get Religion.
Posted by geoconger in GAFCON, Interviews/Citations.
Tags: BBC, Eliud Wabukala, Justin Welby
Pay Day Loans; Christenings; Chief Rabbi
- 45 minutes
- First broadcast:
- Sunday 20 October 2013
It’s four years since the first Global Anglican Futures Conference met in Jerusalem. This grouping of traditionalist Anglicans grew out of disaffection with the direction the Anglican church was taking in the USA and UK, particularly in relation to the issue of homosexuality. The second conference is taking place next week in Nairobi, and William Crawley will be hearing about its current agenda from its chairman, Archbishop Eliud Wabukala. l
The new Chief Rabbi has come under fire from ultra orthodox Jews for his decision to attend the educational Limmud conference in December. Does this decision mark a change in relationships between the Chief Rabbinate and ultra-orthodoxy?
Hear the broadcast at this link:
A new survey on loneliness suggests that religious people may be more likely to be lonely than those without a faith. Trevor Barnes considers whether the church’s focus on the family can alienate those who live alone.
And – to baptise, give thanks or simply to party? Guardians, godparents or “oddparents”? Prince George’s parents will give him a traditional christening next week , but what do the rest of us do?
Producers: Rosie Dawson
Archbishop Eliud Wabukala
Bishop John Holbrook
Sheikh Mohammad Yacoubi.
Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand & Polynesia, Anglican Ink, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue.
Tags: Diocese of Auckland, Ross Bay
The New Zealand Human Rights Review Tribunal has dismissed a complaint accusing the Bishop of Auckland of discrimination against homosexuals.
On 18 October 2013 the tribunal ruled the Bishop of Auckland, the Rt. Rev. Ross Bay, had not violated the country’s Human Rights laws by refusing to allow Eugene Sisneros to begin the ordination process on because he is in a same-sex partnership.
Mr. Sisneros, a lay employee of St. Matthews-in-the-City in Auckland, filed a complaint with the tribunal stating he “felt totally humiliated that I had spent six years of my life in study, for a process that I was not permitted to enter because I was a gay man and in a relationship,” adding “My humiliation and disappointment continue to this day.”\
Read it all at Anglican Ink.
Posted by geoconger in Get Religion, Seventh-day Adventist, The Episcopal Church.
Tags: AFP, anti-Christian prejudice, Antonin Scalia, Jack Spong, New York Magazine, Religion News Service
There is little new under the sun when it comes to anti-theistic arguments. Whether it be high minded philosophical critique or rabble rousing anti-clericalism, what was old is now new.
Richard Ostling observed in his Get Religion post “Is the ‘New Atheism’ any different from old atheism?” the content of the criticism remains the same, but the tone has changed. The new atheism has taken a:
[A] tactical lurch toward emotion-laden partisanship and take-no-prisoners rhetoric that might make a Fundamentalist blush.
In this week’s Crossroads, a Get Religion podcast, Issues, Etc., host Todd Wilken and I discussed two posts that touched on anti-theism — but approached the subject from different perspectives: French media disdain for religious believers and a “heretical” Episcopal bishop.
While there have been other non-theistic Episcopal bishops, Jack Spong of Newark was the media darling of the ’90s. A fixture on talk shows and op-ed pages in his day, Bishop Spong was the subject of a profile written by the Religion News Service that was released in advance of his next book.
Pressed by Todd whether my dislike of the story was motivated more by my theological disagreements with Bishop Spong than journalistic concerns, I responded that I had no quarrel with Bishop Spong being Bishop Spong. What stoked my ire was the the lack of balance, hard questions of context in the RNS piece. It was more of a People magazine puff piece than journalism.
The second half of the story was a review of my criticism of two different accounts of the trial of four French West Indian immigrants in Paris, accused with kidnapping and torturing a fellow immigrant. They have denied the charge, and in their defense have claimed they were exorcising demons from their victim. The journalistic issue I saw was the discrepancy between AFP’s English and French language stories — released at the same time. The English language version noted the defendants said they were motivated to act by the tenets of their Seventh-day Adventist beliefs. But it included the information the four had been expelled from the church some time ago — and that their actions were contrary to that church’s doctrine and discipline.
The French version omitted this disclaimer. Todd asked me why the two versions differed. I said it could have been two different teams at work in the AFP office (French and English language) or it could be an example of writing to the audience’s interests. In the culture of the Anglosphere, religious beliefs and religions have always had a place in the public square. This is not the case in France, where faith is regarded by the elites as a private matter that should not intrude into public life. The French-language AFP article represented a secular worldview that saw no utility in reporting on the religion details. The attitude of the article was that these benighted immigrants were motivated by their weird (Seventh-day Adventist) faith and these odd “Evangelical Christians” need no further discussion.
The attitude is one I have encountered more and more in recent years — one cited by Richard Ostling in his Get Religion piece — that traditional Christian believers are crazy or stupid. The attitude is not new — see Schleiermacher’s On Religion: Speeches to Its Cultured Despisers (1799), but the tone of disbelief is no longer cultured, more aggressive, and oblivious to the ideas of others. This is the attitude one encounters in the mainstream media, such as AFP. And it runs through Jack Spong’s books. (And this aspect of his work was studiously avoided by RNS in its puff piece.)
Perhaps Todd was correct in surmising that my animus towards the RNS piece was personal. I have been an object of pity from some of my clerical brethren for my beliefs. One bishop asked me how I could believe in such things as the Virgin Birth, bodily resurrection, even though I was well educated. I was a traitor to my class — “one of us” who had gone over to the other side. I was not stupid, therefore there must be something wrong with me — or I was playing a deep game.
A recent exchange between New York Magazine and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia aptly illustrates the contempt religious believers receive at the hands of the media.
Scalia: I even believe in the Devil.
NYM: You do?
Scalia: Of course! Yeah, he’s a real person. Hey, c’mon, that’s standard Catholic doctrine! Every Catholic believes that.
NYM: Every Catholic believes this? There’s a wide variety of Catholics out there …
Scalia: If you are faithful to Catholic dogma, that is certainly a large part of it.
NYM: Have you seen evidence of the Devil lately?
Scalia: You know, it is curious. In the Gospels, the Devil is doing all sorts of things. He’s making pigs run off cliffs, he’s possessing people and whatnot. And that doesn’t happen very much anymore.
NYM: Isn’t it terribly frightening to believe in the Devil?
Scalia: You’re looking at me as though I’m weird. My God! Are you so out of touch with most of America, most of which believes in the Devil? I mean, Jesus Christ believed in the Devil! It’s in the Gospels! You travel in circles that are so, so removed from mainstream America that you are appalled that anybody would believe in the Devil! Most of mankind has believed in the Devil, for all of history. Many more intelligent people than you or me have believed in the Devil.
NYM: I hope you weren’t sensing contempt from me. It wasn’t your belief that surprised me so much as how boldly you expressed it.
Scalia: I was offended by that. I really was.
Are Christians crazy or stupid? Or are people of faith merely viewed with contempt?
First published in Get Religion.
Posted by geoconger in Issues Etc, Newark, Seventh-day Adventist.
Tags: Jack Spong
Here is an to an interview I gave to the Issues, Etc. show of Lutheran Public Radio broadcast on 17 October 2013.
5. Media Coverage of Bishop John Shelby Spong – George Conger, 10/16/13
George Conger of GetReligion.org
Podcast: Download (Duration: 14:21 — 5.9MB)
Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of North America, Anglican Ink.
Tags: Filioque, pneumatology
The decision to keep the filioque clause in “Texts for Common Prayer” represents a victory of common sense over special interests writes George Conger and is a mark of the political and theological maturity of the Anglican Church of North America.
On 18 October 2013 the ACNA released its long awaited Eucharistic liturgies. The document entitled “Texts for Common Prayer” retained the language of the double procession of the Spirit, the filioque, but permitted its omission when reciting the creed.
A draft text released in June had called for the omission of the “and the son” or filioque clause following the statement: “We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father.”
Read it all at Anglican Ink.
Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Church of Sweden, Women Priests.
Tags: Antje Jackelén, Archbishop of Uppsala
The Church of Sweden has elected its first woman archbishop.
On 15 October 2013 the Rt. Rev. Antje Jackelén, Bishop of Lund, was elected Archbishop of Uppsala and primate of the Church of Sweden. She is the second Archbishop of Uppsala to be elected by popular vote by the church’s synod following the separation of the Church of Sweden from the state on January 1, 2000, and succeeds the Most Rev. Anders Wejryd who was elected in2006.
Read it all in Anglican Ink.
Posted by geoconger in The Times.
Tags: Albert Chama
My photo of Archbishop Albert Chama of Central Africa at the Alexandria Primates Meeting. Printed in The Times, “Anglicans warned of scammers posing as bishops in trouble”, October 15, 2013
Posted by geoconger in Anglican Communion, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Justin Welby, Wycliffe College Toronto
Toronto: The Anglican Communion must not lose its vocation as a bridge-building church, the Archbishop of Canterbury said last week in an address delivered at a conference marking the 50th anniversary of the 1963 Toronto pan-Anglican Congress.
In an address via Skype to the “Back to the Anglican Future: The Toronto Congress 1963 and the Future of Global Communion” Conference organized by Wycliffe College of the University of Toronto on 18 September 2013 Archbishop Welby stated his vision for the future of the church drew inspiration from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s ideal of the Church as “Christ existing as community”.
Archbishop Welby observed that “there never was a generation in the Church that does not see a truck coming at great speed to run it over.”
The 1963 Congress sought to reshape the church to address a rapidly changing world. Then, as now, “do we need to rethink” the ways we are approaching “the problems,” he asked.
The way forward, the archbishop said, is “to start not with what is around us” but examine the issues through the lens of “theology, anthropology and ecclesiology. Who is the God we serve? Who are we? What is the Church for?”
Approaching the divisions within the church today in this way “changes the way we see the Communion,” he said.
He stated he had recently read Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s doctoral thesis “Sanctorum Communio: A Theological Study of the Sociology of the Church” and his views of the problems facing Anglicanism as well as the wider Christian world were informed by Bonhoeffer’s understanding of Luther’s dictum “simul iustus et peccator” – “simultaneously justified and sinful.”
“We focus over and over on the massive damage in our culture over changes in sexuality”, yet in “other parts of the world it is corruption, persecution, complacency or poverty. In many places it is all of these. What is the context the church is facing,” he asked.
“Financial corruption: the church is full of people who are financially corrupt” while in “places sexually corrupt,” he said. “We need to look at our context. We need to look at the Communion in light of our vocation” to change the world.
Greeting the Bishop of Egypt, the Most Rev. Mouneer Anis who sat in the front row of the audience gathered at St Paul’s Bloor Street in Toronto, Archbishop Welby spoke of his visit to Egypt and Jerusalem in the company of Dr. Anis. There he “saw a small church. A minority of a minority, but one that has extraordinary influence, partly due to its bishop” he said with a nod to Dr. Annis, “but also because it is a bridge-builder.”
Anglicans are “being attacked where we are strongest,” he said. “We have a vocation to bring people together” and that is why we are being attacked by Satan.
“I am optimistic about the Anglican Communion,” he concluded, calling upon Anglicans to “seek the purpose of the church … [to ensure a] future of growth” through “reconciliation” and in this way harness the “energy” given to Anglicans by God to bring humanity into relationship with the living God.
The suffragan Bishop of Toronto, the Rt. Rev. Patrick Yu said he was he was encouraged by the archbishop’s words, and noted that when he had dined with the archbishop earlier this year, the archbishop said his priorities were “reconciliation and evangelism”.
Bishop Yu urged conference participants to “deeply embrace” these words, and by doing so, bring about the reform and renewal of the Anglican world.
Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, GAFCON.
Tags: Justin Welby
The Archbishop of Canterbury has accepted an invitation to attend a meeting of the primates’ council of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans of the Gafcon movement.
The Most Rev. Justin Welby will attend part of the two-day gathering of archbishops at All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi, held immediately before the 21-26 October 2013 Gafcon Conference.
The general secretary of the FCA, Dr Peter Jensen, stated Archbishop Welby’s “decision to come to the Primates meeting is a recognition of the importance of such a large and significant gathering of Anglicans from around the world and he will be made very welcome.”
The FCA movement was birthed by the 2008 Gafcon conference in Jerusalem. It has since grown into a global reform movement within the Anglican Communion that seeks to strengthen the church by affirming the fundamentals of the Christian faith. Leaders of the movement have also called for the reform of the current structures of the communion, expressing disappointment with what they believe to be the failures of the London-based institutions.
GAFCON Chairman the Most Rev. Eliud Wabukala, Archbishop of Kenya, had invited Archbishop Welby to address the 1200 delegates from around the Anglican world. However, the archbishop stated he was unable to attend as he had two prior engagements: a meeting of the Porvoo archbishops in Iceland, and the christening of Prince George of Cambridge at the Chapel Royal at St James’ Palace on 23 Oct.
The archbishop’s decision not to attend the meeting – made public last week – had disappointed conservatives. But writing in the current issue of the Churchman, Dr. Gerald Bray observed the archbishop had been placed in a difficult political position.
He noted that “although there will be a sizable contingent from England at GAFCON II, what authority will they have and who will they represent? It is a virtual certainty that none of the English diocesan bishops will be there, which will make it very difficult for the archbishop of Canterbury to attend on his own, even if he is invited. This is ironic, because the new archbishop is far more sympathetic to GAFCON than his predecessor was, and more in tune with it than most of his episcopal colleagues are.”
Dr. Bray observed that this “of course, is a large part of his problem. Even if he wanted to, Justin Welby cannot dismiss the bench of bishops and appoint men more in tune with his own way of thinking, and everyone knows that his eventual successor is almost certain to be of a very different persuasion. Banking on Canterbury’s support is therefore not a good long-term strategy for GAFCON, even if the present incumbent of the see is essentially on its side.”
Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, The Episcopal Church.
Tags: Anglican Communion Institute, Christopher Seitz, Wycliffe College
One of the leaders of the conservative remnant within the Episcopal Church has called upon traditionalists to acknowledge their defeat in the church’s wars over sexuality and seek a negotiated peace.
In a powerful address given last month to a conference marking the 50th Anniversary of the 1963 Toronto Pan-Anglican conference, the Rev. Canon Christopher Seitz, Senior Research Professor at Wycliffe College in the University of Toronto and a scholar with the Anglican Communion Institute said “the question for conservatives [now] is about encouragement. Will we be allowed to walk the well-worn paths of the faith,” he asked “or must we follow the trailblazers”, the advocates of change.
The culture and the majority faction within the Episcopal Church held a different moral worldview. It was “no longer a matter of saying the new ways are wrong. That point has passed. “
“We are in a new time. It is now here. We can see a before or after” in the Episcopal Church since the consecration of Gene Robinson in 2003 and in the rise to power of Katharine Jefferts Schori in 2006. “Traditional Anglicans have lost a battle.”
There is now “no single understanding” of the faith. New Prayer Books will emerge that will solemnize gay marriage. Prof. Seitz noted the question for conservatives is not whether they can stop this but if the majority will allow “two rites [to] exist side by side.”
Encouragement for the conservative remnant “would be allowing the status quo ante. Not a new church allowing traditional Anglicans” a home, but the existing churches giving conservatives “the moral space and right to exist.”
“Will dioceses and parishes be permitted to do what has been done before,” he asked. Will we be given the “moral space to conserve our traditions? Can bishops let go of parishes? Can dioceses choose to say no? Can we [as Episcopalians] remain a valued and trustworthy expression of the church catholic?”
To do this “it may be necessary to change the office of Presiding Bishop, reform the General Convention, rewrite the Book of Common Prayer” or enact other “constitutional reforms”, he said.
But “if reforms are not enacted it would end the conservative presence” in the Episcopal Church, he said.
Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Diocese of Perth, gay marriage, Roger Herft
The Perth Diocesan synod has endorsed a resolution affirming civil same sex unions. The motion received a two-thirds majority from the lay and clergy delegates attending the 5 Oct 2013 meeting, but is unlikely to receive the assent of the Most Rev. Roger Herft, Archbishop of Perth, as he rejected a similar resolution endorsed by the 2012 meeting of synod.
The sponsor of the resolution, the Rev. Chris Bedding, rector of Darlington-Bellevue Anglican parish, said the motion did not seek to authorize church blessings for same-sex couples, but was a symbolic gesture to affirm members of the gay community.
“As a church, we are not ready to have marriage-like ceremonies for same-sex couples in our churches yet, but we wanted to say that if the government has civil recognition of unions or equality, than we are comfortable with that,” he told AAP.
Mr. Bedding said the motion sought to offer another perspective from Christians that would counter comments made by traditional groups such as the Australian Christian Lobby. “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.
Archbishop Herft withheld his consent from resolution 58.12 from the 2012 meeting of synod – a near identical motion. It stated in part the synod “acknowledges that legal recognition of committed same-sex relationships may co-exist with legal recognition of marriage between a man and a woman.”
In withholding his assent last year, the archbishop stated that the resolution “as worded” could be construed as being contrary to the church’s marriage canons. Endorsement of a “legislative framework that does not currently exist” he wrote, “could be construed as having its real purpose as conveying the recognition of and call for same-sex marriage.”
The archbishop has thirty days to respond in which to withhold or give his assent to the new motion.
Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Listed Places of Worship
The Government has changed the Listed Places of Worship grant scheme enabling parishes to claim VAT back on repairs and alterations to bells and bell ropes, pipe organs and turret clocks. . Professional services such as architect fees that are related to eligible building work will also become eligible when the changes come into effect on 1 October 2013.
The new regulations are also supposed to simplify the claims process and shorten the time it takes for the government to disburse funds. In any twelve month period, each place of worship may submit one claim with a value of less than £1000, but more than £500, excluding the VAT paid. This is in addition to an unlimited number of claims where the value of eligible work carried out is £1000 or greater.
Eve van der Steen, acting Church Buildings Adviser and DAC Secretary for the Diocese of Exeter welcomed the news, noting the items now covered had historically been “very expensive items to repair or restore and this is likely to make a huge difference to PCC’s trying to maintain them for future generations.”
Full details of all these changes, how they will apply and new application forms will be available on the Listed Places of Worship grant scheme website from 1 October 2013. http://www.lpwscheme.org.uk
Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of South India, Women Priests.
Tags: Diocese of Nandyal, Pushpa Lalitha
The Church of South India has consecrated its first woman bishop. On 29 Sept 2013 the Rev. E. Pushpa Lalitha was consecrated Bishop in Nandyal in the Southern Indian state of Andhra Predesh.
On 25 Sept the CSI’s Synod Executive selected Bishop-elect Lalitha from among four candidates short listed by the diocese to succeed the Rt. Rev. P.J. Lawrence.
Bishop-elect Lalitha (57) was born in Diguvappad village in the Kurnool district of Andhra Predesh in Southern India. Educated at Andhra Christian Theological College, she was ordained a priest in 1984. A Telugu speaker, she ministered in several villages before serving as the director of Vishranthi Nilayam in Bangalore and as the administrative head of the CSI’s women fellowship.
In a statement released on her behalf by the CSI, Bishop-elect Lalitha said: “My parents had decided to dedicate me to the lord even before I was born, as they had already lost two sons. My life has been God’s mercy, and I wish to be his servant for life.”
Among her priorities is the empowerment of women. “Be it any institution, women are always given second-rung treatment. We need to change that by promoting values that teach us to not to discriminate and treat all humans the same.”
“I hail from a village and my parents sold their land to educate me. I want every girl from such a background to get the best education possible. Only education can change lives,” she said.
“As a priest, my primary responsibility was towards my congregation. As a bishop, the responsibilities are much more,” she said.
Women were first ordained for the Church of South India – a united church formed from the merger of the Anglican, Presbyterian, Baptist and other Protestant denominations in 1947. The church at present has 110 women clergy.
Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: chemotherapy, Lee Rayfield
In a letter to the Diocese of Bristol posted on his blog on 26 September 2013, the Bishop of Swindon, the Rt. Rev. Lee Rayfield has described the physic al and spiritual highs and lows of undergoing chemotherapy.
On 2 Sept Dr. Rayfield reported that he had been diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system, and would undergo a course of four cycles of chemotherapy in the Great Western Hospital in Swindon followed by a short course of radiotherapy in Oxford.
He noted that “although this is highly effective the drugs used have a number of side effects, with weakening of the immune system holding the most potential danger.”
In his 2 Sept letter, Dr. Rayfield noted he had “no idea” how the treatment “will leave me feeling as people respond differently. Fatigue is an obvious side effect and the risk of infection makes it necessary to absent myself from public ministry. The plan is to engage as much as I can from home and the office, following medical advice and ensuring I have plenty of rest and appropriate levels of exercise. As the treatment and its impact unfold I will be better placed to know what is wise, desirable and sustainable.”
In his letter of last week, the bishop reported the start of side effects. “One of my teeth has come loose and I have had to start some antibiotics. Also the vein in which the first two slugs of chemotherapy were delivered has become inflamed. Fortunately I have plenty of other good vessels so we can avoid using that one again.”
His illness had also given him an appreciation of Psalm 139:14. “I praise you because I am wonderfully and fearfully made”
“It may sound strange but illness is increasing my appreciation of the psalmist’s words,” he said.
“The human body is a marvel of homeostasis with a myriad of regulatory feedback mechanisms ensuring that everything works in harmony; any imbalance is corrected and stabilised. The cocktail of cytotoxic drugs used to blast my Lymphoma has been the equivalent of a tsunami hitting Littlehampton beach and the physicians have had to step in to try and dampen down the shock waves. They are doing brilliantly but having to take manual control reveals just how beautifully tuned the normal systems is.”
The bishop also offered thanks for the cards and notes of prayer and support he had received as “people have said some things to me which have helped me to see how much I am loved and appreciated and this has been both humbling and uplifting.”
Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Scottish Episcopal Church.
Tags: 2011 Scottish Census, David Chillingworth
The 2011 census for Scotland sounds a wake-up call for churches, the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church said last week.
In a statement released on 27 September 2013 in response to the publication of the 2011 Census returns in Scotland, the Most Rev David Chillingworth, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane warned the “figures for religious affiliation in Scotland are a significant challenge for churches. Nominal membership of traditional churches is swiftly changing into ‘no religion’.”
Ninety-three per cent of those responding to the census answered the question on religion. Of these the largest single category were those who stated they were non-religious: 37 per cent. The non-religious group also had the highest rise, with those of no-faith growing from 28 per cent in 2001 to 37 per cent in 2011.
Approximately 32 per cent stated they were members of the Church of Scotland, a decrease of 10 per cent from 2011 and 16 per cent were identified as Roman Catholics –unchanged from 2011. Other Christians including the Scottish Episcopal Church comprised 6 per cent of the population in 2011, compared with 7 per cent in 2001.
Other faiths included 77,000 Muslims, or 1.4 per cent of the population, 16,000 Hindus, 13,000 Buddhists, 9,000 Sikhs and 6000 Jews.
The reasons for the decline in the number of professed Christians was “clear”, Bishop Chillingworth said.
“Traditional patterns of church life have difficulty attracting people in a mobile, fast-changing and increasingly sophisticated society. Congregations are communities of affection which gather in time-hallowed buildings and they find change challenging. “
However, “all is far from lost. A majority of people in this society still identify themselves as Christian. Their faith, their hopes and their interest are a mission opportunity for open and attractive faith communities which are creatively led.”
He added that the “rising levels of interest in spirituality – evidenced by growing interest in pilgrimage, prayer and other faith-related activity – show that many people are searching for depth and meaning in their lives. Many are open to exploring discipleship even if they are unlikely to become church members in the traditional sense.”
However, churches “need to change and I welcome that. We need to become more creative and flexible. We need to think less about surviving and more about thriving. We need to help people to develop their experience of the spiritual. And we need to learn to work together in mission to this new kind of society,” the primus said.
Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ordinariate, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Roman Catholic Church.
Tags: Keith Newton, Vincent Nichols
The Archbishop of Westminster has written a pastoral letter to English and Welsh Roman Catholics celebrating the “beauty” of Britain’s Anglican heritage and urging their support for the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.
In his letter of 22 September 2013, Archbishop Vincent Nichols stated: “The ordinariate is the canonical structure set up in 2011 as the result of a generous initiative of Pope Benedict XVI. Under this structure, Anglicans who wish to enter the full communion of the Catholic Church, bringing with them some of the traditions and beauty of the Anglican heritage in which they were nurtured, may do so.”
He urged Catholics to “welcome and support the clergy and faithful” of the Ordinariate “both for the part they play in the life and mission of the Catholic Church in this country and for the particular gifts they bring which add to our rich diversity.”
He also commended a second letter prepared by former Anglican bishop, Mgr. Keith Newton, the head of the ordinariate in England and Wales. It was “a small step towards healing one of the most damaging wounds of our history: the dividing of Christ’s Body, the Church in this land.”
The ordinariate had been an answer to prayer for some former Anglicans, but it had had a rough start.
“The ordinariate was a personal fulfilment of those prayers. It has been an incredible and uplifting journey for us all, full of grace, joy and blessings. Of course, we have experienced hardship and sacrifice as well. For many, especially those of our priests who are married with families, there has been great financial uncertainty; for us all it has meant leaving friends and familiar places of worship in the Church of England. We ask for your encouragement, your support and your prayers.”
Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Pakistan, Terrorism.
Tags: Peshawar, Taliban, Titus Pressler
The Church of Pakistan has called for three days of mourning and solidarity in the wake of a suicide bombing at All Saints’ Church, Kohati Gate in Peshawar.
As approximately 600 worshippers filed out of the church in Peshawar’s old city following the principle morning service two men wearing explosive vests holding ball bearings and other pieces of shrapnel detonated their charges. The police reported at least 78 people, including 37 children, were killed. Church of Pakistan leaders estimate the death toll to be at least 150 with hundreds more wounded.
The explosion at All Saints Church, built in 1883 by the CMS and unique among Peshawar’s churches as it was designed to resemble a mosque, comes a year and a day after a mob set fire to a church in the nearby town of Mardan in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province.
The Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack, saying they will continue to attack non-Sunni Muslims until the coalition forces end their drone attacks against terrorists in Waziristan.
In a letter to students and faculty, the Dean of Edwardes College in Peshawar, the Rev. Dr. Titus Pressler said the “scale of the atrocity is terrible. News is still coming in, but it is said that about 150 people or more were killed and 200 or more were injured. The news has gone around the world.”
“Information is emerging,” he wrote, “but a number of our current students were killed as were a number of Edwardes College alumni. The same is true of Edwardes College School and, of course, other church institutions throughout the city.”
The attack on Peshawar’s Christians follows upon attacks by the Taliban against Shia Muslims in Quetta this past February which killed 200, and on-going attacks against members of the Ahmadiyya community.
Dr. Pressler reported that members of the Muslim community were quick to reach out to Christians with offers of prayer and support. “Such ecumenical spirit is crucial in any place and time, but especially so in Peshawar and in Pakistan today,” he wrote. “So I thank God for such compassion and generosity of spirit between people of different religions.”
In a letter to the Church of Pakistan, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said he was “appalled” by the news.
“My heart goes out to all those bereaved and injured by this terrible attack. I pray for the peace of Pakistan and the protection of Christ’s people. With the people of Peshawar I join in calling for the Pakistan Government and all people of good will to ensure that communities may go about their daily lives in safety, and that the perpetrators are brought to justice.”
In a Twitter message released on 22 September 2013 the archbishop said: “Peshawar bomb reveals depths of human evil, yet those suffering speak of forgiveness as well as justice. That is the love of Jesus shown.”
Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Ireland, Women Priests.
Tags: Patricia Storey
The House of Bishops of the Church of Ireland has appointed the first Anglican woman bishop for the British Isles.
On 19 September 2013 the bishops appointed the Rev. Patricia Storey to be the Bishop of Meath and Kildare in succession to the Most Rev Richard Clarke, who was translated to Armagh last year.
Bishop-elect Storey becomes the first women Anglican bishop in Europe. Last week the Church in Wales’ governing body gave approval to women bishops while the Scottish Episcopal Church also allows women bishops. Irish bishops are usually elected by a special meeting of the diocesan synod. However, the 28 May 2013 electoral synod meeting was unable to agree upon a bishop, giving the choice to the House of Bishops.
Mrs. Storey (53) presently serves as rector of St Augustine’s Parish Church, Londonderry in the Diocese of Derry and Raphoe. Married to the Rev Earl Storey, she has two children. Reared in Belfast, she was educated at Trinity College, Dublin and trained for the ministry at the Church of Ireland Theological College. Ordained deacon in 1997 and priest in 1998, she served her curacy in Ballymena in the Diocese of Connor and was Team Vicar in Glenavy in the same diocese before movi9ng to Londonderry in 2004. She is also a member of the Standing Committee of the General Synod.
Announcing the appointment Dr Clarke said: “Having known Pat Storey since she was an undergraduate and I was Chaplain at Trinity College, Dublin, I very much welcome her as a new bishop. She is a person of great warmth, intelligence and spiritual depth and I am certain that her ministry in the Dioceses of Meath and Kildare and the wider Church will be a blessing to many. We remember her and her family in our prayers.”
The Rt Rev Ken Good, Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, welcomed the appointment as “great news indeed.”
“We know well how gifted the Rev Pat Storey is and how effective her ministry is not only in a parish setting but also far beyond the local church. Her warmth, her deep personal faith and her natural ability to relate to people have enabled her to make a significant impact throughout the city, the diocese and the wider community,” he said.
Mrs. Storey said: ‘I am both excited and daunted by this new adventure,” adding “I count it an enormous privilege to begin a new phase of my ministry with the people of Meath and Kildare, and I look forward to working with the team of clergy who are already there. I would sincerely ask for your prayers for myself and my family, who are the best family in the world!”
Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Kenya, Church of England Newspaper, Terrorism.
Tags: al Shabaab, Eliud Wabukala, Nairobi
Kenya’s Christian and Muslim leaders have issued a united statement condemning the terror attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, which has left at least sixty people dead including five Britons and a dozen other ex-pats.
Police report that approximately 15 terrorists of the Somali Islamist group Al-Shabaab attacked the upscale shopping mall in suburban Nairobi on 21 September 2013, spraying shoppers with automatic rifle fire. Some shoppers were taken hostage, eyewitness reported, and were released if they could recite the Shahada, the Islamic basic profession of belief, or if they converted to Islam. Those who could or would not were executed.
The Shabelle Media Network in Mogadishu reports that al-Shabaab has identified the names and nationalities of the killers. Three are listed as Americans, one Briton and a Finn amongst the Somali and Kenyan terrorists. Those who could or would not were executed.
Kenya’s inter-religious council responded to the attack by saying they would not let the massacre divide the country along sectarian lines, but would stand united against terrorism.
Reading the statement on behalf of the religious leaders, Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims Secretary General Adan Wachu said:m “We, the religious leaders, are engaged in robust dialogue to ensure that these relations are not just maintained but also made stronger. We are convinced beyond doubt that the attempt to sow seeds of discord between Muslims and Christians will fail miserably and that we shall remain united,.”
The Rt. Rev. Joel Waweru, Anglican Bishop of Nairobi urged Christians not to seek revenge. “We are so disheartened with whatever happened, but we would want to call upon our Christian brothers and sisters to keep peace and to maintain peace,” said Waweru.
The religious leaders statement said that one of the motives behind the attack was to destabilize the economy by driving away tourists. On Sunday the general secretary of the Gafcon movement, the Most Rev. Peter Jensen, Archbishop of Sydney released a video saying he was flying to Nairobi this week to review security arrangements for next month’s Gafcon Conference at All Saints Cathedral.
Dr. Jensen said it was his “desire” to “stand with our Kenyan brothers and sisters” in the face of terrorism, but he would nonetheless meet with local organizers to review security details and report back within the week.
Church leaders from around the world have offered their prayers and condolences to the families of the dead and injured and to the people of Kenya. In a note to the Archbishop of Kenya, the Most Rev. Thabo Makgoba, Archbishop of Cape Town wrote “to express not only that the Anglican Church of Southern Africa stands in solidarity with you at this time, but that we too share in the grief that this senseless attack has brought.”
“As you speak and act in response to these terrible events, may you be a channel of God’s grace: to comfort the bereaved, bind up the broken hearted, and proclaim the triumph of our Lord Jesus Christ over both evil and death,” Dr. Makgoba said.
Posted by geoconger in Get Religion, Islam, Press criticism.
Tags: Christian persecution, Commentary, Rand Paul, The Daily Beast, Washington Post
A Washington Post Politics news blog on Senator Rand Paul’s appearance before the Value Voters Summit in Washington last week has left me perplexed. Reading the article entitled “Rand Paul: ‘There’s a worldwide war on Christianity’”tells me little about what the Kentucky senator said.
Nor am I clear as to what a news blog is for. Is it a vehicle for a reporter to express an opinion about the news, or does this new format permit a newspaper to increase the amount of news stories without having to invest the time and manpower in producing original copy?
Perhaps it was the editorial decision of the Post that what Sen. Paul said was less important than the symbolism of his presence at the meeting of conservative religious activists. Maybe it was fueled by a desire to score points against Paul through irony. It did, however, work very hard in not reporting what the Kentucky senator said nor offering context to his remarks. The headline tells us there is a war on, but does not say who is fighting.
The article begins:
There’s a war raging against Christianity, but the attackers must police themselves, says Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (R).
“From Boston to Zanzibar, there’s a worldwide war on Christianity,” the world’s most-practiced religion, he said Friday at the Values Voters Summit, an annual conservative gathering. The intensity of attacks is so high, he later added, that it’s “almost as if we lived in the Middle Ages,” a period that included the Crusades.
Who is waging this war against Christians? Two paragraphs into a five paragraph story we are not told. In the third paragraph we learn the problem is militant Islam, and the solution lies in moderate Islam taking responsibility for their radical kin. Pushing this key fact to the midway point of the story is questionable.
As is the irony. What does the line about the Crusades mean? It is standard Islamist agitprop to blame the crusades for the ills of the Muslim world and its subsequent history of military aggression, and to harken upon the crusades as a dastardly attack on peace loving Muslims by blood thirsty Christians. Some will push this line along with claims that jihad has nothing to do with war against the nonbeliever — nothing to see here folks. Pay no attention to the fact that Islamic jurisprudence holds the doctrine of jihad demands that the “House of Islam” (Dar al-Islam) must subdue the “House of War” (Dar al-Harb, the non-Islamic world). What ever could that mean?
I grant you that if your knowledge of the era comes from Hollywood and Sir Walter Scott you might believe this claptrap. The bad-Crusaders good-Muslims line favored by some scholars in the last century has been undermined by modern scholarship. I recommend Sir Walter Scott’s Crusades and Other Fantasies by Ibn Warraq on this point.
Writing on Commentary magazine’s webpage, Jonathan Tobin observed there was an inconsistency in Paul’s warning about the persecution of Christians by militant Islam and his isolationist foreign policy stance.
But I’ll leave my fervent disagreements with his worldview that constitutes a genuine threat to a viable U.S. foreign and defense policy aside for the moment. Let’s give him credit for speaking up on an issue of grave concern that most politicians ignore and which most of the foreign policy establishment has been actively seeking to bury.
This report by the Washington Post is an example of burying the story of the persecution of Christians. The great bulk of Paul’s speech dealt with recent examples of Muslim violence against Christians. He stated:
Ever since 9/11, commentators have tried to avoid pointing fingers at Islam. While it is fair to point out that most Muslims are not committed to violence against Christians, this is not the whole truth and we should not let political correctness stand in the way of the truth.
Yes, it is a minority of Muslims who condone killing of Christians. But unfortunately that minority numbers in the tens of millions.
And he cites a dozen examples of violence across the Muslim majority world from Zanzibar to Indonesia.
Even more important, let’s address some of the criticism he has been receiving over this speech from some liberals as well as those who claim to speak for American Muslims. Whatever the political motivations for Paul’s speech (one suspects he is trying to woo Evangelicals who dislike his cool attitude toward Israel), those who deny this problem or, even worse, try to depict anyone who calls attention to Muslim intolerance as a bigot, are doing neither Islam nor Muslims any good.
It then cited a particularly egregious opinion piece in The Daily Beast entitled “Rand Paul’s Hate Speech Sounded Just Like Al Qaeda” as an example of the intellectual vacuity and moral blindness surrounding the issue of Christian persecution.
In my reporting for the religious and secular press I have written many stories about the persecution of Christians — and have heard hundreds of stories more. Today I received an email from a trusted source, a Western missionary in a majority Muslim area that has witnessed anti-Christian pogroms (one of the locales cited by Paul), asking for help in training midwives for the small Christian community. He wrote:
The government (Islamic) public hospital is killing Christian babies after being delivered. Seven recent murders we know of thus far. We need to build and staff a small maternity clinic. And train some midwives. If you know of medical professionals who might be interested, we urgently need some help in planning and making this happen.
Is this true? I trust the veracity of the person writing, but cannot verify it independently. I doubt this will ever appear as a newspaper story. Yet other stories from this place of extra-judicial murder of Christians have appeared in the press and have been condemned by NGOs. All of this is by way of saying this is an on going tragedy. It is one of the major moral and human rights issues of our day — and the Washington Post is burying it.
We do get the context in the fifth paragraph.
Paul’s speech was delivered ahead of a White House meeting between President Obama and Republican senators, including Paul, to discuss the government shutdown and impending debt ceiling breach.
But it is the wrong sort of context. Perhaps it is unfair to judge a news blog by the standards of journalism and expect balance, accuracy, professionalism, completeness and context. If they are vanity vehicles designed to deliver a stream of conscience approach to the news, then my criticisms are misplaced. If I am reading this to hear the voice of the author then the subject is secondary. But if you are relying upon this as a source of information, then the format as exemplified in this story falls short.
First printed in Get Religion.
Posted by geoconger in Get Religion, Newark, The Episcopal Church.
Tags: Jack Spong, Marcel Proust, memory, Religion News Service
Many years had elapsed during which nothing of Combray, save what was comprised in the theatre and the drama of my going to bed there, had any existence for me, when one day in winter, on my return home, my mother, seeing that I was cold, offered me some tea, a thing I did not ordinarily take. I declined at first, and then, for no particular reason, changed my mind. She sent for one of those squat, plump little cakes called “petites madeleines,” which look as though they had been molded in the fluted valve of a scallop shell. And soon, mechanically, dispirited after a dreary day with the prospect of a depressing morrow, I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake. No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory — this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me it was me. I had ceased now to feel mediocre, contingent, mortal. Whence could it have come to me, this all-powerful joy? I sensed that it was connected with the taste of the tea and the cake, but that it infinitely transcended those savors, could, no, indeed, be of the same nature. Whence did it come? What did it mean? How could I seize and apprehend it?
Remembrance of Things Past. Volume 1: Swann’s Way: Within a Budding Grove by Marcel Proust, translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff. p. 48.
Jack Spong is my petite madeleine.
The former Episcopal Bishop of Newark does for me what a cookie did for Marcel — open the door to bittersweet memories. The taste of the tea-soaked biscuit reminded Marcel of Charles Swann’s destruction that had been precipitated by his unfaithful wife Odette. An article in today’s Washington Post‘s On Faith section from the Religion News Service reminded me (as a priest in this church) of the destruction of the Episcopal Church precipitated by its unfaithful leaders over the past 40 years.
The article entitled “An aging maverick, Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong has no regrets” is part Edith Piaf — part Soviet Life hagiography. As I read through article I heard Jack Spong proclaim “Non, Rien de rien / Non, Je ne regrette rien” — while RNS went into full bore People magazine puff piece mode. All that was missing was the photo of the smiling peasants with their balalaikas extolling the virtues of the dear leader. One cannot blame Jack Spong for his part, but I do think RNS might be a little embarrassed.
The article opens on a friendly note:
MORRIS PLAINS, N.J. — At 82, retired and enjoying life, Bishop John Shelby Spong doesn’t have to be the liberal enfant terrible whose pronouncements for gay rights and against traditional dogmas once scandalized Christendom.
Indeed, many of the views that once turned the former Episcopal bishop of Newark into a lightning rod are now regarded as so matter-of-fact that they barely occasion much notice: ordaining gay clergy and blessing same-sex marriages, for example, or having a female presiding bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first woman elected to lead a national church in the Anglican Communion.
And it gets better from here. The good bishop enumerates his triumphs with but slight modesty … but he discounts any direct responsibility.
Yet while he finds the victory deeply satisfying, he says he doesn’t take personal pride in this tectonic shift.“I was simply interpreting a rising consciousness,” he said. “Whether it was race or women or homosexual people, the issue was always the same: fighting against anything that dehumanizes a child of God on the basis of an external characteristic.”Now, he said, “I feel mellow,” his soft drawl burnishing the tone of reflection. “And I don’t think I’ve changed, particularly. I’m just not controversial in my church anymore.”
But RNS tells us:
[T]hose who love Spong — and the many who love to hate him — need not worry: He is hardly going gently into that good night. He seems as vital and youthful as ever, tall and lanky with a shock of reddish hair that still falls insistently across his forehead. He does four miles every morning on the treadmill, and he and his wife travel about 60 percent of the year, mainly at the invitation of audiences who want to hear more from Spong.And he has a new book out — his 24th. This latest one is a take on the Gospel of John called “The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic.” As the subtitle suggests, Spong reads the Gospel through a Jewish lens, as he has done in many of his works.
It continues in this vein of hero worship. Jack Spong is a mystic — but a rationalist one.
In a sense, following the path of a mystic — like the author of the Gospel of John — only became possible as Spong, the rational-minded Bible scholar, aged. And that process in turn seems to have highlighted Spong’s roots as a pastor and teacher — a spiritual writer as much as a controversialist.
I do not begrudge the old lion his roar and Spong makes fewer mistakes than he is wont to do — he states with confidence that the Gospel writers were all Jews, while most New Testament scholars would argue Luke was Greek, see Lea & Black The New Testament: Its Background and Message, citing Colossians 4:10-11.
But how does RNS expect any but the most gormless of its readers to take this article seriously as journalism? No hard questions are asked of the bishop. Nothing about his tenure as bishop when his diocese was in free fall — collapsing faster than the city of Detroit. Shortly after Spong retired Robert Stowe England penned a post-mortem of the bishop’s tenure, writing:
Between 1978 and 1999, the number of baptized persons in the diocese fell from 64,323 to 36,340, a loss of 27,983 members in 21 years. That’s a disastrous 43.5% decline. The Episcopal Church, by contrast, saw a decline in the number of baptized persons from 3,057,162 in 1978 to 2,339,133 in 1997, a loss of 718, 499, or a substantial 23.4%, according to the 1998 Church Annual.
The Diocese of Newark under Spong, thus, has declined at a rate 20.1 percentage points higher than the rate for the entire Episcopal Church. This rate of decline is 86% faster than the Episcopal Church, whose losses are considerable in and of themselves.
Nor is there an appreciation of Spong’s standing as a theologian — apart from that offered by the good bishop. In 1998, before he became Archbishop of Wales then Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams was one of the leading scholars of the Anglican left — the author of the then standard apologetic for changing the church’s teaching to support same-sex relationships. Williams was not impressed with the Spong’s scholarly acumen.
Dr. Williams’ relationship with Bishop Spong, the author of a slew of books questioning the basic tenet of Christianity, has been difficult. In 1998 Dr. Williams characterized Bishop Spong’s controversial 12 theses as immature. Their implication he wrote “is that the sort of questions that might be asked by a bright 20th century sixth-former would have been unintelligible or devastating for Augustine, Rahner or Teresa of Avila.
Nor do we hear of Bishop Spong’s humiliation at the 1998 Lambeth Conference, when the Episcopal Church’s Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold apologized on behalf of the church to the bishops of Africa for “racist” comments made by the Bishop of Newark in an interview with the Church of England Newspaper. Bishop Spong — who in the run up to the conference was a media darling — left the conference early with his tail between his legs.
I write this not to attack the man, but to point out the perils of hagiography for journalists. If you are going to paint the subject of your interview as being a giant among giants — a successful bishop, a provocative scholar and a champion of minorities — you should be sure of your ground.
Here is the key journalistic point: The areas that RNS choose to highlight with the selection of its quotes were also the areas of Spong’s greatest failure. These omissions rob the article of credibility. There are too many missing essential facts.
The bishop and Proust’s petite madeleine are both light and insubstantial things — though the petite madeleine is the size of large nut and the bishop is rather bigger. Yet in an odd sort of way they share themes of the destructive force of obsessions and the allure and fatal consequences of transgressive sexuality.
Jack Spong is a great man, but also a tragic one — while the RNS piece is simply silly.
First printed in Get Religion.
Posted by geoconger in Get Religion, Seventh-day Adventist.
Tags: AFP, exorcism, Liberation, Sydney Morning Herald
Reports on the exorcism trial currently underway in Paris suburb of Essonne cast an interesting light on the internal workings of the French wire service AFP (Agence France Presse). And these gleanings do not do it credit.
A 7 October 2013 story about four people accused of having tortured a woman while they were performing an exorcism, shows gaps between the English and French versions. The four accused exorcists claim to be members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and were motivated by that church’s teachings when they performed their exorcism. The English-language version reports the four are ex-Adventists and that the French branch of the church states their beliefs do not support amateur exorcisms.
The French version states the four say they were motivated by their Seventh-day Adventist faith — butomits the disclaimers and distancing by the church.
What can we make of this discrepancy? The English language version of the story as published in the Sydney Morning Herald under the headline “French torture trial opens over ‘exorcism’” opens with:
Four former members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church have gone on trial for torture over a violent, crucifixion-style exorcism carried out on a 19-year-old woman. Three men and a woman are accused of tying up the Cameroonian teenager in the position of Christ on the cross and keeping her bound to a mattress for seven days in the belief that her body had been possessed by the devil.
The four, including the victim’s former boyfriend, were charged with kidnapping, acts of torture and barbarism.
Style note — the proper designation for the church is Seventh-day Adventist, to whit a dash between Seventh and day and a lower case “d” in day.
The French language version as published in Libération under the headline “Ouverture du procès des exorcistes de l’Essonne” has a very different lede.
Le procès de quatre personnes, soupçonnées d’avoir séquestré et torturé une jeune femme pour l’exorciser, s’est ouvert lundi devant la cour d’assises de l’Essonne. Les quatre accusés, qui se réclament d’un mouvement protestant évangélique, comparaissent pour «arrestation, enlèvement et séquestration avec actes de torture ou de barbarie». Ils encourent la prison à perpétuité.
The trial of four people suspected of having kidnapped and tortured a young woman in order to perform an exorcism opened Monday at the Assize Court of Essonne.The four defendants, who claim to be part of an evangelical Protestant movement, have been charged to “false imprisonment, kidnapping with torture or barbarism.”< They face life in prison.
In the English language version the four are identified as being immigrants from the French Caribbean who are “former” members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. And AFP reports the French branch of the church states the four have nothing to do with them.
The church says the people involved in the case were all expelled a year before the alleged attack and has stressed that exorcism of this kind cannot be justified by any of its teachings.
We do not see this information in the French language version. On first mention the accused are described as Evangelical Protestants. On second mention the accused say they were motivated by the religious tenets of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Eric, l’initiateur présumé des sévices, était son compagnon à l’époque des faits, qui remontent à mai 2011. Un soir, voyant les symptômes d’une manifestation diabolique chez Antoinette, il avait voulu la «libérer du diable». Les quatre mis en cause, originaires des Antilles, et la victime, Camerounaise, avaient formé depuis plusieurs mois un groupe vivant en autarcie dans le même appartement, devenu une véritable salle de prière.
Le procès s’est ouvert lundi avec l’examen de la personnalité de Lionel, 29 ans, qui se réclame comme les autres accusés de l’Eglise adventiste du septième jour, un mouvement évangélique qui compte de nombreux adeptes aux Antilles. Les accusés ont toujours revendiqué la sincérité et le bien-fondé de cet exorcisme, affirmant que le démon devait être chassé du corps d’Antoinette. Ils nient toute forme de violence. Le procès doit s’achever vendredi.
Eric, the alleged originator of the abuse, was the companion of the victim in May 2011 when the incident occurred. Seeing the symptoms of demonic manifestation in Antoinette one evening, he said he wanted to “liberate the devil.” The four accused are from the Caribbean while the victim is from Cameroon. For several months they had been living together in an apartment as part of a self-sufficient commune, which also served as a a prayer group.
The trial began Monday with the examination of Lionel (29) who claims that with the other defendants he is a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, an evangelical movement that has many followers in the West Indies.The defendants have maintained the sincerity and validity of their belief in exorcism, saying the devil should have been expelled from Antoinette’s body. They deny any form of violence. The trial is scheduled to end Friday.
Why does the French version differ significantly from the English? Newspapers add and subtract material to wire service stories for reason of space and to add local color, content or editorial view. Did Libération make an editorial decision to omit mention of the four being “former” members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church? Why is the statement missing from the church rejecting out of hand the claims Adventist doctrines support self-help exorcisms? Is Libération up to something? Making a statement of some sort about Evangelicals or the Seventh-day Adventist Church?
No, the same language appears in the AFP story published by France24 – the omissions cannot be laid at the door of the newspaper. What then? I have not seen a follow up or corrected story from the French-language wires indicating this story was subsequently updated with the details found in the English-version. My sense is that we had two reporters and two editors at work — the French and the English.
Perhaps we are seeing national stereotypes at work. The French-language team omitted a detail they believed their audience would not find of interest, while the English language team included information that the Anglosphere would want to know. Or is this simply a case of the French team did a poor job in comparison to the English?
What ever the reason, the omission of key details and context leaves readers of the French version ignorant. Not a good outing for AFP I’m afraid.
Read it all in Get Religion.
Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Church of England, GAFCON.
Tags: Justin Welby
I do not mean to suggest that the custom of lying has suffered any decay or interruption,–no, for the Lie, as a Virtue, a Principle, is eternal; the Lie, as a recreation, a solace, a refuge in time of need, the fourth Grace, the tenth Muse, man’s best and surest friend, is immortal, and cannot perish from the earth … My complaint simply concerns the decay of the art of lying. No high-minded man, no man of right feeling, can contemplate the lumbering and slovenly lying of the present day without grieving to see a noble art so prostituted.
Mark Twain. “On the Decay of the Art of Lying” (1882)
It pains me to see the decline of lying. Our forefathers were unsurpassed in the gentle art of polite fiction, of the little white lie. The feeble attempts of our debased modern age are insults to a grand and glorious tradition of obfuscation. We are midgets standing on the shoulders of giants.
The dulling of the craft is most pronounced within the ranks of the Church. Monday’s announcement that the Archbishop of Canterbury will make a flying visit to Kenya in solidarity with the victims of the Westgate Mall terror attack is not only witless but unproductive – this silly explanation will not convince the liberal wing of the Church of England (it’s intended audience), will cause the conservatives to chortle and will insult the Churches of Pakistan, Sudan, Tanzania, and Nigeria.
Read it all in Anglican Ink.
Posted by geoconger in Church of England, GAFCON, Get Religion, Press criticism.
Tags: Justin Welby, Telegraph
The Telegraph has waded into the waters of international Anglican affairs — and I’m afraid someone should toss a life line as it is about to go under. The article on the forthcoming meeting in Nairobi of Anglican leaders entitled “Challenge to Welby as traditionalist Anglicans stage ‘fragmentation’ summit” is not up to the newspaper’s usual standard. It has the story backwards.
As TMatt, the editor here at Get Religion, tells me, I sometimes wander off topic. — In my misspent youth I served my time in the salt mines of Wall Street. My first job out of college was as a floor clerk at the Commodities Exchange for Drexel Burham Lambert. It was the 1980′s, God was in his heaven, Reagan in the White House, greed was good and all was right with the world.
One of the memories I still have of those golden days was the Time cover theory of investing. In a nutshell, when Time magazine ran a cover story on the market or the economy, a smart investor would bet the other way. Paul Montgomery, an analyst with Legg Mason Wood Walker, had compared market returns to Time magazine covers going back to the early Twentieth century and found the trend profiled by Time would last on average for about a month, but a year after the cover story hit the streets the opposite conditions would prevail.
Montgomery’s theory held true (at least when I was playing the markets). Every time in the 1980′s Time featured Fed Chairman Paul Volcker on its cover, interest rates subsequently moved contrary to the sentiment of the story. On 4 July 1988 Time ran a story entitled “The Big Dry” that predicted higher bean prices as a result of a drought in the Midwest. Bean prices had been rising sharply through May and June, but the rally died the week the magazine hit the newsstands. (The second story about the super future of Japan in that issue is just as off base.) But I digress.
These memories of a distant past led me to wonder if we are seeing the start of a trend in Anglican affairs. Bet against the predictions made by the daily newspapers and you are likely to come out the winner.
I should also add a disclaimer. I have written for the Telegraph as a freelancer, providing stories from overseas Anglican jamborees in years past. That having been said; the article is quite extraordinary. Below the headline and above the photo comes this statement:
The Archbishop of Canterbury is facing what could be the biggest challenge to his leadership so far as a more than 1,000 traditionalist clerics stage a summit expected to formalise the “fragmentation” of the of the worldwide Anglican church.
The story does not state its source for this claim. This may be due to this assertion not being true. The conference scheduled for 21-26 Oct 2013 at All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi is the second Global Anglican Futures Conference (GAFCON). The claim that this will be Archbishop Welby’s “biggest challenge” and may “formalise the ‘fragmentation’” of the Anglican Communion is ludicrous.
Let me put it another way — it is simply untrue. The article admits as much when it goes on to say the Anglican Communion has been fragmented for over five years.
I have been reporting on the preparations for this conference for over a year and if what the Telegraph says is true then half a dozen archbishops have been lying to me, or they are being misled by their staffers.The article starts of in high snark mode.
More than 1,000 bishops, archbishops and senior clergy, claiming to represent around 40 million Anglicans, are due to gather in Kenya later this month to discuss what they see as a liberal drift within the Church of England and other western branches of the church.
“Claiming”? The clergy and lay leaders representing churches that comprise over two-thirds of Anglicans will be present at the meeting. How is that a claim? “What they see as a liberal drift”? Way to telegraph your sentiments. These hot headed Africans and their knuckle-dragging troglodyte American allies see reds under the bed. The next line offers more assertions.
It comes five years after more than 200 bishops boycotted the once-in-a-decade Lambeth Conference, openly defying the then Archbishop Dr Rowan Williams over what they saw as his liberal stance on homosexuality. They staged a rival gathering in Jerusalem – the so-called Global Anglican Future Conference (Gafcon) – forming what has been widely characterised as a “church within a church”.
Now, the group is staging a second gathering, this time in Nairobi, where leaders from Africa, the Americas, Asia and Australasia hope to establish new, more permanent organisational structures, rejecting the existing Anglican Communion arrangements as a “colonial” relic.
The event is timed to mark 10 years since the consecration of the first openly gay bishop in the Anglican Communion, the Rt Rev Gene Robinson of New Hampshire in the US – the catalyst for the crisis which has divided the 77 million-strong Anglican Communion ever since.
Where to begin. Yes “more than 200 bishops” did not show up at Lambeth 2008. The exact number was 214 but there was no official statement from the Conference or the Archbishop of Canterbury’s office. How do we know this? I counted.
In 2008 the conference press officers declined to tell me how many bishops had skipped the meeting. With a straight face they said they were prevented by the “Data Protection Act” from saying who was at the meeting and who was not. (A creative way to avoid admitting to a fiasco.) So I counted heads and reported:
Of those identified as absent by CEN, 214 bishops from 10 provinces made an affirmative decision not to accept Dr. Williams’ invitation due to reasons of conscience: Australia 7; Southern Cone 1; Episcopal Church 1; Church of England 3; Uganda 30; Nigeria 137; Kenya 25; Rwanda 8; South East Asia 1; and Jerusalem and the Middle East 1. From Africa’s 324 dioceses, 200 diocesan bishops (61 percent) were identified as having refused Dr. Williams’ invitation.
The organizers of the 2008 conference were at great pains to stress theirs was not a rival to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s shindig — and many of the bishops present at the Gafcon conference went on to Canterbury.
And, the timing of the current meeting has nothing to do with the anniversary of Gene Robinson’s consecration — the conference organizers have been trying to put a conference together for some time and at the midpoint between the 2008 and the forthcoming 2018 Lambeth Conference finally have the money in hand to meet.
And, no, Gafcon II is not going to set up a parallel church. It has no authority or ability to do so. Some within the conservative movement may wish to see the existing structures reformed or removed, but no one is seriously suggesting what the Telegraph has implied. For one, the African-led churches do not have the money.
The article states the conference will draw up an “action plan” on marriage and sexuality, “which will be an uncompromising reassertion of a traditionalist interpretation of the Bible.” And then the Telegraph goes on to speculate:
That is likely to set them on a collision course with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, who has openly signalled that he is reassessing his own views on the subject.
Although Archbishop Welby comes from the born-again evangelical wing of the Church and voted against David Cameron’s Same-Sex Marriage Bill, he has recently spoken about wanting to get his “mind clear” on the issue.
He told a meeting in August that the Church needed to face up to the fact that most young people, including Christians, thought that its stance on gay marriage was “wicked”.
The problem with this assertion is that the archbishop has subsequently clarified his remarks, and is not climbing down or backing away from his traditional views. His signal flags are now flying the other way.
The story then notes:
Although Archbishop Welby was invited, he has signalled that he will not be attending because of a prior commitment meeting European church leaders.
Again we have a problem. The archbishop will be in Iceland for a meeting of Northern European Anglican and Lutheran archbishops on the first day of the conference, but he has a second conflict as well on the Wednesday — the little matter of the baptism of Prince George of Cambridge at the Chapel Royal at St James Palace. Christening the future King of England is an excuse to miss just about any engagement. He will, however, be addressing the gathering via video and will attend a private meeting with the archbishops organizing the meeting the day before the conference kick off.
The bottom line with this story is that it is repackaged conventional wisdom. There is no reporting here, only opinions. And dodgy ones at that.
And yes, wish me safe travels as I head on down to Nairobi for the fun.
First printed in Get Religion.
Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Ink, The Episcopal Church.
Tags: Anglican Communion Institute, Christopher Seitz, ecclesiology, Wycliffe College Toronto
Toronto: Conservatives should seek terms for a negotiated peace to the Anglican wars, the Rev. Canon Christopher Seitz, Old Testament Scholar and Senior Research Professor at Wycliffe College in the University of Toronto and a leader of the Anglican Communion Institute told a conference marking the 50th Anniversary of the 1963 Toronto Pan-Anglican Congress.
The battle had been lost leaving conservatives as “strangers in their own church,” he said, and “the question for conservatives [now] is about encouragement. Will we be allowed to walk the well-worn paths of the faith,” he asked “or must we follow the trailblazers?”
While engaged in the preparation of a commentary on the Book of Jeremiah while on a study leave at the University of Tubingen, Prof. Seitz stated it was his custom to tread the paths in the forests surrounding the town. Warming upon this theme, he told the conference participants gathered at St Paul’s Bloor Street in Toronto that traditionalists are being told the “paths of our fathers are wrong paths” and our understanding of God’s plan for salvation has reached its “sell-by date.”
Read it all in Anglican Ink.
Posted by geoconger in Get Religion, Press criticism.
Tags: Bosnia, Oslobodenje, Sarajevo
“Context is king” is a catch phrase that summarizes the critique offered in many of my posts for Get Religion. The omission of background material or worse still the omission of “why” — why are these people in this story I am reading doing these things — blights many a fine article.
A lack of context often leads to parochialism in reporting. When it comes to faith and morals issues, the New York Times writes its stories from the perspective of its assumed readership, often propounding a dogmatism and incurious worldview of which they seem quite unaware.
Yet there are stories where context can be omitted because it is so ingrained in the common knowledge or experiences of readers. One need not say Hitler was a bad man every time. The trick then is gauging the knowledge point of your readership — knowing when to begin to provide context and when to omit it. This assumes the writer knows his subject — (a third complaint voiced about stories critiqued by Get Religion.)
These musings on the newspaper craft were prompted by a story I read on the front page of Tuesday’s Oslobodenje entitled the “Census takers will come knocking” on the formal launch of Bosnia’s first census since 1991.
But first some context. Oslobodenje is the main Sarajevo daily newspaper and earned an honored reputation within the newspaper community during the 1992-1995 siege of Sarajevo. The paper’s multi-ethnic staff — Bosnians, Serbs, Croats — missed only one day of publishing during the siege and operated out of a bomb shelter for several months after its offices were shelled during the fighting killing five and wounding 25 staffers. In 1993, it was awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought and its editor was awarded the Honor Medal in 1995 by the University of Missouri School of Journalism for its coverage of the war.
The article reports that on Friday census takers will begin canvassing Bosnia, asking each household to fill in the census form. The usual sort of demographic questions will be asked — name, age, sex, occupation, marital status, race, ethnicity, religion, citizenship — etc.
The census director told Oslobodenje the information gathered on individuals would be kept secret — with only the aggregate information released. Government agencies that have detailed access to some of the data will not be able to share it with other branches.
“U procesu obrade podataka, svi individualni podaci ?e biti kriptovani. Ti podaci ?e biti odvojeni od ostalih podataka, iako ?e biti kriptovani. Šifra za kriptovanje ?e biti iz tri dijela, a svaka institucija ?e imati svoj dio šifre i niko ne?e bez ostale dvije institucije mo?i pristupiti podacima”, pojasnio je Milinovi?.
” As the information is gathered, all individual private data will be encrypted . Such data will be separated from other data, although it will be encrypted. The encryption code will be in three parts with each state institution having part of the code, and no one will be able to access data without all three codes,” explained without two other institutions will be able to access data , “explained [Zdenko Milinovic, director of Bosnia-Herzegovina's Statistical Agency].
The article notes that that Roma (Gypsies) will be counted as a separate category, but I did not see any further mention of special care for religion or ethnicity. And at this point we have the question of common knowledge. A reader from the Anglosphere will have heard of the Bosnian civil war — and the omission of religion from the story about enumerating the people of Bosnia, counting them on ethnic and religious lines — may strike a bad chord.
Will not asking people to state their ethnicity — (Bosnian, Croat, Serbian, or “other”, meaning Roma or hypothetically Jews, though the Nazis assisted by their local allies exterminated the Jewish community) – rekindle the nationalistic religious tensions that tipped the country into war? For the overwhelming majority of people, ethnicity is tied to religion in Sarajevo — Bosnians are Muslims, Croats Catholic, Serbians Orthodox.
And the promise that the census department will not share your ethnicity with other government agencies should prompt concern, should it not? If the government goes out of the way to tell you it will not do something bad, is that not a sign that you should start to worry. Sharing information does not mean the census department will let the welfare department know that you do not have 12 children for whom you are claiming support — but informing the police that you are a Muslim, Catholic or Orthodox — and this information finds its way to others who may not want your type to remain in Bosnia.
Were this article being written for the Anglosphere these questions would have to be asked in a quality newspaper story. But in Bosnia — who among the population would not know these already?
Is Oslobodenje making an editorial decision to soft-peddle these issues? Is it giving its editorial support to the government and pushing the new happy multi-ethnic Bosnia line? Or, is this something any intelligent Bosnian would already know, and there is no need to belabor these points? What say you Get Religion readers?
First printed in Get Religion.
Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Church of England, GAFCON.
Tags: Justin Welby
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will not be attending the GAFCON II Conference in Nairobi this month, a spokesman tells Anglican Ink, due to a schedule conflict.
A spokesman from the Lambeth Press Office said the Archbishop had been invited to address the 21-26 October 2013 meeting of centrist and conservative Anglican leaders set for All Saints’ Cathedral in Nairobi. However, he “is unable to attend because of a long-standing commitment on the same date. He will be sending a pre-recorded video greeting,” the spokesman said.
On 23 Oct, the Archbishop will baptize Prince George of Cambridge at the Chapel Royal at St James’ Palace in London.
Read it all at Anglican Ink.
Posted by geoconger in Get Religion.
Tags: circumcision, Der Spiegel, Germany
The issue of circumcision has returned to Germany’s newspapers — and the manner in which the controversy is being discussed suggests that while the press is aware of the issues of personal autonomy generated by state intervention into the private sphere, the religious liberty (or perhaps the religious sensibility) issue is missing from the story.
The English-language section of Der Spiegel ran a news analysis story on 27 Sept 2013 entitled “Cutting Controversy: German Court Sets New Circumcision Rules”. It also ran a story in the German-language Panorama section entitled: “Kinder müssen vorher aufgeklärt werden” that reported a court in Hamm had ruled that parents and doctors must first discuss the procedure with a boy before he is circumcised.
The issue of circumcision of boys in Germany carries with it the baggage of the Nazi era and is fraught with social, cultural and religious issues. The issue attracted international prominence in 2012 when a Cologne court ruled that religious circumcision of boys constituted “bodily harm”. Der Spiegel noted that court held that as a matter of law:
a child’s right to self-determination superceded his parents’ right to freedom of religion. The decision prompted widespread uproar, particularly among Jewish and Muslim groups and as far away as Turkey, Israel and the United States. Germany’s Central Council of Jews called it “an unprecedented and dramatic intrusion on the right to self-determination of religious communities.” Ali Demir, the chairman of the Islamic Religious Community, argued that circumcision is a “harmless procedure, a tradition that is thousands of years old and highly symbolic.”
Ultimately, the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament, passed a law allowing the religious procedure. According to the new rules, specially qualified members of religious communities can perform the operation in the first six months of a boy’s life, after which it must be performed by a physician.
Last week’s ruling clarified the new law.
According to the judges, the mother has an inherent right to decide whether to have the procedure performed as long as the child cannot make that decision himself. However, they also ruled that the parents and doctors are obliged to inform the child “in a manner appropriate to his age and development” about the procedure and be mindful of his wishes. In the case of the 6-year-old, this did not occur. Parents must also be informed about the procedure ahead of time.
The court ultimately found the 31-year-old mother’s justification for the procedure to be unsatisfactory. Since the family had Germany as its primary place of residence, visits to Kenya were rarely possible, and the child was baptized as a protestant. Moreover, they concluded, a procedure could cause psychological damage to the child, since the mother said she couldn’t accompany her son to the circumcision.
We hear the who, what, when and where, but not the why. There is a hint of it in the report the “child was baptized as a protestant.” (Why the small “p”? What does that signify?) But there is nothing more.
Last December I compared the coverage of the circumcision debate in the Bundestag by the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and NBC. I wrote:
Turn to the NBC story written by Donald Snyder you can see the difference between adequate and great reporting. The article entitled “Circumcision to remain legal in Germany” provided the same political background and offering quotes from a number of MPs. It also addressed the religious freedom question from the perspective of Judaism and Islam. But in the same space as the New York Times it did a better job in conveying why this issue was important to supporters and opponents of circumcision.
While the Times noted the infrequency of circumcision in Germany, NBC took this angle further.
German society is highly secular. Religion is generally viewed as a relic from the past. This is especially true in what was formerly Communist East Germany, where atheism was the official doctrine for 44 years.
“The basic sentiment here is anti-religious,” said Sylke Tempel, editor-in-chief of Internationale Politik, a foreign policy journal published by the German Council of Foreign Affairs. “And Germans throw overboard anything that has to do with tradition.”
According to Tempel, the Cologne ruling was not a deliberate attack on Islam or Judaism but showed a total misunderstanding of how important circumcision is to both religions. TNS Emnid, a German polling organization, found in a July 2012 survey that 56 percent of Germans agree with the Cologne ruling.
Deirdre Berger, executive director of the American Jewish Committee in Berlin, a Jewish advocacy organization, said that the Cologne ruling can be traced to a body of law and medical literature that has been accumulating over the past decade. This school of thought, based on little scientific evidence, holds that circumcision does irreversible physical damage and causes emotional trauma, a view held by the German Association of Pediatricians, which has called for a two-year moratorium on circumcisions. By contrast, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization endorse circumcision for its medical benefits, particularly in fighting the spread of HIV in Africa.
What is missing from Der Spiegel‘s story is this background detail. The article is written from a German secularist perspective. This may not be such a very great crime as Der Spiegel is a German secular magazine — yet its story is incomplete, and insular. It lacks the self awareness found in quality journalism that acknowledges its own presuppositions, but also attempts to explain and engage other world views.
Perhaps it is too much to expect insight from a news story. But one should see balance — and that we do not see in this piece.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
First printed in Get Religion.
Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Kenya, Anglican Ink.
Tags: David Gitari
The former Archbishop of Kenya, the Most Rev. David Mukuba Gitari has died following a short illness, his grandson, Dennis Itumbi, has reported in a post on Facebook.
On 30 September 2013 Archbishop Gitari died in the intensive care unit of Mater Hospital at 2:15 pm local time. The archbishop had been scheduled for surgery, but was transferred to the ICU after his heart stopped. He was 76.
The President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta offered his condolences to the archbishop’s family and friends. In a message released on the State House website, President Kenyatta described the late Archbishop as “a true servant of the people and a dedicated leader who made a lot of personal sacrifices to serve humanity.”
Read it all in Anglican Ink.
Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Church of South India, Women Priests.
Tags: Pushpa Lalitha
The Church of South India has consecrated its first woman bishop.
On 29 September 2013 the Rt. Rev. E. Pushpa Lalitha was consecrated and installed as Bishop in Nandyal at Holy Cross Cathedral in Nandyal. She was selected by the CSI’s Executive Synod on 25 Sept from four candidates chosen by the diocese.
Read it all in Anglican Ink.
Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand & Polynesia, Anglican Ink, San Joaquin.
Tags: David Rice, Diocese of Waiapu
The Bishop of Waiapu has been tapped to be the next Provisional Bishop of San Joaquin, the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia’s press office has announced.
The Rt. Rev. David Rice is expected to take up his post following confirmation by the diocesan synod. An American expatriate, Bishop Rice was born in North Carolina and trained for the ministry at Duke University Divinity School. He was ordained deacon in 1989 and elder in 1991 in the United Methodist Church in Western North Carolina and served congregations in the state from 1989 to 1997. From 1991-93 Bishop Rice led a congregation in New Zealand and returned to the country in 1997 to be ordained a deacon and priest in the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch.
After entering the Anglican Church the bishop served as a parish priest and was appointed Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral in Dunedin in 2002. In 2008 Bishop Rice was elected Bishop of the Diocese of Waiapu on New Zealand’s North Island. He also was one of four candidates who stood for election as Bishop of Southwest Virginia in March 2013.
Read it all in Anglican Ink.
Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Church of South India, Women Priests.
Tags: Pushpa Lalitha
The Church of South India has appointed the subcontinent’s first woman bishop. On 25 Sept 2013 the CSI’s Synod Executive selected the Rev. E. Pushpa Lalitha from among four candidates to be the next Bishop in Nandyal.
Bishop-elect Lalitha (57) was born in Diguvappad village in the Kurnool district of Andhra Predesh in Southern India. Educated at Andhra Christian Theological College, she was ordained a priest in 1984. A Telugu speaker, the Rev. Pushpa Lalitha ministered in several villages before serving as the director of Vishranthi Nilayam in Bangalore and as the administrative head of the CSI’s women fellowship.
In a statement released on her behalf by the CSI, Bishop-elect Lalitha said: “My parents had decided to dedicate me to the lord even before I was born, as they had already lost two sons. My life has been God’s mercy, and I wish to be his servant for life.”
Read it all in Anglican Ink.
Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Kenya, Anglican Ink, GAFCON.
Tags: Eliud Wabukla, Nairobi, Peter Jensen, Westgate Mall
Archbishop Eliud Wabukala of Kenya
Last week’s terror attack on the Westgate Mall will not derail the Gafcon II conference set for 21-26 October 2013 at All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi, the secretary of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans tells Anglican.TV.
In an interview recorded on 26 September 2013 with Anglican.TV’s Kevin Kallsen, Dr. Peter Jensen stated that he and Bishop Martyn Minns had flown to Kenya to meet with local conference organizers to discuss security arrangements. Dr. Jensen said he was satisfied with the precautions taken by conference organizers to forestall disruptions of the proceedings and noted the Kenyan government had matters well in hand.
The archbishop’s flying visit coincided with a special meeting of the Anglican Church of Kenya’s synod on 25-26 Sept 2013 at All Saints’ Cathedral to discuss the attack on the Westgate Mall by terrorists linked to the Somali Islamist group al-Shabaab and the Gafcon meeting.
Read it all in Anglican Ink.