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Musings of an Anglican/Episcopal Priest

Month: June 2013 (page 1 of 3)

Bishop Jefferts Schori’s Two Sermons: Curacao and Charleston | First Things

A good comment from Jordan Hylden. Jordan is a deacon, soon to be priest, of the Episcopal Diocese of North Dakota. In addition to First Things, Jordan’s writings have appeared in the Living Church, and on TLC’s Covenant blog. He’s always worth reading. I say this to note that this is a critique from within, and not part of pile on by people who have nothing better to do than bash the Episcopal Church. This is a serious concern.

What happens in Curaçao doesn’t stay in Curaçao, at least if one is Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. Last month, Katharine Jefferts Schori preached a routine Sunday sermon on the idyllic Dutch island off the coast of Venezuela that was so roundly criticized that it made it all the way into…

Read it all: Bishop Jefferts Schori’s Two Sermons: Curacao and Charleston | First Things

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Syrians behead Christians for helping military, as CIA ships in arms

Some were originally reporting the beheading shown was of one of the two Bishops kidnapped in April. Instead, it showed the murder of Franciscan Priest Francois Murad. More details below.

When all of this started in Syria, someone, I cant remember who, posted a note they received from some of their Christian friends in Syria. The surprising thing to many Americans was that the Syrian Christians, while ambivalent about Assad, preferred him to any alternative. It seems to me that this is very much parallels the situation in Iraq under Sadaam in that Assad has been a cruel strongman but he has generally kept the lid on sectarian conflict. Now though, the Syrian regime has intentionaly sown sectarian conflict as a way to push back against the opposition. One commentator said that the Assad regime had been preparing for a conflict with the Sunni majority since the 80s, and their counter offensive, and the fact that they have not collapsed when so many expected it, is the fruit of that.

This is a situation with a lot of bad people acting based upon the poisoned fruit of centuries of conflict and bitter division. The problem is, while the US was seen as a Crusader nation in Iraq, we did very little to protect the native Christians for fear of confirming that accusation. At the same time, our very presence put a bulls eye on them. In this situation, there’s no doubt that Assad has mistreated his people and that his use of chemical weapons against them makes him a war criminal. But who exactly are we getting into bed with to push him out, and how might this decision haunt us. Even if we don’t give weapons directly to the militias responsible for these atrocities, I’m sure those weapons will eventually fall into their hands (those in the know indicate that these jihadist groups tend to be the most effective and well organized of the Syrian opposition), and I’d be willing to bet that our allies, such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have already been giving them weapons.

“A priest and another Christian were beheaded before a cheering crowd by Syrian insurgents who say they aided and abetted the enemy, President Bashar Assad’s military, foreign media reported.

An undated video that made the Internet rounds on Wednesday showed two unnamed men with tied hands surrounded by a cheering crowd of dozens, just moments before their heads were cut off with a small knife, Syria Report said. The attackers in the video then lifted the head for show, and placed it back on the body.

[…]

Just recently, a Catholic priest was recently executed by radicals, and last month, an entire Christian village in Homs was burned to the ground, Syria Report said. Moreover, two Christian bishops kidnapped in Aleppo at the beginning of the year are still missing.

The reported beheading of the two Christians comes about the same time America has started sending arms to rebel fighters, the Wall Street Journal revealed this week. The Journal reported the Central Intelligence Agency just began transporting weapons to Jordan for eventual transfer to Syrian fighters.”

A priest and another Christian were beheaded before a cheering crowd by Syrian insurgents who say they aided and abetted the enemy, President Bashar Assad’s military, foreign media reported.

Read it all: Syrians behead Christians for helping military, as CIA ships in arms

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ASIA/SYRIA – A Catholic priest killed. Bishop Hindo: he offered his martyrdom for peace

“On Sunday, June 23 the Syrian priest François Murad was killed in Gassanieh, in northern Syria, in the convent of the Custody of the Holy Land where he had taken refuge. This is confirmed by a statement of the Custos of the Holy Land sent to Fides Agency. The circumstances of the death are not fully understood. According to local sources, the monastery where Fr. Murad was staying was attacked by militants linked to the jihadi group Jabhat al-Nusra.Father François, 49, had taken the first steps in the religious life with the Franciscan Friars of the Custody of the Holy Land, and with them he continued to share close bonds of spiritual friendship. After being ordained a priest he had started the construction of a coenobitic monastery dedicated to St. Simon Stylites in the village of Gassanieh.After the start of the Civil War, the monastery of St. Simon had been bombed and Fr. Murad had moved to the convent of the Custody for safety reasons and to give support to the remaining few, along with another religious and nuns of the Rosary.”

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Read it all: ASIA/SYRIA – A Catholic priest killed. Bishop Hindo: he offered his martyrdom for peace

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Justice Scalia Hates Judicial Review, Except When He Doesn’t

http://buff.ly/14atwoD

On Wednesday, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote a scathing dissent to the decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act, saying “we have no power under the Constitution to invalidate this democratically…

Read it all: Justice Scalia Hates Judicial Review, Except When He Doesn’t

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Thought on the Supreme Court decision of yesterday (re: VRA).

Thought on the Supreme Court decision of yesterday (re: VRA). I think it was the reasonable decision, but the real world ramifications are going to be very bad indeed.

What I mean by that, is that the pre-clearance requirement should have somehow been expanded, and some new formula enacted that would allow for abuses all over the nation to be addressed, not just these particular states.

As it is the likely future is that gerrymandering (which i think should be outlawed) will continue, polarization will increase, barriers will be put in the way of people exercising the right to vote and our political system will likewise increase and the means to combat it outside of pre-clearance are practically speaking outside the hands of those who need them.

My hope would be that this would prompt either a revision of section 4, with Congress actually functioning and either accepting the invitation of the SCOTUS on two occasions (2009 and yesterday) or calling their bluff (depending on your perspective) and revising the formula for what jurisdictions need pre-clearance based upon what is happening today–and there’s more than enough voter obstruction happening all over the country to be combatted.

Alternatively, a Voting Rights Ammendment would be good… but has even less chance of actually happening.

So… get ready for a side show, a lot of abuse masquerading as modernisation or just politics, and zealously guard your rights and the rights of ALL your neighbors…

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Supreme Court Strikes Down Key Part of Voting Rights Act

I’ve seen a lot of comments already about the Supreme Court decision on the Voting Rights Act. I haven’t read the decision itself, but I thought this was a key part of it (assuming, of course, that the NYT got it right):

“Chief Justice Roberts said that Congress remained free to try to impose federal oversight on states where voting rights were at risk, but must do so based on contemporary data. When the law was last renewed, in 2006, Congress relied on data from decades before. The chances that the current Congress could reach agreement on where federal oversight is required are small, most analysts say.”

(http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/26/us/supreme-court-ruling.html?emc=edit_na_20130625&_r=0 )

So, it seems to me, that the problem is not so much with the decision as it is with the fact that Congress doesn’t function. I would think it would be *desirable* to use contemporary data since the demographic makeup of the country has changed. Could there be places, for example, where hispanic immigrants have difficulty voting, but had no history of discrimination during the civil rights era?

Maybe this was intended as nothing more than a backdoor way of scrapping the whole thing but, as with Health Care reform, it seems like part of this decision is a critique of a dysfunctional legislative branch.

Another way to put it would be: Our society (in spite of some pop culture trends that would suggest otherwise) is not encased in amber. Why would we assume that the challenges to equal rights would therefore be unchanging, or always in the same geographic locale?

The Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down a central portion of the Voting Rights Act, originally passed in 1965 and since updated by Congress, holding that Section 4 was unconstitutional.

Read it all: Supreme Court Strikes Down Key Part of Voting Rights Act

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The war between the Liberation Theology movement and Rome is over – Vatican Insider

A Reminder that God is no respecter of persons. “The war between the Liberation Theology movement and Rome is over.”

Below are some comments from Gerhard Cardinal Muller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith:

“In one of his speeches, Müller (who in an interview on 27 December 2012 suggested it was likely a Latin American would substitute Ratzinger as Pope) did not hesitate to describe the political and geopolitical factors that had influenced certain “crusades” against the Liberation Theology movement: “the satisfaction of depriving the Liberation Theology movement of all meaning was intensified by capitalism’s sense of triumph, which was probably considered to have gained absolute victory. It was seen as an easy target that could be fitted into the same category as revolutionary violence and Marxist terrorism,” Müller said. He referred to a secret document prepared for President Reagan by the Committee of Santa Fé in 1980 (so 4 years before the Vatican’s first Instruction on the Liberation Theology movement), requesting that the U.S. government take aggressive action against the movement, which was accused of transforming the Catholic Church into “a political weapon against private property and productive capitalism by infiltrating the religious community with ideas that are less Christian than communist.” Müller said: “The impertinence shown by the document’s authors, who are themselves guilty of brutal military dictatorships and powerful oligarchies, is disturbing. Their interest in private property and the capitalist production system has replaced Christianity as a criterion.””

“The Latin American ecclesial and theological movement known as “Liberation Theology”, which spread to other parts of the world after the Second Vatican Council, should in my opinion be included…

Read it all: The war between the Liberation Theology movement and Rome is over – Vatican Insider

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The dysfunctional House – Jake Sherman

More from the heart of dysfunction… or would that be the pool of a nations dysfunction? Who can tell…

“The defeat of the farm bill — after both parties were privately bullish it would pass with large margins — shows, once again, how massively dysfunctional the House and its leadership has become. And it plainly reveals that a bipartisan rewrite of the nation’s complex and politically charged immigration laws are a pipe dream in the House, at least for now. Preventing a government shutdown and debt limit fight are not far behind.”

Someone in House leadership screwed up again. The defeat of the farm bill — after both parties were privately bullish it would pass with large margins — shows, once again, how massively dysfunctional…

Read it all: The dysfunctional House – Jake Sherman

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Cutting good welfare and preserving bad | The Christian Century

“The farm bill process is a mess, partly because it makes little sense to bundle agricultural policy with nutritional assistance policy in the first place. Each time the farm bill comes up for reauthorization, reform advocates get hopeful for major changes to our system of corporate welfare for agribusiness. This never really happens, and eventually success gets defined down to simply passing a farm bill at all. By now, the debate’s mostly just about the precise degree to which we should stick it to hungry Americans.”

The money in the farm bill is dominated by food stamps. The debate over it is dominated by everything else. But debate or no debate, the Senate wants to cut food stamps a little, the House wants to cut…

Read it all: Cutting good welfare and preserving bad | The Christian Century

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Why Slave Labor Still Plagues The Global Food System : NPR

“As NPR’s Michele Kelemen reports, the State Department hopes that this year’s report will hit home with Americans. And so an official reminds us that as consumers, we are at one end of a food supply chain that sometimes leads back to slavery.”

As consumers, we are at one end of a food supply chain that sometimes leads back to slavery. A State Department report on human trafficking shows that many farm and food workers around the world are still…

Read it all: Why Slave Labor Still Plagues The Global Food System : NPR

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