Musings of an Anglican/Episcopal Priest

Month: August 2013 (Page 2 of 2)

The pope’s global reach – The New York Times

A friend shard this opinion piece from 2008 about the global reach and influence of the papacy, and it remains just as relevant today. The author, Philip Blond, is an Anglican theologian and political philosopher.

“LANCASTER, England — When Pope Benedict XVI addresses the United Nations today, he will be the only truly global figure in the assembly. His church has a presence in every nation, yet it transcends them all and owes loyalty to none. His flock numbers more than a billion and grows by 28,000 every day.

Fifty years ago, nobody would have thought the papacy would wield influence like this today. Several factors have combined to make it so: the rise of radical Islam; the bankruptcy of secular Western values, and the return of religion as a global political force.

In this age of economic globalization and planetary climate change, nation-states are retreating to the 19th century politics of national self interest and competing spheres of influence. With nations unable to make common cause, the global stage is increasingly being left to three transnational actors: capitalism, Islam and Catholicism.

The influence of the Catholic Church as the world’s largest Christian denomination is only increased by what its critics most dislike: its unity, universality and sense of mission.

Protestant Christianity is too private, fragmented and diverse to operate on a global stage. Orthodox Christianity has never transcended national interests. Islam has no governing center and so is liable to manipulation by its radical extremes, while both Hinduism and Judaism remain restricted by race and inheritance.

Perhaps only Buddhism has achieved a similar unity and universality, but it is indifferent to politics and social transformation – it becomes active only when its own religious practice is threatened.

With the failure of secular idealisms, a religion that can transform the social, political and spiritual life of the whole world becomes a global player. The organizational ability, worldwide structure and focus of Catholicism allows it to stand proxy for all Christians.

Moreover it is a constituency that, contrary to popular belief, is growing. In 1800, when there were fewer than a billion people on Earth, only 22.7 percent of the world’s population was Christian; today, with a world population of over 6.6 billion, 33.3 percent are Christian.

What is more, growth rates for Christianity are static or falling only in Islamic nations and Western Europe. In the Americas, rates of church participation are high and relatively stable; churches lose members to each other, not to atheism.

The real story of the past century is the enormous rise of Christianity in Africa, Oceania and Asia. According to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, church attendance in Africa rose from under 9 million in 1900 to more than 423 million today. The figures for Asia are equally startling, if there were about 20 million Asian Christians in 1900, today there are 355 million active members of a Christian church.

With the exception of eastern Europe where churches underwent a post-communist renaissance, the current increase in Christianity is almost wholly in the southern hemisphere. In 1900, the north accounted for 82.3 percent of all Christians. By 2025, 68 percent will be in the southern hemisphere.”

LANCASTER, England — When Pope Benedict XVI addresses the United Nations today, he will be the only truly global figure in the assembly. His church has a presence in every nation, yet it transcends…

Read it all: The pope’s global reach – The New York Times

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The Changing Mind Of The South

The Christ Haunted South is haunted by many other ghosts as well. Very interesting. Still considering it. I can certainly see the honor culture and stoicism, and a new flourishing of churches that, while not more recently traditional in a South dominated by evangelicalism, certainly have deep roots (the Episcopal/Anglican tradition being an example).

“Even Southerners who aren’t churchgoers think about Jesus.”

Commenting on W.J. Cash’s 1941 classic The Mind of the South, and Tracy Thompson’s recent The New Mind of the South, Peter Lawler talks about the role of Evange

Read it all: The Changing Mind Of The South

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Bezos Isn’t Buying a Newspaper, He’s Buying Into DC

Another perspective:

“Amazon founder Jeff Bezos isn’t just buying a newspaper: the Washington Post is still uniquely valuable as an aggregator of military-industrial interests.”

The Washington Post deserves some credit for its own reporting on its sale to founder Jeff Bezos, after 80 years in the hands of the heirs of Eugene

Read it all: Bezos Isn’t Buying a Newspaper, He’s Buying Into DC

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Liturgical Chickens Coming Home to Roost

Derek is doing very important work and attempting to add some coherence and theological depth to our shared commemorations as set forth in Holy Women Holy Men. I applaud him. Check out his latest reflections. By the way, the phrase “potemkin ecumenism” is going in the mental basket to be pulled out at an opportune time…:

“Due to the influence of the LRM and its influence in the upper reaches of liturgical thought in the Episcopal Church, the ’79 BCP ended up having a more catholic appearance due to 1) the recovery of historical ideals that also guided the reform of the Roman liturgy post Vatican-II and 2) ecumenical rapprochement with Roman Catholics. Furthermore the performance of the liturgy likewise took on a more catholic appearance with a proliferation of chasubles in places where they would have been anathema as ‘too popish’ just a generation before.

But now we’re nearing the point of a generational shift. My liturgy teachers were young academics and graduate students at the time of Vatican II; they were the ones responsible for the modification of Protestant liturgies in the the post-Vatican II era. I sat at the feet of Saliers; I read White, Lathrop and Weil, and learned from them when we met. But now my generation is coming of age and are reaping the consequences of the choices of the LRM.

My crystal ball is telling me that Holy Women, Holy Men and the furor around it is emblematic of the liturgical issues that we will be dealing with in the next few decades. We are at the point where we must come to terms with the fact that we have inherited a prayer book with a greater catholic appearance but without catholic substance behind it. To put a finer point on it, we have a catholic-looking calendar of “saints” yet no shared theology of sainthood or sanctity. While a general consensus reigned that the appearance was sufficient, the lack of a coherent shared theology was not an issue. When we press upon it too hard—as occurred and is occurring in the transition from Lesser Feasts & Fasts into Holy Women, Holy Men into whatever will come next—we reap the fruits of a sort of potemkin ecumenism that collapses without common shared theology behind it.

Is there a catholic theology of sanctity in the Episcopal Church? Yes, in some places. Is there an inherently Episcopal theology of sanctity that proceeds naturally from the ’79 BCP that is in line with a classic Christian understanding? Without question! But is it known? No. Is there any common Episcopal understanding of sanctity? The arguments around the church especially as embodied in the discussions within the SCLM lead me to answer, no—I don’t think so.The struggle of this current generation will be to wrestle with a liturgy that portrays a catholic appearance but lack a catholic substance behind it. It’s not that the substance can’t be there—it’s that it’s not.”

This is more a passing thought than a well-developed argument so take it with a grain of salt… The Liturgical Renewal Movement is the fundamental context for understanding the current shape of th…

Read it all: Liturgical Chickens Coming Home to Roost

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A New Age for the Washington \u003Ci>Post\u003C/i> |

“And now the family saga has come to an end precisely because the morning doesn’t mean money anymore. People get their news when they want it, and they have an astonishing selection of packages and purveyors. In a sense, the story of the Washington Post has come full circle, with Bezos in the role of Meyer. Like Meyer, the new buyer is fantastically wealthy from unrelated enterprises. Like Meyer, he is buying a publication hard-hit by a severe economic crash, one title among many in a ferociously competitive media marketplace. True, the Post is a vastly better newspaper today than it was 80 years ago, thanks to Meyer and his descendants. (His great-granddaughter Katharine Weymouth is the current publisher.) But the path to reliable earnings growth is at least as hazy for Bezos as it was for Meyer 80 years ago, and it stands to reason that Bezos, like Meyer, has reasons other than the bottom line to want to own an influential voice in the nation’s capital.

He becomes the most prominent in a growing line of back-to-the-future moguls who, like George Hearst and Jock Whitney and Raoul Fleischmann of yore, used money they made or inherited from nonmedia ventures to elbow their way into publishing. Over the weekend, billionaire investor John Henry won a competition to buy the Boston Globe from the New York Times Co. for a fraction of what the Times paid for it. Last year, Facebook billionaire Chris Hughes bought the New Republic magazine, not long after the late stereo magnate Sidney Harman briefly took over Newsweek from, yes, the Washington Post Co.”

Iconic paper’s sale to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos cements the end of our monopoly-media era

Read it all: A New Age for the Washington \u003Ci>Post\u003C/i> |

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The Englewood Review of Books

This made me think of George MacDonald in his sermon on Job:

“To deny the existence of God may, paradoxical as the statement will at first seem to some, involve less unbelief than the smallest yielding to doubt of his goodness. I say yielding; for a man may be haunted with doubts, and only grow thereby in faith. Doubts are the messengers of the Living One to rouse the honest. They are the first knock at our door of things that are not yet, but have to be, understood… Doubt must precede every deeper assurance; for uncertainties are what we first see when we look into a region hitherto unknown, unexplored, unannexed” (George MacDonald, Sermon on Job, Unspoken Sermons)

“There lives more faith in honest doubt, believe me, than in half the creeds.”
– Alfred Lord Tennyson, born this day 1809

//Discuss… Is Tennyson onto something here?

Read it all: The Englewood Review of Books

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Why Donald Graham Sold the Washington Post to Jeff Bezos

“Leonard Downie, who was executive editor from 1991 to 2008, told me, “Don hated all the cutting, and he just didn’t want to cut anymore. His hope is that Bezos will invest. It’s a family company, so he doesn’t have the obligations of a public company. And the hope is that, like with the Kindle and Amazon, he’ll invest deeply, and his vision will prove out.… I told several senior editors here that it will be an exciting time, but how it will come out I am not sure. Warren Buffett”—a friend and business mentor to the Graham family for decades—“also concluded that Bezos is someone with long-term vision.”

Graham started talking to Bezos several months ago, then they stopped talking for a while, and then they met again at a conference in July. By all accounts, the price they settled on was, in the modern age, generous. A decade ago, the Post might have sold for several times that or more.

There are two mysteries remaining in this story: the inner workings of the Graham family and the intentions of Jeff Bezos. What conversations and disagreements transpired between and among Donald, his three siblings, and Katharine Weymouth, are, for the moment, a fog. Donald Graham insisted to me that he got “zero pressure” from his family to sell: “We love the place. So does every Graham.”

Bezos made a statement saying all the correct and anodyne things, but he was not terribly revealing. He rarely is. How much is he interested in using the political influence of the Post as an instrument of his main business? Why would he buy such a traditional media outlet rather than start another Internet enterprise of his own? The Graham family tried hard to assure everyone that this was for the best, that Donald Graham has known Bezos for fifteen years and trusts him to do the right thing: invest for the long term in real journalism. (“Jeff is a man of enormous personal decency,” Graham said.)”

“The pattern of a newspaperman’s life is like the plot of ‘Black Beauty,’ ” A. J. Liebling wrote. “Sometimes he finds a kind master who gives him a dry stall and an occasional bran mash in…

Read it all: Why Donald Graham Sold the Washington Post to Jeff Bezos

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Making The Middle-Class The Center Of Republican Politics

” “I don’t think [the Republicans] would make it easier for small businesses.” “A corporation, maybe, absolutely. A small business?”- Report by the College Republicans

Those quotes from young voters give you an idea of part of the Republican party’s problems. Many young people see the Republicans as the party the already wealthy. Those young voters aren’t alone. It is not all some big mistake or liberal media plot. Republicans have put themselves in the position of seeming like the party of high-earners that depends on cultural appeals to the white segment of the working-class to be politically competitive. They can start to rectify the problem by placing the priorities and concerns of those who are (or aspire to be) in the middle-class at the center of their agenda.”

– See more at:

“I don’t think [the Republicans] would make it easier for small businesses.” “A corporation, maybe, absolutely. A small business?”- Report by the College Republicans

Read it all: Making The Middle-Class The Center Of Republican Politics

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New York City’s Uprising

I recall a conversation with the late Fr. Howard Rhys in which he lamented the fact that there was no political home for folks who were economically liberal and socially conservative/traditionalist. Maybe there will be?

“New York City election headlines have been dominated by the bizarre escapades of the lecherous Anthony Weiner or the suave front-running of Christine Quinn. Social conservatives in the Big Apple can easily feel depressed by the City’s self-satisfaction with libertinism. Registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans 6 to 1, and Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota is hardly a social conservative.

Enter a new wave of economically liberal Christian pastors running as Democrats and taking a strong stand to uphold religious liberty, the sanctity of marriage, and the right to life. Largely Evangelical, these leaders from New York’s poorer and largely-minority neighborhoods are led by Fernando Cabrera and Rick del Rio. As Emily Belz reports, ten candidates for the City’s 51-seat council meet this description.”

New York City election headlines have been dominated by the bizarre escapades of the lecherous Anthony Weiner or the suave front-running of Christine Quinn. Social conservatives in the Big Apple ca…

Read it all: New York City’s Uprising

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Conversations: Rodney Stark

Very interesting. Not completely surprising, given the fact that there have clearly been much less religious ages in England and the US, but nonetheless, very interesting.

“CLR Forum: Rod, we’ve heard a great deal in the past year about the rise of the “Nones.” According to reports, about 20% of Americans, the highest percentage ever, tell surveyors that they have no religious affiliation. Yet in America’s Blessings you note that 70% of Americans, also the highest percentage in our history, belong to religious congregations. What explains these two, apparently contradictory, developments?

Stark: First of all, few of the “Nones” aren’t religious. Most of them even pray. What they mean when they say “None” is that they do not belong to a specific church. As for the increase in their numbers over the past 20 years, that probably is mostly caused by the decline in the percentage of Americans willing to take part in a survey. Those who do are very disproportionately the less affluent and less educated. Believe it or not, repeated studies going back to the 1940s always show that this is the group least likely to belong to a local church—the more educated Americans are the more religious segment (excluding PhDs). Meanwhile, partly because Americans move less often than they used to, and many more remain in their home towns as adults, membership in local churches has been rising—now estimated at 70 percent, the all-time high.”

Last week, we reviewed a recent book by Baylor University sociologist Rodney Stark, America’s Blessings. In the book, Stark (left) critiques public opinion surveys that purport to show the decline …

Read it all: Conversations: Rodney Stark

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