Saturday, February 25, 2012

Richard Dawkins: I can't be sure God does not exist

From The London Telegraph (And all this time I thought Richard Dawkins played Cpl. Newkirk on "Hogan's Heroes".)

He told the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, that he preferred to call himself an agnostic rather than an atheist.

The two men were taking part in a public “dialogue” at Oxford University at the end of a week which has seen bitter debate about the role of religion in public life in Britain.

Last week Baroness Warsi, the Tory party chairman, warned of a tide of “militant secularism” challenging the religious foundations of British society.

The discussion, in Sir Christopher Wren’s Sheldonian Theatre, attracted attention from around the world.

As well as being relayed to two other theatres, it was streamed live on the internet and promoted fierce debate on the Twitter social network.

More here-

Former Anglicans celebrate Mass in St. Peter's, give thanks to pope

From Catholic News-

For perhaps the first time ever, Anglican hymns, chants and prayers reverberated off the marble walls of St. Peter's Basilica as some members of the world's first ordinariate for former Anglicans celebrated their coming into the Catholic Church.

"Wonderful is not a strong enough word to express how we feel to be here," where the apostle Peter gave his life "and where his successors guarded the faith for generations," said Father Len Black in his homily.

Mass at the basilica and the pilgrimage to Rome generated "a feeling of coming home," said the Catholic priest who served as an Episcopalian pastor in the Scottish Highlands for 31 years.

The group of about 94 pilgrims, including a dozen priests, was led by Msgr. Keith Newton, head of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, which was established in January 2011 for former Anglicans in England and Wales.

After celebrating morning Mass Feb. 24 in a side chapel, the group moved to the center of the basilica and stood in front of the "Confessio" -- a lower chapel honoring St. Peter's confession of faith that led to his martyrdom -- and recited the General Thanksgiving, a traditional Anglican prayer.

More here-

21st-century Lent: This year’s sacrifices include Walmart.

From Alabama-

The idea had been percolating in her mind for more than a year. For the past three years, Jim Ellis Fisher has gone on mission trips to Dominican Republic.

“I noticed that I had more stuff packed in my suitcase for a week than some of the people working in these villages had in their entire home,” she said.

Fisher’s decision was cemented when she recently attended a lecture series at her church, Grace Episcopal in Anniston. The series focused on simpler living and compassionate living.

“One of the things that really hit me between the eyes was the idea that everything I have is taking away from someone else,” she said. “My life is filled with things that other people could use.”

With the season of Lent having begun this week on Ash Wednesday, Christians around the world are trying to decide what to give up for the 40 days leading up to Easter.’s-sacrifices-include-Walmart-Facebook-clutter

There may be no God, ‘but let us live as though there were’, says Bishop Richard Holloway

From Scotland- (A little reminiscent of Pascal's dilemma)

AS BISHOP of Edinburgh, Richard Holloway led his congregation in prayer and offered spiritual guidance to his flock in the Scottish episcopal church.

But now the former head of the Anglican church in Scotland has told how he began to lose his faith in God five years after he was ordained as a priest.

For years he was the tabloid’s favourite “Barmy Bishop”, as well as a popular if sometimes controversial figure among Scotland’s nearly 60,000 Episcopalians. Now Holloway’s new memoir, Leaving Alexandria, is rising rapidly up the best-seller lists and appears set to become a milestone in the 78-year-old former bishop’s career.

No stranger to controversy, the author of 25 books often wrestling with issues of faith told The Scotsman how his belief in the Bible began to ebb away within a few years of his ordination, although he continued to do his parish work.

He said he reached the conclusion that “there may be no God in the universe, but let’s live as though there is, and even if we are wrong it will be a glorious way to be proved mistaken”.

More here-

At Carter’s Memorial, Remembrances of Baseball, Faith and Family

From The New York Times-

Amid the emotional tributes to Gary Carter here Friday, his accomplishments in baseball were an unavoidable topic.

But the memorial service for Carter, who died last week after a battle with brain cancer at age 57, also highlighted his devotion to God and his family.

The service for Carter was held in front of hundreds of friends, family members and former teammates at Christ Fellowship, a large modern church resting on a palm tree-laden campus.

Among those who attended were former teammates like Darryl Strawberry, Jesse Orosco, Wally Backman, Bobby Ojeda, Rusty Staub and Lenny Dykstra.

Also on hand were some current Mets, including Manager Terry Collins, David Wright, Jon Niese, Josh Thole and Bobby Parnell.

More here-

Va. Attorney General Intervenes for Breakaway Anglicans in Property Battle

From Virginia-

A month after a Virginia judge ruled against seven congregations leaving The Episcopal Church, the Virginia attorney general filed a brief on behalf of the departing Anglicans citing religious freedom.

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's brief, filed on Wednesday with the Fairfax County Circuit Court, argued that the departing congregations should be allowed to keep their personal property and donations they made to the churches they inhabited.

Faith McDonnell, a member of Church of the Apostles, which is one of the seven churches involved in the property controversy, told The Christian Post that she agreed with the attorney general.

"Cuccinelli is very right when he says that this is a religious freedom issue," said McDonnell.

"There is a violation of religious freedom in taking the funds and/or other property given to the churches by members and other friends that intended them to go to that particular body of believers."

More here-

Seminarian followed an unplanned path into civil rights activism

From ENS-

The Rev. Judy Upham didn’t intend to go to Selma, Alabama.
She was studying at the Episcopal Theological School (now Episcopal Divinity School) in Cambridge, Massachusetts – unusual in itself for a woman in those days – when she saw television coverage of police attacks on civil rights marchers attempting to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge en route to the state capitol of Montgomery on what some called “Bloody Sunday,” March 7, 1965.

“Dr. [Martin Luther] King went on television on Monday, asking for good Christian people to come and stand with them,” she recalled. “Some people from the seminary were going to go. I brought my checkbook because I didn’t really have time to do stuff like that. We were all standing around, watching TV. I looked at these people getting beat up by police.”
And when fellow seminarian Jonathan Daniels asked her whether she was going to Selma, “I found myself saying, ‘How are we getting there?’”

Next thing she knew, she was on a charter plane to Atlanta. Sitting between Daniels and another seminarian, she told them: “This wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.”

More here-

St. Thomas Episcopal Church youth ministry serve the homeless

From New Jersey-

Outreach ministry is a vital part of the mission of St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Alexandria Township. Each year, members of the Junior and Senior Youth Group participate in a winter “lock-in” rising at dawn to make hundreds of hoagie sandwiches for super bowl Sunday and raise money for outreach projects. This year nearly $800 was raised, some of which has been earmarked for St. Thomas’ participation again in Bridges Outreach. As part of the project, children in the parish will prepare 200 bag lunches and the high school youth will deliver them to the homeless in Newark and Irvington on March 17.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Wealthy facade wears thin

From Australia-

NOOSA community leaders have gathered to discuss how to address some of life's toughest challenges, including poverty and stressed-out children.

At a prayer breakfast hosted by the Anglican Church of Noosa in Tewantin last week, representatives from various community groups heard how the global financial crisis, crime and other issues were having an impact in the area.

Noosa chaplaincy chairman Warren Evans said in the past few years the number of people struggling financially in Noosa had risen dramatically, despite the area having a facade of wealth.

"There's a whole new era of poverty in the area that we didn't know about before," he said.

"The credit cards are absolutely maxed out."

More here-

Covenant tastes defeat in diocesan voting

From England-

ALMOST a quarter of C of E dioceses have now voted against the Anglican Covenant.

It was debated last weekend by the diocesan synods of Leicester, Portsmouth, Salisbury, and Rochester, and rejected by all of them — in some cases, despite impassioned pleas from bishops.

Just five of 15 English dioceses have so far approved the Covenant, which must be debated by diocesan synods by the end of March.

Approval by 23 diocesan synods is required for the Covenant to return to the General Synod.

Rejection by 22 dioceses would effectively derail approval of the Covenant by the Church of England.

In Salisbury, the Bishop of Sher­borne, Dr Graham Kings, had urged the diocesan-synod members to back the Covenant. “I believe that, like the Declaration of Assent, the Anglican Communion Covenant is a text of breadth and concord. Our vote today concerns unity. A vote against the Covenant is a vote to do nothing. I do not believe it is helpful or Anglican to imply: ‘Let’s leave things as they are — we are divided; so let’s stay divided’,” Dr Kings said.

His pleas were unsuccessful, how­ever, and the Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nick Holtam, joined mem­bers voting against it.

Speak Out: Should Churches Surrender Donations?

From Virginia-

The Episcopal Church is the last place local church members want their money to go. Some even went so far as to "opt out" of giving to the denomination, choosing instead that their donations be spent inside their own churches.

But thanks to a recent ruling by a Fairfax County Circuit Court judge, Truro Church, The Falls Church and five other congregations stand to lose a good portion of their donations to the denomination and diocese they divorced years ago.

Everything the congregations acquired before Jan. 31, 2007, the date Judge Randy Bellows notes as the official separation from The Episcopal Church, must be forfeited to the denomination and diocese. The congregations must also surrender the churches and other property they've cultivated for decades.

Truro, Falls Church and other congregations argue that the ruling violates state religious freedom laws and the Constitution. The Episcopal Church claims that the property never belonged to the congregations to begin with.

More here-

Bishop Prince Singh: Lent Can Be a Season of Action-Reflection

From Huffington-

Every year, the church reminds us to observe an intentional season of introspection during the season of Lent. Ash Wednesday follows Fat Tuesday and launches this season, urging Christians to engage self-regulation. It invites personal responsibility to partner and dance with corporate responsibility.

Without this bridge in society, we become all too easily a community that depends solely on entitlements where every problem becomes someone else's responsibility. This attitude has most consequence in the area of taking care of the needs of our neighbors locally and globally, especially in these difficult economic times. We are invited to be bridge builders who identify social problems and find ways to address them. I like to think of this as prophetic action that goes beyond demonstration. Lent can be a season of action-reflection.

More here-

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Covenant Videos on YouTube

From The Living Church-

Members of the Anglican Communion with Internet access can now watch three videos produced by the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity Faith and Order (IASCUFO) in which its members speak about the Covenant.

In one, members from Provinces including England, the West Indies, Central Africa and Southern Africa explain why they consider the Covenant important for the Communion.

In another the Rt. Rev. Kumara Ilangasinghe, recently retired Bishop of Kurunegala, Sri Lanka, shares his thoughts on the value of accountability.

In the third, members share their thoughts about the sections of the Covenant.

They were filmed by Simon Oliver, a member of IASCUFO who teaches at the University of Nottingham. A subgroup of the commission, which is overseeing the reception process for the Anglican Communion Covenant, decided to make them when the commission was meeting in Seoul, Korea, in December. They wanted to present the Covenant using the members of the commission as they come from such a diverse range of people from around the Communion.

More here-

Truro: Giving Up Donations Violates Religious Freedom Laws

From Virginia-

Truro Church and six other Northern Virginia congregations want a judge to let them keep donations they received before their "official" split from The Episcopal Church. They argue that many of the donations and gifts were meant for their churches, never for the TEC or its diocese.

The Jan. 10 ruling in question came from Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Randy Bellows, who granted ownership of seven church properties to The Episcopal Church. Everything the congregations acquired before Jan. 31, 2007, the date Bellows notes as the official separation from The Episcopal Church, must be forfeited to the denomination and diocese.

If the court upholds its ruling, it could fly against religious freedom and other basic rights cited in Virginia law and the Constitution--or at least, that's what the congregations argue in their Feb. 22 motion.

“The core issue that we are asking the court to reconsider is the right of donors to restrict the use of their own gifts to the church of their choice. We believe that they could," said Jim Oakes, spokesperson for the seven Anglican congregations. "This is a religious liberty issue at its core as the courts are not lawfully able to coerce contributions to a specific religious entity against the wishes of the donors."

More here-

Ordinariate for former Anglicans visits Pope and Rome

From Rome (with video)

Former Anglicans who joined the Catholic Church under the first Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, are visiting Rome. About 100 of them, saw the Pope for the first time after being welcomed into the Church, under the only ordinariate of its kind in the United Kingdom. It was officially established on January 15th 2011.

More here-

New era of freedom and expansion for Cuban church

Fro ENS-

Most Canadians visiting Cuba in February are there for the sun, the sea and the mojitos. But early this month, Archbishop Fred Hiltz of the Anglican Church of Canada led a delegation with a different purpose: to observe the 103rd synod of the Episcopal Church of Cuba, led in Havana by Bolivian-born Bishop Griselda Delgado del Carpio, bishop since 2010.

The Episcopal Church of Cuba traces its origins to an early Anglican presence on the island in 1901. It consists of 46 parishes and about 10,000 members. Within the Anglican Communion, the Cuban church has the status of an extra-provincial diocese since it is not part of a larger province and has no primate. Its governance includes the Metropolitan Council, which exercises oversight in matters of faith and order.

Enter the primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, who co-chairs the council with the archbishop of the West Indies and the presiding bishop of the U.S.-based Episcopal Church.

More here-

On Ash Wednesday, Clergy Lobby For Death Penalty Repeal

From Maryland-

Religious leaders from various faiths held a rally in Annapolis calling on lawmakers to repeal the death penalty.

In 2009, a Senate committee rejected a repeal backed by Governor Martin O'Malley, and instead passed legislation that would place further restrictions on death penalty prosecutions.

Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton, the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, believe that lawmakers can be convinced to change their minds and support a repeal. He noted many of the civil rights laws of the 1960's were passed after years of lobbying from religious leaders.

Sutton presented a letter to the governor and the General Assembly today signed by 200 religious leaders of various faiths calling for a repeal. He noted that repealing the death penalty is one of the few issues on which all religious leaders agree.

More here-

Episcopal priests reach out to commuters with "ashes to go"

From New Jersey-

About 20 Episcopal priests fanned out throughout North Jersey and stationed themselves at commuter train stations, bus stops and coffee shops as part of Ash Wednesday services.

The movement — called Ashes to Go — started with Episcopal parishes in St. Louis, Mo., and spread to Chicago suburbs before becoming a nationwide event. This is the first year that priests from the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, which includes parishes in Bergen and Passaic counties, participated.

"We wanted to go to the people rather than have the people go to church," said the Rev. Peter DeFranco, the rector at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Clifton.

Some Christians mark the beginning of Lent, the late-winter fast before Easter, with ashes applied to their foreheads in the form of a cross by a priest.

More here-

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Africa: Anglican Health Network Establishes Medical Equipment Supply System

From All Africa-

The Anglican Health Network (AHN) medical supply system is now open for business. With access to a wide range of surplus equipment in the United States, AHN is now looking for partners and recipients to facilitate deliveries.

"We have the supply lines. We are aware of hospitals and health centres around the Anglican Communion that urgently need life-saving equipment" said Lee Hogan, Co-chair of AHN. "What we need now is collaborative support."

Anglican health facilities in the developing world are often dependent on their relationships with multiple donors. These can be parishes, dioceses or individuals that have long term links. The facilities rely on numerous modest financial contributions and volunteer visits.

"If we could get supporters to pool their resources with one another", added Mr Hogan, "we could realise the needs of our hospitals with more ambition and impact." A typical container load of medical equipment costs around $30,000 to collect, renovate and ship. However, the value of such equipment can be measured in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. With a wide range of supplies available, it may be possible to upgrade the average 50-bed facility with a single delivery. Along with investments in skilled staffing, the health services provided by the hospital can be significantly enhanced.

More here-

Historic Southwest Harbor church gets upgrade

From Maine-

The Saint John Episcopal Church in Southwest Harbor is undergoing an extensive renovation project that will serve to improve handicapped access to the building as well as provide new office and meeting space for parish members.

According to Senior Parish Warden Ted Fletcher, the primary objective of the project is to improve handicapped access to the church. This will be accomplished in part by the installation of a hydraulic wheelchair lift as well as the installation of two handicapped accessible bathrooms within the 700-square-foot addition to the church that is currently being constructed. The addition will also house a rector’s office and a new meeting room. Additionally, the church’s kitchen facilities will be upgraded during the current renovation project.

The addition is anticipated to be ready for use by early summer.

More here-

Historic chalice thought to be lost in a cyclone a hundred years ago recently uncovered at Wisconsin church

From Wisconsin-

It was lost but now it is found.

A ornate silver chalice believed to have been lost from the St. Thomas Episcopal Church during the 1899 cyclone was recently found in a far corner of a remote storage area in the present day Sts. Thomas & John Episcopal Church, New Richmond.

A thorough church cleaning uncovered the chalice, tarnished, but otherwise in good shape. Parishioners were delighted with the discovery, but no one knew how or when the chalice found its way “home.” And that mystery might never be resolved.

History records are sketchy since the cyclone destroyed not only the Episcopal church, but church records within. It is known that the Episcopal church in 1899 was located near the corner of Second Street and Green Avenue. The building was said to have been an abandoned school.

More here-

Uruguay Elects Bishop Coadjutor

From ACNS-

In the 29th Extraordinary Synod held in Holy Trinity Cathedral, Montevideo, on December 9, 2011, an ample majority elected the Venerable Dr. Michael Pollesel as Bishop Coadjutor. Pollesel is the recent past General Secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada, has functioned as secretary to the Metropolitan Council for Cuba, and has been a frequent visitor to the diocese. Bishop Peter Bartlett of Paraguay was the supervisor of the election for the Province. All candidates standing for election had to subscribe to the 1998 Lambeth resolution I.10 on human sexuality as a basis for eligibility.

If the Provincial Executive and House of Bishops of the Southern Cone approve the election at their meeting in Montevideo in May, Pollesel will succeed Bishop Miguel Tamayo, serving in Uruguay since May 1998 as its second Bishop. Tamayo also served as Interim Bishop of Cuba for an extended period from January 2004 until November 2010 and was a member of the design committee for the Lambeth Conference 2008. He is a recipient of the Saint Augustine of Canterbury medal.

More here-

Episcopal priests offer 'Ashes to Go' as Lent begins

From USA Today-

More than 70 Episcopal parishes in 18 states will bring Ash Wednesday to the streets, kicking off the Lenten season with a twist.

They'll offer the Christian sign of repentance — a smudged cross of ashes on the forehead — to anyone who seeks it in train stations, coffee shops and other public spots.

Dubbed Ashes to Go, it's a contemporary spin on the Ash Wednesday practice followed chiefly in Episcopal, Anglican, Catholic and Lutheran denominations.

Taking ashes on the road started in St. Louis in 2007 when the Rev. Teresa K.M. Danieley decided that if people can grab breakfast on the go, why shouldn't they be able to get their ashes in a flash? "It started sort of half-jokingly, but it became something pretty profound," she told Religion News Service.

More here-

St. John Cathedral to suspend services on finances

More from Rhode Island-

The Episcopal Cathedral of Saint John in Providence announced Tuesday that it is suspending its services this spring due to a lack of financing.

The Cathedral said it was suspending worship and pastoral services, with the last service to be held April 22 at 9:30 a.m. There are 52 Episcopal churches in Rhode Island, six of which are in Providence.

“The Cathedral congregation has experienced serious financial difficulty, and a decision was made to suspend services for now,” said the Rt. Rev. David Joslin, acting dean of the Cathedral, noting that the financial situation has been “evolving for many years … [and] now needs to be addressed.”

“This decision, of course, was not made lightly or quickly. It does not permanently close the Cathedral; it only ceases the usual Sunday services and pastoral care,” he said.

More here-,65544

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The ancestor's fail: Dawkins and the Telegraph

More on the Dawkins fiasco from the London Times-

This means that Dawkins must come from some pretty awesome stock to say they had to go back 270 years in order to find someone truly embarrassing.

Adam Lusher, the guy who wrote the article, argues that the Dawkins estate was purchased by this ancestor, thus giving Dawkins some added responsibility.

The head of the Anglican Church is the queen of England, and she only wishes one had to go that far back to trace an embarrassing source of wealth. She got a fair chunk of wealth from Queen Victoria and the results of the Boer War. I don't think we can really blame her for her ancestor putting people in concentration camps.

In Lusher’s interview with Dawkins he apparently tried to insinuate that there would be something like a slavery supporting gene, saying "Well, some people might suggest that you could have inherited a gene for supporting slavery from Henry Dawkins.”

More here-

Christian origins too often neglected in Australia, Archbishop says

From Australia-

Archbishop Philip Freier says there is a disconnection in Australia between many features of society, such as the welfare system, and their Christian origins.

Dr Freier said the welfare state in England had come out of a strong Christian context but while Australia had adopted some of the policies, it had done so without the context.

He also said primacy of conscience was part of the DNA of the United States but that a similar strong unifying narrative in Australia “might be harder to get in an increasingly secular society which, from my perspective, is trying to privatise faith here”.

Archbishop Freier was hosting a round-table event for The Global Foundation at the Anglican Centre in Flinders Lane recently at which the publication of a series of speeches by senior Victorian Federal MP, Mr Greg Hunt, was launched. The ‘Australia 2030’ Speeches, all of which were delivered in the past 12 months, cover long-term planning of Australian cities, Liberalism’s “Third Wave”, preparing Australia for Asia in 2030, rethinking global approaches to climate change and “Fostering a Great Society from the Bottom Up”.

More here-,-Archbishop-says-000237.aspx

New Nonfiction Work Probes Britain’s Bishops

From England-

The job of a bishop has changed considerably since the days of the early Church, but the role of Anglican bishops in Britain since the 16th century Reformation has changed a lot less than might be expected.

In Bishops: the Changing Nature of the Anglican Episcopate in Mainland Britain the Revd. Mike Keulemans examines the New Testament and early Fathers to discover the roots of the Episcopal office, how it evolved during the Middle Ages, how it was refocused upon teaching the Faith by the Reformers and how the demands of the Establishment upon it have remained as strong as ever.

The backgrounds and careers of Anglican bishops between 1905 and 2005 are examined in detail. The results of a major survey of clergy, laity and retired bishops on attitudes to the episcopate conducted in 2007 are presented and analyzed. Suggestions for the reform of the episcopate are made and a practical solution offered to solve the conundrum of how to reconcile those who favor women bishops and those who do not.

This work provides a fresh perspective on Anglican bishops and makes the history of the Church of England both readable and absorbing.

More here-

Church needs volunteers to keep shelter open

From Ohio-

A Xenia church is asking for volunteers in order to continue with its mission.

Christ Episcopal Church has offered a place for the homeless to stay for years, but had been strictly a cold weather emergency shelter, which only opened when temperatures dipped below 28 degrees. This winter, however, the church realized a greater need and decided to keep the shelter open every night November through March.

The church offers the only shelter for adults without children in Greene County. It houses 15 people per night on average, but each night, it needs one male and one female volunteer to spend the night and to keep an eye on things.

"The volunteers who have been (here) have been volunteering for months and they need a break," said Summer Watts, Senior Warden at Christ Episcopal.

More here-

Providence's Episcopal Cathedral of St. John to close, final services April 22

From Rhode Island-

The Episcopal Cathedral of St. John -- which began as King's Church in 1722 and is the Diocese of Rhode Island's fourth oldest church -- is shutting down, with a final service set for April 22.

Parishioners of the cathedral church, the seat of Bishop Geralyn Wolf, learned the news on Sunday from the Right Rev. David Joslin, the cathedral's interim dean, and Deacon Barbara May-Stock, during the parish's annual meeting on North Main Street.

Parishioner Marjorie Beach says many were in tears when advised that because of declining numbers of pledging families and the cost of salaries and benefits, the parish could not longer continue -- at least for now. The church closed temporarily once before -- during the American Revolution.

Monday, February 20, 2012

A tale of sacrifice in glass

From Albany-

The great-great-grandsons of two Civil War soldiers are searching for a memorial to the 169th New York Infantry Regiment that was a stained-glass window in St. Margaret's Episcopal Church in Menands for nearly a century.

For Bill Connelly of Northumberland and Steven Wiezbicki of Fort Collins, Colo., the window is a tie to their ancestors who fought with the famed 169th, which also was known as the Troy Regiment.

When churches close, items of religious significance may stay in the building, be transferred to a sister congregation, put in storage or sold. In rare instances, materials may become available when a church is demolished.

Tracking down the window from St. Margaret's has been difficult for Connelly and Wiezbicki because the one-story brick Episcopal chapel was sold 28 years ago to Cornerstone Christian Church. The nondenominational congregation, also known as the Road to Damascus Church, paid $45,000 for the building on Brookside Avenue, just west of Menands Village Hall. The window was removed sometime after 1984.

Richard Dawkins Linked to Slave-Owning Ancestors, Suggests It's an Attack for Being an Outspoken Atheist

From The "You Can't Make This Stuff Up" Department-

Early this morning, the Sunday Telegraph reported on an "awkward revelation" for the well-known atheist and author of The Selfish Gene and The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins: his eighteenth century ancestors owned upwards of 1,000 slaves and the Dawkins family estate was purchased in part with (slave) blood money. Dawkins has responded, calling the story a "smear tactic" and "surreal," and implying it's payback for a "week of successfully rattling cages," including that of a well-known Anglican leader.

While it seems entirely beside the point who Dawkins' ancestors were—some were leading abolitionists, after all—at least one group has already intimated that he should make reparations for his family's "crimes against humanity." Reparations is not a subject to be laughed away, to be sure, but what particularly stood out in this story was evidence of an agenda behind the Telegraph story, going by a Guardian report that came out several hours later.

Dawkins said a reporter had called him and named a number of his ancestors who he said were slave owners. After the reporter quoted the biblical verse about the Lord "visiting the sins of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation" Dawkins said he ended the conversation. However, he said the reporter rang back and suggested Dawkins may have inherited a "slave supporting" gene from his distant relative.

More here-

Ask the Religion Experts: Are people inherently sinful?

From Canada- ( So a Priest a Rabbi and and Imam walk into a bar...)

Whatever their differences, all the great spiritual traditions of the world agree that human beings, as they are commonly found, are not what they are intended to be. Christians believe that people are created in the image and likeness of God, but like a cracked mirror, we give back a marred and distorted reflection. The story of Adam and Eve is the story of all of us. We all carry a memory, as it were, of a paradise, of a happiness and wholeness that might have been, could be, but is forever escaping us, like a dream disappearing at the break of day.

To say that we are “inherently” sinful would be to deny the goodness of God’s creation. In fact, however, human beings do sin, do fall short of the ideal. Why this is so is a mystery. Perhaps the cause lies in the tensions of human freedom, where the possibility of wrong choice always is found. Anyone can relate to St. Paul’s experience: “I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want ... it is no longer I that do but sin that dwells in me ...” Rom 7: 14-25

The story of Adam and Eve — our story where something went terribly wrong after dinner one day in the garden, is redeemed and healed by God’s initiative in sending to all humanity prophets and sages who point the way back home to God. Christians believe that in Jesus we can encounter not only the model and image of the full human life, but one who gives the power to experience a recreation of our broken humanity. As the fathers of the Church taught repeatedly, God became a human being so that we might become divine.

Read more:

Robert E. Lee pulpit attracts historians to St. Mary’s Episcopal Church since 1910

From Virginia-

Each year, Graham Historical Society members take fourth-grade students on a tour of Bluefield, Va., with stops at various places where history was made. The stops include the New Deal era Post Office building with its tempera mural painting, “Coal Mining” (1942) by Richard Kenah, as well as the Linkous House.

Through the years, one of the favorite stops along the way has been the sanctuary of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church on Logan Street. In recent years, Father Russell Hatfield, pastor of St. Mary’s, has had the honor of telling the story of the Robert E. Lee pulpit and explaining to the students how the town of Bluefield, Va., came to possess such an interesting artifact.

“The church was built in 1910 by Italian stone masons who came to the area to build bridges for the railroad,” Hatfield said. “Somebody who was associated with this church knew someone at Robert E. Lee Memorial Church in Lexington, Va.

More here-

Pope leads new cardinals in Mass

From Boston-

Looking weary during a third straight day of speeches and ceremony, Pope Benedict XVI led 22 new cardinals in Mass Sunday and prayed for help so that he and his aides can continue to carry out the Catholic church’s worldwide mission.

Many of the men who sat before the pope in front of the Baroque central altar of St. Peter’s Basilica, dressed in white robes and wearing their new red hats, will likely vote in secret conclave for Benedict’s successor after his death.

Benedict, who turns 85 in April, read a long homily in a hoarse voice and looked tired on the third straight day of speeches, rituals and appearances for the new cardinals. Benedict told the new members of the College of Cardinals their main task is to “bear witness to the joy of Christ’s love.’’

The Vatican has been embarrassed by months of intrigue involving alleged corruption and apparent jockeying for power within the hierarchy with a view to the next papacy. The leaking of documents and a rash of in-house scandals have been interpreted by observers as indications that Vatican insiders see Benedict’s attention to the Holy See’s bureaucracy as waning.

More here-

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The End of Church

From Diana Butler Bass-

Something startling is happening in American religion: We are witnessing the end of church or, at the very least, the end of conventional church. The United States is fast-becoming a society where Christianity is being reorganized after religion.

In recent decades, untold numbers of people have left the Roman Catholic Church. In a 2008 survey, Pew research found that one in 10 Americans now considers themselves an ex-Catholic. The situation is so dire that the church launched a PR campaign inviting Catholics to "come home," to woo back disgruntled members. There was a slight uptick in Catholic membership last year, mostly due to immigrant Catholics. There is no data indicating that Catholics are returning en masse and much anecdotal evidence suggesting that leaving-taking continues. Catholic leaders worry that once the new immigrants become fully part of American society they might leave, too.

Prayer's Effect Can Bounce Back

From Florida-

A few years ago, I was making my daily rounds as a chaplain in a Sacramento hospital when I met an alert, and very friendly, octogenarian.

His present situation wasn't serious, but he was nearing 90 years old, so the likelihood of a "heavenly discharge" was becoming more likely with each passing year. With a balding head and a small frame, he had a Gandhi look about him and maybe even a touch of Gandhi's spirit.

At the end of our visit, I offered the aging Episcopal a prayer for himself and his family. After my prayer, he offered me something that I've never forgotten.

"Does anyone ever offer to pray for you, chaplain?" His question, rare for a patient, told me he was looking outside himself at a time when most patients look, understandably so, inside themselves.

"Well, uh ..." I stumbled, embarrassed that his attention was on my needs, "Occasionally."

"But have you ever had a patient pray for you?" he asked specifically.

"I guess not," I told him in a tone that may have implied that I don't need prayer.

"Then it's about time, don't you think?" he declared with a wink in his voice.

More here-

Bishop Zubik on 'don't ask, don't tell' for churches

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

In the musical "Chicago," the sleazy lawyer Billy Flynn is telling Roxie why she shouldn't be nervous about her murder trial. In the song "Razzle Dazzle" he explains his legal strategy for making the unbelievable believable:

Give 'em the old Razzle Dazzle,

Razzle Dazzle 'em.

Give 'em a show that's so splendiferous ...

Row after row will crow vociferous ...

How can they hear the truth above the roar?

Religion in the United States recently got the Razzle Dazzle treatment. On Friday afternoon of Feb. 10, the White House suddenly announced an "accommodation" on the Health and Human Services mandate regarding birth control that had just been reaffirmed in January.

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