Daily Archives: August 15, 2007

The Religion Report–Australian Catholic schools: a preferential option for the wealthy?

Catholic schools in Australia are at a crossroads, according to a policy document released last week by the bishops of New South Wales and the ACT, a document which is focused mainly on retaining Catholic identity and improving the standard of religious evangelisation in Catholic schools.

But perhaps there are forces at work that the bishops would rather not talk about. Ever since the 19th century the Australian bishops have fiercely guarded the autonomy of their parish schools, but these days, more and more socially disadvantaged Catholics are being forced out into public schools because they can’t afford the fees; while more and more middle-class, non-Catholics, are enrolling.

Well the Secretary of the Vatican Congregation for Education, Archbishop Michael Miller of Canada, has just been in Australia to speak at a conference on the future of Catholic education. He says that if Catholic children are being forced out of Catholic schools because they can’t afford the fees, then there’s something wrong with the funding arrangements. In fact he thinks Catholic schools should be fully funded by the government, with no school fees.

I asked Archbishop Michael Miller what made for a successful Catholic school.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, Education, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Happiness at Work: A Myth to Be Punctured?

A study in the Harvard Business Review shows happy workers are more creative and productive than unhappy ones. But Financial Times columnist Lucy Kellaway isn’t so sure. She discusses whether happiness at work is important after all with Renee Montagne.

Listen to it all from NPR.

Posted in * Culture-Watch

Irate Airline Passengers Threaten to Sue

Dozens of outraged airplane passengers are threatening to sue Continental Airlines , claiming they were left stranded on a plane and grounded for hours in hellish conditions.

Because of bad weather, Continental’s July 19 Flight 1669 from Caracas, Venezuela, to Newark, N.J., was diverted to Baltimore-Washington International Airport, where it landed at 1:50 p.m. Passengers said after sitting on the grounded plane for hours, they began protesting by banging on overhead compartments, clapping their hands and even signing a petition asking to be let off.

“We were not provided with food,” said passenger Caroline Murray. “There were passengers who were ill. There was one woman who was diabetic. There was a pregnant woman with small children. It was shocking to me.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues

Sydney Morning Herald: Marriage makes most people 'happier'

Marriage does make most people happier, according to a new study.

Even if around half of all marriages end in divorce, actually tying the knot is better than living in a de facto partnership or remaining single, according to Swiss economist Professor Bruno Frey.

“To be married really contributes to happiness,” Prof Frey told AAP.

“The reason I see that is that people expect a stronger sense of commitment which they like and just to have a partner is obviously considered to be something else.”

Professor Frey, of the Department of Economics at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, is the co-researcher of a study into the relationship between happiness and marriage which surveyed 15,000 people over 17 years.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Marriage & Family

Notable and Quotable

“Aside from running outside naked, I don’t know what to do to reach the people who might want to find [and buy] this house.”

Gretchen Rolfe, a Mission Viejo psychologist, whose monthly mortgage payment jumped about 25% last spring, in today’s LA Times

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

Tightrope 20s: Risky behavior doesn't end with teen years

Shannon Rea’s job as a part-time bartender in Brooklyn gives her a close-up look at the risky behavior of people in their 20s.

Some end a night of drinking with hookups. Some take rides from the slightly inebriated. Others try to drive when they shouldn’t. (She sobers them up, takes their keys and finds them rides.)

“I think the early 20s are the new teenage years,” says Rea, 26, a college student studying to be a history teacher. “There are no parents telling them, ‘You can’t do this.’ It’s pretty much a free-for-all.”

The 20s always have been prime time for risky behavior, from binge drinking and unprotected sex to dabbling in drugs and driving too fast. But new brain research suggests young adults may have less control over these impulses: Neurological areas that regulate impulse and emotions are not fully developed until about the mid-20s, findings show.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch

In Southwest Florida, Tiny church perseveres

The Rev. John H. Poole of St. Philip’s says, though, he’s not focusing on potential gain that could result from a schism in the Episcopal Church. His emphasis is on evangelization and attracting more people, especially young families, who are unchurched or are interested in a conservative, Bible-based, liturgical community, Poole said.

“I feel there are people searching for the truth,” he said. “We certainly are welcoming of any Episcopalian that might want to come looking for a lifeboat….

Poole, who became a priest a year ago, had been a deacon in the Episcopal Church for a quarter of a century before leaving the denomination.

“I was looking for a more stable, historical faith,” he said.

The former ironworker from upstate New York said he found what he was looking for when he met Bishop Walter H. Grundorf – also a former Episcopalian – of the Anglican Province of America.

“It renewed my faith,” he said of the religious community with congregations scattered throughout the country.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Continuum, Other Churches

Former Episcopal priest in Central NY admits to sexual abusing boys

Officials with the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York say J. Edward Putnam, 66, recently admitted in a written statement to the bishop that he engaged in “inappropriate conduct with minors” while at St. James Episcopal Church in Skaneateles (skan-ee-AT’-lus).

An investigation begun in May resulted in his being suspended last month from acting as a priest for 20 years. Diocese officials say Putnam, who was ordained in 1970, admitted to sexually abusing the boys from early 1985 to mid-1993.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry

Subprime Problems Spread Into Commercial Loans

Turmoil in the subprime mortgage market spread again yesterday ”” this time to a type of short-term security held by money market mutual funds. These funds have become the investment of choice for many people seeking a safe haven.

Standard & Poor’s, the ratings agency, warned yesterday that it might downgrade several issuers of commercial paper, a short-term I.O.U. by companies that promise to repay loans typically within a few weeks to a year.

In these cases, S.& P. said, the commercial paper was backed by residential mortgages….

Investors have flocked to money market funds as they try to avoid volatile stocks and the seized-up bond market. Last week, more than $36 billion moved into money market funds, the largest shift since December 2005. In all, some $2.6 trillion is in money market funds, according to AMG Data Services.

Such funds are sold to investors as the equivalent of cash, and their $1-a-share net asset value is considered inviolate. But if the funds experienced big losses, the value of the assets could be vulnerable.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

From NPR: Schools Worry About Fate of Desegregation Efforts

Chester Darling has been fighting desegregation plans for decades. The Massachusetts attorney hailed this year’s Supreme Court ruling and says he knows what he would like to do about school systems that still use race to decide who attends a particular school.

“I would go after every single one of them,” Darling announces. “It’s wrong. You just don’t sort kids by color and deny benefits to them because of the color of their skin.”

Desegregation is still a touchy issue around Boston, the scene of violent protests over school busing in the 1970s. Supporters of desegregation plans now worry the pendulum has swung back to those bad old days.

“We’re taking a step back toward resegregation,” says Jeff Young, superintendent of schools in Newton, Mass. “I don’t know how you can think much besides that.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education, Race/Race Relations

Diocese of Lexington Executive Council Adopts Courtesy Covenant

Here are some of the elements:

–Meetings will begin and end on time, with consent and discussion agendas planned to maximize time for effective discussion and decision-making.
–A detailed agenda and all documents pertaining to agenda items will be mailed to members sufficiently in advance of the meeting date to allow for thorough study. –It is the responsibility of each member to familiarize themselves with the materials prior to the meeting.
–I will come to the meeting on time and stay the entire time. If I am unable to attend, or must leave before the end of the meeting, I will notify the leader in advance.
–I will use “I” messages when I address the meeting: “I believe;” “I think;” “I want;” etc.
–I will listen respectfully to what others have to say without interrupting. I will not engage in side conversations when another speaker has the floor.

Read it all (hat tip: Bible Belt Blogger)

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, TEC Parishes, TEC Polity & Canons

US Army struggles with soldier who won't pull the trigger

The US Army sergeants waited on the couch, studying the floor. Family dogs skirted the sofa, growling. From time to time, one of the soldiers extended a conciliatory hand to them.

On the floor, sixth-grader Rebecca Aguayo played a video game; her twin rollerbladed outside. Just one voice fed the tension in the living room: Their mother, Helga, sat in an armchair, bawling. “It was the ugly crying, with the snot and everything,” Mrs. Aguayo recalls, “I wanted them to see how much they were hurting us.”

Her husband, Army Spc. Agustín Aguayo, hurried around their military base apartment in central Germany that afternoon, under orders to assemble his battle gear. Two-and-a-half years earlier, in February 2004, the medic had applied to leave the Army as a conscientious objector (CO), someone whose beliefs forbid him to participate in war. While his claim was being evaluated, Aguayo served a year in Iraq with an unloaded weapon; when the claim was rejected, he sued for another review.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Military / Armed Forces

Canadians attend low-pressure meeting of African and American bishops

At one of the first plenary sessions, the organizers announced (to much applause) that no official statements would come from the meeting. Instead, lots of time was scheduled for conversation, including meals, siestas, and “marketplace” encounters. “It was a great opportunity to have time to talk to African bishops who it would take me many months to go to,” said Dr. Johnson. “To have them all at the same consultation, with enough time to sit and have conversations, was an absolute gift.”

Ellie Johnson gave one of the few formal presentations of the week, on the findings of the Inter-Anglican Standing Committee on Mission and Evangelism. She also led a workshop on reconciliation. Hot topics of the week included the millennium development goals, HIV/AIDS, women’s empowerment, and the same-sex issue dividing the Anglican Communion. Bishops could also organize sessions around topics of their choice.

Rev. Dr. Isaac Kawuki-Mukasa, a native of Uganda and a congregational development consultant at the diocese of Toronto, came to assist Bishop Poole in his cross-cultural conversations. “The enthusiasm of African bishops was very uplifting. They are full of hope,” he said, adding later that, “the time is now to begin exploring alternative ways of relating.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces

Jonathan Petre: English constitutional crisis looming?

The news that the Queen’s eldest grandchild may have to renounce his right to the throne to marry his Canadian fiancé has aroused unexpected passions.

Since the story appeared on the front page of the Daily Telegraph last week, there has been a deluge of reaction.

When the engagement between Peter Phillips, the 29-year-old son of the Princess Royal, and Autumn Kelly, 31, his management consultant girlfriend, was announced a fortnight ago, it barely created a ripple.

After all, Mr Phillips is only tenth in line to the throne, and the couple have been too sensible and publicity shy to attract much media interest.

But the royal romance took an unlikely twist when it emerged that Miss Kelly is a baptised Roman Catholic and therefore falls foul of the 1701 Act of Settlement, which bars monarchs and their heirs from becoming or marrying “papists”.

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, England / UK

Chicago Alderman Wants To Tax Bottled Water

Cooling off with bottled water could soon cost you more within the Chicago city limits if one alderman has his way.

As CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman reports, Ald. George Cardenas (12th) wants to slap a tax of up to 25 cents on the cost of every bottle to help close a $217 million budget gap.

“People enjoy jogging or driving with a bottle of water. There’s a cost associated with this behavior. You have to pay for it,” said Cardenas, one of Mayor Richard M. Daley’s staunchest City Council supporters.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources