Archive for August, 2011

Commentary: The Church’s Moment in the Unraveling of the West

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Michael Craven comments in Crosswalk

I do not think it too strong or sensational to say that we are witnessing the collapse of Western civilization. Across the Western world, the fruits of apostasy and secularism are manifesting themselves in overwhelmingly destructive ways.

In my lifetime I have seen the rapid demise of the family. For the first time in American history, nonmarried households now outnumber married households (52 percent vs. 48 percent respectively). Today, only one-fifth of American households represent “traditional families—married couples with children” (New York Times, “Married Couples Are No Longer a Majority, Census Finds,” May 28, 2011). Out-of-wedlock birthrates in the US have reached 40 percent following a similar trend throughout Western European countries, some of which are as high as 66 percent (New York Times).

While out-of-wedlock births continue to rise, more and more people are simply not having children at all, leading to depopulation of the West on a scale unprecedented. Add to this the radical redefinition of marriage and family to include same-sex couples and the future of the natural family—an institution essential to a healthy society—only promises to worsen.
Our academic institutions have shifted from teaching virtues and the pursuit of truth to intolerant platforms for secularized political values and godless indoctrination. Students are taught—with self-assumed authority—that God does not exist, your life is your own, sin is an archaic myth, and morality is a matter of individual preference.
The fine arts have descended into prurience, voyeurism, gratuitous violence, godlessness, and mindless amusements. Revenue from the consumption of pornography exceeds that generated by all professional sports combined and the media, which was once governed by a modicum of journalistic integrity, has become another powerful force for indoctrination into socialistic progressivism and humanistic schemes.

Our political leaders have abandoned statesmanship and true public service for personal power gains and government-driven social and economic engineering. Corruption has replaced integrity and the virtue of stewardship is almost nowhere to be found. America finds itself entrenched in prolonged wars with an enemy that it refuses to call evil, pursuing unrealistic aims of democratization in a culture that has no interest in democracy. Our governments have become oligarchies of competing political interests with little regard for the good of the people

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7 reasons for good cheer after Madrid

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

Who cares if the media ignored World Youth Day?

A way out of the global financial crisis

Benedict got there first. With the world economy on the verge of meltdown, people are looking for answers. Surely at the root of the crisis is something more than mismanagement of economic levers. Surely economics is about more than statistics and money.

Well, that is exactly what Benedict (and his predecessors) have been saying. As he told journalists in a press conference in the flight from Rome to Madrid: “[We see] confirmed in the present economic crisis what has already been seen in the great preceding crisis: that an ethical dimension is not something exterior to economic problems, but an interior and fundamental dimension. The economy does not function with mercantile self-regulation alone, but it has need of an ethical reason to function for man.”………..

Last year at this time the Catholic Church was licking its wounds after its biggest public relations shellacking in many years. Newspaper columnists sneered that the scandal caused by a few priest paedophiles was the beginning of the end. Its followers were so disgusted that they were said to be turning in their membership cards.

But if that pessimistic reading of the tea leaves was true, how do you explain the presence of two million young people in Madrid over the weekend to listen to an 83-year-old German Pope? They were all aware of the vile actions of a handful of rogue priests but these had not shaken their confidence in the Church or its leader.

So, if you are a Catholic sympathiser, World Youth Day 2011 gave abundant reasons for hope. Here are 7 of them.

The younger generation gets the Church

The 2 million young people who attended made an impressive effort to back up their convictions. While most of the pilgrims came from Spain and nearby France and Italy, there were hundreds from countries like Australia and New Zealand. About 150 came from Russia! The sacrifice of paying for a long and trip and uncomfortable accommodation shows that they were firmly committed to being part of the Catholic Church.

Contrast that with the World Youth Summit organised by the United Nations in New York. Admittedly UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has the charisma of a wilted lettuce, but this worthy gathering drew only a few hundred people. Whose ideas are going to be passed on to the next generation?

Benedict XVI is setting the moral agenda

Last week Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron reacted to the riots in London and other big English cities by decrying moral relativism. “What last week has shown is that this moral neutrality, this relativism – it’s not going to cut it any more.” Exactly. A free set of steak knives if you can name the first major world figure to hammer away at the “tyranny of relativism”!

Benedict XVI. The Pope has made it respectable to reject the political correctness which undermines moral striving. Obviously world leaders are listening.

Remember Cameron’s farewell words to the Pope after his state visit to the UK last year? “You have really challenged the whole country to sit up and think,” he said. It looks like Cameron sat up and thought. His response to the riots came straight from Benedict’s playbook.

A one-man think tank works for free

A fascinating essay in last week’s New York Times by film critic Neal Gabler lamented the death of in-depth thinking: “we are living in an increasingly post-idea world — a world in which big, thought-provoking ideas that can’t instantly be monetized are of so little intrinsic value that fewer people are generating them and fewer outlets are disseminating them, the Internet notwithstanding. Bold ideas are almost passé.”

Maybe in New York, but not in Rome. Gabler obviously hasn’t read much of Benedict XVI on morality, philosophy, aesthetics, economics and social responsibility. But many of the Pope’s young fans have. In a world where ideas no longer sparkle, his explode with possibilities. And they’re free. Any bets on what the next generation will be thinking?

A way out of the global financial crisis

Benedict got there first. With the world economy on the verge of meltdown, people are looking for answers. Surely at the root of the crisis is something more than mismanagement of economic levers. Surely economics is about more than statistics and money.

Well, that is exactly what Benedict (and his predecessors) have been saying. As he told journalists in a press conference in the flight from Rome to Madrid: “[We see] confirmed in the present economic crisis what has already been seen in the great preceding crisis: that an ethical dimension is not something exterior to economic problems, but an interior and fundamental dimension. The economy does not function with mercantile self-regulation alone, but it has need of an ethical reason to function for man.”

A thumbs-down to dehumanising sex and consumerism

The greatest question of the last 200 years is: what is true freedom? To do whatever I want? Or to live according to the truth? What our society offers young people is the freedom to consume until their credit cards max out, to have sex whenever they want with whomever they want, to live undisturbed in a solipsistic bubble. But this vision of man degrades him, Benedict says. Happiness comes only from discovering the truth. Many young people are disillusioned with the South Park culture they live in and what the Pope says makes a lot of sense to anyone who wants to build a better world.

“The discovery of the living God inspires young people and opens their eyes to the challenges of the world in which they live, with its possibilities and limitations. They see the prevailing superficiality, consumerism and hedonism, the widespread banalization of sexuality, the lack of solidarity, the corruption. They know that, without God, it would be hard to confront these challenges and to be truly happy, and thus pouring out their enthusiasm in the attainment of an authentic life. But, with God beside them, they will possess light to walk by and reasons to hope, unrestrained before their highest ideals, which will motivate their generous commitment to build a society where human dignity and true brotherhood are respected.”

Truth is more powerful than number-cruching

Benedict’s most memorable speech in Spain was to university lecturers at that jewel of Spanish architecture, El Escorial. As a professor himself, he spoke with passionate conviction about the need to offer students more than training in the nuts and bolts of professional work. “As Plato said: ‘Seek truth while you are young, for if you do not, it will later escape your grasp’. This lofty aspiration is the most precious gift which you can give to your students, personally and by example. It is more important than mere technical know-how, or cold and purely functional data.”

Universities, he said, should be a sanctuary from ideology or “a purely utilitarian and economic conception which would view man solely as a consumer”. What could be more attractive to young people than seeking the ultimate meaning in the universe and striving to understand what it means to be authentically human? If there is one bold passé idea, it’s utilitarianism. And Benedict offers an alternative.

World Youth Day is still the world’s best-kept secret

A journalist friend of mine wrote an op-ed piece for a newspaper in Sydney. But the editor wasn’t interested. “We had one of those in Sydney three years ago. That just about filled our quota,” he was told. The New York Times – the touchstone of elite opinion in the US – barely reported World Youth Day.

Really, this is peculiar — a gathering of 2 million young people is not news, especially after a few hundred in the same age bracket trashed London? Isn’t anyone out there connecting the dots?

But why complain? The media and the intelligentsia are good at froth and bubble, but abysmal at deep undercurrents. Did they predict the rise of militant Islam, the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the fizzing of the Population Bomb or the Global Financial Crisis?

The biggest stories are the hidden stories. Benedict XVI knows this. As he told journalists, “God’s sowing is always silent; it does not appear in the statistics, and the seed that the Lord sows with World Youth Day is like the seed of which the Gospel speaks: part falls on the road and is lost; part falls on stone and is lost; part falls on thorns and is lost; but a part falls on good earth and gives much fruit.”

Unnoticed by the media, 2 million young people have embarked upon a journey which will lead many of them to infuse their home countries with  their deeply held Christian beliefs. Slowly the world is going to change. Thirty years from now, the media is going to have one hell of a surprise.

Prayer for Christ the King in Tripoli

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

By Peter Ould, Twurch of England website

We’ve received this prayer letter via Bishop Mouneer’s chaplain in Egypt from the Anglican Church in Tripoli. Please use it to guide your prayers and note in particular the news about the Roman Catholic Church. We’ve also been told that the phones have been out in Tripoli for the past 24 hours and the TV is showing us that the fighting is not yet over, so the situation may have changed.
Dear Respected Bishop Dr. Mouneer,
Greetings to you and your familes from Tripoli!
At last, things are geeting better, and we can communicate once again through internet.
We praise the Lord for our safety here in Tripoli in such difficult situation. Now all people here are so glad of experiencing improvements and developments. But we still need to pray for the current transitional time to witness safe consequenses of development . The Catholic Church was stolen by force last night, but we thank God that no body was hurt. For the time being it is not safe to move around, and it will take us some time, but we are glad of having some relief.
We praise the Lord that the church could survive and has been self supported during last 6 month, and we have great trust in the Lord’s leadership of his church. Many thanks for your prayers and support, and please be in contact.
The Lord is good and his mercy endures for ever
Yours in His grace and goodness
Revd Hamdy Sedky

Obama and Williams Losing their Authority as Country and Church Become More Polarized

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

COMMENTARY

By David W. Virtue
www.virtueonline.org

Two leaders, one a president and the other the titular head of the Anglican Communion are watching as their respective authority diminishes and their constituencies become more polarized.

A president who ran on a ticket of “Hope and Change” now finds a large constituency that doesn’t like his changes. His ticket of “Yes we can,” now finds that, “No he can’t.”

An archbishop, who is looking to find a middle way between Western acceptance of pansexuality and Global South resistance and rejection of same, finds that he is being rejected by both sides. On the one hand he is being viewed as a compromiser by Western pan-Anglican liberals, while the other side is deeply suspicious that he is in fact a liberal in morals (and therefore in theology) and cannot be trusted to lead the communion any longer.

One is a liberal Democrat with a growing restive public that now believes things are not getting better in America, the other is a socialist who finds his nation’s leaders pushing a “Big Society” drive to empower communities that he rejects and sees as a cynical betrayal of the poor.

Both men are trying to negotiate their way out of problems at a time when their respective publics want them to be declarative about what they really believe, offer solutions, and to refrain from looking for an impossible middle ground or Third Way.

One is a lawyer the other is a poet/theologian. Both believe that compromise will end the impasse in their respective constituencies – a nation and a church – both are wrong.

Both men and their world views are out of touch with the basic values of their cultures and constituencies.

A president is out of touch with basic social and spiritual values that drive Middle America on issues like abortion, homosexuality and marriage, and what constitutes the good life. An archbishop does not articulate a clear understanding of the gospel that makes the vast majority of his constituents who are Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics deeply suspicious as to what he really understands the gospel to be. His Liberal wing is atrophying and dying, his orthodox wing is growing by leaps and bounds. A third of his primates who represent two-thirds of the Anglican Communion no longer believe he speaks for them.

A president is watching as the nation grows more polarized between the haves and the have not’s; what the definition of right and wrong is, and an Archbishop is watching as his liberal constituency shrinks and shrivels, redefines marriage, while a vigorous orthodox Global South knocks at his door demanding that they are the real heirs to the Anglican tradition.

A president finds the armored tanks of a strident and reinvigorated Republicanism and Tea Party knocking at his White House doors, while an Archbishop finds GAFCON/FCA, the AMIE and an ORDINARIATE telling him, in no uncertain terms, that he is out of touch with reality, while he quietly hides behind Lambeth Palace doors ignoring the obvious and hoping they will go away. In neither case is that going to happen.

This country and an Anglican Communion of 70 million which are at war with themselves need leaders more like Winston Churchill rather than Neville Chamberlain.

Both men seem paralyzed as they watch a country and a church become more polarized while they are being driven by the intellectual positions of post-modernism and Hegel.

An archbishop recently watched helplessly as his country’s major cities exploded in riotous lawlessness and he offered nothing but platitudes as a palliative. If Lambeth Palace closed its doors only to open them for Royal weddings and the occasional funeral would anybody notice, would anybody care?

If this president loses the next election the country will go on for good or for ill. If the Archbishop of Canterbury cannot articulate what it is Anglicans believe and proclaim a clear unalloyed gospel to a country where more than 95% no longer care what the Church of England believes then the devastating consequences of prevarication and unbelief could, in time, force his church into irrelevance and ultimately closure.

One has political consequences that can be resolved in time, the other has spiritual penalties and consequences for millions of people for all eternity and that is scary beyond all human imagination.

END

WASHINGTON, D.C.: Earthquake Damage Sustained at National Cathedral

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

August 23, 2011

The highest elevated point of Washington, D.C., the “Gloria in Excelsis” central tower of Washington National Cathedral, sustained significant damage in the 5.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Tuesday afternoon. Mason Foreman Joe Alonso is currently assessing the damage to the Cathedral building with the help of other Cathedral stonemasons and structural engineers.

Three of four pinnacles (corner spires) on the central tower have been damaged. Specifically, three “finials” (capstones shaped like fleurs-de-lys) have fallen from them, with more significant damage to two of the pinnacles. Similar decorative elements on the Cathedral’s exterior also appear to be damaged. Cracks have appeared in the flying buttresses around the apse at the Cathedral’s east end, the first portion of the building to be constructed, but the buttresses supporting the central tower seem to be sound.

No individuals were injured either within the Cathedral or on its grounds. Despite some cracks on upper floors in the interior, no damage to the stained-glass windows has been reported. The building has been closed to visitors until further notice.

“The Cathedral structure was damaged in today’s earthquake,” said Cathedral Dean Samuel T. Lloyd III, “but we are thankful that no injuries have occurred. Our prayers go out now for all those up and down the East Coast who have been similarly affected by this rare event.

The National Cathedral cannot be more grateful now for the National Cathedral Association (NCA), the nationwide network of supporters that raised funds to build this edifice beginning in the 1890s. We urge all friends of this spiritual home for the nation to visit our website, www.nationalcathedral.org, to learn more about the damage and upcoming efforts to make repairs.”

The central tower was completed in the 1960s and benefited from a restoration in the 1990s after repeatedly sustaining lightning damage. Constructed in fourteenth-century English “perpendicular” Gothic style, Washington National Cathedral is the sixth-largest Cathedral in the world and the second-largest such church in the United States.

It was constructed between 1907 and 1990. Erected on Mount St. Alban, the most commanding hill in the District of Columbia, Washington National Cathedral rises to a greater height than the Washington Monument.

Ten Reasons Why the Anglican Global South Should Not Assent to the Episcopal Church on Pansexuality – Part 2

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

I have split this article due to the fact that many do not read long posts!!

COMMENTARY

By David W. Virtue
www.virtueonline.org

It is becoming clearer by the month that the great divide between the Anglican Global South and Western pan-Anglicanism has become unbridgeable and the divisions irreconcilable.

The new Anglican Reformation, begun more than a decade ago by the Anglican Mission in the Americas and, later, with the establishment of the Anglican Church in North America, is a fait accompli. There is no going back, no reversing and no stopping the train. It has left Kansas never to return.

The Episcopal Church continues to pay lip service to unity (along with the Archbishop of Canterbury), but the truth is that Global South archbishops and bishops move freely in and out of North America without so much as a phone call to 815 2nd street in New York, New York or 80 Hayden Street, Toronto, Ontario (the Anglican Church of Canada HQ). The final statement of disassociation was the empty Primatial chairs in Dublin, earlier this year.

The besetting sin that has riven the two sides is homosexuality, more specifically pansexuality in the form of LGBTQI (I – the latest letter in the pansexual alphabet -stands for something called Intersex – the abnormal condition of being intermediate between male and female; hermaphroditism.).

It is important, therefore, for our orthodox Anglican brothers and sisters in the Global South to have a clear fix on why a shrinking orthodox minority of us in the Global North and West still maintain clear Biblical standards on sexuality and why they should, too.

No. 1 ………….. No 5

No. 6 Homophobia. Homosexuals and lesbians have thrown this word at ANYBODY who disagrees with their lifestyle. It is a HUGE lie. People are not homophobic, any more than parents who tell their teenage children not to have sex outside of marriage are heterophobic. Homophobia has been wielded as a big stick against anyone who dares to tell the truth that homosexual behavior goes against nature and the Word of God.

No. 7 The inevitable pandering to homosexuals is leading to other equally dangerous and deadly behaviors. It is a slippery slope. If a small group of psychiatrists and other mental health professionals have their way, pedophiles themselves could play a role in removing pedophilia from the American Psychiatric Association’s bible of mental illnesses – the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), set to undergo a significant revision by 2013. Critics warn that their success could lead to the decriminalization of pedophilia. Child advocate Dr. Judith Reisman, a visiting professor at Liberty University’s School of Law, said that a conference in Baltimore is part of a strategy to condition people into accepting pedophiles.

No. 8 The Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta confirms that Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) have been increasing among gay and bisexual men. Recent increases in syphilis cases have been documented across the country. In 2008, men who have sex with men (MSM) accounted for 63% of primary and secondary syphilis cases in the United States. MSM often are diagnosed with other bacterial STDs, including chlamydia and gonorrhea infections.

Gay and bisexual men can be infected with HPV (Human Papillomavirus), the most common STD in the United States. Some types of HPV cause genital and anal warts and some can lead to the development of anal and oral cancer. Men who have sex with men are 17 times more likely to develop anal cancer than heterosexual men. Men who are HIV-positive are even more likely than those who are uninfected to develop anal cancer.

The CDC has also estimated that homosexual men account for 61% of the new HIV infections in the United States while they only amount to about 2% of the country’s population.

Homosexual men accounted for 29,300 of the estimated 48,100 new infections in 2009, and homosexual men aged 13 to 29 accounted for 27% of the new cases.

The only group in which new HIV infections is increasing, they say, is young homosexual men – driven by an alarming increase in infections from African Americans. They estimated that the new infections among young black homosexual men increased 48 percent in the period of 2006-2009 (from 4,400 HIV infections in 2006 to 6,500 infections in 2009).

No. 9 The Episcopal Church has totally bought into every aspect of pansexuality including rites for same sex blessings. As a result, it is losing membership, money, baptisms, and confirmations. The only thing going up is deaths and funerals.

No. 10 The Listening Process advocated and pushed by former PB Frank Griswold has had one, and only one, design – to desensitize and entice unsteady souls and orthodox Anglicans into darkness. “Mutual listening” opens the door to false doctrine, says Canon Dave Doveton http://tinyurl.com/3nge7p5 Underlying the clamor to listen to persons who experience homosexual desires and want to assert a “gay identity” is the assertion that we will discover something we did not already know. This is a lie. The Global South needs to know this and to complete its isolation and distance from an apostate and heretical Western church.

Ten Reasons Why the Anglican Global South Should Not Assent to the Episcopal Church on Pansexuality – Part 1

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

I have split this post because few people read long postings.

COMMENTARY

By David W. Virtue
www.virtueonline.org

It is becoming clearer by the month that the great divide between the Anglican Global South and Western pan-Anglicanism has become unbridgeable and the divisions irreconcilable.

The new Anglican Reformation, begun more than a decade ago by the Anglican Mission in the Americas and, later, with the establishment of the Anglican Church in North America, is a fait accompli. There is no going back, no reversing and no stopping the train. It has left Kansas never to return.

The Episcopal Church continues to pay lip service to unity (along with the Archbishop of Canterbury), but the truth is that Global South archbishops and bishops move freely in and out of North America without so much as a phone call to 815 2nd street in New York, New York or 80 Hayden Street, Toronto, Ontario (the Anglican Church of Canada HQ). The final statement of disassociation was the empty Primatial chairs in Dublin, earlier this year.

The besetting sin that has riven the two sides is homosexuality, more specifically pansexuality in the form of LGBTQI (I – the latest letter in the pansexual alphabet -stands for something called Intersex – the abnormal condition of being intermediate between male and female; hermaphroditism.).

It is important, therefore, for our orthodox Anglican brothers and sisters in the Global South to have a clear fix on why a shrinking orthodox minority of us in the Global North and West still maintain clear Biblical standards on sexuality and why they should, too.

No. 1 The seven instances where homosexuality is specifically mentioned in the Old and New Testaments publicly eschew homosexual activity as ungodly and likely to bring down the judgment (wrath) of God on those who practice it. Rom. 1: 26-27.

No. 2 There is no gene that proves anyone was born a homosexual. Some scientists have searched for a direct genetic cause of same-sex attraction and found little evidence, and science has not shown that homosexuality is an inborn or biologically determined characteristic. Most scientists today give genetic theories little credibility.

No. 3 Same-sex attraction is a behavior that can be overcome, just as alcoholics can stop drinking. There is overwhelming evidence that tens of thousands of men and women have overcome their same-sex attractions, often through reparative therapy, and gone on to live normal lives as heterosexuals. You would never know this by reading the secular press.

No. 4 The acceptance of homosexuality in North America has been a huge public relations success going back to the normalization of homosexuality when it was deleted from the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic and statistical manual. It was described as “the climax of a sociopolitical struggle involving what were deemed to be the rights of homosexuals.” It had nothing to do with science.

Gay activist groups believed that prejudice against homosexuals could be extinguished only if, as homosexuals, they were accepted as normal. “They claimed that homosexuality is a preference, an orientation, a propensity; that it is neither a defect, a disturbance, a sickness, nor a malfunction of any sort.” To promote this aim, “Gay activists impugned the motives and ridiculed the work of those psychiatrists who asserted that homosexuality is other than normal.”

Until 1973, homosexuality was acknowledged by the DSM as a mental illness. That was changed in the interests of the still more severe form of mental illness known as political correctness. Now acceptance of homosexual depravity as normal is mandatory.

No. 5 On the causes of homosexuality. Dr. Irving Bieber, M.D., a psychoanalyst and professor found a close-binding, intimate mother who tended to interfere with her son’s assertiveness, and tended to dislocate his relationship with the father, siblings, and peers. However, Dr. Bieber also found that homosexuality can develop without the frequently occurring close-binding-intimate, mother-son bond. Fathers. The most significant finding was that of the detached father. “The father-son relationship was almost the diametrical opposite of that between mother and son. The paternal portrait was one of a father who was either (emotionally) detached or covertly or overtly hostile. The father-son relationship, however, revealed uniformly an absence of loving, warm, constructive paternal attitudes and behavior. “In my long experience, I have not found a single case where, in the developing years, a father had a kind, affectionate, and constructive relationship with the son who becomes homosexual. This has been an unvarying finding. It is my view, and I have so stated and written, that if a father has a kind, affectionate, and constructive relationship with his son, he will not produce a homosexual son, no matter what the mother is like.”