Statement from Bishop Knisely on Syrian Refugees


The Episcopal Church has been resettling refugees for over 75 years and we will be active in welcoming Syrian refugees to America. It is wrong to discriminate against those fleeing violence, oppression or certain death merely because of where they come from or because of their religion. In the Book of Leviticus, God says to the people of Israel that, “the foreigner who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the foreigner as yourself, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.” We are, therefore, called to welcome the stranger and aid our brothers and sisters in their time of need.

How to welcome the refugee and the foreigner into the land

Current Affairs

Looking for information about the Syrian refugee situation for Episcopalians and what you can do to get involved, to welcome the stranger and the alien into the land (Leviticus 19:34)? Got you covered:

To help understand the current situation with Syrian refugees, the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society will present two live webinars, both 60 minutes long, on Thursday, November 19 and Monday, November 23 to examine this emerging refugee crisis.

Presented by the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s Episcopal Migration Ministries and Episcopal Public Policy Network, the live webinars will begin at 2 pmEastern on November 19 and 8 pm Eastern on November 23.

More details and links to resources here: Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society presents special important webinars: Syrian refugees in the USA

Bishop of the Armed Forces: Veterans and the Church

Current Affairs

Jay Magness, Bishop Suffragan for the Armed Forces and Federal Ministries, and himself a veteran, has long essay on the evolving relationship between the faith community and the veteran community. This is just a taste below.

Veterans Day 2015: A Meditation Upon the Uneasy Relationship:

On this Veterans Day 2015, unlike some of my friends in the faith community, I am not all that interested in what we can do for service members and veterans. I am, however, very interested in what these persons can do for the faith communities of America. Service members and veterans, if given the appropriate recognition, honor, welcome, and permission can teach us so very much about the spiritual value of personal and corporate sacrifice.

We live in an age dominated by the values of personal achievement and material acquisition. It will do us well to hear the encouraging word that service members and veterans can teach us about the spiritual value of sacrifice.

(Via Episcopal News Service)

It’s good advice. Don’t ask what we can do for the vets, instead ask them what we can learn from them.

Bill Nye contra climate change deniers

Climate Change

Bill Nye, the Science Guy, is releasing a new book on the science behind Climate Change and the implications – in the short and long term – for all us.

When asked about the myths that have come to surround the whole topic he speaks very plainly:

The biggest myth is that scientific uncertainty, plus or minus so many percent, is the same as doubt about the whole thing. And that’s wrong; that’s patently wrong. And that’s a dangerous confusion. This is one of the big reasons I wrote the book.

The full interview is here: Bill Nye demolishes climate deniers: “The single most important thing we can do now is talk about climate change.” –

Former Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori says something very similar in a video we and others did on the Catechism of Creation (that ought be out and available for parish and small group use any day now…)

Memory eternal: René Girard


René Girard, a major influence on my faith and theology, died yesterday.

The renowned Stanford French professor, one of the 40 immortels of the prestigious Académie Française, died at his Stanford home on Nov. 4 at the age of 91, after long illness.

Fellow immortel and Stanford Professor Michel Serres once dubbed him “the new Darwin of the human sciences.” The author who began as a literary theorist was fascinated by everything. History, anthropology, sociology, philosophy, religion, psychology and theology all figured in his oeuvre.

More here: Stanford professor and eminent French theorist René Girard, member of the Académie Française, dies at 91 | Stanford News Release

The article on the Stanford website is quite telling in that it makes little or no mention of Girard’s faith or his influence on modern theology. While Girard did seminal work in literary theory and art criticism, I believe it is his insights into the meaning of the Atonement that will have the most lasting impact on Western thought.

My preaching and the way I read the biblical narratives have been totally transformed by his work from the first day I read “The Scapegoat“.

My hope is that there will be a number of articles posted in the next few months that try to communicate what an earth shattering insight into human society his theories on mimesis and scapegoating have had. Those of us who have been studying his thought for years will have now look to his disciples Gil Baille, James Allison and others to extend his work.

Update: Additional articles are starting to be posted like this one by Adam Eriksen in which he writes:

As I reflected upon the news, I was struck by the fact that René taught us so much about death. Specifically, about the scapegoat mechanism. René confronted us with the truth about being human. We all have a propensity to manage our conflicts by blaming someone else for them. We find unity against a common enemy. In good sacrificial formula, all of our conflicts and sins against one another are washed away as we unite in expelling or sacrificing our scapegoat. Temporary reconciliation and peace descends upon the community, but it is only temporary. For the expulsion or murder of our scapegoat never actually solves our problems. Our conflicts re-emerge and the scapegoating mechanism continues.

But if René taught us about death, he also taught us about life. The solution to our natural inclination toward scapegoating is found in the Judeo-Christian tradition, specifically in the Gospels’ portrayal of Jesus’ death. “Christ agrees to die,” wrote René in his book Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World, “so that mankind will live.”


“Science alone cannot save the planet”

Religion / Science

Anglicans and Orthodox believers are organizing in advance of the upcoming UN Summit on Climate Change:

Science alone cannot save the planet the spiritual leader of an estimated 300 million Orthodox Christians has insisted, as he joined forces with the Archbishop of Canterbury urging followers around the world to fight climate change.

The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, insisted that global warming is a “moral crisis” requiring millions of people to change their day-to-day behaviour as much as politicians making treaties on the environment.

More: Science alone cannot save the planet, insists spiritual leader of Orthodox Church – Telegraph

The Creation Museum: More about the founder’s fears than their faith



Savannah Cox, writing in Salon about the Creation Museum Petersburg KY:

A closer look at the Petersburg attraction reveals that the questions raised in the museum are deeply existential, and ones which are steeped in — and troubled by — an atheistic logic: If it is indeed true that Adam and Eve did not literally exist, as science says, then there is no original sin. If there is no original sin, then Jesus did not have to die for it. If Jesus did die, but not for our sins, then why is he our savior? If he is not our savior, then what is he? What are we?

Viewed this way, the Creation Museum becomes less of a clearly demarcated home for the irrational, but rather a metaphysical space for individuals deeply troubled by emerging forms of authoritative rationality. The museum complex, which sprawls over dozens of acres, is less of an amusement park for fanatics and more of a fortress for the vanishing fearful. It is a space where the likeminded can physically enter a mindset that they know, and that they worry — if science has anything to say about it — might one day become unknown. Questions of social justice, evolution and humankind’s place in the universe are answered here — and usually in 150 pages or less. Indeed, the Creation Museum offers itself as a vital, life-affirming buffer against the spiritually weathering effects, and warnings, of coming worlds.

Source: My Creation Museum quest: A skeptic’s genuine search for faith, science and humanity in a most unlikely place –

Cox concludes: “If only the museum’s founders believed enough in their own faith to see them through it.”

‘Zeno effect’ verified—atoms won’t move while you watch


From the Weeping Angels developmental lab:Doctor_Who_Weeping_Angel_from_The_Time_of_Angels

One of the oddest predictions of quantum theory – that a system can’t change while you’re watching it – has been confirmed in an experiment by Cornell physicists. Their work opens the door to a fundamentally new method to control and manipulate the quantum states of atoms and could lead to new kinds of sensors.

The experiments were performed in the Utracold Lab of Mukund Vengalattore, assistant professor of physics, who has established Cornell’s first program to study the physics of materials cooled to temperatures as low as .000000001 degree above absolute zero. The work is described in the Oct. 2 issue of the journal Physical Review Letters

Of course this doesn’t answer the real, more fundamental question: How do the atoms know we’re watching?

Source: ‘Zeno effect’ verified—atoms won’t move while you watch