Thursday, June 23, 2011

J.K. Rowling announces her plan to e-publish the Harry Potter series through her new online company

This is a fascinating development in the world of publishing. While not completely cutting out her original print publishers, J.K. Rowling will be self-publishing e-books (along with lots of other things to make the effort an "experience") later this year.  By making the series available in all e-book formats (and that will be interesting to see) she will open up millions more of the next generation (as well as lots of adults who no longer need to carry their Potter books around with special covers - or not).  I have been looking forward to being able to upload the series to my Kindle.  Imagine - reading any part of the series whenever you want, where ever you are!

Even the Pottermore website is a foray into the next-generation of website platforms.  Take a long look at it - the website (as it's earlier version as J.K. Rowling's personal website) is not a flat platform but interactive and personal, emphasizing an experience. 

Let her tell you herself!

Fascinating!   Quote the Raven, Pottermore!
See more about "Pottermore" here at the Pottermore Official website.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Archbishop Bob Duncan announces reorganization of his cabinet as focus of ministry shifts to "where we are headed, rather than where we have been ..."

UPDATED: Anglican TV brings us Archbishop Duncan's State of the Church Address at the meeting of the Provincial Council in Long Beach, CA:

Archbishop Bob Duncan of the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA), addressed the ACNA Provincial Council meeting in Long Beach, CA today.  In the address, Archbishop Duncan highlighted the growth of the developing Anglican province by directing attention to recently published statistics of church growth from last year:
According to the data submitted in the Annual Parochial Reports there were, in the year 2010, 987 baptisms of adults over thirty, 424 baptisms of young people aged sixteen to thirty, and 1647 baptisms of children in the ACNA dioceses, not including the congregations of our Ministry Partners.  What is so stunning about this data is that the number of baptisms of those 16 and older is almost equal to the number of children baptized.  
 As the ACNA moves forward in ministry and growth, Archbishop Duncan reflected the shift in focus in his announcement of the reorganization of his office:
ACNA Archbishop Bob Duncan
As this Provincial Council meets, I am announcing a re-organization of my team of advisors (my “cabinet”) to reflect where we are headed, rather than where we have been. This change is like the change represented in the diocesan stories just told. The Lead Bishops of the Common Cause Partnership – representing all the jurisdictions and organizations out of which the Anglican Church in North America was gathered – were the original Executive Committee of the Anglican Church in North America. Last June the transition was made to an Executive Committee of six clergy and six laity, chaired by the Archbishop. Yet because we are – in the best Anglican fashion – to be “episcopally led and synodically governed” [Lambeth Conference, 1930] the need for wisdom from Lead Bishops representing our jurisdictional and organizational roots caused me to retain a body that had literally led us together into unity. They ceased to be the Province’s Executive Committee, but became the Archbishop’s Cabinet.

Now comes the next step. We are becoming one church. I think everyone here now recognizes that our most important identity is as members of the Anglican Church in North America. We treasure our originating bonds, whether as part of the Reformed Episcopal Church of as part of the Province of Kenya or Uganda or Forward in Faith or whatever, but we are now chiefly all Anglican Church.

So with this Third Annual Provincial Council I am re-shaping my chief advisors group to reflect the program and mission of the Church, to reflect where we are going, where we are being called. The Cabinet will have two arms, one provincial and one global. The provincial arm will include the leaders of five key domestic initiatives (Catechesis, Anglican 1000, Engagement with Islam, Ecumenical Relations, and Liturgy and Common Worship), as well as some others. The global arm will include many seasoned bishops long-known to you, but also the Executive Director of the Anglican Relief and Development Fund. This re-organization also means that not all the members of my Cabinet will be bishops. In two years the Lord has brought us very far and blessed us very much. In order to keep the synod in its rightful place (governing) alongside the bishops (leading) I will also ask that every meeting of the Executive Committee have from one to three reports from members of the Cabinet on the initiatives Cabinet members are themselves leading or undertaking on behalf of us all.

A year ago at Provincial Council on the East Coast (Amesbury) we agreed to the request of the Anglican Mission in the Americas to move from diocesan status to ministry partner status. This change enabled the Anglican Mission to be first a “missionary outreach of the Province of Rwanda” and then a ministry partner with us. Two of their bishops, Doc Loomis and Terrell Glenn, have been named the regular representatives in Provincial Council and College of Bishops, and one of the Mission’s key priestly leaders, Ellis Brust, is also part of their Ministry Partner deputation at this meeting.

We rejoice at our partnership in the gospel. We rejoice that the Anglican Mission was the first to champion church planting as the way forward for Anglicans in the North American context. We rejoice that the AM is here with all our other Ministry Partners. A sign of the partnership shared with both the Anglican Mission and the Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas (a second Ministry Partner with congregations) is cooperation among our congregations, clergy and bishops at the local level, and the identification of all Anglican congregations, whether ACNA, AM or FACA in the Anglican Church’s church finder web tool, the most visited single feature of the Anglican Church website.

Archbishop Ian Ernest
Our global commitments remain strong and we continue to be seen as “gospel partners” and bearers of “authentic Anglicanism” (South-South Encounter IV) by most of the world’s Anglicans. The GAFCON Provinces accord our Province status as the North American Province and I am seated as a Primate in the Primates Council. I was privileged to be present at Archbishop Ian Ernest’s invitation at the All Africa Bishops Conference (of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa) last August in Entebbe and was accorded a seat there for public and state events as one of the archbishops of the provinces. It is the greatest of joys to welcome Archbishop Ian Ernest – Archbishop of the Province of the Indian Ocean and Chairman of CAPA – to this Provincial Council as speaker, observer and friend, and to our College of Bishops as Bible teacher and consultor. It is also a privilege to welcome Fr. Thomas Seville, CR, of the Faith and Order Commission of the Church of England here as participant and observer, in partial response to the action of the General Synod of the Church of England in February 2010 regarding consideration of an appropriate form of recognition or relationship with the Anglican Church in North America.

The Anglican Relief and Development Fund, the official relief and development arm of the Anglican Church in North America, is a significant aspect of our global commitment, and of the growing respect for us as true partners with Anglicans throughout the world. The Primates of Southern Cone, West Africa, Jerusalem and the Middle East, Sudan, Congo, and South East Asia (as well as of ACNA) all serve on ARDF’s Global Trustees. What is more is that national expressions of ARDF are beginning to emerge in developed countries beyond the U.S. and Canada. ARDF-Australia is the first to be fully formed, embracing the concept of objective philanthropy with measurable results piloted by ARDF-US, so that ever-more first-world Anglicans can invest in the sustainable transformation of the Global South in the Name of Jesus Christ.

Two years ago we were 706 congregations. The annual parochial and diocesan reports for 2010 – the first year for which we have a system of statistical reporting in place (another provincial milestone) – identify 952 congregations as part of the dioceses of the Anglican Church in North America and its ministry partners. Statistically this represents a 34 percent growth in congregations at the end of the first 18 months of Church life.

We focus on the centrality of local congregations as the “chief agency” of our mission in the Anglican Church in North America. [Article IV of the Constitution] If we are to “reach North America with the transforming love of Jesus Christ” the principal way we will do this is through the local congregation. We say that every Anglican Church congregation is “accountable to the Holy Scriptures, accountable to the Tradition, and accountable for the transformation of society.”

We understand that congregations are where disciples are formed and that it is through congregations that surrounding environments are changed. We have a clarity about all of this – about the absolute centrality of congregations – that allows us to focus as a Province. Bishops, archbishops, dioceses, structures, programs all exist in order to make the local congregation strong. 
Read the entire address here.  

Monday, June 20, 2011

Today at the Cafe

U2 offered a heartfelt tribute this past weekend in Anaheim to Clarence Clemons (1942-2011) the awesome sax player extraordinaire in Bruce Springsteen's E-Street Band who passed away on Saturday.

"Clarence lived a wonderful life. He carried within him a love of people that made them love him. He created a wondrous and extended family. He loved the saxophone, loved our fans and gave everything he had every night he stepped on stage. His loss is immeasurable and we are honored and thankful to have known him and had the opportunity to stand beside him for nearly forty years. He was my great friend, my partner and with Clarence at my side, my band and I were able to tell a story far deeper than those simply contained in our music. His life, his memory, and his love will live on in that story and in our band. -Bruce Springsteen

Friday, June 17, 2011

Rowan Williams ignites a firestorm

Trevor Grundy comments on the political row sparked by the Archbishop of Canterbury's turn as a "guest editor" of The New Statesman: From here:

Nearly a millennium ago, four unruly knights crossed the English Channel from France and confronted the archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket, over his feud with King Henry II.

Before the knights smashed the future saint’s skull in front of monks at an altar inside Canterbury Cathedral, Henry is said to have wondered aloud, “Who shall rid me of this turbulent priest?”

These days, Prime Minister David Cameron might be wondering the same about the current archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.

Williams sparked a political row by criticizing the government’s austerity measures and budget cuts as the cause of “bafflement and indignation,” saying they are nothing more than “radical, long-term policies for which no one voted.”

To be sure, Williams’ two most recent predecessors angered the governments of their day when Robert Runcie confronted Margaret Thatcher over budget cuts in the 1980s and George Carey blasted Britain’s support for the war in Iraq.

But never have the words of a sitting archbishop of Canterbury caused quite so much anger as Williams’ during his stint as guest editor of the left-leaning New Statesman magazine earlier this month.

The very public flap threw a spotlight on Williams’ twin roles as head of the Church of England and also the 77 million-member worldwide Anglican Communion, and the difficulty of doing both.

If he wades into national politics, critics say he should instead return to ensuring his global flock doesn’t break up over human sexuality. Yet if he ignores the politics of the day, he’s criticized for not using his bully pulpit.

Less than two months after the media hailed him as a “national treasure” when he officiated at the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, Williams has become, in the words of the Sunday Times’ Minette Marrin, a “wordy, holy, hairy man” who is “hustling his tiny flock towards the cliffs of disestablishment with the foolish, self-destructive recklessness of Don Quixote.”

Former Times editor William Rees-Mogg was a tad more succinct in blasting Williams’ critique of government spending cuts. Williams, he said, had shown a distinct lack of “Christian charity.”

Writing in the New Statesman’s June 9 issue, Williams questioned the value of the coalition government’s reforms, and charged that Cameron’s “Big Society” platform had been conceived for “opportunistic and money-saving reasons” and that its ideas were “painfully stale.”

Taken aback by Williams’ public critique, Cameron rejected Williams’ views but nonetheless said he had every right to express them. For good measure, Britain’s top Roman Catholic prelate, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, sided with Cameron.

Williams has received support from some quarters of the church, including a handful of bishops and one retired priest, the Rev. John Papworth, who said, “Not only does the Archbishop of Canterbury have a right to engage in public debate, but it is also his duty.”

Others in the Church of England have noted this is not the first time Williams stepped into the political arena.

He has condemned racism and advised voters not to support the far right-wing British National Party (BNP). In 1985, Williams was arrested during a protest organized by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament at a U.S. air base in Suffolk.

Williams comes from a tradition of activism in a poor part of Wales, and was born into a family of Presbyterians-turned-Anglicans who were steeped in a strain of Anglo-Catholicism.

By criticizing the current coalition government, Williams opened himself up to questions about his own leadership skills, both in the Church of England and the larger communion, where he has the power of persuasion, but little else.

Within the Anglican Communion, conservative Third World archbishops have blasted him — and subsequently gone on to mostly ignore him — for not disciplining the independent-minded U.S. Episcopalians and Canadian Anglicans for their embrace of homosexuality.

Western liberals, meanwhile, likewise ignored his pleas not to ordain openly gay bishops or bless same-sex unions, and rebuffed his plans for an Anglican “covenant” that would bind the communion’s 44 member churches.

Williams, 61, has said that he would love to spend less time talking about homosexuality in order to concentrate on what he calls “the real issues” — hunger, poverty and disease, especially in the developing world.

Yet when he does, as in the New Statesman article, conservative critics say he should spend more time healing the bruised Church of England and leave politics to the politicians.

Marrin, from the Sunday Times, said the incident reflected the church’s unique role in governance of the state, and vice-versa — and not in a good way.

“It has long been clearly absurd that a priest without any mandate from anyone, other than a few quarrelsome men in frocks, should have any ex officio position of power,” she wrote. “Yet the Archbishop of Canterbury sits in the House of Lords and so do 25 other Anglican lords spiritual by right of unelected office.”

Read it all here.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

What N.T. Wright doesn't know ...

Yes, we've been a bit hard on the esteemed theologian of our age lately and we'd like to keep things balanced (no, he's not jumped the shark, but golly, he's tipped his toe into the waters lately) with this fascinating fly-by video-interview of N.T. Wright by The Work Of The People.  He is asked "What does N.T. Wright not know?"

Is there not something deeply embedded in human nature that requires the types of sacrifices that Dr. Wright speaks about here?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Episcopal Church Property Trial ends in Virginia

Faifax County Court House.
The Episcopal Church property trial against congregations that voted overwhelmingly to separate from the Episcopal Church in 2006 ended this week, with more than 600 pages of legal briefs still expected to be filed by The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia.

The seven-week trial in the Fairfax County Circuit Court was presided over by Judge Randy Bellows. The briefs should be completed in October with a ruling from Judge Bellows to follow. Both sides expect Judge Bellows to take his time in reviewing the briefs with a ruling expected some time next year.

A dark shadow was cast over the proceedings with the unexpected death of the Diocese of Virginia's long-time chancellor, Russ Palmore the week before the trial began. Russ Palmore was the chair of the Bishop's Special Committee and author of the Diocese of Virginia Protocol for Departing Congregations which outlined the steps the voting parishes followed to find an amicable way to separate.

Bishop Schori at the National Cathedral.
However, after the protocol was completed, a new Presiding Bishop was installed at Washington National Cathedral, the Most Rev'd Katharine Jefferts Schori who took a very different view then her predecessor over diocesan authority to negotiate with parishes voting to separate from the Episcopal Church. She authorized an intervention into the process which led to the abandonment by the Diocese of Virginia Protocol and Bishop Schori filed lawsuits against all the parishes as well as against nearly 200 lay volunteers. This was followed by Bishop Peter James Lee, then bishop of the Diocese of Virginia, filing parallel lawsuits as well.  Bishop Lee later deposed over twenty clergy who had voted to separate and with Anglican Communion provinces in Nigeria and Uganda.  The Anglican Churches in Nigeria and Uganda and The Episcopal Churches are part of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Judge Bellows in the Circuit Court.
The Episcopal Church lawsuits were set aside by Judge Randy Bellow while the challenge  by the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia to the law used by the protocol and the congregations in guiding the vote to separate, Statute 57-9 of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Judge Bellows ruled in favor of the departing congregations , affirming that the law applied and was followed.

That ruling was overturned last year by the Virginia Supreme Court in Richmond.

With the overturning by the Virginia Court of of the Circuit Court 57-9 ruling, the focus of attention returned to the original 2007 lawsuits filed by Bishop Schori and Bishop Lee.  Attorneys from both sides expect a ruling some time next year, six years after the original parish voted to separate.

UPDATE: Henry Burt, Secretary to the Diocese of Virginia has the official response from the Diocese of Virginia to the wrap-up of the trial here.  Tory Baucum, Rector of Truro, writes his reflections, including the hope that even at this late hour we can find a peaceful and mutually beneficial solution to litigation:
Tory Baucum, Rector of Truro.
On Wednesday, the trial in the church property lawsuits filed against us and six of our sister churches wrapped up.

There were 22 days of trial stretching over almost seven weeks.  I have been told that Fairfax County Circuit Judge Randy I. Bellows heard testimony from more than 65 witnesses and that literally thousands of documents were put into evidence. Paul Julienne, Ernie Wakeham, Doug LeMasters, Tom Yates and Chap Peterson testified on behalf of Truro.  Those present in the trial courtroom have told me our legal team and witnesses have represented us well. I want to especially commend George Peterson, our lead attorney, who continues to put heart and soul into advocating for us.  Pray that God restores him and Tania in the weeks ahead. Their recent marriage, and their friendship to me, is an unexpected blessing having already come out of this trial.  I receive this blessing as a promissory note of future blessings.

With the trial completed, the case now moves into the next phase, in which the lawyers for each side submit to the Court their written arguments about the evidence presented at trial and the controlling law.  Each side will submit three sets of briefs - in August, September, and October - up to a total of 600 pages per side. Judge Bellows has said that after all of this briefing is finished, he will set another day for the lawyers to come back to court to answer any questions he has. His final ruling may not occur until early 2012.

Bishop Shannon Johnston.
I know that many of you are praying, and I urge you to continue to do so.  Pray that God will somehow be glorified in this dispute and that we can, even at this late hour, find a mutual and redemptive outcome with the diocese of VA. Pray especially for Bishop Shannon Johnston, whom I have come to know as a good man who inherited this ungodly litigation.   Pray that God gives him wisdom and perseverance to find a redemptive way forward.

Please pray for continued wisdom and discernment for Judge Bellows as he considers all of the testimony, evidence, and legal arguments and as he prepares his decision. Above all, please pray that the Lord Jesus Christ would be honored and exalted by all that we do and by all that occurs, including the final outcome.

Finally, I ask you pray for me, Elizabeth and the girls that we will have the wisdom, grace and stamina to love and lead Truro through this set of circumstances. We want, above all, for our God to be glorified in this situation and for people outside of faith in Jesus be drawn to him - and we believe He will be.

May it be so. 

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Sunday at the Cafe: How Beautiful

How Beautiful the hands that served
The Wine and the Bread and the sons of the earth
How beautiful the feet that walked
The long dusty roads and the hill to the cross
How Beautiful, how beautiful, how beautiful is the body of Christ

How Beautiful the heart that bled
That took all my sin and bore it instead
How beautiful the tender eyes
That choose to forgive and never despise
How beautiful, how beautiful, how beautiful is the body of Christ

And as He lay down His life
We offer this sacrifice
That we will live just as He died
Willing to pay the price
Willing to pay the price

How Beautiful the radiant bride
Who waits for her Groom with His light in her eyes
How Beautiful when humble hearts give
The fruit of pure lives so that others may live
How beautiful, how beautiful, how beautiful is the body of Christ

How beautiful the feet that bring
The sound of good news and the love of the King
How Beautiful the hands that serve
The wine and the bread and the sons of the Earth
How Beautiful, how beautiful, how beautiful is the body of Christ