Daily Archives: November 20, 2007

Notable and Quotable

[Scott] SIMON: How much do you read a year?

[Alan] CHEUSE: Well, I read maybe four or five books a week, but some books take three hours; some books take four days. I love Woody Allen’s little joke about taking speed-reading course. And he said, just taking a speed-reading course and finished “War and Peace.” It pertains to Russia.

[Scott] SIMON: How does all that reading affect your writing, or do you have to careful that it don’t?

{Alan] CHEUSE: I think being careful is the worst thing you can possibly do to yourself as a writer. You need to read as much as you possibly can and live as much as you possibly can and write as much as you possibly can. But, you know, reading is as much a part of life as any part and it’s life itself. And it allows us to live other lives that we might not have lived if we hadn’t picked up those books. So it seems to me to be a good human being you must read as much as you can and certainly, if you want to be a good writer, you’ve got to read all the good stuff that you can get your hands on.

Writer Alan Cheuse on this past Saturday’s Weekend Edition on NPR

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Books

Baltimore Area Presbytery is pushing to redefine marriage

The close outcome followed months of debate. In the end, about a dozen ordained ministers wrote a paper defending their opposition to the change.

“It’s a painful position to take,” said one of those pastors, the Rev. Steven Carter of Christ Memorial Presbyterian Church in Columbia. “I believe that we have to speak the truth, but we have to do it with love.”

Although he welcomes gay and lesbian people at his church, “when it comes to leadership positions and when it comes to the role of marriage, in the biblical picture of the world, that is intended to be between a man and a woman,” Carter said.

“There are times when I wish it wasn’t so clear,” he said.

Under the proposal, marriage in the Presbyterian Book of Order would go from a lifelong commitment made by a “man and a woman” to a “lifelong commitment … between two people.”

Another sentence would be changed from, “Marriage is a civil contract between a woman and a man,” to “Marriage is a covenant between two people and according to the laws of the state also constitutes a civil contract.”

“We have great people at our church. … I don’t see why they shouldn’t have the same rights as my husband and I have,” said Jeananne Stine, a member of Govans Presbyterian who helped write the overture about marriage.

Read it all

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Presbyterian

NY Times Letters: Morality and the Death Penalty

Here are Two:

To the Editor:

Statistical analysis may sound scientific, but people don’t behave according to economists’ mathematical formulas. If the death penalty deterred killers, we would be able to find at least one, in a state without the death penalty, who expected to be caught and imprisoned for life but committed murder anyway. No rational person would make that exchange.

Economists will keep debating the numbers, but they should support public policy that sends clear, rational messages. Here’s one: Killing people is wrong ”” whether they’re walking in a dark alley or strapped to a gurney.

Howard Tomb
Brooklyn, Nov. 18, 2007


To the Editor:

Even if we have no clue whether or not the death penalty actually deters, crime prevention is only one of a handful of reasons that a jurisdiction might consider when choosing to mete out the ultimate punishment.

Retribution and the community’s expression of moral outrage are at least as important. Failure to deter doesn’t inevitably drive us to the logical conclusion to execute the death penalty itself.

Jonathan Lubin
New Haven, Nov. 18, 2007
The writer is a student at Yale Law School.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Capital Punishment

Church blogosphere: fresh air or rhetorical smog?

See what you think of it.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Episcopal Church (TEC)

Robin Jordan Analyzes some of the Latest Developments in TEC

What does Presiding Katherine Schori hope to gain from the costly and lengthy litigation in which she is involving the national church and a number of dioceses? It will not stop the Episcopal Church from hemorrhaging members. It will not help Episcopal parishes and churches to retain existing members and to attract new members. It will not prevent clergy, congregations, and dioceses from leaving the Episcopal Church. It will not keep other provinces from assuming jurisdiction over the departing congregations and dioceses. What it will do is strain the resources of the dioceses involved in the lawsuits. It will use monies that might have been put to better use in a shrinking denomination for evangelistic outreach, new church development, and congregational revitalization.

Read it all.

I will only consider posting comments on this submitted by email:

Kendall’s E-mail: KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com

Posted in Uncategorized

A BBC Radio Four Sunday Programme Audio Segment: Women priests in the CofE

15 years ago, the General Synod of the Church of England voted to ordain women as priests. The margin of that victory was narrow, but the response to the change has been emphatic; last year the number of women being ordained overtook the number of men becoming priests for the first time. But not many of them are getting to the senior jobs, and they still can’t, of course, be bishops. Shazia Khan reports.

Listen to it all.

Update: Here is a BBC Northern Ireland Sunday Sequence Segment on the same subject also.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE)

Christopher Hitchens: Something To Give Thanks For

To have savaged and discredited al-Qaida in an open fight and to have taken down a fascist Baath Party, which betrayed its pseudosecularism by forging an alliance with al-Qaida, is to have scored an impressive victory on any terms. However, the price of this achievement was often the indulgence of some excessive conduct on the part of the Shiite parties and militias. The next stage must be the reining-in of the Sadrists and the discouragement of Iranian support for such groups. Again, one hardly dares to hope, but there are some promising signs. The Maliki government is not using undue haste or sectarian demagogy in the case of Sultan Hashim Ahmed al-Tai, Saddam Hussein’s former defense minister, sentenced to death but not yet executed. Many Sunni Kurds and Arabs, either opposed to the death penalty on principle or opposed in this case, seem for now to have prevailed. And “the cabinet,” according to the Nov. 18 New York Times, “has sent legislation to the Parliament softening the de-Baathification law that had prevented former Baathists’ working in government jobs.” I wonder how many people, reading that ordinary sentence about “the cabinet” and “the Parliament,” as reported also in independent Iraqi media, have any idea what it means when compared with the insane proceedings of the totalitarian abattoir state that was Iraq until 2003.

As I began by saying, I am not at all certain that any of this apparently good news is really genuine or will be really lasting. However, I am quite sure both that it could be true and that it would be wonderful if it were to be true.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Iraq War

Study Links Drop in Test Scores to a Decline in Time Spent Reading

Harry Potter, James Patterson and Oprah Winfrey’s book club aside, Americans ”” particularly young Americans ”” appear to be reading less for fun, and as that happens, their reading test scores are declining. At the same time, performance in other academic disciplines like math and science is dipping for students whose access to books is limited, and employers are rating workers deficient in basic writing skills.

That is the message of a new report being released today by the National Endowment for the Arts, based on an analysis of data from about two dozen studies from the federal Education and Labor Departments and the Census Bureau as well as other academic, foundation and business surveys. After its 2004 report, “Reading at Risk,” which found that fewer than half of Americans over 18 read novels, short stories, plays or poetry, the endowment sought to collect more comprehensive data to build a picture of the role of all reading, including nonfiction.

In his preface to the new 99-page report Dana Gioia, chairman of the endowment, described the data as “simple, consistent and alarming.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education

Some Reasserting Presbyterians have asked for forgiveness from their fellow believers

Congregations that disaffiliated from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) over the denomination’s liberal direction on Scripture and theology recently realigned with the newly inaugurated New Wineskins-Evangelical Presbyterian Church Presbytery. Amid preparation to exit the PC(USA) and property issues, the breakaway groups acknowledged possible neglect toward congregations that have decided to remain in the denomination.

“First, those of us in the New Wineskins who have left the PC(USA) want to ask your forgiveness if we have been short with you, less than encouraging in our conversations, or down right neglectful of your needs and feelings. It has been a busy time for us,” stated Randy Jenkins, moderator of the New Wineskins EPC Presbytery, in a letter addressed to members of the New Wineskins Association of Churches, a network of Presbyterian churches discontent with the PC(USA).
The network claims nearly 200 Presbyterian churches, representing about 100,000 Presbyterians. Only 46 churches in the network have voted to leave the PC(USA) so far. Others have decided to remain in the PC(USA) while committing to reform the denomination and still others have not yet voted.

Speaking for those who have focused their energies on cutting ties, Jenkins highlighted the distance that might have been felt in recent years with churches that were not splitting.

“We probably haven’t been as encouraging to you, our friends who have not yet left, or who are committed to staying, as we should have been,” he said. “We mean no disrespect, it’s just that our course was set and now we must take a moment and realize that others are just as, or sometimes more, faithful than we were; and that faithfulness may be lived out in staying in the PC(USA) and being a prophetic witness.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Presbyterian

Presbyterians Clear Citigroup in Israel/Palestine Probe

The Presbyterian Church (USA) has removed Citigroup Inc. from its list of businesses probed for possible ties to violence and oppression in the Palestinian territories, saying it found no “improprieties.”

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Middle East, Other Churches, Presbyterian

USA Today: Holiday airline travelers urged to chuck carry-on clutter, pack neatly

Airline passengers, who already are required at airport checkpoints to remove their shoes, take off their coats and carry only small bottles of liquids, now have a new task: Pack neatly.

In anticipation of the most popular holiday for travel in the USA, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) today launches a campaign urging travelers to eliminate clutter in carry-on bags. Pack in layers. Keep items neat.

Messy travelers could spend more time in line if their carry-ons are cluttered because such bags are more likely to be pulled aside and searched by hand, TSA spokeswoman Ellen Howe says.

The added search could add up to three minutes to time in the security line, Howe says.

“Whether or not the (TSA) campaign is effective, the effort is certainly welcome because, with 27 million-plus people scheduled to fly over Thanksgiving, every effort to speed up the security checkpoint will help,” says David Castelveter, spokesman for the Air Transport Association, the major airline trade group.

Clutter? On a plane? Sorry, couldn’t resist. Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch

China's Growing Inflation Woes Could Spur Price Hikes In U.S.

China’s home-grown inflation may be on the way here, along with its exports.

China’s consumer prices shot up 6.5% in October vs. a year earlier, matching decade-high levels set in August, as food costs vaulted.

For the U.S. and other countries, China’s inflation bears watching. That’s because China has played a big role in easing global inflation by manufacturing low-cost goods.

China’s booming demand for raw materials has driven up prices for energy, metals and other commodities. The upside has been that Chinese finished goods prices declined. But, that may be ending.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Economy

An editorial from the Diocese of Michigan about a previous T19 entry, and our response

[i]It wasn’t until clicking the links on a posting at Stand Firm earlier today that we discovered that the Diocese of Michigan has posted an editorial about TitusOneNine’s post of a picture from the Diocese of Michigan’s convention.

Here’s what the Diocese of Michigan wrote:[/i]

There was a spate of criticism””unfounded, I found””from a corner of the conservative blogosphere about a snapshot of our diocesan convention that showed the placard of the eight MDGs behind the altar during the Eucharist. If you must investigate further, you’ll might find the discussion HERE. If the blog thread is removed, better judgment may have slipped in upon them before this commentary did.

The bloggers misinterpreted our intention””as gently suggested online by a priest in our diocese””thinking we had replaced the crucifix with the MDGs. The rambling comment section devolves to less-than-insightful rants on Karl Marx and the United Nations. But the kernel of concern is worth reflecting upon.

The millennium development goals are not canon; they are invitations into deeper relationships, deeper understanding. In order to embrace the mdgs””or rather be embraced by them””we must prepare ourselves not to march triumphantly but to walk humbly. We must truly empty ourselves of those things that lead us to feel haughty. Like a Pharisee. With a blog.

[i]Even though the author, presumably Diocesan Communications Director Herb Gunn, criticizes TitusOneNine in that piece, I don’t believe he contacted us or left a comment about his concerns, so this is the first we’d heard from the Diocese of Michigan. (It is possible of course that Mr. Gunn contacted Kendall without my knowing.) As I made clear in the post in question, as one who tries to help Kendall cover the diocesan convention news, I (elfgirl) was responsible for the post, not Kendall. So let me offer a few comments in response.

First, Mr. Gunn confuses “bloggers” and “commenters.” He accuses the “bloggers” (that in this case would be me, elfgirl) of saying or intending something we never said or intended. In fact we explicitly stated our intentions several times on the thread itself, and provided many supporting links to further the discussion along the lines of what we had intended.

Secondly, I never claimed the MDG banner was a deliberate replacement for the cross. I made no comment about the intent of the Diocese of Michigan. I merely noted that I found the photo “irresistible” as a striking visual image. In fact, I acknowledged previous comments that the juxtaposition and symbolism was probably unintentional.

We (I) always acknowledged the fact that the actual intent was probably not to have the MDG banner as a reredos, but that the unintended juxtaposition, and the Diocese of Michigan’s prominent photo on their convention coverage page, symbolized a larger issue. Unfortunately Mr. Gunn didn’t take the time to respond to any of the substantive concerns (about the mission priorities of TEC, not the Diocese of Michigan’s convention, per se) raised in the comment thread. Instead he pretty much dismisses the whole entry and caps off his editorial with an insult. The talking past one another continues.[/i]


Posted in * Admin, * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts

Andrew Goddard: Rowan Williams, Decision-making & Bonhoeffer

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts

Lesbian Lutheran ordained despite refusal to take vow of celibacy

Sitting in sight of her father and grandfather, both Lutheran ministers, Jen Rude on Saturday became the first ordained lesbian pastor since the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America urged bishops to not penalize congregations who violate the celibacy requirement for gay clergy.

Several of the more than 100 congregants present wept as the 27-year-old stood before them, a beaming smile drawn across her face.

Under church policy, homosexual ministers are required to make a vow of celibacy before they can be ordained. But heterosexual ministers are not, and Rude, who is not in a relationship, refused to make that vow because she considers the policy discriminatory.

“We all realized that sexual orientation has nothing to do with how well a person can minister a congregation,” said Kathy Young, a member of the Resurrection Lutheran Church in Lakeview, where the ordination was held.

Young was absolute about the decision to violate church policy by ordaining Rude: “This is who we are and this is what we do.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Lutheran, Other Churches