Saturday, June 29, 2013

Rainbows at the Cathedral

From The Living Church-

Mere hours after the U.S. Supreme Court announced two rulings that ease the way for same-sex marriage, the Very Rev. Gary Hall of Washington National Cathedral led “A Service of Thanksgiving: Celebrating an Increase in Compassion and Equality.” The cathedral’s carillon bells pealed midday in response to the rulings.

The cathedral dean called the service, which was scheduled a week before the rulings, one of “reflection and hope.”

The victory same-sex advocates had sought was not total: the Supreme Court ruling did leave in place a provision of DOMA giving states the right to define marriage, which likely means vigorous challenges will continue in state courts. In a related Supreme Court case on Proposition 8 the justices took a procedural pass and effectively made no ruling, which marriage-equality advocates hailed as a victory.

Hall, who spoke for gay rights in March at the Supreme Court, hailed the DOMA decision as ushering in “a new era for our country,” one which grants “federal recognition and protection” to married lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.

More here-

Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, a man running from the news

From Haaretz-

Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, received an unpleasant surprise. Since he was chosen as the head of the Anglican Church, roughly four months ago, he has been waiting to meet with the Jewish people’s two spiritual shepherds in the land of Israel – the Ashkenazi and Sephardi chief rabbis.

That meeting was supposed to take place on Thursday, but just days prior, it came out that one of the rabbis, Yona Metzger, was the target of a criminal investigation, and was being held in house arrest. Explanations were made, schedules were updated accordingly, and the Sephardic chief rabbi, Shlomo Amar, was set to receive the archbishop by himself. But it turns out that Rabbi Amar also had some personal drama of his own, with all due respect to interfaith dialogue. In a sudden move, Rabbi Amar decided to extend his visit to Spain. He traveled there last week, on one of his frequent trips abroad.

The archbishop was forced to settle for a meeting with the Chief Rabbinate’s director general, and some other second-string rabbis. It seems however, that the archbishop has learned a very important, informative lesson about the monotheistic faith with which he intended to create dialogue: the Jews in Israel have two spiritual leaders – one is under house arrest, and one has exiled himself, of his own volition.

More here-

Catholic-Anglican Dialogue: Cordial, but No Unity in Sight

From NCR-

When Pope Francis met June 14 with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, it was evident that relations between the two new Christian leaders were warm, continuing the ongoing bridge-building between the two Churches.

Yet, for all that warmth, a number of issues are bubbling under the outwardly cordial relations. Proposals by the Church of England to create women bishops, the ordination of two actively homosexual bishops in the U.S. Episcopal Church, and the recent creation of the personal ordinariates to accommodate former Anglicans coming as groups into the Catholic Church all challenge the continuing dialogue.

Taking the issue of women bishops, Msgr. Mark Langham, outgoing secretary to the Anglican and Methodist dialogues at the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, tells the Register that the situation already has been taken into account because women bishops have existed within the Anglican Communion for a number of years.

Nevertheless, he says, “the development in England does raise the profile of the issue and the huge problems it raises as regards progress. Effectively, it rules out any chance of recognition of Anglican ministries by Rome. For me, this is the major problem in our ecumenical dialogue.”

Read more:

TN's Episcopal bishop blesses bell at church in Springfield

From Tennessee-

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in downtown Springfield rang in a bit of history on Sunday following a donation from Tennessee’s historic past.

The Right Rev. John Bauerschmidt, Episcopal bishop of Tennessee, came to Springfield to consecrate, bless and name a historic bell that hung at Belmont Mansion in Nashville in the late 1800s.

“It’s a blessing reserved for a bishop, because it’s considered so very important,” said Jacoba Hurst, a priest and current vicar of St. Luke’s. “Part of the medieval ceremony is that he will pour holy water over it and name it. They often call it the quickening of the bell.”

A free-standing tower built next to the Seventh Street church to house the bell also was blessed during the ceremony.

“For us, it is a landmark occasion,” Hurst said.

History of the bell
The donated bell, which will be called “Luke,” once hung in the cupola of the mansion on the grounds of what today is Belmont University, Hurst said.

“When it was a university for women, with Belmont Mansion being the main building of that college, this bell was used to summon the women who were students to class and chapel,” Hurst said.

More here-

Friday, June 28, 2013

Disco-dancing vicar becomes web sensation

From "The You Can't Make This Stuff Up" Department. The Church Times (video here as well)

A PRIEST rounded off a traditional wedding ceremony in her church by initiating a flash-mob dance.

Moments after pronouncing Gary and Tracy Richardson husband and wife, in St Mary and St Martin, in Blyth, Nottinghamshire, the Vicar, the Revd Kate Bottley, launched into a routine to "Everybody Dance Now", by C+C Music Factory. The bride and groom joined in with synchronised moves, and soon most of the 100-strong congregation were moving, too.

A three-minute video of the dance has gone viral on the internet. By midweek, it had received almost 300,000 hits, and topped the BBC's most-viewed-clip list.

Mrs Bottley said that the idea had come up in conversation with the couple as they planned the service, eight weeks before the ceremony on 15 June. She said: "I asked them if there was anything special they wanted to include, and Tracy joked that they should have a flash-mob in the middle of the ceremony. I said 'Why not?' and it went from there.

"The Church believes passionately in marriage and its importance, but that doesn't mean there shouldn't be some room for fun.

"They rehearsed their moves for eight weeks, and sent me a video of what they were doing so I could get my part right. I think about 30 of their guests were in on it, too, but, as you can see from the video, it soon caught on. Everyone seemed to really enjoy it, and there was a huge round of applause after.

More here-

Bobby McFerrin On New Album 'Spirityouall' Prays As He Sings

From Huffington-

He’s best known for his iconic 1980s feel-good hit “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” but Grammy-award winning artist Bobby McFerrin explores a deeper side of life in a new album.

Titled “spirityouall,” the recording includes his adaptations of traditional African-American spirituals and devotional songs that he composed.

McFerrin believes music has a transcendent spiritual power.

“It elicits so many emotions,” the musician told the PBS program “Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.” “Music has a way of communicating … that language does not. It can go past language.”

McFerrin said his Christian faith permeates everything he does. And it’s particularly evident in this new album, which he said honors the legacy of his father, Robert McFerrin Sr., the first African-American to sing a title role at the Metropolitan Opera.

The senior McFerrin also released an album of spirituals, “Deep River,” in 1957.

“I never heard my father pray (out loud),” said McFerrin. “But I always heard him pray whenever he sang these spirituals.”

More here-

'Sopranos' cast members, family, fans remember Gandolfini at funeral

From North Jersey (of course)

Thursday’s moving “A Celebration of the Life of James John Gandolfini” — a funeral at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in Manhattan — honored many facets of the beloved Bergen County native and “Sopranos” star, who died June 19 at the age of 51.

The actor, raised in Westwood and Park Ridge, was remembered as a devoted family guy, a wonderful father, a mighty talent, a great man with the soul of a child, a “big teddy bear of a friend,” and a star ever gracious to his fans.

During the nearly two-hour service, there were tears, laughs, hymns, songs and comforting benedictions. And while the famed Gothic Revival Episcopal cathedral on Amsterdam Avenue was studded with stars, this was “not a showbizzy” funeral, as one guest noted afterward. No air kisses at this requiem for a man who was known for giving enthusiastic (sometimes crushing) hugs.

Largest Episcopal Province Declares Support for South Carolina Diocese's Continuing Members

From Christian Post-

Bishops representing the largest Province of The Episcopal Church have written an open letter in which they showed support for those who refused to depart the denomination when the leadership of the South Carolina Diocese decided to leave.

"We commend you for your faith and courage during this trying season. We observed that you are meeting your present difficulties with good fellowship, good creativity and good cheer," stated the Province IV House of Bishops. "We pledge to you our prayers and the prayers of those we serve as we all go forward in faith. And we pledge our support and cooperation to our brother, your Bishop, Charlie von Rosenberg."

Last year, the Diocese of South Carolina decided to leave The Episcopal Church over a mixture of theological differences and the treatment of their bishop, Rev. Mark Lawrence.

Not long after the departure, the Diocese sued to keep its name and property, with a minority of its members wanting to stay with the national denomination.

The bishops' letter came after the conclusion of their biannual province meeting held at Charleston. Those present heard stories regarding the divisive diocesan debate from those within The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, the name of the group of Episcopalians who remained loyal to TEC.
Also known as the Province of Sewanee, Province IV is comprised of the dioceses in Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, and part of Louisiana.


Episcopal churches welcoming displaced Boy Scout troops

From Alabama-

Several local scout troops and packs have been impacted by   the controversial rule change that allows openly gay scouts.
Many churches decided to cut ties with the organization. Others are now offering to take their place.

The controversy left Cub Scout Pack 404 looking for a place to land.

St. Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church in Pelham wants to be that place.

“We don’t want to come across as there’s a sense of any kind of criticism or judgement  against different organizations who are wrestling with certain issues.  We have all our own issues we wrestle with so apart from all of that. We want to step apart from the controversy and really extend a hand of friendship and welcome,” said Rev. Neil M. Kaminski,  St. Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church.

Several people have reached out to sponsor the scouts -and offer them a place to meet according to Jeff Calvert, Cubmaster of Pack 404-  he says they had been meeting at Pelham First Baptist Church, but now must part ways.  he says there are no hard feelings towards the church and he respects their decision.

They just want to move forward and limit the impact on the scouts as much as possible- particularly the younger ones-

More here-

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Archbishop commends peace efforts of Christians and Muslims in Egypt

From Christian Today-

The Archbishop of Canterbury has assured Christians and Muslims working for peace and reconciliation in Egypt that they "are not forgotten".

The Most Reverend Justin Welby told Egyptian Christian leaders on the first day of his visit to Egypt and the Holy Land that "the prayers and solidarity of the Anglican Communion" are with them.

The Archbishop met His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Mohamed Ahmed el-Tayeb.

In his meeting with Pope Tawadros II in Cairo, Archbishop Welby spoke of how the Church can "flourish and grow" whatever the challenges it faces.

The meeting was joined by several senior Orthodox leaders, including Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the UK.

Archbishop Welby and Pope Tawadros II spoke of their "delight" that official theological dialogue aimed at visible unity and witness was again a part of Anglican-Oriental Orthodox relations.

More here-

House of Deputies president on DOMA, Prop 8 rulings

From ENS-

The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, President of the House of Deputies of The Episcopal Church, issued this statement in response to the United States Supreme Court’s rulings that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional and that same-sex marriage can resume in California:

“I join with millions of Christians across the country in celebrating today’s Supreme Court rulings that extend equal protection under federal law to all marriages and allow marriage equality to resume in California. We are moving ever closer to civil laws that recognize the God-given dignity and equality of our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender sisters and brothers.

“Today’s rulings will allow more people of all faiths to see what we in the Episcopal Church have seen for decades:  Same-sex couples and their families are evidence of the goodness of God’s creation. They bless our congregations and communities immeasurably, and we have all learned from their steadfast love for one another and the evidence of God’s goodness that they show us.

More here-

Presiding bishop on DOMA, Prop 8 rulings

From ENS-

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has issued the following on today’s United States Supreme Court rulings on DOMA and Proposition 8.

The Episcopal Church is presently engaged in a period of study and dialogue about the nature of Christian marriage.  This work is moving forward, with faithful people of many different perspectives seeking together to discern the movement of the Holy Spirit.  However, our Church has taken the position that neither federal nor state governments should create constitutional prohibitions that deny full civil rights and protections to gay and lesbian persons, including those available to different-sex couples through the civic institution of marriage.

Accordingly, I welcome today’s decision of the United States Supreme Court that strikes down the 17-year-old law prohibiting federal recognition of same-sex civil marriages granted by the states.  The unmistakable movement toward civil marriage equality in the states over the past decade reflects the will of the people in those states to grant equal rights and dignity under the law to all married couples and families, and today’s decision will appropriately allow those families to be recognized under federal law as well.  At the same time, the Court’s withholding of judgment on the ultimate constitutional question of whether a state may ban same-sex marriage reflects the fact that this conversation will continue to evolve in coming years.  I trust that Episcopalians will contribute actively and faithfully to this conversation, particularly as our nation begins to discern the many practical implications of today’s decisions for areas of our shared life, ranging from immigration law to family rights.

More here-

From Summerville to West Ashley, Episcopalians start over after split

From South Carolina-

Bishops and lay members of The Episcopal Church province that spans the Southeast gathered in Charleston Wednesday to hear stories of worship communities forming after their home parishes left the national church last fall.

From West Ashley to Summerville to Edisto, those on hand described disputes that festered as their former parishes became more theologically traditional and critical of the national church.

A split culminated when 49 area parishes left the national church to follow Bishop Mark Lawrence, who leads The Diocese of South Carolina, diocesan spokeswoman Joy Hunter said.

Those loyal to the national church felt cast aside, some from lifelong church homes.

“We yearn to worship in our historic church building again,” said Ginga Wilder, a former member of St. Paul’s in Summerville, which aligned with Lawrence. “These are thin spaces where God’s presence is palpable and has been for 150 years.”

She and other former St. Paul’s members eventually shared the Eucharist with the Rt. Rev. Charles vonRosenberg, who later became bishop of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina. He encouraged them to worship together in homes to keep their faith vibrant, which they have done.

More here-

Bishops from national Episcopal Church meet in SC

From ABC (AP)-

 Bishops from the national Episcopal Church are set to meet in Charleston in the wake of the Episcopal schism in eastern South Carolina.

Twenty-five bishops from Province of Sewanee are slated to hold their House of Bishops meeting at Grace Episcopal Church on Wednesday. The province, comprised of dioceses in nine Southeastern states, is the largest in the national church.

Organizers say the meeting is being held in Charleston to show solidarity with parishes in eastern South Carolina remaining with the national church.

The conservative Diocese of South Carolina last year separated from the more liberal national church over a variety of theological issues including the authority of Scripture and the ordination of gays. The schism has resulted in a lawsuit over the diocesan name and church property.

More here-

St. Paul man to become the world's only ordained Hmong Episcopal priest

From St. Paul MN-

Toua Vang faced war and famine in Laos and lived for years as a refugee in Thailand. Those experiences laid a strong foundation for faith -- and are a frequent source of sermons for the St. Paul man who will soon become the only ordained Hmong Episcopal priest in the world.

"I came from a country of war, became a refugee, and came to this country, learned a new language, was caught between cultures," said Toua Vang, who will be ordained Thursday during a service in Golden Valley. "I had marriage and financial problems. I was a top student among peers, but now I'm the poorest."

All of that happened for a reason, Toua Vang believes: "I understand that God wanted me to live among the poor, serve the poor and demonstrate God's love for them."

Toua Vang, 47, is one of hundreds of Hmong who attended the Church of the Holy Apostles on St. Paul's East Side in 2005. At the time, the church was about to close its doors, with only 60 or so members remaining. The 725 Hmong, making up 78 families, were searching for a new home after leaving the St. Vincent de Paul Church because of divisions there, Toua Vang said.

More here-

Superman Takes A Deliberate Christ-Like Turn In New Film

From NPR-

The new Superman movie features startlingly overt Christ-like images. Warner Brothers has encouraged the comparisons with a distinctive PR campaign targeting Christian audiences, all the way down to a website where pastors can crib a sermon that likens Superman to Jesus Christ: How might the story of Superman awaken our passion for the original superhero who ever lived and died and rose again?


And I'm Melissa Block. Warner Bros.' new smash film "Man of Steel" is creating buzz at church. It's the story of Superman's interplanetary origins. A being with supernatural powers is sent to Earth to save humanity from evil. He becomes a force for truth and justice. The movie is chock-full of messianic imagery and the Warner Bros. publicity machine is pitching directly to a Christian audience. As NPR's John Burnett reports, if Jesus saves, Hollywood has learned that Jesus also sells.

JOHN BURNETT, BYLINE: Here's Superman floating in water in a crucifixion pose. Here's Superman consulting a priest with a stained-glass image of Jesus over his shoulder. Here's Superman at age 33, no less, trying to save mankind.

More here-

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Archbishop prays for 'peaceful, perfect end' for Mandela after hospital visit

From NBC-

A South African archbishop has written a prayer hoping Nelson Mandela will have a “peaceful, perfect end” as the anti-apartheid icon remained in critical condition in a Pretoria hospital.
Thabo Makgoba, Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, visited Mandela in the hospital on Tuesday, The Associated Press reported.

Makgoba said he used the prayer while at the hospital to “offer spiritual support” to Mandela’s wife Graca Machel, his family and “all attending to Madiba,” the 94-year-old former president’s clan name.

The prayer said, “May your arms of love, stretched wide on the cross for us, Now enfold Madiba, and Graca, with compassion, comfort and the conviction that you will never forsake them but that you will grant Madiba eternal healing and relief from pain and suffering.”

“And may your blessing rest upon Madiba now and always. Grant him, we pray, a quiet night and a peaceful, perfect, end,” it added.

More here-

Archbishop commends peace efforts of Christians and Muslims in Egypt

From Christian Today-

The Archbishop of Canterbury has assured Christians and Muslims working for peace and reconciliation in Egypt that they "are not forgotten".

The Most Reverend Justin Welby told Egyptian Christian leaders on the first day of his visit to Egypt and the Holy Land that "the prayers and solidarity of the Anglican Communion" are with them.

The Archbishop met His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Mohamed Ahmed el-Tayeb.

In his meeting with Pope Tawadros II in Cairo, Archbishop Welby spoke of how the Church can "flourish and grow" whatever the challenges it faces.

The meeting was joined by several senior Orthodox leaders, including Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the UK.

More here-

Virginia Women Ordained As Catholic Priests Against The Will Of The Church

From Huffington-

When your religion says you cannot do something because of your gender, do it anyway.

At least that is what five Catholic women in Falls Church, Va. did on Saturday when they were ordained as priests and deacons -- against the rules of the Roman Catholic church that sees ordaining women as heresy -- according to WJLA.

"In the theologically grounded tradition the priesthood passes through man. The woman has another function in Christianity," Pope Francis wrote in his first book, "On Heaven and Earth." But that didn't stop women like Joleane Presley of Manassas from joining fellow female Catholics at the First Christian Church to be ordained, just like men.

Presley and the other ordained women are part of the growing Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, a movement within the Catholic church that espouses "full equality for all within the Church as a matter of justice and faithfulness to the Gospel," and in order to do so, oversees the ordination of female priests, deacons and bishops.

"Women are answering God’s call and justice is rising in the Roman Catholic Church," Bishop Mary Meehan told WJLA.

Although the women believe their ordination is legit, a statement from Bishop Paul Loverde of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington denounced the Northern Virginia ceremony.

More here-

Central Pennsylvania bishop to retire due to health reasons

From ENS-

The Rt. Rev. Nathan Baxter, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania, has announced his intent to retire due to health issues.

Baxter, who has recently returned from a three-month sabbatical, told members of the diocese that, although his recent health issues are much improved, “it has also become clear to me that my health challenges will not allow me to serve you with the sustained energy and consistency required for the future of this work.”

Baxter noted that he has continued to deal with migraine headaches, vertigo and fatigue and he felt these ailments would interfere with his ability to execute his duties fully. He noted that, by the time his successor is ordained, he will have served as bishop for eight years. Most bishops in the Episcopal Church serve an average of 10 years before retirement.

The bishop informed the diocesan Standing Committee earlier this month and then sent letters to the clergy and to the diocese as a whole. He noted in his letter that the selection process for a new bishop normally takes about 18 months. He pledged to continue to serve until a new bishop is ordained.
Bishop Clay Matthews, head of the Office of Pastoral Development for the Episcopal Church is scheduled to be at a joint meeting of the council of trustees and Standing Committee of the diocese July 9 to help guide the process of selecting a new bishop.

More here-

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Archbishop of Canterbury visits Middle East to support Christians there

From Ecumenical News-

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has started a five-day visit to Egypt, Jordan, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories at a time of intense pressure on Christian minorities in the Middle East.

The visit began Sunday and it is the spiritual leader of the 85-million strong Anglican Communion's is his first official visit to the region where Christianity began, but where Islam is now the dominant religion in a turbulent region.

"Archbishop Justin will meet with fellow Anglican bishops and other religious leaders, visit holy sites, and meet with a range of communities and leaders," said the Archbishop's website.

His visit comes at a time of growing concern by global church leaders at the situation facing Christians in the region, especially in Syria where abductions are commonplace and the death toll in the conflict is nearing 100,000.

"Archbishop Justin is making this trip early in his ministry because of the significance of the region, the importance of the relationships that his Office has there, and because he is keenly aware of the particular pressures on the region at the moment – not least the devastating conflict in Syria, and its impact more widely," the Archbishop's website said.

More here-

Anglican Church battles Enugu government over schools

From Nigeria-

A fresh crisis is now brewing between the Anglican Church and the Enugu State government over the withdrawal of schools initially handed back to the church by the state government.

Speaking during a joint press conference on Monday, the eight dioceses of Anglican Communion in Enugu state alleged that the state government
had withdrawn 54 primary schools and 10 secondary mission schools previously handed back to the church, whereas other churches have retained theirs.

The Church accused the government of what it perceived as partiality among church denominations in the state and asked the state government to
immediately resolve the impasse by returning all their original schools back to them.

The church represented by the eight Bishops of the dioceses in the state, led by the Archbishop of Enugu Province and Bishop of Oji-River
diocese, His Grace, Most Rev. Amos Madu, in a press conference yesterday, asked for the immediate sack of the state Commissioner for
Education, Dr. Simon Ortuanya, who they alleged was directly culpable for the “marginalization and humiliation” of the Anglican Church in the state.

More here-

James Gandolfini funeral to be held Thursday at St. John the Divine in New York

From The NY Daily News-

Tony Soprano would not have been caught dead in a Protestant church.

But the funeral for James Gandolfini, the actor who played the mob chief in "The Sopranos," will be held 10 a.m. Thursday at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, which is Episcopalian, a church spokesman said Monday.

Why remained a mystery Monday because Gandolfini - the son of Italian immigrants - was raised Catholic.

The mobster he played was also Catholic - although Tony Soprano regularly broke the Ten Commandments, especially No. 5, which is "Thou shall not kill."

But the soaring sanctuary in Morningside Heights has hosted farewells for other famous folks who also weren't Protestant like former Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, whose dad was a lapsed Catholic and whose mother was Jewish.
Writer James Baldwin had his funeral at the cathedral, and he was raised Pentecostal and turned his back on Christianity.

Read more:

Robert Knight: Satan behind marriage equality, episcopal church, Obamacare, etc.

From The Examiner-

Knight goes on to elaborate on how he believes Satan is pushing marriage equality to attack religious people, convinced the Boy Scouts to "commit suicide" by including openly gay scouts, "opening the floodgates of pornography even wider", expanded healthcare access through Obamacare, and pushing for universal preschool.

Yes, you read those last two correctly. According to Knight, affordable medical treatment and education are the work of the devil.

Knight also called the Episcopal Church a "subsidiary" of the Devil and claimed the government is becoming a Satanic tool to "throttle freedom of speech, religion and association," an to use same-sex marriage to "unleash the power of the state against all those 'religious' folks."

Adding Knight's name to the already long list of nimrods who can't comprehend that "freedom of speech" is not exclusive unto themselves, nor does it allow them to withhold rights from anyone else.

More here-

Monday, June 24, 2013

KNIGHT: Living in the devil of a time

From The Washington Times-

Given the sheer volume of bizarre cultural shifts just in the past few weeks, it’s time for another “if I were the devil” column.

If I were Beelzebub, I’d work to destroy Western civilization, because its chief religions, Christianity and Judaism, have a timeless book that reminds people of my existence. I’m most effective when unacknowledged.

To this end, I’m working to do away with institutions that are in the way of my goal of destroying humanity. These pesky confederations include churches, observant temples, private groups and governments that support so-called traditional values such as honor, fidelity in marriage, strong families, personal responsibility, civic pride, charity and patriotism.

When these things are compromised, I move on to the game board’s next square — economic freedom, which I cannot abide and which cannot thrive without the virtues imparted by those irritating groups just mentioned. For a look at one of my greatest successes, take a walk through what used to be Detroit.

Once free enterprise is broken to the saddle of the state, I can throttle freedom of speech, religion and association, using some of the giant corporations spawned in the unprecedented liberty created by America’s system of constitutional rights, including private property.

More here-

Bling or blasphemy? Upside-down and sideways crosses showing up in fashion

From Tennessee-

Fashion has taken an evil twist.

Or has it?

In celebrity circles and for some big-city fashionistas, inverted or horizontal crosses worn as jewelry or imprinted on clothing are turning heads (but not spinning them, a la "The Exorcist"). While some folks view the trend as anti-Christian, others say it's just the opposite.

"The upside-down cross doesn't bother me much," says local musician Jimmy Tawater, who was raised in an Episcopal church and still attends St. Martin's Episcopal Church on East Brainerd Road. "It was St. Peter's request that he be crucified upside down for he did not feel worthy to suffer in the same manner as his Lord."

Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Paris Jackson, daughter of the late Michael Jackson, have been photographed wearing inverted crosses on their clothing.

The Rev. Greg Ezell, an ordained minister in the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church, says he's not offended by the cross fashion trend.

More here-

President Carter Says Catholic Church Should Ordain Women; All Religions Should Promote Gender Equality

From Huffington-

President Jimmy Carter waded in the tricky waters of gender and religion in an interview with in which he said that the Catholic church was wrong not to ordain women.

In anticipation of a conference called 'Mobilizing Faith for Women' to be held at The Carter Center this week, the former President and current Sunday school teacher was asked if "religion can be a force for women’s rights instead of a source of women’s oppression" by Time's Elizabeth Dias.

The former president said that there was movement towards equality in the major world religion but that religion had done much to support discrimination by 'ordaining' that women were not equal to men:

This has been done and still is done by the Catholic Church ever since the third century, when the Catholic Church ordained that a woman cannot be a priest for instance but a man can. A woman can be a nurse or a teacher but she can’t be a priest. This is wrong, I think.

More here-

In the Spirit: Episcopal bishop's decision on same-sex ceremonies disappoints in Madison

From Wisconsin-

It was a decision bound to disappoint people either way, and the Rev. Steven Andrew Miller knew it.
Miller is bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee, an area that covers the southern third of Wisconsin, including Madison. Last summer, the national Episcopal Church voted to allow the blessing of same-sex unions, but it left it to individual bishops to decide whether to allow such ceremonies in their dioceses.

Miller, in a decision issued June 7, announced he would not be authorizing the rite. That means no same-sex blessing ceremonies can be held at the 58 Episcopal churches in the diocese, including the four in Madison.

Miller’s reasoning has been viewed as too conservative by some, too progressive by others.

On the progressive side, Miller wrote that the right to a civil marriage should be available to all, regardless of sexual orientation, and that he would support efforts to overturn the ban on same-sex marriage in Wisconsin. (He also has voiced concern in the past that authorizing the blessing rite could create a “second tier of relationships.”)

Read more:

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Christians' views vary on gay marriage

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-

Sam Rohrer leads a statewide network of 2,000 conservative Protestant pastors opposed to same-sex civil marriages. But if the U.S. Supreme Court broadens access to such marriage this week, the Pennsylvania Pastors Network won't advise anyone to shun gay or lesbian couples who move in next door.

"They should respond in love and treat them as they would any other person. That would be Christ's example," said the former state representative from Berks County, adding that it doesn't mean "endorsing the condition."

Most opposition to same-sex civil marriage comes from theologically conservative Christians, while more liberal denominations support it. Many theological conservatives support a status other than marriage to provide benefits to same-sex couples, though leaders on both sides say the opportunity for such compromise has passed.

The leaders and pastors interviewed for this story hold a wide range of views, but all said they would welcome a same-sex couple as neighbors.

Archbishop Robert Duncan of the Anglican Church in North America and the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh led a split with the Episcopal Church, triggered partly by acceptance of a partnered gay bishop. He argues that same-sex marriage isn't a matter of equal rights but of preserving heterosexual marriage as the foundation of human society. He could reluctantly accept civil unions.

Read more:

Girl Guides: Has this woman broken a sacred promise?

From The Telegraph-

"We can’t ask the kids to lie,” says Gill Slocombe, the Chief Guide, trying to explain why her organisation is dropping God from the solemn vow that every girl makes.

“If they are not crystal clear and absolutely sure they can commit to the words of the Promise, then the words have got to be made right.”

So instead of vowing to “love my God” as they do now, the half a million British Brownies and Girl Guides will soon promise instead “to be true to myself and develop my beliefs”.

This has caused uproar in some quarters, with despair that yet another institution seems to be turning its back on the nation’s historic Christian faith. The latest attack comes from the Bishop of Bradford, the Rt Rev Nick Baines, who accuses the Guides of “evacuating the Promise of meaning and filling it with vacuous nonsense” – and even says the new wording “opens the door to little Hitlers”.

In a blog entry posted on Friday, the bishop says the new Promise “beggars belief”. “Does it really mean that any belief will do – à la Joseph’s 'any dream will do’ nonsense?”

More here-

Anglican leader visiting the Holy Land

From Fox-

The leader of the world's Anglicans is to make a five-day visit to Egypt, Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Territories from Sunday, his office said.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the spiritual leader of the Church of England, was to meet with religious leaders, visit holy sites and see community projects, said Lambeth Palace.
It will be his first visit to the Holy Land since his enthronement in March as leader of the world's 80 million Anglicans.

The trip comes after Welby visited Rome on June 14 and met with Pope Francis for the first time, amid efforts to reconcile Anglicans and Roman Catholics.

"Archbishop Justin is making this trip early in his ministry because of the significance of the region, the importance of the relationships that his office has there, and because he is keenly aware of the particular pressures on the region at the moment -- not least the devastating conflict in Syria, and its impact more widely," Lambeth Palace said in a statement.

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