Saturday, 14 March 2009

Alpha's Nicky Gumbel blasts London diocese

Alpha's Nicky Gumbel is the darling of the London diocese. Vicar of Holy Trinity Brompton, the Golden Goose of London with all its rich, young and beautiful worshippers in Knightsbridge, Kensington and countless "planted" offshoots, the Bishop of London Richard Chartres is fulsome in his praises of the merits of this evangelical stronghold. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, speaks there often. So what has inspired the star of numerous Alpha videos to weigh in against the diocese? It is, as we report, the proposed sale of St Mark's Mayfair to the developer of Covent Garden's Sanctuary, to be turned into an alternative health centre.

Even though Westminster has turned down Hammer's planning application - the pic here shows campaigners cheering outside after the planners met in December - the diocesan finance committee is expected to press ahead with its plan to sell the Grade-I listed church to Hammer on Monday evening. But the bombshell dropped by Gumbel today, in a letter to Archdeacon of Charing Cross Dr William Jacob, is that he was offered the church to house his abundant flock, and said 'yes'. If anyone can afford to restore this redundant wreck to its own and God's glory, it has to be HTB. But it seems like this is one battle in their spiritual war the evangelicals are not going to win. Read Nicky's letter in full, below, and the original missive that prompted it, Dr Jacob's own letter to Lady Sainsbury, a local resident and evangelical Christian backing the campaign to save St Mark's. Read more
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ABp Akinola: America has no right to tell us how to live in Nigeria

Ed: From earlier this year (I think)

“Come, let us return to the Lord, for we all like sheep have gone astray”.

These words of Hosea 6:1 was the clarion call sent to all and sundry by some senior citizens of Nigeria by name Fellowship of Christian Patriots (FCP) to this year’s public lecture titled “Homosexuality and Religion”.

After all niceties have been extended by the organizing committee, the guest speaker, Professor Oyewale Tomori, Vice Chancellor Redeemer University, Redemption City, Ogun State set the ball rolling in a 12 - page research work which took the audience to a historical excursion into the world of homosexuality which he said had been in existence soon after Adam and Eve were chased out of the Garden of Eden. According to him the act is as old as religion itself. However, he said the condemnation of penetrative sex between males and predates Christian belief, as it was frequent in Ancient Greece, where the theme of “action against nature” traceable to Plato, originated in western societies. [...]

[...] While rounding up the programme, the Primate of all Nigeria, Anglican Communion, The Most Rev. Peter J. Akinola said the Homosexual problem is not peculiar to Anglicans or Christians alone, according to him, it is a global human problem, he said all hands should be on deck to teach and sensitize people on what evil same-sex union has brought to mankind. Archbishop Akinola challenged everybody who appears in public to approach this deluge of a problem of disobedience and make this nation a better place to live. He said there is the urgent need to do more research with a view to funding solution to the problem. He said today in the western world religion values teachings and symbols have been removed from public domain in the name of civil liberty and rights and they use the media.

He commended the presence of members of the Islamic religion who joined the gathering of Christian intellectuals to brainstorm on the way forward to the homosexual imbroglio. Primate Akinola admonished that events of this nature should come up more often on various issues that have been identified as precarious.

He challenged his colleagues (fellow bishops) and Imams to confront their congregation with the undiluted word of God in their pulpits bearing in mind that sin has been part of human experience and existence since Adam and Eve disobeyed God. According to him sin is sin and it can manifest himself in any form like homosexuality, stealing, adultery, fornication etc. He gave kudos to the Fellowship of Christian Patriots (FCP) for being the vanguard in this crusade, he urged them never to look back even when people call them names.

Primate Akinola raised a poser, and warned the National Assembly and the government not to succumb to serious pressures being mounted in the name of civil and human rights. He said that as long as Nigeria does not have the right to order England or the West on what to do likewise America has no right to tell us how to live in Nigeria. He said they have no conviction to teleguide us in an ungodly way. According to him Nigeria has multifarious problems in her hands corruption, bad roads, epileptic power failure, and Nigeria can not afford a new additional problem. Read more

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Canadian diocese to go ahead with gay blessings

The Bishop of Niagara has informed the Archbishop of Canterbury that his south central Ontario diocese will begin blessing same-sex unions.

Writing in the March issue of his diocesan newspaper, the Rt. Rev. Michael Bird said that in January he met with Dr. Rowan Williams at Lambeth Palace to brief the archbishop on the work that diocese had undertaken on creating sacramental rites for the blessing of same-sex unions and that it was his intention to authorize gay blessings.

Bishop Bird wrote that he had related Niagara’s “experience of the incredible contribution that gay and lesbian people have made and continue to make in every aspect of our church’s life and witness, and expressed the overwhelming desire on the part of two synods to move forward with the blessings of committed same-sex relationships for couples who have been civilly married.”

He wrote that he told Dr. Williams the diocese’s call to “prophetic justice-making has made us even more determined to become a more open and inclusive church” and break the Canadian House of Bishops and Lambeth moratorium on the introduction of gay blessings. Read more
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Atheists call for "debaptism"

John Hunt was baptised in the parish church of St Jude with St Aidan in Thornton Heath in south-east London. But 50 years later he stands outside and regards its brick facade without much affection.

The “Baptism of Jesus” icon from the 18th century
Baptism represents death and rebirth for Christians

Mr Hunt was sent to Sunday school at St Jude's and later to confirmation classes, but he decided early on that he had no place in what he felt was a hypocritical organisation.

He recalls that his mother had to get lunch ready early for him to attend the classes.

"One Sunday I came back home and said 'Mum, you needn't get lunch early next Sunday because I'm not going to the class any more'. And she decided not to argue."

Now Mr Hunt has become the pioneer in a rejuvenated campaign for a way of cancelling baptisms given to children too young to decide for themselves whether they wanted this formal initiation into Christianity.

However, baptism is proving a difficult thing to undo.

The local Anglican diocese, Southwark, refused to amend the baptismal roll as Mr Hunt had wanted, on the grounds that it was a historical record.

"You can't remove from the record something that actually happened," said the Bishop of Croydon, the Right Reverend Nick Baines.

Expunging Trotsky

"Whether we agree whether it should have happened or not is a different matter.

"But it's a bit like trying to expunge Trotsky from the photos. Mr Hunt was baptised and that's a matter of public record."

Instead the diocese suggested that the best way for Mr Hunt to renounce his baptism was to advertise it in the London Gazette, a journal of record with an ancestry going back to the 17th Century.

I reject all its creeds and other such superstitions, in particular the perfidious belief that any baby needs to be cleansed of original sin...."
John Hunt

Bishop Baines is willing to see such notices inserted into the baptismal roll to indicate decisions such as Mr Hunt's, but the Church of England's national headquarters made clear that such a concession was not official policy.

A letter from the the Archbishops' Council said that the Church of England did not regard baptism as a sign of membership, so any amendment to the record would be unnecessary.

The Roman Catholic Church does view a person's baptism as incorporating them into the Church - and membership is later important to the Church if, for example, the same person wants to get married in a Catholic church.

It is willing to place an amendment in the record.

The National Secular Society would like the Church of England to devise a formal procedure for cancelling baptisms, with a change in the baptismal roll as part of it.

Debaptism certificate

In the face of resistance from the Church, the society has come up with a document of its own.

The "Certificate of Debaptism" has a deliberately home-made look, with its mock-official decoration and quasi-official language.

Sitting on a bench in the grounds of St Jude's Church, John Hunt intoned the opening lines.

"I, John Jeffrey Hunt, having been subjected to the rite of Christian baptism in infancy... hereby publicly revoke any implications of that rite. I reject all its creeds and other such superstitions in particular the perfidious belief that any baby needs to be cleansed of original sin."

The society's president, Terry Sanderson, says the certificate is not designed to be taken too seriously, and he suggests displaying it in the loo.

However, he says, it has now been downloaded more that 60,000 times, and has taken on a life of its own. Read more
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Friday, 13 March 2009

Student will face 'justice of mob' if released early

Ed: This reminds of those great lyrics by Jackson Browne to Solider of Plenty. The context was different, but 'the song remains the same':

God is great, God is good
He guards your neighborhood
Though it's generally understood
Not quite the way you would
You try to take the slack
Stay awake and watch his back
But something happens every now and then
And someone breaks into the promised land

Sayed Pervez Kambaksh will face mob justice in Afghanistan if he is ever released early, a leading religious scholar warned yesterday.

Mullah Enyatullah Balegh said the student journalist would be killed on the streets if his prayers for a presidential pardon come true. Mr Kambaksh, whose plight was brought to worldwide attention by a campaign in The Independent, must serve 20 years in jail after the country's Supreme Court upheld his blasphemy conviction without even hearing his defence.

Speaking at Kabul University's sharia faculty where he is a professor of Islamic law, Mullah Balegh said: "If he isn't punished, if he's released for any reason, the jihadis will kill him, the criminals will kill him, the Taliban will kill him, everyone will want to kill him."

Mullah Balegh, who sits on Afghanistan's influential Ulemma Council of Islamic Scholars, said Mr Kambaksh had committed a heinous crime against Islam. "If somebody attacks me with a knife, he is a criminal," he said. "If somebody attacks my religion, is he not a criminal too?" Read more
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Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Jade Goody: 'I'm dying... but happy' says cancer-stricken reality TV star

Jade Goody, the reality television star, has sent a final public message that she is 'happy' despite facing death and wants to be remembered as "the girl who put up a fight".

The mother-of-two, whose cancer of the cervix is spreading through her body, said: "I can look back and be proud of what I've done. I've achieved more in 27 years than some achieve in their lifetime."
The Big Brother star is expected to make a final journey from the hospital where she has been receiving specialist cancer treatment to her home in Essex.

In an interview with OK! magazine she said: "I'm dying ... but I'm happy."

She said she was happy to be remembered as "the mouthy bird off the box" who "irritated and entertained people in equal measure".

However, she added: "I also want to be recalled as the girl who put up a fight and would never let herself get beaten down. I was given a death sentence, but I didn't let it kill me.

"I fought it, got married, got christened, I'm happy. I could bitch about dying young, but at the end of the day, I can look back on my life and be proud of what I have done." Read more
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Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Julie Myerson: Monsters in the making?

[...] The rights and wrongs of whether Myerson should have published (she has certainly been damned for it) have become something of a side issue. What she has succeeded in doing is lifting the lid on our darkest fear, that through our own well-intentioned but wishy-washy parenting, we are creating a generation of teenage timebombs.

“I wish you weren’t my parents! I want to live with Phoebe’s parents. At least they respect her.”
As the door slams behind my furious six-year-old daughter (yes, that’s six, not 16) I am left wondering what on earth I’m supposed to do next. I have no idea. Should I run after her, rugby-tackle her on the stairs and demand she acquiesce to whatever request I had made – to hang up her coat perhaps, or tidy away her toy farm? Quite possibly, but I haven’t the energy, or, if I’m honest, the will.

I stand as guilty as the next modern parent of believing that benign is best, and if the price to be paid is picking up a few handfuls of 1:32 scale Friesians, then so be it. My daughter is generally a sunny, sweet child, so why make a fuss when she throws an occasional strop? Yet there remains a nagging suspicion that my generation of parents has got the balance wrong and that, far from our reasonable boundaries being adhered to by our hopefully reasonable children, we are in fact in danger of storing up a host of problems in years to come by treating our children so democratically now. Like many parents reading the Myerson story, I wonder: what can I do to avoid a full-scale teenage rebellion? And, just as importantly, am I already too late? Read more
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