Musings of an Anglican/Episcopal Priest

Month: April 2013 (Page 1 of 3)

Protestant Perseverance and Catholic Decline? | First Things

While always taking Mark Twain’s assessment of statistics into account, I find studies like this intriguing.

Protestants with a strong religious identity continue to increase as Catholics with a strong religious identity continue to decline, according to a March study by the Pew Research Center. The proportion…

Read it all: Protestant Perseverance and Catholic Decline? | First Things

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Dying in Space: An American Dream

“It’s named Mars One in part because what it offers is a one-way ticket. In positive terms, this means that the program promises its participants the adventure of a lifetime. In more negative ones, it means that the lifetime in question will likely reach its conclusion somewhere outside of Earth. And that’s a feature, not a bug. Our new relationship with the world beyond Earth’s borders, Mars One declares, “will be characterized not by rovers and probes, visits or short stays, but by permanence. From now on, we won’t just be visiting planets. We’ll be staying.””

Mars One is not the first project hoping to boldly permanently go where no man has gone before.

Read it all: Dying in Space: An American Dream

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How Not to Die

From the opposite end of the spectrum from the “forced exit” category, the medical equivalent of the famous comment, “it became necessary to destroy the village in order to save it:”

““Sometimes you block the near exits, and all you’ve got left is a far exit, which is not a dignified and comfortable death,” Albert Mulley, a physician and the director of the Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science, told me recently. As we talked, it emerged that he, too, had had to fend off the medical system when his father died at age 93. “Even though I spent my whole career doing this,” he said, “when I was trying to assure as good a death as I could for my dad, I found it wasn’t easy.”

If it is this hard for doctors to navigate their parents’ final days, imagine what many ordinary patients and their families face. “It’s almost impossible for patients really to be in charge,” says Joanne Lynn, a physician and the director of the nonprofit Altarum Center for Elder Care and Advanced Illness in Washington, D.C. “We enforce a kind of learned helplessness, especially in hospitals.” I asked her how much unwanted treatment gets administered. She couldn’t come up with a figure—no one can—but she said, “It’s huge, however you measure it. Especially when people get very, very sick.”

Unwanted treatment is a particularly confounding problem because it is not a product of malevolence but a by-product of two strengths of American medical culture: the system’s determination to save lives, and its technological virtuosity. Change will need to be consonant with that culture. “You have to be comfortable working at the margins of the power structure within medicine, and particularly within academic medicine,” Mulley told me. You need a disrupter, but one who can speak the language of medicine and meet the system on its own terms.”

Sometimes you block the near exits, and all you’ve got left is a far exit, which is not a dignified and comfortable death,”

Read it all: How Not to Die

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Do Louisianans Have the Right to a Speedy Trial?

“There has been for decades now an ideological split at the United States Supreme Court over the Sixth Amendment’s right to a speedy trial — one of the most basic of due process rights. Court conservatives have successfully limited the scope of the right by justifying and forgiving unconscionable delays in bringing criminal defendants to trial. And the Court’s progressives, outnumbered now for a generation, have complained not just about the unjust results of those cases but about the indigent defense systems which have fostered trial delays in the first place.

And so it is again. On Monday, in a case styled Boyer v. Louisiana, none of the Court’s five conservative justices were willing to come to the aid of a man who had to wait seven years between his arrest and his trial because of a “funding crisis” within Louisiana’s indigent defense program. In fact, those five justices refused even to render a ruling on the merits of the matter, instead deciding after oral argument and all the briefing in the case that their earlier decision to accept the matter for review was “improvident.”

It was left to Justice Samuel Alito to defend the Court’s inaction. The long delay in bringing Jonathan Edward Boyer to trial on murder charges was not just the fault of Louisiana and its infamously underfunded and understaffed indigent defense program, Justice Alito concluded. “[‘T]he record shows that the single largest share of the delay in this case was the direct result of defense requests for continuances, that other defense motions caused substantial additional delay, and that much of the rest of the delay was caused by events beyond anyone’s control,” he wrote. That was enough to deny Boyer’s claims.

All four of the Court’s progressives disagreed. The majority’s quick assessment of the facts and the record was flawed, they wrote, and by ducking the issue on its merits the Supreme Court abdicated its responsibility not just to the defendant in the case but to thousands of other criminal defendants in Louisiana who are similarly too poor to pay for their own attorneys. “The Court’s silence in this case is particularly unfortunate,” wrote Justice Sonia Sotomayor in a sharp dissent. “Conditions of this kind cannot persist without endangering constitutional rights.””

The Supreme Court brushes away a man who waited seven years to get his case before a judge.

Read it all: Do Louisianans Have the Right to a Speedy Trial?

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No Rich Child Left Behind

One reason shifting to a need based/income based affirmative action would be a good idea. Since minorities are disproportionately represented among the poor such assistance would also aid them at a higher rate, but it would additionally address a need that, at the present time is going unattended to.

Of course, the bigger issue is dealing with the systemic problems have have caused such disparities to increase rather than decline.

Here’s a fact that may not surprise you: the children of the rich perform better in school, on average, than children from middle-class or poor families. Students growing up in richer families have better grades and higher standardized test scores, on average, than poorer students; they also have hi…

Read it all: No Rich Child Left Behind

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TGC Mobile | Article | A Father’s Love

“Steve Brown once said, “Children will run from law and they’ll run from grace. The ones who run from law rarely come back. But the ones who run from grace always come back. Grace draws its own back home.” I ran from grace. It drew me home”

What you wrote above about gracious love, Tullian, really moved me to tears. I empathize with you missing your father. What a wonderful man who displayed God’s Love exceptionally graciously 🙂 How blessed…

Read it all: TGC Mobile | Article | A Father’s Love

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Preparing to preach on Revelation

I’m reading Richard Bauckham’s book “Theology of the Book of Revelation” along with a few others as part of my reflection and study for my ongoing series on Revelation.

The book is very good, I’ll say that up front. If you want to learn about Revelation, you should buy it.

But in particular, I was struck by his discussion of the seals, the visions accompanying them, the content of the scroll which only the Lamb could read and the two witnesses. Specifically, Bauckham does a great job explaining that the judgements pronounced are warning judgements meant to bring humanity to repentance. Of great importance is the fact that *judgement does not meet with the desired outcome* and so the seven thunders–most likely further judgements against the earth–remain unimplemented.

Instead of judgment, it is the witness of the Church–the preaching of forgiveness and grace–that results in repentance for those who *do* repent, with the final judgement on the whole earth being meted out to those who fail to repent.

What is key in this is the representative nature of the two witnesses. Whether one accepts them as actual prophets returned for this role (Moses & Elijah or Enoch and Elijah, two traditional understandings) or in a purely metaphorical sense, they stand for the witness of the Church:

“The content of the scroll is not that faithful Christians are to suffer martyrdom or that their martyrdom will be their victory: these things are already clear in 6:9-11; 7:9-14. The new revelation is that their faithful witness and death is to be instrumental in the conversion of the nations of the world. Their victory is not simply their own salvation from a world doomed to judgement, as might appear from chapter 7, but the salvation of the nations. God’s kingdom is to come not simply by saving an elect people who acknowledge his rule from a rebellious world over which his kingdom prevails merely by extinguishing the rebels. It is to come as the sacrificial witness of the elect people who already acknowledge God’s rule brings the rebellious nations also to acknowledge his rule. The people of God have been redeemed from all the nations (5:9) in order to bear prophetic witness to all the nations (11:3-13).

This is what the story of the two witnesses (11:3-13) symbolically dramatizes. Two individuals here represent the church in its faithful witness to the world. Their story must be taken neither literally nor even as an allegory, as though the sequence of events in this story were supposed to correspond to a sequence of events in the church’s history. The story is more like a parable, which dramatizes the nature and the result of the church’s witness.” (Kindle Edition, Location 1061)

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