Philocrites : Scrapbook : March 2007 Archive

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

At last, even Utah Mormons lose faith in Iraq war

Quoted 03.27.07:

A January poll by The Salt Lake Tribune showed a precipitous drop in support for Bush's handling of the war among Utah's Latter-day Saints.

In the survey, just 44 percent of those identifying themselves as Mormon said they backed Bush's war management. That's a level considerably higher than Bush gets from Utah's non-Mormon population and the nation at large, but it's also a 21 percentage point drop from just five months earlier. . . .

Rather than one unmistakable message from the church, the change may have been ushered by a rapid series of more subtle signals that it was indeed acceptable for Mormons to question their president during wartime.

And it all may have started at the very top.

Matthew D. LaPlante, Salt Lake Tribune 3.25.07; via Street Prophets

Surgeon confronts profession's anxiety about death

Quoted 03.27.07:

Final Exam: A Surgeon's Reflections on MortalityAs a young medical student, [Pauline W.] Chen had supposed that empathy with patients would be easy. But as training and practice progressed, she absorbed the profession's instinctive avoidance of death. "All of us start out wanting to help people," she said, "but we end up far from the people we want to help. Doctors are probably more anxious around death than most people. But why is it so hard to go from curing people to thinking about comforting them at the end of life?" . . .

"It's a huge privilege," she said, "to have people give you such trust that they will let you take a knife to their flesh, put your hands inside them and reconfigure them. In receiving that privilege, we have to accept our role as guardians of the end of life, to create an environment where people feel comfortable talking about their fears and concerns."

David Mehegan, Boston Globe 3.27.07, reg req'd; buy Final Exam: A Surgeon's Reflections on Mortality by Pauline Chen from Amazon

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Episcopal bishops respond to Anglican primates' demands

Quoted 03.21.07:

We proclaim the Gospel of what God has done and is doing in Christ, of the dignity of every human being, and of justice, compassion, and peace. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ there is no Jew or Greek, no male or female, no slave or free. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God's children, including women, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ's Church. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God's children, including gay and lesbian persons, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ's Church. We proclaim the Gospel that stands against any violence, including violence done to women and children as well as those who are persecuted because of their differences, often in the name of God. The Dar es Salaam Communiqué is distressingly silent on this subject. And, contrary to the way the Anglican Communion Network and the American Anglican Council have represented us, we proclaim a Gospel that welcomes diversity of thought and encourages free and open theological debate as a way of seeking God's truth. If that means that others reject us and communion with us, as some have already done, we must with great regret and sorrow accept their decision.

Statement from the House of Bishops, Episcopal News Service 3.20.07; NY Times; Reuters; AP; LA Times; Wash Post

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Despite Anglican anger at liberal church, Episcopalians keep funding missions abroad

Quoted 03.20.07:

The Episcopal Church's 2.3 million members make up a small fraction of the 77 million members in the Anglican Communion, the world's third-largest affiliation of Christian churches. Nevertheless, the Episcopal Church finances at least a third of the Communion's annual operations.

Episcopalians give tens of millions more each year to support aid and development programs in the Communion's poorer provinces in Africa, Asia and Latin America. At least $18 million annually flows from Episcopal Church headquarters in New York, and millions more are sent directly from American dioceses and parishes that support Anglican churches, schools, clinics and missionaries abroad.

Laurie Goodstein and Neela Banerjee, New York Times 3.20.07, reg req'd

Fundamentalism's false certitude

Quoted 03.20.07:

"Fundamentalism actually invites people to a kind of intellectual suicide. It injects into life a false certitude, for it unwittingly confuses the divine substance of the biblical message with what are in fact its human limitations." This robust denunciation came from the Vatican, in a 1993 document entitled "The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church." . . .

Catholic fundamentalists are more likely to be called "traditionalists," and today the Vatican is their sponsor. Instead of reading the Bible uncritically, in search of "ready answers to the problems of life," they read papal statements that way, finding in encyclicals the "false certitude" that the Vatican warns biblical literalists against.

James Carroll, op-ed, Boston Globe 3.19.07, reg req'd

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The greening of Massachusetts churches

Quoted 03.18.07:

Local congregations have recently felt the urgency of saving not only souls, but also the planet. They have been watching "An Inconvenient Truth" at the Cambridge Friends Meeting, screwing in compact fluorescent light bulbs at Congregation Eitz Chayim in Cambridgeport, asking for energy audits at Old South Church in Back Bay, and buying all-green energy at All Saints Church in Brookline.

Now more than 50 congregations statewide are taking part in the Interfaith Walk for Climate Rescue, which was to start Friday in Northampton in Western Massachusetts and will end next weekend in Copley Square with a rally Saturday that organizers expect to draw more than 1,000 people.

Janice O'Leary, Boston Globe 3.17.07

Friday, March 16, 2007

Mass. interfaith group braves storm in climate change trek

Quoted 03.16.07:

As the world's warmest winter on record draws to an end with a weekend snow storm, a group of religious leaders started walking across the state Friday to bring attention to global warming. . . .

The nine-day haul from downtown Northampton to Copley Square in Boston was planned far before forecasts called for a weekend of snow and sleet just a few days before the start of spring. . . .

The religious walkers are part of Religious Witness for the Earth, a 6-year-old national interfaith environmental organization.

With most of its members based in the Northeast, it made sense for the group to walk in Massachusetts. About 1,000 clergy members are expected to take some part in the trek, which will include prayer and information sessions along the way before ending with a rally on March 24.

Adam Gorlick [AP], 3.16.07

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Vatican condemns Jesuit liberation theologian Jon Sobrino's teachings about Christ

Quoted 03.15.07:

His work with [El Salvador's] campesinos and his strong advocacy of liberation theology, a doctrine sometimes tinged with Marxist thinking, made him a preferred target of El Salvador's reactionary forces.

Sobrino's views also invited critical scrutiny from the Vatican, especially from former cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the enforcer of church dogma and longtime foe of liberation theology and other nontraditional currents, who two years ago became Pope Benedict XVI.

Yesterday, after years of review, the Vatican formally condemned elements of Sobrino's most important writings as "erroneous or dangerous," adding that they "contain notable discrepancies with the faith of the Church."

Tracy Wilkinson (LA Times), Boston Globe 3.15.07, reg req'd

Monday, March 12, 2007

Episcopal church where I was married vows 'holy fast' from weddings

Quoted 03.12.07:

Declaring a 'holy fast,' Grace Episcopal Church has decided to stop performing all wedding ceremonies because its bishops bar the blessing of same-sex unions.

'We are called to join the fast that our homosexual brothers and sisters in Christ have had to observe all their lives,' said the church's rector, the Rev. Robert Hirschfeld, in his sermon Sunday.

Nick Grabbe, Amherst Bulletin 3.12.07; Why I've opposed calls for Episcopal priests to stop performing weddings, 10.21.06

Saturday, March 10, 2007

More African American women enter ministry, few become senior pastors

Quoted 03.10.07:

While African-American women have increasingly enrolled in seminaries and received degrees and ordinations in the last 30 years, they continue to lack the personal access that transforms education and credentials into a prominent pulpit. Nearly half of black seminary students are now women, yet they are far less likely than men to lead a congregation.

The most authoritative study of the subject, conducted by Prof. Delores Carpenter of Howard University, looked at the outcomes of more than 800 black men and women who earned divinity degrees from 61 seminaries covering 18 denominations from 1972 through 1998. Half the men, but barely one-fifth of the women, went on to a position as senior pastor. Some of those women had to shift into a more theologically liberal denomination — typically from Baptist to United Methodist or Presbyterian — to increase their odds of landing a job.

Samuel G. Freedman, New York Times 3.10.07, reg req'd

Friday, March 9, 2007

Marriage is becoming a luxury item

Quoted 03.09.07:

Punctuating a fundamental change in American family life, married couples with children now occupy fewer than one in every four households — a share that has been slashed in half since 1960 and is the lowest ever recorded by the census.

As marriage with children becomes an exception rather than the norm, social scientists say it is also becoming the self-selected province of the college-educated and the affluent. The working class and the poor, meanwhile, increasingly steer away from marriage, while living together and bearing children out of wedlock.

Blaine Harden, Washington Post 3.4.07, reg req'd

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Newspapers race to become print-digital hybrids

Quoted 03.08.07:

In their modern classic, The Elements of Journalism, Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel write that, "In the end, the discipline of verification is what separates journalism from entertainment, propaganda, fiction, or art." Robert Putnam's Bowling Alone, recounting a half-century's decline of civic engagement (a decline that began long before the Internet), reports that newspaper readers are more likely than nonreaders to participate in politics and local public life. Cities and towns with newspapers have a more transparent civic and public life than those without them. . . .

We can [now] have both the authoritative daily newspaper to aggregate and certify, and the infinite medley of the Web — all of which puts the traditional press under salutary pressure to innovate and to excel. . . .

My reporting suggests that many big dailies have turned the corner, though only barely and just in time, that newspapers have started down a financially and journalistically viable path of becoming hybrids, without losing the professional culture that makes them uniquely valuable.

Robert Kuttner, Columbia Journalism Review Mar/Apr 2007

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Archeologists say Jesus Tomb film 'intellectually and scientifically dishonest'

Quoted 03.01.07:

Scorn for the Discovery Channel's claim to have found the burial place of Jesus, Mary Magdalene and — most explosively — their possible son came not just from Christian scholars but also from Jewish and secular experts who said their judgments were unaffected by any desire to uphold Christian orthodoxy. . . .

Amos Kloner, who originally excavated the tomb, . . . told the Jerusalem Post that the documentary is "nonsense." [Joe Zias, former curator of archaeology at the Israeli Antiquities Authority,] described it in an e-mail to The Washington Post as a "hyped up film which is intellectually and scientifically dishonest."

Alan Cooperman, Washington Post 2.28.07, reg req'd; see also Crypt held bodies of Jesus and family, film says, Laurie Goodstein, New York Times 2.27.07, reg req'd

Administration: Taxpayers can't sue government over establishment of religion

Quoted 03.01.07:

An atheist group that alleges President Bush's faith-based initiative is unconstitutional asked the Supreme Court yesterday to allow taxpayers to sue the administration for giving federal money to religious groups, but the White House argued that taxpayers shouldn't be allowed to sue the government over such funding even if religion is involved in the matter. . . .

During yesterday's hearing, US Solicitor General Paul Clement, representing the Bush administration, told the justices that taxpayers don't have the right to sue the government over such questions of government spending, even when it comes to faith-based spending. Clement argued that taxpayers could not sue even if the government funded its own church or if it built a church next to Plymouth Rock to conduct worship services in the Puritan tradition.

Michael Kranish and Kevin Baron, Boston Globe 3.1.07, reg req'd