Tuesday, December 12, 2006

December 11 - 12 posts

Note: this post contains the 15 posts that were on the T19 front page as of about 3:30 p.m. Eastern. You can leave comments, but there is only one comment section for all these posts at the very end of the post. We'll be posting new entries tonight as individual stories to make commenting easier.

Paul Barnes Resigns

December 12th, 2006 posted by kendall at 3:22 pm

Who is Paul Barnes? Read it to find out.

How Businesses are Harnessing the Power of Apathy

December 12th, 2006 posted by kendall at 11:41 am

An interesting audio segment on the BBC.

Frank Limehouse: A Message from the Imperial Palace

December 12th, 2006 posted by kendall at 11:41 am

May God open our eyes to see the sin within. And also eyes to see God’s way of salvation through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. This is the core message and the great good news of Christianity.

Let me just give you one example of how this goes. In March 2000 I buried a man who had been a member of the choir at St. Helena’s in Beaufort. A relatively young man, David struggled through a long illness before departing this life. But he wrote something before he died and requested that the priest read it aloud at his service as a kind of Last Will and Testament. So I have no reservations in reading now just two little sentences from it that in essence sum up the way he saw his life and relationship with God:

I, Patrick David Crosby, do hereby confess that I have led a life of hypocrisy and other grievous sins (which he listed) and I am totally unworthy to associate with the Saints in heaven… that unworthy as I am, I firmly believe that I am saved by the grace of my Lord Jesus Christ, and beg of him not justice, but mercy.

Well, according to his wishes, I actually read it at the funeral. That is true biblical repentance. And at the funeral we could have blabbered on about what a great guy he was and this, that and the other thing, but by reading those two little sentences I could say nothing better, more admirable, or in fact more pleasing to God who said, There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine (so called) righteous persons who need no repentance.

Read it all.

Virginia Episcopal Diocese Loses Another Parish

December 12th, 2006 posted by kendall at 9:19 am

All Saints Episcopal Church in Dale City, whose members voted 402-6 on Sunday to leave the Episcopal Church, has become the first Northern Virginia church to flee the denomination out of several expected defections.
The 500-member church was one of nine churches to vote last weekend whether to leave the Episcopal Church over disagreements on biblical authority and the 2003 consecration of New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson, a practicing homosexual.
All Saints’ vote ratified an agreement its leaders had struck last month with the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia to cede their property to the diocese, then rent it back for five years until the church completes a new 800-seat sanctuary near Potomac Mills Shopping Center in Prince William County.
“We are heartened by the congregation’s vote to move forward with our mission to be a church overflowing with God’s love and healing power,” said the Rev. John Guernsey, rector of All Saints. “We are grateful to the diocese that we were able to reach an amicable settlement and we pray that this may be a model for others in the [Episcopal] Church.”
Virginia Bishop Peter J. Lee released a statement yesterday mourning the loss of All Saints.
“As the first of several churches to vote, I am disappointed with the result at All Saints and I sincerely hope that the result in the other congregations will be different,” he said.
The remaining eight churches are keeping their polls open throughout the week and will announce their voting results Sunday.

Read it all.

As Others See Us

December 12th, 2006 posted by kendall at 7:06 am

From Weiwen’s Religion Blog:

“Titus 1:9 is maintained by Canon Kendall Harmon of, I believe, South Carolina. The articles he posts are usually very good and give a good view of the conservative side of the Episcopal Church. A lot of liberals and moderates frequent his blog as well, but some of the more virulent conservatives post…[comments] that are not so good.”

Accurate in every respect, I think. And a good launching point to remind people of the importance of remembering to be respectful and considerate in your comments which are read by others with whom you may not agree. Also to try, please, to keep the comments on the topic of the content of the article at hand.

Paul Weyrich–The Salvation Army: Hope and help for our culture and our needy

December 12th, 2006 posted by kendall at 7:02 am

One early mission of the Salvation Army was to prevent young women from becoming prostitutes. That missionary work continues with PROMISE — the Partnership to Rescue Our Minors from Sexual Exploitation. Believe it or not, the Salvation Army says, “In the U.S. an estimated 244,000-325,000 children are currently being emotionally, physically and spiritually devastated through the sex trade, and very little is being done to stop it.”

The Salvation Army’s PROMISE model in Chicago seeks to galvanize the governmental and voluntary sectors of the community in a crusade to make the citizenry and also law enforcement more aware of sex trafficking.

Every month in Chicago members of a task force comprised of twenty-two governmental, law enforcement and social service agencies meet in the Cook County Courthouse to discuss strategies and tactics to combat prostitution. The Salvation Army promoted the concept of forming the task force and persuaded the different organizations and agencies to buy into it.

Many citizens fail to realize how widespread the prostitution business is or how brutal it can be, particularly for the children or young men and women recruited into it. Often they are immigrants brought to this country with no real knowledge of English or they come from fractured family backgrounds. Unthinkable as it may be, some children can have their sex changed and then be “pimped out.” Now court officials in Chicago are more cognizant that the truant from school or homeless person is a victim of the sex trade. When they realize the underlying problem is prostitution the officials can provide help to the victim.

A Department of Justice grant announced late last week will help the Salvation Army expand nationwide the Chicago model of PROMISE.

A salutary reminder especially at this time of year. Read it all.

One Yale Student’s Story

December 12th, 2006 posted by kendall at 6:14 am

It’s hard to say what’s worst in all this. A.’s spectacular mendacity? The recruiter’s breach of confidentiality? The fact that the bloggers who posted A.s resume — including phone number, e-mail, and home address — keep their own names secret? My vote for worst of all is the media bombardment of a young person who is clearly troubled. A student whose resume is so grandiose that recruiters laugh and send it to their friends isn’t a threat to society; he’s not even a threat to other applicants. Jayson Blair and Kaavya Viswanathan published dishonest work and deceived readers. A. is just a kid who needs help. But the bloggers and reporters mobbed him like bullies on a playground.

Yale won’t comment about A. But his story raises larger issues for an elite university. While A.’s problems are atypical, all Yale students are subject to the pressure of high expectations. Yale should help its students resist the seductive notion that dishonesty in a resume or a paper might be better than failure.

Read it all.

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court rules on parental rights of lesbians

December 12th, 2006 posted by kendall at 6:12 am

The state’s highest court ruled yesterday against a lesbian who sought to establish parental rights to the 5-year-old biological child of her former partner, because she did not adopt the child during the 18 months they were together after the infant’s birth.

The case reflects the Supreme Judicial Court’s view that same-sex couples who fall out of love while raising children must abide by the same legal rules as any other dissolving couples: What counts in the court system are birth certificates, marriage licenses, adoption papers, or proof that you share equally in the nurturing of the youngsters.

In a complex legal case that stretched over three years, a lesbian from Middlesex County put forward some novel legal theories to establish her parental role. She said she deserved to be a legal parent because she and her former partner had effectively formed an agreement to raise a child together. She also argued she should be, at least, a de facto parent with visitation rights, because what she lacked in time with the child she gave in money as the primary breadwinner.

Her case was backed by briefs from Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders of Boston, a legal rights group for gays and lesbians, and Fathers and Families, a father’s rights group that represents many divorced fathers.

But in a unanimous opinion, written by Chief Justice Margaret Marshall, the court said the woman failed to meet the state’s requirement for legal parental rights or prove that her emotional bond was so strong that she deserved at least court-mandated visitation.

The justices said the woman never took up her option to adopt the baby, which would have given her the same rights as the biological mother. (Same-sex marriage was not an option when the women ended their relationship in 2003, when the child was about 18 months old.) The court also said the woman, who toiled long hours as codirector of a nonprofit organization, did not spend enough time caring for the child to establish her parental rights while the biological mother tended to most of the caretaking.

Marshall wrote that while the plaintiff may love the child and the child may derive some benefit from spending time with her, “these facts are insufficient, in themselves, to accord the plaintiff parental rights.”

Lawyers for the biological mother — Regina Hurley and John Foskett of the law firm Deutsch Williams — said the court’s opinion shows that courts now apply its child-protection measures equally, regardless of the sexual orientation of the couple.

“They’re neutral on whether they are same-sex or heterosexual,” Foskett said.

Elizabeth Zeldin, a Boston lawyer who represented the plaintiff, said her client is deeply upset by the result, especially because the biological mother has said she planned to end the temporary court-mandated visitation if she prevailed in the SJC.

“It’s very sad for this child,” Zeldin said.

Read it all.

Mary Zeiss Stange: Christmas, pagans and religious divergence

December 12th, 2006 posted by kendall at 6:12 am

Happy holidays!

Have I just offended you? If you are a member of the American Family Association, the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights or the Committee to Save Merry Christmas, I probably have.

For the second year in a row, conservative Christian groups have threatened boycotts of big-box and department stores whose advertisements for “holiday trees” and whose hearty if non-specific holiday well-wishes reflect, these groups say, an “anti-Christian and anti-Christmas bias.” Opponents of generic holiday greetings also suspect that there is something un-American about them. As Alderman Thurston Hanson of Monroe, Wis., objected, when he recently voted against a City Council motion to grant the Chamber of Commerce a permit for a post-Thanksgiving “holiday” parade: “Christmas is a federally mandated holiday. … Ninety percent of people celebrate Christmas, and we shouldn’t offend them by not calling it what it is.”

Hanson’s numbers might be somewhat skewed (roughly 80% of Americans are self-identified Christians), but major chains, including Wal-Mart, Target, Walgreen’s, Macy’s and Kohl’s, have gotten the message. The assumption at work here appears to be that, while we are a diverse society, Christmas is a national holiday that trumps all other seasonal celebrations.

“Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving that kicks off the annual frenzy of consumerism known as the holiday season, sets the tone. Gone are the days when folks who worried about rampant materialism cautioned that it was time to “put Christ back into Christmas.” Now it’s time to put Christ back into Kmart. And so, as Wal-Mart spokeswoman Marisa Bluestone has bravely proclaimed, “This year, we’re not afraid to say ‘Merry Christmas.’ ”

Of course, if you are a Jew celebrating Hanukkah, or a Muslim marking Eid al-Fitr, or a neo-pagan Wiccan for whom the Winter Solstice (Dec. 21) is a major observance, you probably had appreciated the more inclusive acknowledgement that the end of the year is a festive time for you, too.

Indeed, particularly if you are Wiccan, the matter of being un-included this holiday season must especially sting. A group of Wiccan families is suing the Department of Veterans Affairs for the right to bury their fallen heroes in military cemeteries in graves marked with a pentacle, the five-pointed star that symbolizes their religion, much as a cross does Christianity or a Star of David, Judaism.

Read it all.

Mitt Romney under criticism for 1994 Letter

December 11th, 2006 posted by kendall at 8:02 pm

Gov. Mitt Romney, the Massachusetts Republican who has built a presidential campaign on a broad appeal for conservative support, is drawing sharply increased criticism from conservative activists for his advocacy of gay rights in a 1994 letter.

Mr. Romney’s standing among conservatives is being hurt by a letter he sent to the Log Cabin Club of Massachusetts saying that he would be a stronger advocate for gay rights than Senator Edward M. Kennedy, his opponent in a Senate race, in a position that stands in contrast to his current role as a champion of a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

“We must make equality for gays and lesbians a mainstream concern,” Mr. Romney wrote in a detailed plea for the support of the club, a gay Republican organization.

The circulation of the letter by gay rights groups in recent weeks has set off a storm of outrage among social conservatives, and by Friday was looming as a serious complication to Mr. Romney’s hopes.

Aides to Mr. Romney, who did not dispute the letter’s legitimacy, said that the governor’s opinions on gay issues had not changed. They said Mr. Romney had always been an opponent of same-sex marriage, had always opposed discrimination against gay men and lesbians and had been consistent in his views about allowing them to serve in the military.

“Governor Romney believes Americans should be respectful of all people,” said Eric Fehrnstrom, his spokesman. “However, over the past four years as governor, Mitt Romney has not advocated or supported any change in the military’s policies and he has not implemented new or special rights in this area.”

Read it all.

Airport’s trees stoking “war on Christmas”

December 11th, 2006 posted by kendall at 7:59 pm

The departure of Christmas tree displays at main passageways at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport — the Port of Seattle’s response to a local rabbi’s insistence that an electric menorah also be put up — is accelerating into an international spectacle in the so-called “war on Christmas.”

And that is not what Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky wanted.

“I am devastated, shocked and appalled at the decision that the Port of Seattle came to,” he said Sunday. As news coverage about the airport’s trees spread from CNN to ABC to the Paris-based International Herald Tribune, Bogomilsky on Sunday began to receive hateful messages from people holding him responsible for the removal of the trees.

Harvey Grad, the rabbi’s attorney, said the vitriol against Bogomilsky is misplaced, emphasizing that the rabbi neither objected to the trees nor said he found them offensive.

“The last thing we need is anyone thinking that Jews want to end the celebration of Christmas on public property,” Grad said.

Bogomilsky is spending today on the TV talk-show circuit, continuing a media frenzy that began Saturday.

Around 4 a.m. Sunday, Port Commissioner Patricia Davis was on the phone with CNN for a live interview, joined by Bogomilsky, who works at Chabad Lubavitch, an education foundation in the University District.

Read it all.

Clergy call on their ‘drunk’ bishop to show penitence

December 11th, 2006 posted by kendall at 7:43 pm

Clergy in the Diocese of Southwark are calling on their bishop to issue a statement of “repentance and regret” after he was found, apparently drunk, in the back of a silver Mercedes throwing children’s toys out of the window.

The Bishop of Southwark, Dr Tom Butler, repeated yesterday his claim that he has no memory of the episode in Crucifix Lane, Southwark, that left him with a black eye and a bump on his head that prevented him from wearing his mitre.

He cannot recall how he got from a Christmas party at the Irish Embassy, near Buckingham Palace, to a back street near Southwark cathedral and from there to his home, bloodied and bruised, in Tooting Bec Gardens.

Priests in his diocese want their bishop, who they say has always taken a “zero-tolerance” approach to drunkenness by the clergy, to come clean.

“We are keeping a very close eye on the situation,” said one. Some are considering writing to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, asking him to investigate Dr Butler under discipline rules.

Read it all and there is more here and there.

The Telegraph has an article here also.

Stephen Bates has comments here as well.

A BBC article is there and the Independent has coverage here too.

I tried and failed to find anything on the diocesan website about this.

A tale of two churches one year later

December 11th, 2006 posted by kendall at 6:54 pm

Religious leaders from the Anglican, Lutheran and Episcopal Church gathered Saturday to talk with the faithful about what they say is a crisis threatening to tear their churches apart. We are having a struggle between two points of view that can be described as conservative and liberal.
people look at scripture differently they interpret it differently,” says Rev. Doug Taylor-Weiss.
Those two different views are on how the church should view homosexuality.
one progressive…the other conservative. “It now appears that that’s the intractability of this crisis that there doesnt appear to be a middle ground,” says Taylor Weiss.

Read it all.

Tanzanian Bishops declare they are in severely impaired communion with Episcopal Church

December 11th, 2006 posted by kendall at 5:12 pm

(Anglican Church of Tanzania)

The House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Tanzania (ACT) issued a statement December 7 saying that its “communion with the Episcopal Church (USA) is severely impaired” in light the 75th General Convention’s response to the Windsor Report.

The bishops also declared that ACT “shall not knowingly accept financial and material aid from dioceses, parishes, Bishops, priests, individuals and institutions in the Episcopal Church (USA) that condone homosexual practice or bless same-sex unions.”

Meeting in Dar Es Salaam, where the next Primates’ Meeting will be held in February 2007, the bishops noted that the Episcopal Church did not “adequately respond to the requirement made to them by the Anglican Communion through the Windsor Report by their failure to register honest repentance for their actions.”

During the past three years, leaders of at least 14 out of the 38 Anglican provinces have issued statements saying that they are in a state of “impaired” or “broken” relationship with the Episcopal Church. It is unclear how many provincial synods have ratified the statements.

One of 12 Anglican Provinces in Africa, ACT has 19 dioceses representing both evangelical and Anglo-Catholic Churches.

The full text of the statement follows:

1. Mindful of the fact that the Anglican Church of Tanzania issued statements in 2003 following the election, confirmation and eventual consecration to the Episcopate of Gene Robinson a practicing homosexual clergyman, whereby we declared that henceforth we are not in communion, namely, communio in sacris, with:

Bishops who consecrate homosexuals to the episcopate and those Bishops who ordain such persons to the priesthood and the deaconate or license them to minister in their dioceses;
Bishops who permit the blessing of same sex unions in their dioceses;
Gay priests and deacons;
Priests who bless same sex unions;
2. And because in their June 2006 General Convention, the Episcopal Church (USA) did not adequately respond to the requirement made to them by the Anglican Communion through the Windsor Report by their failure to register honest repentance for their actions that were contrary to the dictates of the Holy Scripture and the teaching of the Anglican Church as expressed in Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference and thereby indicating that they were deliberatively choosing to walk apart from the rest of the Anglican Communion;

3. Therefore after its meeting on 7th December 2006 in Dar es Salaam, the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Tanzania hereby declares that its communion with the Episcopal Church (USA) is severely impaired but the Anglican Church of Tanzania remains in communion with those who are faithful to Biblical Christianity and authority of Scripture who remain in the Episcopal Church (USA) or have left or are considering leaving that church body for the same reasons that we have stated above.

4. Further to the consequent state of the severely impaired communion, the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Tanzania declares that henceforth the Anglican Church of Tanzania shall not knowingly accept financial and material aid from Dioceses, parishes, Bishops, priests, individuals and institutions in the Episcopal Church (USA) that condone homosexual practice or bless same sex unions.

5. The House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Tanzania declares that we are committed to concerted prayer for renewal in the Anglican Communion that will further the mission of Jesus Christ and will render greater glory to God.

6. Finally, the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Tanzania hereby mandates the Primate of the Anglican Church of Tanzania to forward this statement to the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church (USA), to the Archbishop of Canterbury and to all the Primates of the Anglican Communion.

Pastor-ized milk: Nyack minister dresses as a cow to deliver homily

December 11th, 2006 posted by kendall at 5:05 pm

Though his message of helping the poor was familiar to the Grace Episcopal parishioners, the Rev. Richard Gressle’s sermon yesterday morning certainly wasn’t typical.

Wearing a full-body cow costume, complete with udders, and flanked by two real pygmy goats at the altar, Gressle was introduced to churchgoers as “Ms. Moo,” a heifer who can “plow fields and give milk to families that don’t have it.”

“This is a very moo-ving experience,” said Gressle, as children crowding the pews laughed and clapped, along with their parents.

Gressle decided to dress as a bovine to exemplify the benefits of the Heifer Project, a nonprofit organization that collects donations to purchase and distribute livestock to disadvantaged families in more than 125 countries, including the United States.

For the families that receive them, the animals provide milk or eggs that can be either consumed or sold.

When their farm animals give birth, the families are expected to give the young to other families, to help continue the cycle of self-sufficiency, said Claudia Uccelani, chairwoman of the church’s youth commission.

“It’s a wonderful organization that gives people the tools for subsistence,” said Uccelani, a Nyack resident and 10-year member of Grace Episcopal Church. “They employ the pass-the-gift philosophy, so that many people are helped over time.”

Many of the children who attend the church have been collecting money over the past few weeks for the project, Uccelani said.

Read it all.


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