Bishop Gene Sadly Reports

According to a comment from Fr. Jake’s place, Bishop of New Hampshire V. Gene Robinson has been advised that he will not have the Archbishop’s permission to preach or celebrate the Eucharist while in England during the Lambeth conference – the conference he was pointedly not invited to attend. This was at a service at a London-area church attended by one of Jake’s commenters. If true, I’ve lost much respect for the ABC.

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Washington State Town Effectively Bans Homeless Camps

Churches in Western Washington, in towns like Olympia and Tumwater, have been taking turns hosting a homeless camp called Camp Quixote over the last year or so. Basically, the homeless are housed in church parking lots in an organized fashion, with access to the church buildings at times for rest rooms, kitchen and washing facilities. After a few months, they move on to the next location. It’s a great way for churches to cooperate with each other – there’s an Episcopal church, a Unitarian Universalist community, and other denominations.

But the nearby town of Lacey, WA decided that they would not allow churches in their town to participate or start a similar program; rather than ban it outright, they passed a ludicrously complicated, impractical, and expensive ordinance that basically makes it impossible for ANY group to run any kind of homeless shelter in Lacey at all.

They think they can ban the poor, apparently. Nice.

Message clear: Lacey doesnt want homeless – Opinion – The Olympian – Olympia, Washington

The council imposed 16 pages of limitations on every host church. Each host congregation, for example, must have $1 million worth of general liability insurance and pay for a conditional use permit to house the homeless. Each church must have a kitchen and the entrance must be manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Host churches must log every visitor and track every single homeless individual’s circumstance. Shelter residents must present identification or be fingerprinted. How many homeless individuals have a driver’s license for identification purposes?

By erecting those hurdles, the council majority has, in practical terms, made it impossible for churches to meet their biblical call to shelter the homeless. It’s a shameful — and perhaps unconstitutional — infringement on the rights of religious congregations.

While reading the restrictions, I was mentally recasting them in terms of Holy Moly/St Nicholas. It’s pretty sobering, because our biggest issue is lack of program space. We’d be prevented from offering hospitality by this ordinance – I doubt any church would be able to beat it.

We couldn’t afford the insurance, we don’t have a certifiable kitchen, we couldn’t pay for the conditional use permit unless it was a few hundred dollars, we wouldn’t be able to man an entrance 24/7, let alone staff it during the day or keep the records. We’re in a suburban neighborhood, so homelessness is invisible in our area – there may be dozens of people camping rough in the forest preserve a mile away, and there are homeless shelters, but the homeless are never seen during the day except at a nearby interchange where they stand with cardboard signs. We do what we can in a small way to support other churches’ weekly shelters – I’ve got another laundry run to do this week.

We were talking to the diocese about an addition, but it all got very political and the design and construction planning just got totally bogged down. So now we’re taking back the old rectory house off the back of the church parking lot – which means that the renters have to be evicted – just to get the space we need.

And the issue of the renters is a long-standing problem, because they’ve been behind in their rent for years . Every now and then, they promise to catch up, but mostly they don’t pay rent at all, or now and then they pay a few hundred dollars. So it puts us in the position of either offering charity willingly (except that the relationship is very difficult and unsatisfying) or reluctantly coming to the decision to dislodge someone in order to get the use of our property. Eventually this summer, the house will become program, storage, and food pantry space, until such time as the diocese gets around to helping us design and build the addition. It’s possible that someone may still end up living in the house in a caretaker capacity, but we would set up much more careful guidelines, and it would be someone that’s connected to us in some way that needs help. Basically, we’ve been giving housing away to people that could afford to live somewhere else, but were happy to take advantage of us.

It’s troubling. But that’s how it is. They’ve been avoiding us for years – on Sundays, they’re never around, and they don’t return phone calls. It took several months just to catch up with them and speak face to face to let them know our plans, rather than leave a notice on the door. I hope they find a nice new place… and I hope they can get their act together.

Via Episcope

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Unnatural Natural Women

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Say what you like about the religion, it’s not natural for women’s faces to be this lean. Even for nursing mothers, these women look like they’re not getting enough to eat. The one in the middle is becoming famous on Flickr for that monobrow, by the way. Their body language is weirdly out of synch with modern life, too. It’s as if they’ve adopted some kind of backwards-engineered emulation of the way women hold their bodies in old, old photographs from the pioneer days. They also remind me of the faces of hardscrabble farmers’ wives from the 30′s Dustbowl photographs – the kinds of photos where you think of words like “famine” and “drought” when you look at them. These women look famished.

From descriptions in stories about the kids, the children have never eaten processed food – I find that pretty hard to believe! They’ve been shopping at Costco, after all, and I don’t think they were growing their own wheat (although I’ll admit that they might have been buying wheatberries and grinding their own flour, it’s to do with the commandment to store up food).

In all the photos, none of the younger women appear to have any meat on their bones. The older women look pretty bony around the eyes and cheeks, too. There’s only a couple of them that look to me like they’re well-nourished or rounded. One of them has red hair… and you can bet that red-headedness is extremely rare in this inbred of a population. With recessive genes, it’s kind of all or nothing, so there either would be a ton of redheaded kids, or almost none. The redhead has the tallest hair of them all except for the one with the monobrow, so she must be especially godly. Maybe she’s a convert; it’s the way of converts to go to great lengths to show they’re just as pious as everyone else in the group.

When the Polygamists Came to Town – TIME

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They’re all thin as rails, and their stomachs are totally flat – why are so few of the women visibly pregnant? Are the pregnant ones (that aren’t teenagers, that is) deliberately keeping out of view? The dresses are designed to be worn right through multiple pregnancies, I think; note the front pleats. I can’t believe it’s because the dresses are deliberately made to fit loosely – they all look like they’re seriously underweight. They’re all flat-chested, too… I wonder if this is a consequence of nursing (probably right through the next pregnancy) and not being able to build up fat reserves?

I’d like to know what their BMI percentages are, I’d bet they’re on the low end (where it begins to affect fertility). But it’s doubtful we’ll ever hear anything concrete about medical histories

And look at how tightly they hold their shoulders, and they don’t make eye contact with the big sheriff. Actually, by comparison, he looks huge and menacing (which no doubt makes the FLDS lawyers happy).

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Note how they all hold their hands close to their mouths and adopt similar poses. In all the photos, the poses and facial expressions and body language all look like something out of the 19th century – in some photos, women speaking to reporters seem to duck their heads and look up in an almost stereotypical “submissive wife” way. There’s another photo where the women are stepping about the buses with their kids, and one girl’s head is ducked really low to avoid the gaze of a tall, black state trooper. The odd thing is that this community looked and dressed much differently back in the 50′s, when Short Creek was invaded by the Arizona state police and everyone was rounded up. It’s almost as if with the mandated clothing- and hair- styles for women that were a reaction to that, they decided they had to completely enact the role of the hardy, super-frugal pioneer wives that were their models. They speak in an oddly stilted cadence, probably because they’ve never heard radio or TV, and their only prior experience with public speaking has been giving their “testimony” (faith-promoting stories) in church services.

The final irony: the original phone calls from Sarah, the teen-aged mother that called an anti-polygamy activist and the local women’s shelter, were probably a hoax.

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FLDS Polygamists: No Records of Births, Deaths, Abuse

One thing to remember: the FLDS compounds are as self-sufficient as possible. Medical care is handled “inhouse.” State mandated reporter laws for suspected abuse cases and records keeping: forget about it.
More Clarity About Abuse, Intermarriage, Child Breeders, and the Fundamentalist Church of Later Day Saints | PEEK | AlterNet

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Opposition reunites in Zimbabwe

This is in advance of the official announcement of the election results (which I assume is in the MDC’s favor). Ironically, it took place at a swiftly called press conference at South Africa’s main airport, as President-elect Tsvangirai has been in Botswana waiting for results.

BBC NEWS | Africa | Opposition reunites in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwes divided opposition says it has reunited, declaring a majority in the countrys parliament.
The announcement was made by Movement for Democratic Change MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his former rival Arthur Mutambara.

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Zimbabwe: “For Heaven’s Sake Don’t Prop Him Up”

Archbishop of York Dr. John Sentamu, collarless, in front of Yorkminster.
BBC NEWS | UK | Archbishop leads Zimbabwe protest
The Archbishop of York has urged members of Zimbabwe’s security forces not to prop up Robert Mugabe’s regime. Dr John Sentamu, one of the most senior members of the Anglican church, is leading a day of fasting and prayer in support of the people of Zimbabwe. He urged the army and police not to “terrorise the ordinary citizens”. In December, Dr Sentamu cut up his clerical collar on television and said he would not replace it until President Mugabe was out of office.

There has been a month of deadlock in Zimbabwe following disputed elections. Dr Sentamu called on the public to join him in prayer for the country. He said: “My plea, really to the army and to the police, is very simple. “Your job is not to prop up a government that actually lacks legitimacy, but to protect every citizen of Zimbabwe. “And if Mugabe has lost the election, for heaven’s sake don’t prop him up.”

“As a Christian community we must all stand together with our brothers and sisters living under the tyranny of Mugabe and pray that they will find deliverance.” On Thursday, Dr Sentamu released a joint statement with the Archbishop of Canterbury calling for international action to prevent “horrific” violence in Zimbabwe. And, speaking on Sunday, he told the BBC: “I’ve visited it a number of times and it was the bread basket of that region. “It’s now a basket case and the problems of Zimbabwe actually affect a lot of us – it’s not just them.” He said that on other international issues, such as global warming and the humanitarian crisis in Darfur, there had been “a coalition of nations” prepared to speak out. “But, for Zimbabwe, it seems as if it doesn’t really matter,” he said. “And I actually think that the international community and all of us must be concerned about a country which once was a real showcase in Africa and now really is terrible.” In Zimbabwe, Mr Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party has failed to regain its parliamentary majority after a partial recount of votes from polls last month. The opposition MDC says it also won presidential polls, although those results remain unreleased. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) said the presidential results could be announced after the completion of the recounts, expected by Monday. The head of the Anglican church in southern Africa, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, told the BBC he wanted a weapons embargo to be imposed against Zimbabwe. “I would say Zimbabwe needs food, peace and security and not the arms. I would support such an embargo,” Mr Makgoba said.

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