Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Anne Lamont

Public television’s Religion & Ethics Newsweekly this week offers a profile of acclaimed best-selling author Anne Lamott, who describes herself as a left-wing born-again Christian -- with a bad attitude.
While her earlier novels were entertaining chronicles of family strife and questionable behavior, in recent years Lamott’s literary works have detailed the spiritual journey that transformed her life and helped her overcome alcohol abuse, drug addiction, sexual promiscuity, bulimia and self-loathing.In this interview with Kim Lawton, the author discusses her candid and quirky approach to life and her deeply held views on faith. "I don’t find spiritual insight sitting around thinking 'thinkee' thoughts about what it all means and who God is and who shot the Holy Ghost," Lamott observes. "You know, I find God in the utter daily-ness and the utter mess of it all." (Rebroadcast from February 17, 2006)

A transcript of the story is available here.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Iraqi refugees

The website OpenDemocracy notes that the number of Iraqis coming to the United States is very, very small, and addresses that issue:
America's approach to Iraqi refugees, yet again emphasises the hypocrisy of American foreign policy. Although the United States started the war by claiming it was seeking to disarm Saddam Hussein, the Bush administration quickly shifted its stated aims to humanitarian ones; the war would create a better life for Iraqis.

After four years of war, the country is so volatile and unstable that no normal life can be lived in most parts of Iraq. Yet the United States, with a population of 300 million, accepted only 202 Iraqi refugees in 2006. Under pressure from the United Nations (and no doubt US allies like Jordan and Egypt which are among the Iraqi neighbouring countries being overwhelmed with refugees) it has finally agreed to accept 7,000. Sweden, with a population of 9 million, already accepted more than 9,000 in 2006 alone.

The entire story is here.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Christian Churches Together

Our friends at Sojourners tell us that, since 2001, a conversation has been quietly taking place among American church leaders about what it would take to come together in common fellowship, common unity, and common voice on the most important issues of our time. While there has been cross-fertilization on projects, campaigns, and issues, there has been no genuinely "ecumenical" or "inter-denominational" organization in the United States that crossed all of our dividing lines – until now. This one includes the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
A consensus on the importance of evangelism and the need to eliminate domestic poverty marked the official formation of Christian Churches Together (CCT) meeting here February 6-9.

The CCT is composed of 36 churches and national organizations from virtually all U.S. Christian groups who have been seeking to come together for fellowship, worship and opportunities to share in important ministries.
. . .
Christian Churches Together (CCT) began in 2001 out of a deeply felt need to broaden and expand fellowship, unity, and witness among the diverse expressions of Christian faith today. Over the past five years, with a focus on praying together and building relationships, CCT has become the broadest most inclusive fellowship of Christian churches and traditions in the USA, including Evangelical/Pentecostal, Orthodox, Catholic, historic Protestant and Racial/Ethnic churches among its participants.

A Celebration and Commitment Service Wednesday highlighted the gathering that included over 150 participants and observers and a group of seminary students and young leaders. The 36 founding members includes the most recent groups to become official participants in CCT: the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America were warmly welcomed. Other groups are currently investigating membership, said the Rev. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson of the Reformed Church in America, chair of the CCT steering committee.

. . . In a statement on poverty, the leaders said, "Our faith in Christ who is the truth compels us to confront the ignorance of and indifference to the scandal of widespread, persistent poverty in this rich nation. We must call this situation by its real names: moral failure, unacceptable injustice." The leaders of CCT declared, "We believe that a renewed commitment to overcome poverty is central to the mission of the church and essential to our unity in Christ."

You can read more here. Also, Catholic News Service has a story here.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

About the state comptroller

Last week, our esteemed legislators bucked the recommendations of their own advisory panel and instead chose to make Assemblyman Thomas DiNapoli the state Comptroller. Apparently, they had believed that the fix was in to have one of their own selected by the panel, and got really, really miffed when that did not happen. So they rejected all three of the panel’s nominees to pick the person they wanted from the beginning, all the while claiming that they were doing so as their legislative “responsibility” to choose the best person for the job. Some people think anyone who voted for Mr. DiNapoli should be voted out of office. An interesting thought. Albany Catholic does not support or oppose individual candidates, but as you know from previous posts, we have never argued with the view that all members of the state legislature should be replaced.

A list of legislators and their votes on this issue can be found here.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

There is still time

It is not too late to attend "Recovering Our Voice: Calling Truth in a Culture of Subterfuge"
Sunday, Feb. 11, 2:50-6:30 (+ concert until 7:30)
First Lutheran Church, 646 State St., Albany
(suggested donation - $10)
National experts on the religious right will be at the conference.
Learn about taking back the initiative from the right and from the propaganda think tank, the Institute on Religion and Democracy, that's behind a lot of Christian right actions against mainline churches and their work for peace and justice, separation of church and state, and against the agendas of our local progressive groups.

In addition to the Rev. Bob Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of Churches, five other national experts on the religious right will take part in, or attend, the conference.

They are:

The Rev. Dr. Andrew Weaver, clinical psychologist, associate editor of the United Methodist magazine Zion's Herald, contributor to Talk2Action. org (a site for research on the religious right) and a contributor to the book "Hardball on Holy Ground: the Religious Right v. the Mainline for the Church's Soul", will lead a conference workshop on "Safeguarding Religious Values from Political Manipulation" .

Matt Cherry, the executive director of the Institute for Humanist Studies and president of the United Nations NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion. He will join the diversity panel, "interfaith Dialogue -- Voices of Religious Diversity and Freedom".

Frederick Clarkson, journalist, author and lecturer; a noted researcher and author of books and articles about the religious right; cofounder of Talk To Action.

The Rev. John Dorhauer, nationally known UCC strategist, educator and writer about how churches can deal effectively with religious right intrusions. He will be a guest co-presenter with the Rev. Weaver in the Safeguarding Religious Values from Political Manipulation workshop.

Bruce Wilson, founder of Talk To Action, the online source of information on religious right activities, strategies for dealing with the religious right, and education about the religious right. This is the source many activists, writers, and researchers read and post to, across the country, to keep up with each other and our various activities.

Conference Schedule:

2:00 - 2:50 Registration and Book Signings (and tabling space for organizations )

2:50 - 3:00 Auditorium, Greetings, Information
Bernard Fleishman; President of the The Interfaith Alliance, Capital District chapter

Invocation: The Rev. Vernon Victorson, Pastor, First Lutheran Church Intro. of Keynote Speaker: the Rev John U. Miller, Executive Director, Capital Area Council of Churches

3:00 - 3:45 Auditorium, Keynote Address
The Rev. Dr. Robert Edgar, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches: "Middle Church: Reclaiming the Moral Values of the Faithful Majority from the Religious Right"

4:00 - 4:20 Auditorium, Panel responses
Moderator: The Rev. Robert Lamar
Panelists: Islam, Dr. Mussarat Chaudhry; Judaism, Rabbi Aryeh Wineman; Roman Catholicism, Fr. Chris DeGiovine

4:20 - 4:30 Audience questions

4:30 - 4:45 Break

4:45 - 6:15 Breakout Rooms Workshops:
Safeguarding Religious Values from Political Manipulation (Weaver, Dorhauer);

Listening to the Voices of Youth (the Rev. Joyce Hartwell and panel);

Interfaith Dialogue (the Rev. Robert Lamar, moderator; the Rev. James Kane, Rabbi Beverly Magidson, Imam Ahmed Kobeisy, Matthew Cherry);

Media Voices - The Progressive Moral Imperative (Rob Brill, Times Union; Maureen Aumand, Women Against War; the Rev. Jo Page)

6:15 - 6:30 Lounge, Evaluation and closing

Conference sponsors: The Interfaith Alliance, Capital District chapter; The Capital Area Council of Churches; First Lutheran Church; Methodist Federation for Social Action, Troy Conference Chapter; Sidney Albert Interfaith Center of the College of St. Rose; Capital Region Ecumenical Organization; Muslim Community of Troy; Islamic Center of the Capital District; Presbytery of Albany.

6:30-7:30 Concert, bands from the Listening to the Voices of Youth workshop

Planning to rally

We hear through various listservs that plans are afoot for a rally in Albany to mark the fourth anniversary of the Iraq war.
At a meeting in Albany, 55 people representing peace groups from throughout the region called for a march and rally to mark the 4th anniversary of the Iraqi war - a war that has now gone on longer than World War II. The march and rally will be held on Sunday, March 18 at 2 PM. We will start at the Capital Plaza Museum stairs and marching to the Federal Building. As we march, each person will carry the name of one US GI who was killed in the Iraq war. As of today, over 3100 Americans and 650,000 Iraqis have died.
. . .
If you would like to participate in the building of this event, please join us at the next meeting of the Northeast Peace and Justice Action Coalition on Thursday, February 22 at 5:30 PM at the Albany Friends Meeting House, 727 Madison Ave., Albany.

Joe Lombardo (Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace)
Maureen Aumand (Women Against War)
John Amadon (Vet for Peace)
David Easter (Peace Action)
Steve and Barbara Wickham (Guilderland Neighbors for Peace)

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Global fast

Global Fast seeks to change the world by creating real spiritual renewal and huge charitable impact through a public challenge to unite 10 million people for one day (February 21) of fasting and prayer – to share food with the poor and pray for the world.
If we truly want to make a difference in the world, it cannot happen without personal sacrifice. Fasting is a decision to sacrifice food. While fasting, our experience of hunger gives us compassion for the hungry around the world.

When combined with prayer, fasting is powerful for real spiritual growth. But the purpose of fasting need not be only personal -- it can be truly global. (see Isaiah 58)

We invite you to join us in sharing our food and giving our prayers to impact the world!

More information about the fast may be found here.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Leftward Christian Soldiers?

One of our favorite magazines, The American Conservative, has an interesting article in the January 29 issue with the headline Leftward Christian Soldiers.
With a new generation of leaders preaching social justice over cultural concerns, the Religious Right may not remain an automatic Republican constituency.

The rest of this very interesting article is here.