Sunday, July 23, 2006

An American Episcopalian perspective on the Middle East crisis

The Episcopal (Anglican) Bishop of Washington writes about the current Middle East crisis very much in terms of it as a failure of religious and moral vision. What stands out for me in his text (click on title above) is his en passant assumption that the US is the leader of the free world. If that's the case , why are so few of us following it?

England has a woman bishop

The British Province of the Moravian Church has elected a woman as a
bishop. The Rev'd Beth Talkington becomes the first woman to hold the
office in the province although there are women bishops in other Moravian
Church provinces. The bishops of the Moravian Church are known as 'bishops
of the Unity', and each serves in the whole province. Unlike Church of
England bishops they do not act in an administration capacity. Theirs is a
teaching and pastoral ministry.

Local churches reports on Israeli attacks on Lebanon

Ekklesia the Chrisitan think-tank and news syndication service carries a statement from the Middle East Council of Churches detailing the destruction and loss of life now being inflicted by Israel on Lebanese civilians. MECC includes the Anglican churches in the region. Here is an extract from the statement.

“During the past 24 hours, the Israeli military operations have grown in intensity, with the use of internationally banned arms, particularly in the South of Lebanon, the southern suburbs of Beirut, the Beqa'. Heavy shelling has targeted residential buildings and innocent civilians, in addition to the destruction of factories (milk) and farms. The Israeli army has tried to advance into Lebanese territory, facing strong resistance by Hizbollah fighters.“Since our last update of 19 July, the death toll has reached around 750 (including those still buried under the rubbles) and the number of the injured has gone up to 1,200. 650,000 persons are now reported to have been displaced. Entire villages are burnt and destroyed, hundreds of families have been torn apart and basic infrastructure (buildings, bridges, highways, electric power stations, gas stations to every port on the Lebanese coast, the International airport as well as small military airports) severely damaged.“Despite the many centres opened for the population in the different sectors of Beirut and regions of Lebanon where the displaced have taken refuge, hundreds have settled in public gardens and parks where tents have been installed."

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Archbishop of Canterbury condemns the spiralling violence in the Middle East

Archbishop Rowan Williams has condemned unequivocally the resort to violence in the current crisis in the Middle East. This is in the context of a pastoral letter of sympathy and support for Christian communities in the Lebanon. He is careful to condemn the use of violence on all sides; which is welcome . The Pope also condemns the violence on all sides because of the way it targets innocent civilians; but to his credit the Pope goes further in reminding the world that the context of this violence is an objective injustice - " violations "of law and justice" at the root of the conflict could not be used to sanction bloodshed". So often news bulletins about these conflicts between Israel and its neighbours treat the situation as if it is one of equal responsibility. The fact is that Israel controls the lives of Palestinians in every way under military regulation, the Palestinian people are strugglingto feed and clothe themselves, have no democratic voice in the laws that impinge on their daily lives; are effectively stateless and cannot travel; their young people have no hope for a future the way things are. Israeli citizens on the other hand live a modern western lifestyle with every access to justice and security. The murder of Israeli citizens by terrorist rockets seems to justify any level of disproportionate response but the slaughter of innocent Lebanese and Palestinian women and children by Israeli bombs is regarded as just an unfortunate by-product of Israel's need for security. The use of violence by all sides will never the secure the future of either but will perpetuate a cycle of hatred; and condemn a whole generation of children to a poverty-stricken and fear-filled start to their lives. Why are the world's political leaders not calling for an end to violence on all sides. Isn't Israel's tactics as reprehensible as the terrorists? Or is it because all of the world powers especially the US and the UK have no leg to stand on in condemning the use of bombardment of civilians and invasion of a sovereign state, because that is exactly the means they have used to try and solve the Iraq and Afghanistan situations.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

We will have women bishops in my lifetime God willing!

The General Synod looks now serious about women bishops as it passed a resolution last Monday to begin exploring the practical and legislative steps towards ordaining women as bishops. This is good news. It doesn't look like it will happen anytime soon though so I hope I live to see it! Click title above for a very good detailed account with pictures from the American Episcopal Church news service's international correspondent.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Bishops oppose Trident

Eight diocesan bishops of the Church of England and 12 suffragan bishops have written to urge MPs to consider their arguments against the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons programme which they oppose on practical, moral and economic grounds. They make a link to the global poverty issue.
I was pleased to see our own area bishop, The Bishop of Reading, amongst the list; but nonetheless concerned that only 8 of the diocesan bishops were signatories.

Why Benedictine spirituality attracts

The Daily Episcopalian website has a good article about the attraction of St Benedict's spirituality in western society today. (Click on title)

Reflections of Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop

Read here (click on title above) the reflections of Rt Revd Frank Griswold the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church (American) on the 75th General Convention and his responses to the Archbishop of Canterbury's ideas about a possible "Two-tier" Anglican Communion. Basically he doesn't like the idea. As he writes: "Such a two-tiered view of our common life suggests to me amputated limbs and severed branches without any life-giving relationship to the One who is the source of all life. A pragmatic solution in this regard is at the expense of the deeper truth that the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of you."

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Archbishop of Cape Town's calls on Anglicanism to hold the middle ground

It is fascinating that whilst out of Africa comes the cold blasts of narrow conservatism from Nigeria, so also out of Africa comes the warm affirmation of the true Anglican spirit from South Africa. Click title to see full account.

Monday, July 10, 2006

The view from the States

Here is the sermon preached by one American Episcopal Church priest on the gospel for last Sunday 9th July on the question of sacrificing gospel truth for the sake of corporate unity relating to the divisions in the Anglican Communion. Basically I agree.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Friday, July 07, 2006

A new way to silence prophecy?

Columnist Giles Fraser in the Church Times today says it for me on this one!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

InclusiveChurch network response to Archbishop's message

InclusiveChurch network 's response to the Archbishop's message following the General Convention of The Episcopal Church is not enthusiastic. They have profound concerns about agreeing an Anglican Covenant. Click title for link.