GAFCON: Where Everyone Raises Their Hands and Praises the Lord

David Virtue offers us a "photo gallery" of the end of the GAFCON meeting in Jerusalem, highlighting the final agreement the conservative Anglican gathering came to.

But take a look at this photo after the signing:

Pentecostals and Charismatics spend a lot of time emphasising how they raise their hands to praise the Lord–and how everyone else doesn’t.  Looks to me like there aren’t many "anyone elses" left in Christianity.  If the Anglicans have taken to it, what hope is there for the Baptists to hold out?

Message of the Africans: It’s Our Communion Now

The message that GAFCON sent out is clear to some:

In a revolutionary move bordering on schismatic, African archbishops unilaterally announced Sunday in Jerusalem that they have taken over the leadership of the Anglican Church from England and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.

Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Southern Cone, Uganda and West Africa and, later, the Anglican Church of Tanzania, will form a new Council of Primates purporting to provide new leadership for the Anglican Communion, according to press release published at the end of a seven-day conference held in Jerusalem.

"The uniqueness of the Jerusalem Declaration is that the Africans are sending out a clear message to England saying in essence that this is our church," said Rev. Dr. Arne H. Fjeldstad, Head of Communications for the Global Anglican Future (GAFCON) conference, which ended Sunday.

A year and a half ago, I advised the West to just give the Africans the Communion rather than agonise over slavery.  But the Africans have now taken it.

Such a move is revolutionary.  It reverses the whole "home/mission" mentality that has dominated Western Christianity for the last three centuries, and well it should.  It gives Africans and other people outside the developed countries "ownership" of Christianity, which they richly deserve.  That ownership–something they haven’t quite taken with the world’s economic system–will go a long way to immunise them from the silly trends in the West.

And that has implications that reverberate far beyond the Anglican close.


Iranian Firm to Build Hydroelectric Project in West Africa

The Iranian firm FARAB has recently been award a contract from the goverment of Mali (in west Africa) for the construction of a hydroelectric power plant at Kénié, 35 kilometres from the capital of Bamako.  Construction is scheduled to begin in July 2008.

The power plant will have a capacity of 35 MW, using Pelton turbines.  FARAB is delivering this to the government on a build/operate/transfer (BOT) basis.  As is typical with projects such as this, construction will involve a great deal of excavation in the river bed and installation of the turbines to produce power through the flow of the river.


This story is being passed on to illustrate the fact that technology, and the ability to commercialise it, is something that is not unique to "developed" countries.  It was a point I made last year in my post commemorating the tenth anniversary of my geotechnical information site:


Without a doubt the greatest jolt in the road in the last ten years has been 11 September 2001 and the events that have followed it.  When the geotechnical documents first went up, the idea was to provide free information so that those who could not afford it—students, engineers in Third World countries whose company/agency could not afford it (or those elsewhere whose employers were too cheap!) and the like could have access to important information necessary in the construction of civil works of all kinds.  No field of human endeavour has brought more benefit to daily life and human health at less cost than civil engineering and the water, sewer and transportation systems that have followed.  A world where everyone has a reasonable chance is one where this knowledge is widely disseminated and used, and experience at Vulcan demonstrated that the best way to accomplish this was to put the necessary tools in the hands of those who would benefit the most.

The combination of the continuing inequity of the various parts of our world suggests that the need for  But there are those on its “home front” that might take exception to such things being so freely available.  The course of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan provides a good example.  We know that the information is used by the U.S. military (they put most of it out to start with,) sometimes from the site.  We also know that many in the surrounding countries visit the site.  Is this dangerous?  Geotechnical engineering, while employing many computerised advantages today, is not considered “high tech.”  But no structure on earth can be built without a foundation.

Experience in the engineering profession teaches that knowledge cannot be kept locked up indefinitely.  The geotechnical and marine engineering communities, while relatively small, are worldwide and diverse.  Engineers, more than those in the pure sciences, are painfully aware that they and the decision makers for the technology seldom overlap.  The responsible use of technology is generally the province of others.  Linked to that responsible use is a reasonably rational economic and political system, without which technology doesn’t get put into use well if at all.  In other words, really crazy systems tend to get in their own way.  Those who want their destiny to be better need to take the proper decisions to make that happen, one way or another.

And is celebrating its eleventh anniversary next week.

Geothermal Energy Can Certainly Help

The Telegraph’s Catherine Elsworth wonders if geothermal energy can help drive down prices:

Companies are being invited to lease the rights to explore geothermal resources beneath Mount Spurr, a snowcapped 11,070-foot volcano that most recently erupted in 1992 showering much of Anchorage with volcanic ash.

The state Division of Oil and Gas hopes the lease sale, due to go ahead in August, will be the first of many. It is also considering allowing exploration of the 4,134-foot Augustine Volcano, 171 miles southwest of Anchorage.

The move echoes a trend underway across much of the US as fuel prices, worries about dependence on foreign oil and climate change trigger a surge in geothermal projects, particularly in the West and along the Gulf Coast.

According to experts, America is only just waking up to the ancient power source lying beneath dozens of states that has the potential to supply as much as 25 percent of the nation’s energy needs.

But this has been going on for a long time, just up the coast from Catherine’s Los Angeles office.  Below: The Geysers power plant in February 1974.

My family business built a prototype muffer for the steam output of this facility, which addresses the problem of both noise and fossil fuel combustion emissions.  Right: the muffer in action.


Publix in Palm Beach: It’s Still the Event of the Season

Publix Market’s plans to expand/replace the venerable Palm Beach store is testament to the fact that the original opening of the store was The Event of the Season, as I documented in a Christmas 2006 post.  No doubt that Publix has a long way to go in satifying everyone before they start, but there’s no doubt now that even Palm Beach needs a grocery store.

And, Publix is still on a roll: when they opened a store a few kilometres away from my home in East Tennessee, the Friday night after opening was stampeded to the extent that they ran out of shopping carts!

My dear thanks to Joyce Reingold, publisher of the Palm Beach Daily News, who featured my reminiscence of the original opening in her blog.  Hopefully, as the Shiny Sheet expands its historical offerings, it will include this as well.  This tale, along with the starting of the Church Mouse resale shop, are two of my favourite stories from my years on the island.  (It’s interesting to note that the Church Mouse had to be relocated shortly after opening to make way for Publix.) 

And now a sigh of relief for the Shiny Sheet.  From a recent memo to employees of the parent paper from the The Palm Beach Post’s publisher:

I am writing today to advise you of the changes that will begin taking place throughout our company this week.

Our plan is to reduce our workforce of 1,350 by more than 300 full-time equivalent positions across The Palm Beach Post, Florida Pennysaver, and La Palma. The Palm Beach Daily News will not be affected…

Tim Hill at the Tennessee Campmeeting

This week’s podcast features Rev. Tim Hill, Second Assistant General Overseer of the Church of God, address the Tennessee State Campmeeting on Tuesday, 17 June 2008.

For those of you not in the Church of God, it will give you a look at what a Pentecostal campmeeting actually looks like.  (The award for the 55-year pastor is especially interesting.)  For those inside the church, he addresses many of the issues on the “front burner” in our church today.

On Dobson, Obama, and the Road to Eternal Life

I have to say that the back and forth between James Dobson and Barack Obama on the Bible is one of the least edifying discussions we have going this election year.

So Obama says that Leviticus tells us we can’t eat shellfish?  Evidently Jeremiah Wright, like many of his counterparts on the right, never bothered to tell his congregation that the New Testament specifically frees us from these requirements.  On the other hand, Obama is right that the Sermon on the Mount would be the end of the DoD.  But if the left keeps pushing, Christians will exit the military for other reasons, and then they’ll have to recruit from the LGBT community to keep shar’ia from becoming the law of the land.

On the other hand, Dobson’s inability to find a candidate–both during the primary and in the general election–does nothing to boost his credibility after the endless fishing during the Republican primary.  We need a leadership check.

As far as the Pew’s study that most Americans believe that there are many roads to eternal life, evidently the Lodge’s legacy runs a lot deeper than most people think.  That’s what Masonry has taught for many years and I suppose it’s part of the "American Civic Religion," although I wouldn’t bet my eternity on it.

Maybe Obama Has Another Crackdown in Mind

Dick Morris is doubtless correct on Obama’s position to revert to treating terrorism as a law enforcement problem:

“In previous terrorist attacks – for example, the first attack against the World Trade Center, we were able to arrest those responsible, put them on trial. They are currently in US prisons, incapacitated.”

This is big – because that prosecution, and the ground rules for it, had more to do with our inability to avert 9/11 than any other single factor.

Because we treated the 1993 WTC bombing as simply a crime, our investigation was slow, sluggish and constrained by the need to acquire admissible evidence to convict the terrorists…

Intelligence that doesn’t lead to prosecution isn’t covered. But Obama would cover it anyway. He’d require us all to proceed in the way we had to in the halcyon days after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing – procedures that led us to miss the point of what was going on, to fail to identify the real culprits until it was too late and left us unprepared for future attacks.

Or perhaps he has another follow-up to a terrorist attack in mind.  From a 2002 article of mine:

The actions taken by the U.S. government subsequent to 9-11 have generated a lot of discussion about the status of our freedoms as Americans in view of our need of national security through the activities of law enforcement.  What most people haven’t thought of yet is what could have happened with a more "broad-minded" occupant in the White House regarding national security possibilities.  In the wake of the fear generated by this event, such an occupant could have:

  • Sent the Congress home for an indefinite period, saying that it was too dangerous for them to stay in Washington with all of these terrorists about.  Since their emergency home in West Virginia is now a tourist attraction, their options would have been limited.
  • Enacted restrictions on who could fly, empowering the government to "prequalify" travellers on the commercial air system.  In a country as large as the U.S., this would be tantamount to an internal passport system such as existed in the Soviet Union.
  • Launched a broad based legal assault on evangelical Christian organisations.  Since any Christian organisation worth its salt believes that God is above and beyond any government (as Muslims do also), and since the media have spent so much airtime lumping all "fundamentalists" together, a well oiled propaganda machine (such as the Clinton administration had) could have easily made a "threat to national security" line plausible to many.

This is just a sample; people more familiar with the ins and outs of the legal system could probably add many more ideas to this list.