Thursday, November 29, 2012

C of E Women Bishops to be "Re-started"

Statement on the Conclusion of the Meeting of the Archbishops’ Council

The Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England met on November 27-28th to consider a wide ranging agenda. A substantial amount of time was given over to the discussion of the recent vote by General Synod on Women in the Episcopate.

As part of their reflections, many council members commented on the deep degree of sadness and shock that they had felt as a result of the vote and also of the need to affirm all women serving the church – both lay and ordained – in their ministries.

In its discussions the Council decided that a process to admit women to the episcopate needed to be restarted at the next meeting of the General Synod in July 2013. There was agreement that the Church of England had to resolve this matter through its own processes as a matter of urgency. The Council therefore recommended that the House of Bishops, during its meeting in a fortnight’s time, put in place a clear process for discussions in the New Year with a view to bringing legislative proposals before the Synod in July.

From here.

To me, this seems politically motivated. Official voting returns show that almost half of the lay members of the Church of England General Synod who voted down women bishops were women. Why no affirmation for them?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Quote of the Week - Eugene A. Nida

"So many Christians love to argue about the Bible rather than take it seriously as a message that is important for their own lives."--Eugene A. Nida

Nida died at age 96 on August 25, 2011 in Brussels, Belgium. He coined the phrase "dynamic equivalence translation" by which he meant that Bible translation must be sensitive to culture context, rendering equivalent meaning by translating thought-for-thought rather than word-for-word.

Nida wrote the forward to one of my favorite books: Gonzalo Baez-Camargo's Archaeological Commentary on the Bible. (Doubleday, 1984)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Anglican Communion Institute: The Presiding Bishop's Wrong Actions

November 27, 2012

To the Bishops of the Episcopal Church:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This is a painful letter. It is painful because it concerns un-canonical (and perhaps even unlawful) actions on the part of our Presiding Bishop and her associates. These actions, detailed in the attached appendix and summarized in the bullet points below, have already undermined the good order and spiritual health of our church. We write to you our Bishops because of your responsibility for that good order. We write as Presbyters who have in one way or another faithfully served our church for over half a century. We pray that, despite the painful nature of the story we place before you, you will listen to what we have to say with a clear and open mind.

We urge you, therefore, to take careful note of the following points that are more fully spelled out in our appendix. We urge you further to take the necessary steps to restore the good order of our church.
Three years ago, the Presiding Bishop began an extraordinary and unconstitutional intervention in the internal affairs of the Diocese of South Carolina. She hired a South Carolina lawyer, Thomas Tisdale, who held himself out as “South Carolina counsel for The Episcopal Church” and appeared to be gathering evidence for a disciplinary case against Bishop Lawrence. That is not our judgment in hindsight; it was Bishop Lawrence’s understanding at the time: “the Presiding Bishop’s Chancellor, if not the Presiding Bishop herself, is seeking to build a case against the Ecclesiastical Authorities of the Diocese.”
Mr. Tisdale indicated he intended to scrutinize the internal administration of the Diocese on an ongoing basis for the Presiding Bishop, including reviewing recent ordinations, the actions of the Standing Committee, convention resolutions and especially the property arrangements of the Diocese’s parishes.
The Presiding Bishop advised the Executive Council at the outset of Mr. Tisdale’s activities in the Diocese that she had hired him so that those who wish “to stay Episcopalians there have some representation on behalf of the larger church.” She thereby lent her office and legal counsel to the small number of internal dissenters, numbering no more than 10-15%, who opposed Bishop Lawrence and the Diocese. This group subsequently made four or possibly five presentations to various bodies within TEC seeking to have Bishop Lawrence investigated for abandonment and action taken against the Diocese. Their fifth attempt was successful, but only at the cost of the entire Diocese. 

The dissenters seeking to remove Bishop Lawrence communicated several times with church bodies, mostly through a lawyer who is a fellow parishioner of Mr. Tisdale’s and is a legal advisor with him to the interim steering committee he organized at the Presiding Bishop’s request. 

The actions of church bodies over the last three years have been disgraceful and at times farcical. At the dissenters’ request, a standing committee of the Executive Council considered canons passed by the Diocese and opined that they were null and void without ever informing the Diocese they were considering the issue. The Council immediately informed the lawyer for the dissenters of this action, but did not communicate it to the Diocese until asked to do so much later by the lawyer. The Church Center then clumsily added “cc’s” in a different type font and mailed the Diocese a letter that had been sent two and a half months earlier to the lawyer. This suggests the purpose of the Executive Council’s actions was not the orderly administration of the church’s affairs but assisting the dissenters in making their legal case against Bishop Lawrence.
Mr. Tisdale was apparently asked by the Presiding Bishop “a few months ago” to form a “transition group” before the Disciplinary Board had even acted and before Bishop Lawrence was even aware that it was once again reviewing abandonment charges against him. This committee had been largely formed and was waiting to be announced when the abandonment certification was made public. The initial announcements of the interim structure were made immediately: “an Interim Bishop will be appointed by the Presiding Bishop”; “a transition team has been put in place by the Presiding Bishop.” There is also evidence that some steps were taken to plan for civil litigation during the period before the Disciplinary Board had even acted.
Bishop Lawrence first learned of the most recent abandonment proceeding on October 15, when the Presiding Bishop informed him that he had been certified and would be restricted. Later that day the diocesan chancellor received by email unsigned copies of the certification and restriction. To this day, Bishop Lawrence has never been served with notice as required by TEC’s canons of either document. Accordingly, the 60 day period under the abandonment canon has not yet begun and if the canons were being followed no restriction may ever have been in effect—although on this point the relationship between the abandonment canon and the broader Title IV of which it is a part is one the church does not seem to comprehend.
Although TEC takes the position that the Diocese has not withdrawn, its representatives nonetheless claim that there is no ecclesiastical authority in the TEC diocese. But Bishop Lawrence has not been removed as bishop by TEC and the resignation or removal of directors of South Carolina corporations (the Standing Committee’s legal role) requires that specific procedures provided in the state statute or corporate bylaws be followed. None has been. When the TEC faction held a “clergy day” on November 15, the presentation was made by Mr. Tisdale, the Presiding Bishop’s lawyer. He referred questions about remarriage and licensing to Bishop vonRosenberg, but these are matters for the diocesan bishop. Although they are trying to skirt the canons formally, the reality is that the Presiding Bishop, through her lawyer and the committee he organized, is now running a TEC diocese in South Carolina without any canonical authorization.
Bishop Lawrence’s pastoral response to a very challenging legal environment in South Carolina kept the Diocese “intact and in TEC.” Only a single parish withdrew from the Diocese until the Disciplinary Board for Bishops certified that Bishop Lawrence’s pastoral actions constituted abandonment of the church. That indefensible decision caused the entire Diocese to withdraw along with the overwhelming majority of the parishes.

What should we make of these facts?

We disagree with those among you who think the Presiding Bishop and her agents have done no wrong.

Read it all here.

Malik to Grant Amnesty to Taliban

ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Monday that the government was ready to give a general amnesty for all proscribed organisations, including Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, if they renounced terrorism.

“If proscribed organisations agree to cooperate with the government and give up terrorism, they will be removed from the list of banned organisations,” the interior minister said at a press conference here on Sunday.

The minister discussed in detail performance of law-enforcement agencies personnel in providing security to Aashura processions and gatherings. He invited all banned organisations, including the TTP, for talks and said it was time for Hakimullah Mehsud, whether he was physically fit or suffering from any disability, to apologise to the nation and stop playing into the hands of anti-Pakistan forces.

Mr Malik said it was an opportunity for Hakimullah Mehsud to stop killing of innocent people and live a peaceful life.

“Hakimullah don’t hide in one bunker or another. Today, I announce a general amnesty for you if you stop killing innocent people. The enemies you are working for will kill you too, one day,” the minister said. He claimed the government knew the forces which were using the TTP to fulfil their designs.

“We know who they are. We know that those involved in the killing of Ms Benazir Bhutto are using you.”

Mr Malik said proscribed organisations could take advantage of the amnesty offer and cooperate with the government in eradicating terrorism from the country.

Otherwise, he added, the government was determined to act against elements who were killing innocent people.

Mr Malik said intelligence reports revealed that the TTP had ‘franchised’ terrorism and several groups involved in incidents of target killing and kidnapping for ransom were using TTP’s name.

He said the government had evidence that the banned Lashkar-i-Jhangvi organisation was involved in targeted killings and other acts of terror during this year’s Muharram processions. One activist this organisation, Attaullah, was arrested by law-enforcement agencies in Karachi on Saturday and a large quantity of explosives seized.

“This explosive material was to be used for killing people in Aashura processions,” he said.

“Attaullah is an active member of Lashrak-i-Jhangvi and he received military training in Miramshah in 2008.”

About a bomb blast in a shop on the route of the main Aashura procession in Dera Ismail Khan, Mr Malik said the incident could have been averted had security forces also searched closed shops during screening of the area.

PRESIDENT’S NOTICE: Meanwhile, President Asif Ali Zardari asked the interior minister to submit a comprehensive report on terrorist attacks in Dera Ismail Khan and Rawalpindi and said these incidents were aimed at undermining sectarian peace and harmony during the holy month.

“Such unfortunate and condemnable acts of violence failed to mar the overall atmosphere of peace and harmony witnessed during Aashura mourning period,” President’s spokesman Farhatullah Babar quoted the president as saying.

The president appreciated the efforts made by the government and all law-enforcement agencies for maintaining peace during Aashura. He also praised Ulema, welfare organisations and general public for having cooperated with the government in ensuring peace.

Source: Pakistan Dawn


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Irena Sendler: Memory Eternal!


Irena Sendler was up for the Nobel Peace Prize. She was not selected.

President Obama won for his work as a community organizer for ACORN. Al Gore won for a slide show on Global Warming.

In May 2008, a 98 year-old Polish lady named Irena Sendler died. During WWII, she got permission to work in the Warsaw Ghetto, as a Plumbing/Sewer specialist but she had an ulterior motive. She knew of the Nazi's plans for the Jews.

Irena smuggled infants out in the bottom of the tool box she carried and, in the back of her truck, she had a burlap sack for the larger children.

She had a dog in the back of the truck that she trained to bark when the Nazi soldiers let her in and out of the ghetto. The soldiers wanted nothing to do with the dog and the barking covered the noise of the children.

She managed to smuggle out and save 2,500 children before she was caught; the Nazis broke both her legs and her arms and beat her severely.

Irena kept a record of the names of all the children that she smuggled out which she kept in a glass jar buried under a tree in her back yard.

After the War, she tried to locate any parents that had survived and reunited the families. Most, of course, had been gassed but she helped those children to be placed into foster family homes or adopted.

In 2007, Irena was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize but was not selected. Al Gore won - for a slide show on Global Warming.

Read it all here.

Pray for the nations and all peoples as we slip further into darkness.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Atlantic Article on Women Bishops in C of E

Mollie Z. Hemingway

When the Church of England narrowly defeated a measure to allow women to be appointed bishops this week after a dozen years of legislative effort, many observers were surprised. After all, the group has ordained women as priests since 1994—what's the big deal with letting female priests become bishops?

The answer helps explain why the measure failed. The Church of England is known for the graciousness with which it accommodates minority theological opinions. Since the 1990s, parties that disagreed about female ordination merely had to tolerate each other's presence. Female bishops, on the other hand, would hold significant ecclesial and sacramental authority over everyone in the church, even over the minority who believe that female ordination is a theological impossibility. Mere toleration would no longer be possible.

Legislation in support of women bishops was debated by the church this summer, with a focus on whether to protect that group that views female ordination as invalid. Bishops asked members to trust that the Church would respect opponents of the change, even while some proponents of the legislation opposed protections. Traditionalists and their sympathizers doubted these pledges, remembering that promises made to opponents of female ordination in the 1990s were subsequently broken: They were told that there would be no damage to the careers of clergy who viewed female ordination as invalid, for instance. A simple look at the vote in the House of Bishops this week (44 for, 3 opposed) tells a different story.

Australia's Child Abuse Commission and the Stench of Hypocrisy

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has just announced the formation of a royal commission into “institutional responses to instances and allegations of child sexual abuse”.

The media spotlight has been on child abuse claims in the Catholic Church. But the Prime Minister is wise enough to realise that sex abuse is so widespread that it is not just a problem in one denomination. This inquiry extends beyond the highly-publicised failings of the Church to state-run institutions, government schools, non-profits like the Scouts and sporting groups, child service agencies and even the police.

It promises to be a deeply emotional affair which could last as long as five years. Two other inquiries into child sexual abuse, mostly targeting the Catholic Church, are already under way in the states of New South Wales and Victoria.

The senior Catholic prelate in Australia, Sydney’s Cardinal George Pell, has agreed to cooperate fully with the royal commission. He says that it will clear the air. "We are not interested in denying the extent of misdoing in the Catholic Church. We object to it being exaggerated," says Cardinal Pell. "We object to being described as the only cab on the rank. We acknowledge, with shame, the extent of the problem and I want to assure you that we have been serious in attempting to eradicate it and deal with it... This commission will enable those claims to be validated or found to be a significant exaggeration."

But the purpose of the royal commission is not merely to purge the collective psyche and bring hidden injustices into the light of day, but to strike at the root of the perversion.

“Child sexual abuse is a vile thing, it’s an evil thing, it’s done by evil people, but what we’ve seen too I think in recent revelations, it’s not just the evil of the people who do it,” said Ms Gillard. “There has been a systemic failure to respond to it and to better protect children and I particularly want to get the insights about what would stop that kind of systemic failure happening again.”

Unhappily, nailing and jailing sexual predators is the easy part. This is not a law and order crisis; it is a cultural crisis. Ensuring that it won’t happen again – in the Catholic Church and elsewhere -- could be all but impossible in a society which is awash with incitements to sexual activity.

Fortunately, the most frequent reason advanced for pessimism about change is no reason at all: that celibacy will remain mandatory for Catholic priests. Critics inside and outside the Church have claimed that celibacy is the cause of psychological disorders. This is complete nonsense. Married rabbis, scout masters, teachers and Protestant ministers have all been convicted of child sexual abuse. The causes of paedophilia are obscure, but many paedophiles are married men. Abolishing celibacy seems about as sensible as forcing bachelors to marry.

The second reason is institutional. Critics of the Church have accused it of secrecy, of turning a blind eye to abuse, and of deliberately evading the civil authorities by transferring priests to keep their crimes a secret. This has happened in the past, although protocols are in place now to ensure that offenders are brought to justice in a court, not shielded by other priests.

The recent turmoil at the BBC in Britain suggests that it takes great moral strength to resist the pressure to protect colleagues. It has emerged that Jimmy Savile, a vulgar entertainer whom the BBC lionised for decades, was a serial sexual abuser. A year after his death, at least 300 men and women have come forward to accuse him of molesting or even raping them. Incredibly, Savile used his status as a celebrity visitor to hospitals and orphanages to molest girls. This went on for decades. Some of the incidents may even have happened on BBC premises.

Did anyone know about this? Yes, they did. Or at least they had their suspicions. Did anyone at the BBC do anything about this? No, they didn’t. Instead, after his death, the BBC broadcast tributes to Savile’s memory.

Now articles are appearing which allege that a culture of abuse had existed for years at the BBC. Joan Bakewell, once called “the thinking man’s crumpet”, a well-known TV presenter who aggressively promoted liberal views on sexual taboos and was rewarded with a peerage, reminisced recently about Jimmy Savile and other ghastly figures from the 60s in the London Review of Books. Incredibly, she excused it:

“You can’t re-create the mood of an era. You just can’t get into the culture of what it was like, transfer our sensibilities backwards from today. It would be like asking Victorian factory owners to explain why they sent children up chimneys. It’s the same with the BBC that I first entered. It had habits and values that we just can’t understand from the point of view of where we are now. What we now find unacceptable was just accepted back then by many people.”

And what happened when the BBC higher-ups were confronted with Savile’s alleged crimes and evidence of cover-ups and wilful ignorance? They denied all knowledge of it. Mark Thompson, the former director-general of the BBC, and now president and CEO of the New York Times Company, is under a cloud. A columnist at the Times, Joe Nocera, was scathing: “Thompson winds up appearing willfully ignorant, and it makes you wonder what kind of an organization the BBC was when Thompson was running it — and what kind of leader he was." BBC journalists would have destroyed a bishop like that.

Institutions protect their own. They obstruct inquiries. They bluster. It takes a deep sense of justice to resist the temptation to be defensive and to accept responsibility for the failings of subordinates. If bishops are evasive, they deserve to be sanctioned, but let’s not think that the Catholic Church is the only club with dark secrets.

The third reason for pessimism is cultural. Most of the abuse which features in the headlines – even Jimmy Savile’s – is decades old. By all means bring the predators to justice, but the most urgent matter is to keep young people from becoming abusers.

In this regard, the stench of hypocrisy is unbearable. Everywhere young people are being encouraged to abuse their peers. They aren’t being told where to draw the line. In fact, they are being told that there are no lines. At the same time as Australian politicians are making indignant speeches about sexual abuse of children, the New South Wales teachers’ union is distributing sex information kits which teaches students to experiment creatively with their sexuality to see whether they are gay, straight, bisexual, lesbian, pansexual or omnisexual.

Encouraging adolescents to have casual sex has become so commonplace that it barely registers in the media – from popular sex columnists like Dan Savage to United Nations resolutions about reproductive health to Lena Dunham's suggestive commercial for President Obama's election campaign. Today we live in a sauna of sexuality. Does anyone really think that more experimentation will stop a new generation of sexual predators?

“We must do everything we can to make sure that what has happened in the past is never allowed to happen again.” Well said, Prime Minister. But until children and adolescents are taught that sex is a sacred power which should be reserved for a loving relationship within marriage, the cycle of abuse will happen again. And again. And again.

Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Now Thank We All Our God

Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
who wondrous things has done, in whom this world rejoices; 
who from our mothers' arms has blessed us on our way 
with countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us, 
with ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us;
and keep us still in grace, and guide us when perplexed; 
and free us from all ills, in this world and the next. 

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given; 
the Son, and him who reigns with them in highest heaven; 
the one eternal God, whom earth and heaven adore; 
for thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.

"Now thank we all our God" is a translation from the German "Nun danket alle Gott", written around 1636 by the Lutheran pastor Martin Rinkart (1586–1649). It was inspired by Ecclesiaticus 50:22–24. It was translated into English in the 19th Century by Catherine Winkworth.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Quote of the Week - J.C. Polkinghorne

"If it is true, as I think it is, that intelligibility is the ground on which fundamental science ultimately makes its claim to be dealing with the way the world is, then it gives science a strong comradeship with theology, which is engaged in the similar, if more difficult, search for an understanding of God's ways with men." --J.C. Polkinghorne

Taken from The Way the World Is. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1983), p. 1 1.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Bishops Respond to Gen. Synod's Failure to Pass Measure on Women Bishops

The failure of the General Synod to agree on the legislation to allow for the ordaining of women bishops reflects Synod’s lack of consensus over this matter. It has uncovered a stubborn unease, particularly among lay people, about the Measure that was presented.

Acutely aware of the profound anguish that will now be felt by so many, we believe that it is wise at this point to refrain from analysis of the past or speculation about what the future might hold.

These are testing times for the Church of England. We pray that we who, between us, have held different opinions on this great matter will be able to find in each other the wisdom and humility we shall need to build a common future.

+Tony Pontefract

+John Plymouth

on behalf of the Bishops of The Society of S. Wilfrid and S. Hilda

The result was:

In favour of female bishops

Bishops: 44
Clergy: 148
Laity: 132


Bishops: 3
Clergy: 45
Laity: 74


Bishops: 2
Clergy: 0
Laity: 0

The legislation needed a two-third majority in all three houses of the General Synod to pass. It did not achieve this two-thirds majority in the House of Laity, and so the legislation was defeated.

Church of England on TEC's Civil War

The Church of England has declined to accept Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori’s assertion the Diocese of South Carolina may not withdraw from the Episcopal Church. Nor will Saturday’s vote by the South Carolina Special Convention affect the standing of its clergy with the Church of England at this time, General Synod learned today.

Speaking for the church’s Council for Christian Unity (CCU), Bishop Christopher Hill said the Church of England sought to maintain good relations with all sides in the Episcopal Church’s civil war and would take no“hasty” actions at this time.

Read it all here.

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

A Reading from the Rule of St. Benedict: "Listen carefully, my child, to your master's precepts, and incline the ear of your heart (Prov. 4:20). Receive willingly and carry out effectively your loving father's advice, that by the labor of obedience you may return to Him from whom you had departed by the sloth of disobedience."

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Underdog Cults and Identity Studies

The ideologues have transformed the academy—and, to a remarkable extent, driven out the enemy. They’ve taken over the shop and remade it in their image. And there’s no easy route back. After all, there’s nothing more entrenched than a tenured professor. ~ Ch 7: Is There Hope?

As the value of university education in the Western world continues to rise—as enrollment rates have grown and tuition fees have climbed— institutions of higher learning have changed. They have, of course, changed physically and financially—gotten bigger, grown richer—but they have also changed in fundamental ways, ways involving methodology, curricula, and most especially epistemology, that field of knowledge concerned with the very nature of knowledge, including how it is divided by discipline. Such changes are, for the most part, however, insider secrets. Like democratic governments, the images and reputations of universities continue to foster raw, even romantic idealism, emphasizing broad, philosophical generalities rather than administrative or pedagogical specifics. Universities, many still believe, are places of free thought and unreserved intellectual excitement. They are the ivy-filigreed sanctuaries where the greatest works and ideas of humankind are traded like sports cards, where, at any moment, a roaming professor—like a tweedy Socrates—will deliver an impromptu lecture alfresco, where minds are laid open to the stars.

Whether higher learning was ever quite like this is, of course, up for debate. Universities are noble institutions, at least they’re supposed to be, and like any noble institution—be it a church, police force, or nonprofit organization—their flaws are held as evidence of something much more insidious than human imperfection. Where there are people, there are politics, and, as Henry Kissinger (or Wallace Sayre, or Woodrow Wilson) is reputed to have once said, “academic politics are so vicious precisely because the stakes are so small.” The venerable Yale English professor Harold Bloom, who began teaching in the mid-fifties, is on the record as saying that “[t]he ‘good old days,’ in fact, were not so good: universities, in my youth, were staffed mostly by an assemblage of know-nothing bigots, academic impostors, inchoate rhapsodes, and time-serving trimmers […].” It goes back further than this, of course; the English poet Thomas De Quincey and Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard offer similar indictments of academic quality in the nineteenth century, for example.

Whatever the case may have been in the past, there is growing alarm in the present day—from both sides of the traditional political spectrum, though most often from the right—over the state of the arts and sciences (but especially the arts) on university campuses. The warning: individual thought and the journey-centred orienteering central to the humanities have been predisposed by ideological chauvinism. Aesthetic and intellectual merit has been subordinated to radical activist agendas, whereby students become disciples rather than thinkers, and grades become the flails of a sectarian winnowing. Jonah Goldberg’s Tyranny of Clichés looks, for example, at how conservatism is approached by some researchers as evidence of inferior cognition. Susan Cain’s Quiet considers how introversion—in many respects the yardstick for sensitivity and deep thought—is treated in Harvard Business School as a social maladjustment. Emphasis on and cultivation of an extroverted alpha-complex, she argues, may even be partly responsible for the thinking and practices that led to the 2008 financial meltdown.

Criticism has also come from within, though Allan Bloom, Harold Bloom, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., and Stanley Fish have been sounding different alarms for decades. Quite often, these tocsins are issued from the relative safety of retirement; in an editorial for the Canadian National Post in 2008, Ian Hunter, emeritus professor of the University of Western Ontario, referred to universities as “intellectual daycares,” places where minds are coddled and not challenged, groomed to seek constant validation rather than constructive evaluation.

According to Bruce Bawer and the American experience, it all went wrong sometime in the nineteen-sixties. It was then that the civil rights movement—the goal of which, he says, “could not have been more consistent with America’s founding ideals”—became a kind of reverse Pandora’s Box, radiating spirits of hope, equality, and goodwill, but carrying among them a single, destructive value. Multiculturalism, he argues, emerged to subordinate the identities and liberties of individuals to those of groups, and to balkanize the sense of unity upon which nationalism, liberalism, and academic freedom are all premised. Like a toxin, multiculturalism went on to poison the ideals of the civil rights movement, entrenching the grievances of minority groups and validating them as legitimate cultural values. When being oppressed became a matter of identity— essentially something to be celebrated rather than overcome—the victims’ revolution had begun. As Bawer writes,

[t]he ideas that have increasingly dominated American universities since the sixties have followed the graduates of those institutions out into the larger society. The results are all around us, from workplaces where an innocuous statement can brand one as a bigot and destroy one’s career to election campaigns in which legitimate criticism of a black or female candidate can be discounted as “racist” or “sexist” on its merits. Yet those ideas themselves, and the form in which they are presented in thousands of classrooms around the United States, remain an almost complete mystery to a great many otherwise well-informed and responsible citizens.

From Women’s Studies through Black Studies, Queer Studies through Chicano (or Latino) Studies to Cultural Studies in general, The Victims’ Revolution follows each from the earliest ripples of activism to the overwhelming victimological vogues they have in many places become.

Bawer, an English PhD who is openly gay and argued for cooperative coexistence in his book A Place at the Table: The Gay Individual in American Society, has a unique and patient perspective on the issues he raises. He does not, for example, reject the legitimacy of identity-based studies in general, recognizing a place in History, Anthropology, Literature, and other, established disciplines for studies of various group, subcultures, and populations. What he denounces in The Victims’ Revolution is the grotesque state of affairs in which identity studies truly exist in various Arts departments and as their own disciplines—as dogmatic cults of Marxist and progressivist extremism, jargon-parroting and victim-breeding, for whom even the faculty of reason is often dismissed as a tool of heterosexual white patriarchy.

In some cases, as with Women’s Studies and Black Studies, pre-existing academic inroads were commandeered by radical activists; in the case of Queer Studies, they were completely appropriated (“Queer is by definition whatever is at odds with the normal, the legitimate, the dominant”). Whatever the name of the program, however, each seems eerily compatible with the other, defined mutually by the intersectionality that allows constituents to pluralize and at times prioritize different aspects of their victimhood. It is something we have all heard parodied, but which remains central and earnest to identity-studies castes—the gay white man has nothing on the fat disabled black transgendered woman. In many of the academic conferences Bawer describes, participants who do not fully fit the victimological mold apologize or express guilt for their more conventional traits—being white or straight, for example. One does not begin to understand how perverse it all is, however, until, at a Disability Studies conference, a speaker suggests that abortion is genocide, but only because abortion can be used to kill unborn disabled people.

The author’s patience is the stuff of legend; no matter how egregious the evidence he uncovers, he stolidly continues to attend the conferences, cite the canonical texts, and report the activities of those under his surveillance. He does not, in other words, descend into the indignant screed for which conservative social critics are often caricatured, no matter how justifiable it might become. Instead, he continues to serve as a messenger of the damned, from reporting that Queer Studies pioneer Judith Butler declined a reward in 2010 from a German gay organization which she accused of ‘Islamophobia,’ to relaying the victimological inventories proclaimed by participants at a Fat Studies conference the same year (including one who described herself as a “‘self-identified queer, fat, vegan, feminist professor’ and whose topic is ‘inclusionism’—meaning the rejection of allisms from looksism to ableism”).

The formality and professionalism of The Victims’ Revolution makes it one of the most powerful indictments yet published on its subject. Bawer is no TV talking head or right-wing radio firebrand. He is a poet, an essayist, a literary critic, and a translator who cherishes the arts and humanities, and who understands what is happening—indeed, what has already happened—to their institutional study. His message is nevertheless hopeful and as respectful as possible given his position; for the most part, he pities the people he observes, particularly the students, who come to university seeking an education, and who emerge worse than if they had never attended at all. Bawer can be debated, but not refuted. While it can be argued that ‘Theory’ (as Bawer and many others have narrowly defined it) has also provided arts scholarship with some extremely stimulating avenues—particularly as regards subjectivity—there is simply no defending the particular personalities, ‘scholarship,’ and other excesses Bawer identifies. In this sense, the book works like a dog whistle—those who can’t hear its message are part of the problem.

Harley J. Sims is a writer and independent scholar living near Halifax, Nova Scotia. He can be reached on his website at He originally reviewed The Victims’ Revolution in the Good Reading Guide.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk to Bishop Welby

To the Right Rev. Justin Welby, Bishop of Durham

Dear Brother and Lord Bishop,

I would like to extend to you wholehearted congratulations on your election as Head of one of the oldest episcopal chairs founded by St. Augustine of Canterbury in the 7th century.

You have been entrusted with the spiritual guidance of the entire Anglican Communion, a unique union of like-minded people, which, however diverse the forms of its existence in the world may be, needs one ‘steward of God’ (Tit. 1:7) the guardian of the faith and witness to the Truth (cf. Jn. 18:37).

The Russian Orthodox Church and the Churches of the Anglican Communion are bonded by age-old friendly relations initiated in the 15th century. For centuries, our Churches would preserve good and truly brotherly relations encouraged both by frequent mutual visits and established theological dialogue and certainly by a spirit of respect and love which used to accompany the meetings of our hierarchs, clergy and ordinary believers.

Regrettably, the late 20th century and the beginning of the third millennium have brought tangible difficulties in relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Churches of the Anglican Communion. The introduction female priesthood and now episcopate, the blessing of same-sex ‘unions’ and ‘marriages’, the ordination of homosexuals as pastors and bishops – all these innovations are seen by the Orthodox as deviations from the tradition of the Early Church, which increasingly estrange Anglicanism from the Orthodox Church and contribute to a further division of Christendom as a whole.

We hope that the voice of the Orthodox Church will be heard by the Church of England and Churches of the Anglican Communion, and good fraternal relationships between us will revive.

I wish you God’s help in your important work.

‘May the God of love and peace be with you’ (2 Cor. 13:11).

Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk

From here.

Controversy Over Newborn Blood Samples

Blood samples left over from newborn screening tests are a genetic treasure trove which should be available to researchers, argue bioethicists in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Nearly 4 million American newborns undergo mandatory screening every year, and privacy-related and ethical concerns about what happens to the remaining blood spots could hamper research.

The use of these residual dried blood samples (DBS) has been controversial, as parents in Minnesota and Texas have sued their states for retaining them without parental permission.

The settlement in the Texas suit resulted in the destruction of 5.3 million archived blood samples. The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that informed consent will be required for the blood samples to be retained for research. Minnesota now plans to start destroying leftover samples when newborn screening is completed.

This narrow view of privacy is hampering research, the bioethicists complain. "The potential value to biomedical research for improving both public health and individual health must be part of the public discussion about what should happen to residual dried blood samples from newborn screening," says Michelle Huckaby Lewis, of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics.

"The research community must advocate for policies that support the retention of these samples and their use in biomedical research," Lewis said. "We should be the generation that recognizes the potential value of these samples and commits to developing them as a resource to promote public and individual health. The scientific community has a responsibility to the nation and its citizens to use these resources ethically, but also to the fullest extent possible to improve the health of our citizenry." ~ GenomeWeb Daily News, Nov 8

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Quote of the Week - Thomas F. Torrance

"The homoousion, then ... is of staggering significance. It crystallizes the conviction that while the incarnation falls within the structure of our spatio-temporal humanity in this world, it also falls within the Life and Being of God. Jesus Christ is thus not a mere symbol, some representation of God detached from God, but God in his own Being and Act come among us, expressing in our human form the Word which he is eternally in himself, so that in our relations with Jesus Christ we have to do directly with the ultimate reality of God. As the epitomized expression of that fact, the homoousion is the ontological and epistemological linchpin of Christian theology. With it, everything hangs together; without it, everything ultimately falls apart." --Thomas F. Torrance  (1913-2007)

Taken from Thomas F. Torrance, The Ground and Grammar of Theology. (Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia, 1980), pp. 160-161.

Torrance served for 27 years as professor of Christian Dogmatics at New College, Edinburgh in the University of Edinburgh.

Anglican Church in North America Statement on Welby's Appointment

By The Most Reverend Robert W. Duncan
November 9, 2012

On behalf of the College of Bishops, clergy and laity of the Anglican Church in North America, I greet Bishop Justin Welby and wish him God's blessings and every success as he prepares to step into his new ministry as Archbishop of Canterbury.

I assure him of our regular prayers as he assumes his new responsibilities in a time of significant challenge, tension and opportunity within our Anglican Communion. Bishop Welby's resume reveals a man who is devoted to God's Word and responsive to the Holy Spirit.

The Bishop's heart for the poor, particularly as priest and bishop in England's post-industrial North, is a heart with which we can readily identify.

His experience and skill with mediation and conflict resolution should serve him well in his new office. As Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America, I look forward to getting to know Bishop Welby and to working with him.

It has been very helpful to have the doors of Lambeth Palace open to us under his two immediate predecessors, and I trust that Bishop Welby and I will develop a good and open relationship as I commit to work with him and others for the good, and the good order, of all who call themselves Anglican.

With my colleagues of the GAFCON Primates Council and with all who are part of the movement which is the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, I share the conviction that submission to "the apostles' teaching and fellowship, the breaking of bread and to the prayers" is the surest course through the days ahead.

May the Lord grant us all His grace and wisdom as we move forward in this new season together. 

The Most Reverend Robert W. Duncan is Archbishop and Primate of The Anglican Church in North America.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Welby's Appointment and Women Priests

The Right Reverend Chandler Holder Jones has written a perceptive piece on the Justin Welby's appointment as the new Archbishop of Canterbury. He writes:

The Bishop of Durham, Justin Welby, has been appointed the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury. The Archbishop-designate strongly supports the purported ordination of women and is pressing for the admission of women to the episcopate in the Church of England, and yet has opposed until now purported homosexual marriage, a profoundly inconsistent position.

It appears that his theological outlook may be loosely defined as liberal evangelicalism or evangelical modernism, an emphasis on personal conversion and faith and contemporary popular-culture based worship styles over received consensus, historic liturgy and sacraments and Sacred Tradition.

Read it all here.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Justin Welby's Olive Branch to LGBT Community

From The Telegraph

The new Archbishop of Canterbury offered an olive branch to the gay community despite reaffirming his opposition to same-sex marriage.

Justin Welby, the Bishop of Durham, pledged to examine his own thinking on homosexuality "carefully and prayerfully" and spoke out against "exclusion".

Be he said he supported the Church's current stance on redefining marriage.

"I support the House of Bishop's statement in the summer in answer to the government's consultation on same sex marriage.

I know I need to listen very attentively to the LGBT communities, and examine my own thinking prayerfully and carefully.

The worldly capitalist looking to spread the Word of the Lord 08 Nov 2012

"I am always averse to the language of exclusion, when what we are called to is to love in the same way as Jesus Christ loves us. Above all in the church we need to create safe spaces for these issues to be discussed honestly and in love."

In his first comments since being announced as the successor to Dr Rowan Williams, he insisted he was "utterly optimistic" about the future of the Church despite there being "many millions" of people outside its influence.

He disclosed that his initial reaction to being offered the job was to think "oh no" but spoke of excitement to be leading the Church at a "time of spiritual hunger".

And he laughed off his Eton education saying he hoped he would not be "pigeon holed".

Bishop Welby, 56, will take over as leader of the world's 77 million Anglicans early next year succeeding Dr Rowan Williams, who steps down after Christmas.

Read it all here.

Related reading: Genesis and Homosex: Beyond Sodom

UK Forward in Faith Response to Welby's Appointment

Nov 9, 2012

Forward in Faith is pleased to learn from 10 Downing Street that the Right Revd Justin Welby, Bishop of Durham, is to be the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury. The appointment of a man with a proven track record of engagement with, and support of, traditionalists is most welcome and we look forward to working with him to achieve an equitable solution to the problems presently facing the Church of England. He can be assured of our prayers as he prepares for his translation.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Welby's Appointment: Banker Bashing as Usual

Sara Hey at Stand Firm takes this view of the New Archbishop of Canterbury:

A new Archbishop but no change at Canterbury: Justin Welby is just another Left-wing establishment

Strangely harsh for a woman who remains in The Episcopal "Church" organization.

Obama and the Great Delusion

Author Barbara A. Thompson believes that President Obama is like Jesus. She says, “He walks the earth for a more equalized, more middle class and working poor society.” She compares "apostle" Barack to "apostles" like Jesus and Martin Luther King Jr.

Read more here.

Uganda's Response to Welby's Appointment as Archbishop of Canterbury

8th November 2012
Contact: Rev. Canon George Bagamuhunda
Provincial Secretary, Church of Uganda
+256 772 450 019

Rev. Canon George Bagamuhunda, the Provincial Secretary for the Church of Uganda, has issued the following statement in response to the appointment of the Rt. Rev. Justin Welby as the next Archbishop of Canterbury.

“The Church of Uganda welcomes the news of the appointment of the Rt. Rev. Justin Welby as the new Archbishop of Canterbury. We are pleased to hear that he is an evangelical and will pray for him to lift up Jesus as “the way, the truth, and the life,” and to set the Word of God written as the authority for our common faith and morality. It is a challenging season not only in the Church of England, but also in the global Anglican Communion. The Anglican Communion remains fractured due to the inability of the Instruments of Communion to restore the Communion to Biblical faith and morality. We pledge our cooperation and prayers for him as he takes on the mantle of leadership.”

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Quote for Election Day

"Every child is to a certain degree a genius, and every genius is to a certain degree a child."-- Arthur Schopenhauer

The true genius trusts God as a good father and is wise beyond his years in the ways of Man.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Australia Forced Sterilization Investigated

Australia regards itself as a champion of human rights, but in 2011 the United Nations Human Rights Council has detected an abuse - the involuntary sterilisation of women and girls with disabilities (report, 86.39). Now a Senate committee has launched an inquiry.

According to National Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes, it appears that unauthorised non-therapeutic and forced sterilisation is still common in Australia. "I'm seeking the criminalisation of forced sterilisations," Mr Innes told the Sydney Morning Herald. "It should be a criminal offence for any adult to be sterilised without consent and for any child at all, apart from life-saving circumstances."

Dr Leanne Dowse, of the University of New South Wales, told the ABC that some doctors are prepared to sterilise disabled women. "It's well known that you're able to doctor shop, so that there will be doctors who will be prepared to perform not necessarily full hysterectomy, but around things like endometrial ablation and other kinds of very invasive and very traumatic procedures which have the same effect," she said.

Dr Margaret Spencer, of the Intellectual Disability Rights Service, in Sydney, has two disabled foster daughters. She argues that being disabled is often no barrier to being a good parent, if the right support is in place. "They're very hurt, they feel betrayed, they feel denied something [fertility] that is in essence basic to them," she says.

The World Medical Association recently took a strong stand on forced sterilisation at its general assembly in October. "Sterilization of those unable to give consent would be extremely rare and done only with the consent of the surrogate decision maker," it declared.

Source: BioEdge