Anne Rice uses Facebook to break up with Christianity

Anne Rice - author of massively popular vampire fare who recently turned her pen to the matter of religion - recently broke up with Christianity using Facebook, then clarified that it wasn't so much Christ himself as it is the incidentals; in other words, I love ya, Jesus, but your friends have gotta go.

On Wednesday, she wrote on her Facebook fan page:

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Sunday Social Hour

When the Rev. Torey Lightcap, in his first post of the morning, challenged Café readers to create a Facebook page welcoming Anne Rice to the Episcopal Church, he couldn't have foreseen that your erstwhile social media junkie would rise to the bait in order to post it to the social media hour. In fact, I probably would not have done so had the infamous Facebook feed problems not reared their heads again. Therefore, here's a link to The Episcopal Church Welcomes Anne Rice, and since it's still under construction, we invite anyone interested to come post more personal greetings to the welcome.

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CoE vicar to parishioners: Swear more

File under "Really?"

A Church of England vicar has advised those in the pew to take up shocking and salty language as a way to keep current and relevant.

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Meaning afresh as Louisiana boats are ritually blessed

It is perhaps only more evidence for why we need ritual in our lives: that act of doing something one has done before, but, even though it's the same thing, being able to see it as one never has before.

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William Stringfellow wants to make you uncomfortable

Vicki Black featured this quotation from the late William Stringfellow on the Speaking to the Soul blog yesterday. But it is a question that can't be examined too often. Are some people poor because others are rich? And if so, what should Christians do abut that?

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TEC's handling of allegations of sexual abuse has improved over time

Ann Rodgers of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has written a valuable overview of the manner in which the Episcopal Church has handled allegations of sexual abuse against clergy, particularly bishops in recent years.

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The problem of clergy burnout

Writing in The New York Times, Paul Vitello surveys the landscape of clergy life and finds that it is not a pretty picture:

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Ian Markham on being a Christian

The Washington Examiner has interviewed Dean Ian Markham of Virginia Theological Seminary about his beliefs. There's nothing here for professional controversialists, just an intelligent person talking about his faith. A sample:

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Anti-Muslim sentiment swelling on American right

In his This Week in God feature, Steve Benen, who blogs for The Washington Monthly notes that the right wing of the Republican party is stepping up its anti-Muslim activities:

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The Church of Uganda speaks on anti-gay legislation

The latest edition of Religion in the News, edited by the redoubtable Mark Silk, is now available online. Cafe visitors will be especially interested in two articles about the Church of Uganda's position on the anti-gay legislation that is still alive in the Uganda parliament.

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No Covenant please, we are Anglican

Jonathan Clatworthy of the Modern Churchpeople's Union says the Anglican Covenant is not a good idea:

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Those with less give more

Taya Flores of the Lafayette (IN) Journal and Courier offers a story based on new finding in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology which indicate that poor people are more generous than rich people..

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Trinity Wall Street grant to fund conference in Uganda

Trinity Wall Street has awarded $1.4 million in the second quarter. A substantial portion of those grants went to African dioceses. The grants announced today include:

Church in the Anglican Communion in Africa ($458,500)

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Finding hope in desperate times

Bob Seitz writing for the Alban Institute wonder how many preachers have the courage and vision to preach authentically in troubled times:

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Prop 8 ruling today

Later today the Court in Perry v. Schwarzenegger will issue its written order containing findings of fact and conclusions of law following the court trial held in January and June of this year.

According to the court’s media liaison the order will be e-filed between 1 pm and 3 pm Pacific time (between 4 pm and 7 pm Eastern time). There will be no court proceeding associated with the publication of the order.

Assorted links

A globetrot from Freetown to Osaka to Jerusalem to the virtual house of worship and elsewhere. All your catholic tastes could desire.

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Female Episcopal chaplain deploys to Afghanistan

Episcopal chaplain is part on an Iowa National Guard deployment of more than 2,800 soldiers heading to the war in Afghanistan.

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Gay marriage ban most akin to ban against slave marriages

Ta-Nehisi Coates on the evil of reserving marriage rights for certain classes of people:

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Canadian primate calls decision to let TEC stay ‘encouraging’

As we know a proposal to separate The Episcopal Church from the Anglican Communion was soundly rejected by the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion meeting last week in London. It was learned learned last that a similar proposal failed in December prior to the consecration of Bishop Mary Glasspool, a lesbian in a permanent relationship.

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Prop 8 judge rules: Unconstitutional

Moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights to gay men and lesbians. The evidence shows conclusively that Proposition 8 enacts, without reason, a private moral view that same-sex couples are inferior to opposite-sex couples. FF 76, 79-80; Romer, 517 US at 634 (“[L]aws of the kind now before us raise the inevitable inference that the disadvantage imposed is born of animosity toward the class of persons affected.”). Because Proposition 8 disadvantages gays and lesbians without any rational justification, Proposition 8 violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

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Sentences to ponder, clergy wellness edition

We found that pastors' health was worse off across the board than the populations where they serve. Their rates of obesity were about 10 percent higher. We looked at other kinds of chronic diseases. High blood pressure rates were about four percent higher, asthma rates also about four percent higher. Their diabetes rates are about three percent higher than other North Carolinians.

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Spiritual but not religious?

Prompted by the oft-stated explanation (excuse?) for not joining a worshipping community, "I'm spiritual but not religious," the Washington Post's "On Faith" takes on the question:

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21,000 Jedi in Canada

Religion News Service blog pointed us to the story that 21,000 people in Canada wrote "Jedi Knight" as their religion in a recent census.

Religion: Jedi Knight

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Share your thoughts on clergy health and burnout

Please share with us your thoughts on clergy health and burnout. It's easy and anonymous. Go here to give us your thoughts.

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Giving away 50%

Yesterday, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett announced that 40 wealthy people had pledged to give away 50% of their wealth before they die.

Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Mayor Bloomberg among billionaires signing up for 'The Giving Pledge'

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Bennison reinstated

The Living Church has the ruling or view here. Key passage:

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Modern weddings threaten marriage?

Are modern weddings a threat to marriage? The BBC online quotes Giles Fraser's recent comments on the issue. What's your take?

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Diocese of Pennsylvania Standing Committee Statement

Dear Diocesan Family:

Last night, we received the decision of the Court of Review reversing the conviction of Bishop Bennison based upon the statute of limitations.

The document is attached. Accordingly, the inhibition of Bishop Bennison has been dissolved, and he is free to resume his role as Bishop of Pennsylvania.

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Habits of highly successful churches

The Rev. James Cooper, rector of Trinity Church, Wall Street reflects on the Four Habits of Highly Successful Churches on the Trinity Church, Wall Street site.

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Springfield gears up to chose a new bishop

The State Journal-Register in Springfield, Ill., reports:

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Entanglements: Feast of the Transfiguration and Hiroshima Day

The Feast of the Transfiguration, which falls on this day, reminds us that even in the oddest of moments, in the toughest of times, the veil may be drawn aside and we may be permitted a glimpse of something glorious.

Scott Cairns opines:

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Measuring productivity in the church

Virginia Apgar gave nurses a way to rate the health of babies at delivery: "Ten points meant a child born in perfect condition. Four points or less meant a blue, limp baby."

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Pennsylvania's Standing Committee looks forward

Governance news posted Friday, August 06, 2010

An Invitation from the Standing Committee
August 6, 2010

Dear Diocesan Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

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Why belong to a church?

Tribal Church discusses why one might belong to a church in an era of "I'm spiritual but not religious."

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Broken Hearts and New Creation

Changing Attitude, UK, hosted a book launch party for the Rev. James Alison, the brilliant gay Catholic theologian recently. Colin Coward reports that Alison responded to questions:

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Saturday Collection: August 7

Stories of churches being church in their communities and around the world:

Lending a hand in New Orleans:

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Bishop accused of fleecing flock

Martin Sigillito, Presiding Bishop of the American Anglican Convocation, has been accused of running a multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme, according to the St. Louis, MO Riverfront Times:

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Going to church with a challenging child

Heather Moffitt describes in the Faith & Leadership blog of Duke Divinity School how taking her son with special needs to Sunday services taught her how to be broken in church.

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Sign up now to compete for the title 'Top Priest'

Okay, just kidding. But you looked, didn't you?

After all: can it be too far ahead? When we saw "The Real Housewives of Proverbs 31" as a headline to a fine meditation on the current moment in popular culture by Diana Butler Bass, it got us to thinking.

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All Saints, Pasadena hosting 'Justice & Marriage For All' webcast

From All Saints, Pasadena, CA:

"Justice & Marriage for All" -- Sunday, August 8 @ 10:15 a.m. PDT

All Saints Church in Pasadena welcomes back to their adult education hour attorney David Codell -- who is widely credited as the architect of the legal strategy that led to the 2008 California Supreme Court on marriage equality decision.

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And just what *do* Episcopalians believe?

Here's a quick-read find that's been passed around so much lately it's practically become its own web-meme within The Episcopal Church. In it, The Rev. David Simmons of St. Matthias Episcopal Church in Waukesha, WI, and associate of the Order of Julian of Norwich, is asked to explain why suddenly shy Episcopalians don't seem to have a straight answer to the question of what they believe.

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Praying your way to a bigger brain?

Correlations between brain activity and spiritual exercises are beginning to bear interesting fruits, scientists and writers who stand in the intersection of the two are reporting.

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Priest-in-Charge? Rector? What's in a title?

Elizabeth Kaeton's playing trendspotter. She's thinking about who's got what title in The Episcopal Church, and what some of the critical distinctions between them might be - and, so long as we're on the subject, from where (or whom) those distinctions arise.

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Springfield narrows field to three

The Diocese of Springfield had narrowed their field of nominees to three with balloting held on Saturday, August 7. Although they allowed for four nominees, a deadlock over a fourth candidate occurred. Neither Beth Fain+ nor Shawn Denney+ could obtain the necessary votes from the other order. Laity and clergy split and the convention voted to go with three.

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Charles Crump: rest in peace, rise in glory

The Diocese of West Tennessee reports the sad news of the death of Charles Crump, well known Deputy to General Convention:

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GTS reaches short term debt agreement

UPDATE: The Rt. Rev. Peter J. Lee named interim Dean - see below

The General Theological Seminary has announced that they have reached an agreement with Manufacturers and Traders Bank (M&T Bank) which will give the seminary breathing room on their debts:

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Finding shelter for the soul

Rabbi Neil Goldstein, of New Shul, Alban Institute discusses "finding shelter for one's soul" in religious communities:

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Looks: the next chapter in civil rights?

The Boston Globe explores discrimination in the workplace and school that occurs due to weight, height, appearance, and other body image issues:

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Allowing girl acolytes ends prejudice, inequality

Catholic News Service reports that the Vatican says allowing girls to serve at the altar as acolytes has ended prejudice and inequality:

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Are we scapegoating our clergy?

Recently there have been a plethora of articles on clergy and the congregations they serve. Some are concerned with burn out, some are blaming clergy or bishops, some are blaming congregations for whatever is troubling in today's churches:

The Rev. Nigel Taber-Hamilton wonders:

Are we scapegoating our clergy?

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Navajoland: bishop ordained and consecrated

The new Bishop of Navajoland, David Bailey, was ordained and consecrated in a ceremony filled with Navajo traditions according to Episcopal News Service (ENS)

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CREDO and clergy wellness

A letter from Herb Gunn, director of communication for CREDO, an Episcopal wellness project for church leaders. He reflects on the current news about clergy and congregations and stress:

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Liturgy and touch and sexual exploitation

Dr. Maria Evans, who writes and reflects at the blog Kirkepiscatoid, explores the subject of touch in church, especially as related to clergy.

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Ramadan fasting increases awareness

Tonight, with the new crescent moon, the Ramadan fast begins for Muslims around the world. Since it occurs in August this year, the fast is longer in the Northern Hemisphere than most years. Aziz Junejo discusses the benefits in The Seattle Times:

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Rector to Bishop Bennison:
Please do not return to PA

The Rector of Christ Church, Philadelphia, the Rev. Timothy Safford, writes to ask newly restored Bishop Charles Bennison to resign:

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More young people entering ministry

A study reported on in USA Today has found that more young people are exploring careers in ministry just at the same time that a wave of Baby Boomer ministers are retiring. USA Today calls this "prayers being answered" for churches across the land.

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ACC Constitution: interview with legal adviser

Legal adviser John Rees answers questions about the new Anglican Consultative Council Constitution and addresses some of the suspicions about authority creep. Also allays fears that UK or EU equality legislation might force the church to adhere to those laws.

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Giving leaves her happy

Could living more simply give happiness? "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

But Will It Make You Happy?
From the New York Times

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Tweeting the Bible: one chapter at a time

Ethel Ware Carter is tweeting the Bible 140 characters at a time here. So far:

Flights of doves and an olive branch. God remembers Noah in the "biblical sense" and smells the sweet savour of offerings. Genesis 8 #RCCAtl

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Ordained into the abstract: what does "Anglican" mean?

Becky Garrison, writes on the meaning of "Anglican" in her latest essay in The Revealer:

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What constitutes religious progress?

Big Think ("not all information is equal .... expertise is invaluable and should be shared") visits with Robert Wright, author of the new chart-creeping tome The Evolution of God.

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Christian family values (are rotten?)

Is Christianity in conflict with "Family Values"? What are the "Family Values" of the Christian Tradition? An interesting article at Counterlight's Peculiars explores these questions:

Christianity is a Rotten Family Values Religion
From Counterlight's Peculiars

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Remembering Judy Peabody

Judith D. Peabody, known for her philanthropy and volunteer work, especially on behalf of people with AIDS and their families, died Sunday, July 25th. Lovely reflections and remembrances of her life and work continue to be published online.

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75 years of "Day by Day"

Forward Movement, the publisher of "Day by Day" turns 75 years old:

Forward Movement turns 75 years old
Effort to re-invigorate publisher echoes its founders

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Ban lifted: Same-sex couples in California may marry

UPDATE: Premature reports had simply said marriage would be immediately available. We now know the following:

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Religious Freedom at Ground Zero?

Though protected by the 1st Amendment, just how much religious freedom will Americans tolerate? A recent article posted at "Religion Dispatches" reflects on the current controversy of plans for a mosque near Ground Zero in New York City.

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Church reduces carbon footprint

Atlanta church reduces its carbon footprint by a third over just four years. Kudos!

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Church versus strippers

Kevin D. Hendricks at Church Marketing Sucks talks about the strange case of the Christians from an Ohio church picketing a local strip club. The owner of the club returned the favor when the dancers picketed the congregation during Sunday services.

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A pilgrimage to remember Jonathan Daniels

The Diocese of Alabama says that the woman for whom civil rights advocate Jonathan Myrick Daniels gave his life to protect in 1965 will participate in Saturday's annual pilgrimage in Hayneville, Ala., honoring Daniels and others who lost their lives during the 1960s movement.

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Integrity chooses new executive director

Episcopal News Service interviewed Integrity USA's new new executive director W.R. "Max" Niedzwiecki. Integrity announced the selection on August 12th via an e-mail message sent to members, partners and friends.

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Sydney move to diaconal & lay presidency rebuffed

The Anglican Church of Australia's Appellate Tribunal disagrees with the Diocese of Sydney's decision that people other than priests may preside at Eucharist.

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Younger Americans more loyal to religion than boomers

Reuters reports on new research that indicates that younger Americans, between the ages of 36 to 50, are more likely to be loyal to religion than Baby Boomers.

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Church of England iPhone app

The Church of England, or more specifically the Diocese of Guilford, has released an iPhone app (application) that allows iPhone owners to easily get information about their CoE diocese delivered on demand and find a church when they're traveling. There's even a neat daily scripture verse.

The news release reports:

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Vatican tells archbishop not to
criticize peers for covering up abuse

The AP reports that the Vatican has refused to accept the resignations of two Irish auxiliary bishops for covering up sexual abuse but has told an Irish Archbishop to stop criticizing colleagues.

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Saturday Collection 8/14/2010

This week's Saturday collection starts off with the ministry of one of the oldest monastic communities in the Episcopal Church doing what monks have traditionally done, being a center of teaching and learning for the communities around them.

In particular, the community at Emery House is showing the people of West Newburyport MA the benefits of small farm agriculture viewed through the lens of spirituality:

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Plastic Luther statues swarm Wittenberg

We are growing close to the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther's nailing of theses to door of the Wittenberg church. And as Wittenberg prepares to observe the event, an artist has created a quirky way to mark the occasion:

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What sort of religious leaders do the young seek?

There's a growing cottage industry of people opining about how to make Church relevant to young people, many of whom have grownup in homes with little or no exposure to religion other than negative views in the mass media. Someone finally decided to ask young people directly.

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Institutional bias and universities: anti-theological?

Is theology so obscure an object that theological departments at universities have become an easy target for budget-trimming?

In The Guardian online, Sophia Deboick notes the tension:

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Anne Rice keeps herself rippling, others riffing

When last we checked in with Anne Rice, she was using Facebook to walk away from Christianity while saying she still loved Jesus. This, we thought, seemed understandable - as indeed the wave of sympathetic responses on the web evinced - but perhaps the old saw about the baby and the bathwater applied.

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Taizé community marks 70th year

Yesterday was the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Taizé community, an ecumenical monastic order and spiritual-pilgrimage destination center in Saône-et-Loire, France, by Brother Roger Schutz.

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Sunday Social Hour

Half the fun of social media operations is the fact that the platforms are continuously evolving, and often breaking along the way. "Notes," the application we use to import content to Facebook, has gotten a facelift to mixed reaction. While it looks great and works _ok_, it still doesn't update in a timely fashion; fortunately we've discovered the manual override to that.

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The lonely American

Wilson Quarterly's Daniel Akst says what a lot of Americans need right now is friends.

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Fighting anti-Muslim bigotry

From Faith in Public Life comes this news:

More than 40 prominent Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders and religion scholars issued a statement today condemning the "xenophobia and religious bigotry" fueling the increasingly strident opposition to a proposed Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero.

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PA Standing Committee asks Bennison not to return

For the time being, this letter is on the website of the Diocese of Pennsylvania. Should it disappear, you can still find it by clicking Read More at the end of this entry. The letter concludes:

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The clergy burnout debate continues

The New York Times ran a crop of letters yesterday in which writers responded to the Times' recent story and op-ed piece about clergy burnout. This one came from Bonnie Anderson, President of the Episcopal Church's House of Deputies:

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And speaking of burnout, what about lay volunteers?

Lynn Baab, writing for the Alban Institute says:

We expect our congregations to be places of health and healing, an oasis in the midst of the demands and stresses of daily life. Yet some people experience great pain in their congregations, pain that robs them of the comfort their faith could give them. Burnout is one kind of pain that goes against the very promise of congregational life.

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Thistle Farms: a ministry among abused women

Religion and Ethics Newsweekly reports on the wonderful work being done at Thistle Farm, an Episcopal ministry in Nashville, Tennessee:

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Practicing football in Ramadan

ESPN reports:

DEARBORN, Mich. -- A Michigan high school football team is holding preseason practices in the middle of the night to help its Muslim players practice both faith and football.

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US denies visas to foreign church delegates

Ekklesia reports that the US has denied visas to people attending denominational conferences:

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Judges put marriage equality on hold

The Los Angeles Times reports:

A federal appeals court decided Monday to put same-sex marriage in California on hold at least until December, interrupting the wedding plans of scores of gay couples who were hoping to exchange vows later this week.

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Armed with a banana

The Detroit Free-Press carries an essay by a retired Episcopal priest who will be "packing heat" in the form of a banana:

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Four nominated in WNY

Four people have been nominated for bishop of Western New York according to Episcopal News Service

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What do they know? The class of 2014

Every year Beloit College prepares a mindset list, things the college class of 2014 always or never knew:

The Beloit College Mindset List for the Class of 2014

Most students entering college for the first time this fall—the Class of 2014—were born in 1992. For these students, Benny Hill, Sam Kinison, Sam Walton, Bert Parks and Tony Perkins have always been dead.

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The slow, whining death of British Christianity

Johann Hari, a columnist for GQ and the Independent thinks British Christianity is fading away:

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Obama is a pluralistic Old Testament kinda guy

How does Barack Obama use Bible passages? Jeffrey Siker, a theology professor at Loyola Marymount University has studied the question using Obama's two autobiographical books, and his key speeches.

The L A Times reports,

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Here I am Lord, send me

The story of Jonathan Daniels on video:

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Bennison repeats intention to stay

The reinstated bishop of the Diocese of Pennsylvania made clear to the diocese's standing committee that he did not intend to resign despite their appeal to him. The standing committee had been the episcopal authority in the diocese since 2007 when Bishop Bennison was inhibited by the presiding bishop.

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Alaskans say farewells to Senator Stevens

The Alaska Dispatch:

The body of former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens arrived at All Saints Episcopal Church in Anchorage Tuesday morning, where the late senator will be lying in repose until 8 p.m. Stevens was among five people killed in an Aug. 9 plane crash.

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Shall we qualify the tithing expectation?

Tom Arthur, pastor of Sycamore Creek United Methodist Church, seeks the advice of elders about the wisdom of telling enquirers classes that tithing is an expectation of members:

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Asking the folks in the pew about "The Crisis"

Without admitting to resemble that remark, debates are dominated by those with the loudest voices. A recent academic paper notes there are plenty of loud voices in the Anglican Communion around the subject of homosexuality. Robert M. Vanderbeck, Gill Valentine, Kevin Ward, Joanna Sadgrove and Johan Andersson of the University of Leeds examine "the nature of the purported ‘crisis’ from the perspectives of Anglicans in local parishes in three different national contexts: England, South Africa, and the United States" including parishes that are pro-gay, ambivalent and anti.

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The holiness of spiritual journey

As the summer winds down and vacations wind down, people are back to the everyday grind, the everyday, "ordinariness" of life. We are also in the midst of the season of Pentecost, the "Ordinary Time" of our liturgical season. Do you need to leave home to experience the holy? The Washington Post's "On Faith" column takes on the question of leaving home and going on pilgrimage to experience the holy. How does your spiritual tradition take on the practice of pilgrimage, of spiritual journey?

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Church building fund responds to new challenges

The Episcopal Church Building Fund endeavors to respond to growing challenges of churches being strapped financially due to the expense of maintaining aging buildings.

Episcopal Church Building Fund offers new terms, new ideas
From Episcopal Life Online

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20-somethings. What is the church doing?

What's the church doing to reach out to people in their 20s? Too much, too little...are we hitting the mark at all?

Consider this New York Times article, making the rounds as people in their 20s post it on Facebook.

What do you think?

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Episcopalians' views on the NYC Islamic Cultural Center

The Episcopal Church is a member of the Interfaith Relations Commission of the National Council of Churches which issued a statement defending the right of Muslims to build a center near the World Trade Center,

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Learning to speak Christian

Stanley Hauerwas reflects on the challenges of learning how to "speak Christian" at the ABC News Religion blog:

REFLECTIONS ON LEARNING HOW TO SPEAK CHRISTIAN
By Stanley Hauerwas
Posted at ABC News's Religion and Ethics

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Orombi tires of dysfunctionality

Updated. The Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Henry Luke Orombi told the members of the three-day provincial Assembly in Mukono, Uganda that the Anglican Church is "broken" and that the Church of Uganda should participate in it at very minimal levels.

The Daily Monitor reports:

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The "M-Word" as smear

Two new polls say that one in four respondents believe that President Obama is a Muslim. This, combined with the current flap over a proposed Muslim community center in lower Manhattan, raises the question: is calling someone Muslim a code for saying "I don't like you?"

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Reaching out to the transgender community

When people discuss the rights of lesbians and gays in contemporary U.S. culture, and across religious denominations, the abbreviation "LGBT" is used as a shorthand: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender. Becky Garrison, writing in Religion Dispatches, asks if churches really take transgender people into account in their mission and ministries. She asks, "What's the state of the struggle, where transpeople are concerned?"

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Jews and Muslims tour holocaust sites together

Prominent Muslims and Jews from the United States made a pilgrimage to visit two Nazi concentration camps last week.

The trip to Dachau and Auschwitz was designed to combat the rise in Holocaust denial that has popped up in various Muslim and non-Muslim circles around the world—and online—in recent years. The trip also was a way for Jews and Muslims to build bridges at a time when religion is used a political wedge or as an excuse for violence.

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Methodists halt Twitter communion

A Methodist minister in Great Britain was planning a communion service with a twist. The worshipers would take part via Twitter. Just before the service was to take place, the minister organizing it was asked by senior Methodist officials to wait until the idea could be examined.

The Church Times reports:

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New studies point to growing acceptance of same-sex relationships

On Friday afternoon PRRI (Public Religion Research Institute) released a report on new data gathered by the Pew Research Center that show that the American public's views on same-sex relationships and gay and lesbian marriage are showing significant movement during the past decade. A majority of Americans now support civil unions. Same-sex marriage support has increased 27%.

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ACNA school in Fort Worth rejects child of lesbian couple

Updated - Press release from the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth is appended below.

TV stations in Fort Worth are reporting on the expulsion of the daughter of a lesbian couple married in Canada by St. Vincent's Episcopal School in Bedford Texas. The child was accepted as a student, but when her mothers attended a parent's night, the school refused to enroll her because of her mother's marriage.

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Milliken elected fifth bishop of Western Kansas

Updated with link to Episcopal News Service.

According to the Diocese of Kansas' facebook page and diocesan clergy twitter posts, the Rev. Michael Milliken of Hutchinson was elected the fifth Bishop of Western Kansas today.

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Colin Coward of Changing Attitudes to marry

An article in the Daily Mail reports on the plans of The Rev. Colin Coward, the Director of Changing Attitudes UK to enter into a civil partnership with his partner. The civil partnership will then be blessed at Coward's parish church in Wiltshire:

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Saturday Collection 8/21/2010

This week the news of ministry of Episcopal congregations seems to be focusing on the ways that Episcopalians are reaching out to support children and families in harms way. From finding treatment for children who can't access health care to creating programs for families who have lost loved ones, there's plenty of mid-August ministry going on.

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John Calvin… he's back!

The Anglican churches are often described as having a Catholic liturgy welded to a Calvinist 39 Articles. In the last few centuries the drift within much of the Episcopal Church has been to the catholic strands found in the liturgy. But the Christian Science Monitor is reporting that Calvinism, in its purest form, is starting to make a comeback in America.

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No new messiah in The City By the Bay

There are the occasional accidental saviors of history, and then there are the accidental non-saviors. San Francisco based author and economist Raj Patel was pegged with the title of savior recently and rejected the title outright.

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Open letter from the Bennison trial witnesses

Received by email:

AN OPEN LETTER FROM THE BENNISON TRIAL WITNESSES

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Sunday Social Hour

Well, our feed is back on Facebook, even if it's still not updating as often as we'd like it to. Invariably, the one item which posts to everyone's wall in each daily update gets the most comments. It probably doesn't help that when you come to our page, those posts seem to be duplicated several times. But we're glad to be back on Facebook at least somewhat.

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Monitor profiles Bahati

If it holds true that you're not supposed to believe everything you read, we wonder about this recent feature-story profile of David Bahati (Ugandan Parliament MP and mover of the now-infamous kill-the-gays bill) appearing in Sunday Monitor.

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Litugical Arts 101: contextually integrative architecture

To translate this truth architecturally, we can logically return to the older tradition of building our churches in the ordinary architecture of our day, giving them only such differences as arise naturally from their fulfilling a different physical function.
--Frederic Debuyst

In the midst of replacing a cathedral destroyed by arson six years ago, its builders insist it should maintain the context-sensitive nature that had originally made it distinctive.

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Baptisms not by the book

The Rev. Dan Scheid, rector of St. Augustine's Episcopal Church in Benton Harbor, MI, wrote today's Insights column for the Herald Palladium in southwestern Michigan:

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Episcopalians heading to Africa for CAPA Conference #africanbishops

Though the media makes much of antagonism between The Episcopal Church and Anglicans in Africa, the reality is far more nuanced, as the participation of a number of Episcopalians in this week's conference of African bishops makes clear.

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Does it have to do with the presence of Native Americans?

The following letter appears in the current edition of Church Times. Note especially the last paragraph, which is one of several complaints that have surfaced in conservative circles about our Church's willingness to treat Native American Episcopalians as though they have something to offer us.

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Homosexuality not high on agenda of African bishops conference #africanbishops

No one would confuse the Rev. Canon Grace Kaiso, General Secreatry of the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa, with a supporter of LGBT Christians, yet his comments in this story about his organization's upcoming meeting are encouraging in their way.:

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Ruth Meyers talks same-sex blessings on "State of Belief"

The Rev. Ruth Meyers, chair of the Episcopal Church's Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, was a guest on The Interfaith Alliance's weekly radio program State of Belief on Saturday. She spoke with host Welton Gaddy about the commission's work on collecting and developing resources for blessing same-sex relationships. The broadcast is available here, and Dr. Meyers segment begins at the 28 minute mark.

Creating new frameworks for parish ministry

Writing at the Alban Institute's Roundtable blog, Claudia Greer, offers a helpful introduction to an essay by Carol Howard Merritt:

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Reconciliation work at Ground Zero

UPDATE: letter from Bishop Mark Sisk of the Diocese of New York - see below.

The Rev. Anne Mallonee, vicar of Trinity Wall Street in New York City writes at Episcopal Life Online on the work of reconciliation at "Ground Zero"

As we approach next year's 10th anniversary of 9/11, we are asking how the holy work of reconciliation is to be played out through this parish, at this site, in the years to come.

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African bishops' concerns: poverty, disease, corruption
#africanbishops

The All African Bishops meeting has begun in Uganda. Many are proclaiming it historic, especially if it addresses the issues of corruption, poverty, and disease. The Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS)reports:

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Back to school with prayer

Starting school is always a little nerve-racking, even if you've done it lots of times before ... here's an opportunity to get a quick fuel-up each day as you gear into school mode.

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Why is anti-gay school accredited by SW Episcopal Schools Associate?

Although this feels like insider baseball, details like this matter. Check to make sure your diocesan mailing lists and hyperlinks go to the real Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. It's a problem the diocese faces daily.

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Seminarians organize to evangelize young adults

Seminarians are organizing for young adult evangelism according to Otis Gaddis III writing at Episcopal Life Online:

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Skateboarding priest a "hit"

Newslite reports:

A Hungarian priest who performs skateboard tricks in a bid to encourage youngsters to go to church has become an online hit.

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NY Bishop Mark Sisk on Islamic Center

Received by email
August 24, 2010

Dear Sisters and Brothers in the Diocese of New York

I am writing to tell you that I wholeheartedly join other religious and civic leaders in calling on all parties involved in the dispute over the planned lower Manhattan Islamic community center and mosque to convert a situation that has sadly become ever more divisive into, as Archbishop Timothy Dolan recently stated, "an opportunity for a civil, rational, loving, respectful discussion."

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Score! Houston church gets assist!

Trinity Episcopal Church in Houston got the "assist" for this incredible hoops shot by Will Duson, who took the shot from the belltower and scored it through the hoop in the parking lot below.

You've got to check out the video!

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Rowan Williams in Africa - comforting the powerful?
#africanbishops

Reinhold Niebuhr called upon preachers to "afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted." In Africa, Rowan Williams speaks to African Anglican bishops, but has missed another opportunity to live out this aphorism.

Rowan Williams speaks to African Anglican bishops and Andrew Brown comments "not exactly truth to power":

The tank parked on Rowan's foot

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US exporting anti-gay hatred
#africanbishops

This article in the Advocate has a good comprehensive look at how some anti-gay American evangelicals export the culture war to Africa. This article sets the wider context surrounding our the Anglican Communion's issues.

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Professor Desmond Tutu at Sea

Desmond Tutu recently stated that he would be retiring from public life. This may be true, but before he goes into a quiet retirement he will be sailing with Semester at Sea with the University of Virginia.

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Westerners are the WEIRD ones

Psychologists have long run experiments on college students to draw conclusions about the behavior of the general population. While students are a convenient sample, the criticism is that they may not be representative. Now comes evidence that what we think we know about behavior of people is biased because it is almost entirely based on the study of Westerners.

The Financial Post:

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Ugandan bill back in the spotlight
#africanbishops

Coincidence or not, the anti-gay environment in Uganda is back in the world's spotlight while the All African Bishops Conference continue in Entebbe, hosted by the Anglican Church of Uganda.

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David Brooks, public theologian

Over at Faith & Leadership, UCC minister Tony Robinson argues

Professional theologians have largely lost the ability to address wider audiences. Mimicking those in other academic and specialist sub-cultures, they have developed languages that aren’t accessible or even particularly interesting. Religious leaders have tended to mirror the polarization of the culture at-large, preferring to choose sides in the culture and political wars.

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Religious views influence doctor's clinical decisions

The Lead may be one of the last religious blogs to point to today's BBC report on research which finds the religious views of doctors influences their clinical decisions on end of life treatment for their patients:

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Wide spectrum of Americans support mosques in their neighborhoods

According to the results of a PRRI/RNS poll released today, :

A solid majority (57%) of Americans are opposed to allowing Muslims in New York to build an Islamic community center and mosque two blocks from the site of the World Trade Center. Only about one-third (31%) favor it.

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More on ACNA school's rejection of lesbians' daughter

This from the Dallas Voice:

Four-year-old Olivia Harrison was disappointed to learn she won’t be attending St. Vincent’s Cathedral School this year.

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Climate change will kill more than malaria and HIV

The continent of Africa is facing a future in which climate change will kill more people than traditional causes such as malaria and HIV, according to a Ugandan environmental expert, but there are practical things churches can do to help stem the tide.

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Western Kansas Bishop will be a Rector

The Living Church reports that the Rev. Michael P. Milliken will remain rector of Grace Church, Hutchinson, when he becomes the Bishop of Western Kansas, a model of ministry that the Episcopal Church hasn't seen since it's earliest days.

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St. Vincent's dean defends rejection of student

The Very Rev. Ryan Reed, Dean of St. Vincent's School, spoke with DallasVoice.com about the rejection of 4-year-old Olivia Harrison from his school because her parents are lesbian.

St. Vincent's Episcopal School is actually a part of the breakaway Diocese of Fort Worth which still uses the title "Episcopal" even though they have disavowed any connection to the Episcopal Church and claim a connection to the Province of the Southern Cone and ACNA.

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More on African bishops gathering

CNN repeats the story that African bishops challenged the Archbishop of Canterbury to get tougher on Anglican churches that ordain or welcome gay people. The Church Times says that Archbishop Williams focused on development and urged the church to minister to all of humanity, it all it's diversity, which the Times says the BIshops took to mean gay people.

CNN says:

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We wish you well, but we won't be silent

The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement in the UK wishes the Pope well on his upcoming visit to Great Britain and at the same time promises to continue speaking out against official Roman Catholic opposition to LGBT rights.

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Ex-gay ministry in financial trouble

The well-known and controversial ministry that claims to turn glbt people straight is having some very significant and unexpected financial problems this summer according to a post on their blog.

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Fifth anniversary of Katrina marked

Five years ago Hurricane Katrina (and about a month later Hurricane Rita) hit the Gulf coast and wreaked destruction on the entire region. Those who have been working to rebuild are taking stock this weekend and reflecting on what happened, how people responded and what still needs to be done.

The Rev. Bo Jackson, quoted in an Episcopal News Service reflects:

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Saturday Collection 8/28/2010

This week's Saturday Collection has stories of cooperation, feeding children, rebuilding and empowerment all happening because of Episcopal congregations around this church putting their faith in Christ into action.

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Republicans coming out for same-sex marriage

There's evidence that the American is beginning to experience a sea-change in its views of same-sex marriage. Last week there was a report that now a majority of the electorate supports "civil-unions" as a legal way to guarantee equal-rights for all couples, and a smaller majority is not opposed to opening up marriage to all couples. Today there's a piece pointing out that the GOP's unified opposition to such moves is beginning to fracture.

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Glenn Beck has a dream, too ... of speaking for God

Didn't have the time/will yesterday for Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally? Neither did we.

Someone did, and found that Beck is positioning himself to receive a mantle he may not be prepared to bear.

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Sunday Social Hour

Not much in the way of comments this week, but we do appreciate the retweets on Twitter and the shares on Facebook.

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Whither unity? Entebbe communications reveal depth of rift

Now that the 2nd All Africa Bishops' Conference is all but ended, a flurry of communications has arrived at our electronic transom.

First up, the four hundred bishops gathered at Entebbe. [UPDATE: full statement now available] ACO's Jan Butter has it like this:

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NYC cab ride as a test of faith

It can't have come as any great comfort this week when it was learned that a student filmmaker had stabbed a New York City cab driver after learning he was Muslim. But for one subsequent rider, a disaster turned out to be an interfaith opportunity.

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Time's up for historic Wells Cathedral clock-winders

The iconic Wells Cathedral clock in Somerset, in the southwest of England, was installed in the 1380s, two centuries prior to the invention of the second hand by Jost Burgi for Tycho Brahe. For generation upon generation the old clock was hand-wound, and the metal figure of Jack Blandifers toned the hour.

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Controversy reported in Greenbelt speaker choice

There was apparently a row in the speaker-planning process around Greenbelt, the Christian arts and music fest running from August 27th-30th, Premier Christian Media reports.

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What does Glenn Beck have against Christ the liberator?

Jesuit priest James Martin attempts to put a small dent in Glenn Beck's vast ignorance on the subject of liberation theology in an essay at the Huffington Post:

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Too much mission?

In the weekly e-mail from the Alban Institute, Peter Steinke has this to say:

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Five myths about mosques

Edward E. Curtis IV, a professor at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis, punctures a few misconceptions about mosques in an article in The Washington Post.

It includes this on sharia:

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On not blaming the media for covering the sexuality struggle

The Episcopal News Service report on the Council of Anglican Province in Africa's recently completed bishops' conference is now online. Among its sources is a report by Jan Butter, the director of communications for the Anglican Communion which laments that coverage of the conference focused primarily on controversy over human sexuality.

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Bishop Glasspool goes about her business

KBAK TV covered Bishop Mary Glasspool's visit to Grace Church, Bakersfield yesterday.

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An end to the myth of a monolithic Africa

Updated with text of letter. To read it, click on Read more at the end of this report or go direct to the letter here.

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VOTE: help New Orleans' Jericho Road get an orchard

Today is the last day to vote in the Edy's Fruit Bars: Communities Take Root program:

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What ACNA Archbishop Duncan wants

An interesting interview with the schismatic Anglican Church in North America Archbishop Robert Duncan:

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Is belief an evolutionary advantage?

NPR explores the possible evolutionary advantage of believing in God:

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Bishop allied with Recife hails Kunonga and Mugabe

Herald Reporter in Zimbabwe, reports on the visit of Bishop Roberto Crespo. Crespo hails former Bishop of Harare Nolbert Kunonga. Kunonga in alliance with Robert Mugabe has been instrumental in oppressing the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe, locking congregations out of their churches and other acts. Crespo was arrested and charged with arms smuggling in 2001. Strangers in good company?

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