Tuesday, October 21, 2008

KJS : No Anglican Covenant--not now, not bloody ever!

From Episcopal Life Online:

If a proposed Anglican covenant is released in mid-May for adoption by the Anglican Communion's provinces, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will "strongly discourage" any effort to bring that request to the 76th General Convention in July.

Jefferts Schori briefly discussed the covenant process during her remarks to the opening plenary session October 21 on the second of the Executive Council's four-day meeting in Helena, the seat of the Diocese of Montana.

Anglican Communion provinces have until the end of March 2009 to respond to the current version of the proposed covenant, known as the St. Andrew's Draft. The Covenant Design Group meets in London in April 2009 and may issue another draft of a covenant. That draft is expected to be reviewed by the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) during its May 1-12, 2009 meeting. The ACC could decide to release that version to the provinces for their adoption.

If the ACC decides to do that, "my sense is that the time is far too short before our General Convention for us to have a thorough discussion of it as a church and I'm therefore going to strongly discourage any move to bring it to General Convention," Jefferts Schori told the Executive Council. "I just think it's inappropriate to make a decision that weighty that quickly," she added.

Of course, since the Episcopal Church continues to maintain that no interim meeting by either the Executive Council or the House of Bishops can speak for the whole Church, any action will have to wait until the next General Convention meets. So that means, if they don't consider it in 2009, it will be at least 2012 before the Episcopal Church could respond to the Anglican Covenant.

My advice: Don't hold your breath.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Barack Obama, Jewish-Americans, and Israel

Have you noticed the interesting thing about Barack Obama's speeches? He has a way of speaking about "hope, change, progress," etc. in platitudes--yes, platitudes--that make people believe he has said exactly what they want to hear. Yet, if you look and listen closely, and ask yourself what he has actually committed to do, you will find that he has said virtually nothing.

What exactly, would Barack Obama do regarding Israel? A lot of American Jews (and Christian and secular supporteres of Israel as well) have been led to think that this son of a Kenyan Muslim father would be Israel's loyal friend. But would he?

From the Philadelphia Bulletin comes this piece on Barack Obama and the only indication we have of Obama's real attitude toward Israel.

Barack Obama, Jewish-Americans And Israel
By David Bedein, The Bulletin

From a personal and professional perspective, this is the sixth American Presidential campaign that I have covered from Israel, concentrating on the "Israel aspect" of the story.

This time I not only have covered the campaign from Israel - This time, I was assigned by The Bulletin to fly over and cover the Obama campaign at the time of the Pennsylvania primary in April.

My observation of the "Jewish American view of Sen. Obama" was that there was an atmosphere of unreality surrounding Jewish advocacy and Jewish opposition to Sen. Barack Obama.

Both pro-Obama and anti-Obama forces in the Jewish world related to the senator with an attitude of superficiality, paying more attention paid to the company that he keeps than to the policies that he stands for.

Yet here is the rub: None one has really heard where Sen. Obama stands on Middle East issues.

When I interviewed three of Sen. Obama's staffers who specialize in Middle East issues, I presented them with 18 questions. Besides the issue of Palestinian incitement, which his staffers said that he abhors, they could not provide any answers whatsover to basic questions put forward by The Bulletin last April.

With the multi-billion dollar arms package to Saudi Arabia about to reach the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, of which Sen. Obama is a member, his staffers could not even say what his position was on arms to Saudi Arabia, which remains in a state of active war with Israel.

Indeed, Saudi Arabia currently funds Hamas, the Popular Front For The Liberation of Palestine (PLFP) and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), all of which are Palestinian terror organizations that actively engaged in planning operations against the Jewish state

After Sen. Obama's formal nomination as democratic candidate for president in late August, The Bulletin resubmitted these 18 basic questions.

Sen. Obama's staffers promised answers this time. None were forthcoming.

Yet there is a way to gain insight into Sen. Obama's policies towards Israel. Not by tabulating votes on the Senate floor and not by counting how many superlatives that he uses on Israel.

Instead, by paying attention to the three high ranking former U.S. State Department officials whom the Senator has hired: Martin Indyk, Dennis Ross and Daniel Kurtzer. The policy which characterizes all three of them is their consistent promotion of the PLO as a supposed peace partner with Israel for the past 20 years, no matter what the reality was.

This is the threesome that defined the PLO as a peace partner even after the PLO would not ratify the Oslo "declaration of principles" in October 1993.

This is the threeesome that attested to the fact that, in 1996, the PLO had cancelled its covenant to destroy Israel, when it had not done so.

This is the threesome who insisted on arming the PLO to fight Hamas even though the PLO made it clear from the outset that it would never engage Hamas in any full-scale war. And this is the threesome who promote a PLO state, come what may.

And this is the threesome who main committed to mobilizing Jewish Americans to support a PLO state, come what may.

From Sen. Obama's appointment of Martin Indyk, Dennis Ross and Daniel Kurtzer, it is easy to discern where the Senator stands - for the renewal of the Oslo process once again, this time with the teeth of an American administration that would impose a Palestinian state, even though it remains at war with the State of Israel.


Read the whole article.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Faith's Dwindling Following

More than 20 years ago I remarked that if I could choose to be anyone other than who I am, I would be George Will. His insightfulness, penetrating logic, and command of the English language are among the greatest of this age in which we live. This column, in the Washington Post, is not a display of his finest talent, by any means—the subject matter does not lend itself to that. But he has turned his attention to the current crisis in the Episcopal Church, and his conclusions, as I have always found them to be, are irrefutable.
The Episcopal Church once was America's upper crust at prayer. Today it is "progressive" politics cloaked -- very thinly -- in piety. Episcopalians' discontents tell a cautionary tale for political as well as religious associations. As the church's doctrines have become more elastic, the church has contracted. It celebrates an "inclusiveness" that includes fewer and fewer members.

Read it all.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Diocese of Michigan Seeking Plan for Revitalization

Stand Firm posted this piece about the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan's efforts to come up with a plan for revitalization of the Diocese in the face of "declining church attendance and dwindling income."

Here's a plan I read somewhere. It is definitely not original with me. But I have heard (and observed) that it has worked everywhere it has been sincerely tried:

1. "Go into all the world" (every town, street, house)
2. "Make disciples" (of everyone, even those of other religions or no religion at all).
3. "Baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit" (not the creator, redeemer, and sanctifier, or some politically correct idol created by the culture, but God as He has revealed Himself in Holy Scripture. Oh, and do this BEFORE you admit them to Holy Communion, so they understand the difference between their life before Christ and their life after they came to know Him whose atoning death is celebrated at the Altar.)
4. "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you..." (ALL THINGS, like the power of prayer, life in the Holy Spirit, evangelism, biblical morality, etc.)
5. Where do we get the resources to do this? "And, lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

Cost in dollars: minimal. Cost in commitment: total.

War on God

Saturday, October 11, 2008

New York election mixup: 'Osama' on ballot

Hundreds in upstate county get absentee ballots with ‘Barack Osama’
TROY, New York - Who is running for president? In an upstate New York county, hundreds of voters have been sent absentee ballots in which they could vote for “Barack Osama.”

The absentee ballots sent to voters in Rensselaer County identified the two presidential candidates as “Barack Osama” and “John McCain.” In the United States, the best-known individual named Osama is Osama bin Laden, leader of the al Qaida terrorist group behind the 2001 attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center in New York City.

The typographical terror error was first reported by the Times Union of Albany.

Read it all.

My good friend Bubba says, "That's not mistake, that's a prophecy!"

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Slam Dunk!

As predicted:

Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh Changes Constitution, Joins Anglican Province.

191 laity voted. 119 voted in favor (62.3%). 69 voted against (36.1%), 3 abstained.

160 clergy voted. 121 voted in favor (75.6%). 33 voted no (20.6%). 3 abstained. 2 invalid ballots were cast.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Postcard from Pittsburgh

The other night I had the joy of attending the installation of the Very Rev. Dr. Justyn Terry as Dean and President of Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry. The preacher for the service, Canon Michael Green, prefaced his sermon by paying tribute to Bishop Robert Duncan, whose recent deposition by the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church has been the subject of controversy.

Canon Green could scarcely finish his remarks before a resounding standing ovation for Bishop Duncan (who was seated in the chancel) erupted from the congregation which lasted for at least five minutes. Bishop Duncan's wife, Nara, was escorted from her seat in the congregation to the front to stand with her husband while the ovation continued.

There can be no mistake: Bishop Duncan is much loved by the people of Pittsburgh--the group calling itself the Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh (PEP) not withstanding.

As London Times religion columnist Ruth Gledhill has written:
It has crossed my mind recently that Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori is secretly one of the "orthodox". That can surely be the only reason that she has created a martyr who is now being venerated by evangelicals worldwide, and who is poised to become the sanctified leader of an orthodox movement that is demanding, and might well get, its own province.

Gledhill goes on to mention the new website that has been created to catalogue all the expressions of support from around the world for Bishop Duncan.

One thing is sure: the PB's actions have only strengthened support for Bishop Duncan both inside and outside the Diocese of Pittsburgh and virtually guarantee that the Diocese's vote to leave the Episcopal Church (scheduled to take place tomorrow) will be a "slam dunk."

There is another sports expression that applies here as well: "own goal," and the PB has most certainly scored one just as phenomenal as any of these.