Daily Archives: January 18, 2008

David Leonhardt: The Anxiety of the Middle Class

The economic worries of 1992 helped elect Mr. Clinton, of course. And by the end of the decade, thanks to both his policies and a huge stock market bubble, the American economy was roaring along again. The deep anxiety of 1992 seemed to be a piece of economic history.

No more. Almost 16 years after Mr. Clinton’s speech at Wharton, the economy is again dominating a presidential race. While the details have changed, the main story line remains remarkably similar. A downturn has reawakened fears that the economy no longer works very well for the middle class.

Today, as was the case 16 years ago, the downturn itself isn’t the main problem. By 1992, as a matter of fact, the economy was already growing again. This year, it’s still possible ”” if less likely after Tuesday’s dismal retail sales report and another sharp decline in stock prices ”” that the country will avoid a full-blown recession.

The main problem now is that the good times are no longer good enough to carry the middle class through the bad times. For much of the last 35 years, the incomes of most workers have been growing far more slowly than they once did. In the current expansion, which started in 2001, the median weekly paycheck of workers has actually fallen 1 percent, once inflation is taken into account, according to the Labor Department.

Economists argue about the reasons for the great wage slowdown ”” technology, globalization, health care costs, the decline of unions, the rise of the new wealthy ”” but it clearly seems to have made people feel more vulnerable to small economic swings. In the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, only 19 percent of those responding said the country was headed in the right direction. That was the lowest percentage since the early 1990s.

Read it all. Note that the title above is that given by the NYT on its front page to this article, the article itself in Wednesday’s paper is entitled “A Revival of 1992’s Glum Mood.”

Posted in Uncategorized

Notable and Quotable

It seems politicians’ big idea is that since they couldn’t protect us from predatory lenders, outsourcing manufacturers, the crashing dollar and energy speculators, they can at least numb the pain by mailing us $20 bills to rub on our wounds.

Jon Markman.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

John Turner: The Christian Woodstock

In 1972, Mike Huckabee — still in high school — followed the example of thousands of other young Americans. He went to a weeklong festival, waded through mud and listened to rock music. But the throng of students he was a part of was different from the youthful gatherings more often associated with the late 1960s and early 1970s. These young people were in Dallas for Campus Crusade for Christ’s “Explo ’72” — at “Godstock” rather than Woodstock.

It was the perfect trip for a young, conservative Christian like Mr. Huckabee, as Explo ’72 foreshadowed the subsequent emergence of evangelicals as a powerful voting bloc. The assembled students applauded a large contingent of military personnel and cheered the South Vietnamese flag. The Rev. Billy Graham read a telegram from Richard Nixon, and a survey conducted by a local newspaper reported that the students favored Nixon over George McGovern in the coming election by a ratio of more than 5 to 1. They also favored stronger penalties for marijuana possession and overwhelmingly believed that American attitudes toward sex were “too permissive.”

Godstock, however, was about God, not the GOP. Campus Crusade refused to extend an invitation to President Nixon, who dearly wanted to come.

Explo attendees listened to Mr. Graham, Campus Crusade’s Bill Bright and other evangelists who urged them to “change the world” by telling others about Jesus. On several afternoons, Mr. Huckabee visited Dallas neighborhoods, knocked on doors and shared the contents of Mr. Bright’s small booklet titled “Have You Heard of the Four Spiritual Laws?” Mr. Bright’s message was short and simple: “God loves you, and offers a wonderful plan for your life,” began the tract, which identified Jesus as “God’s only provision for man’s sin.” It is hard to imagine a better training ground for electioneering. Though some Texans probably greeted Mr. Huckabee warmly, he also learned to persevere with his message and remain gracious regardless of disinterest or hostility.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Music, Other Churches, Politics in General, US Presidential Election 2008

Human cloned embryos created

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, Life Ethics, Science & Technology, Theology

Church is full of challenges and possibilities, Canadian Primate tells students

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, the primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, has urged divinity students from Trinity and Wycliffe Colleges in Toronto not to be discouraged by wrangling in the Anglican Communion over the issue of sexuality, saying he remains optimistic about the fate of Anglicanism.

“Be strong and of good courage,” Archbishop Hiltz told about 60 students, most of them candidates for ordination to the Anglican priesthood. “You’re stepping into a church that’s facing lots of challenges but also grand possibilities.

“Our church is often described as being weary and worn ”¦ as beleaguered. I choose to describe and think about our church as our beloved church.”

Read it all.

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

Bishop Wimberly: why I did not consent to the inhibition of Bob Duncan

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

Bobby Fischer RIP

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Posted in * Culture-Watch

Jeremy Bonner reviews Miranda K. Hassett's Anglican Communion in Crisis

In examining the origins of the conservative movement in the Episcopal Church, Hassett challenges some widespread opinions held by members of the liberal community. The oft-repeated charge that the support of Global South bishops for American conservatives at the 1998 Lambeth Conference and subsequently was “bought,” she dismisses as reflecting an inadequate grasp of where most of the Southern bishops stood. That there are problems with the disparities of wealth between North and South and how wealth is shared between the two cannot, she believes, explain why the crisis has developed as it has done. More controversial, especially in America, will be the conclusion she draws from her experience of worshipping and talking with the St. Timothy’s, regarding the genuineness of the professions of concern for moral teaching that come from groups like AMIA. “Although homosexuality is often singled out for particularly vehement opposition,” she writes, “my time at St. Timothy’s showed me that evangelical Episcopalians’ responses to homosexuals are framed in the same language of sin and the need for transformation through a relationship with Jesus Christ that they apply to their own lives.” (42)

Conservatives, however, should not become complacent. Hassett has her own view of the myth that has grown up around Philip Jenkins, The Next Christendom, which has led some to see the shift in the locus of power to the Global South as the inevitable triumph of Christian orthodoxy. (249-52) Her Ugandan experiences demonstrate that the sense of a monolithic Southern Church that one can sometimes derive from the statements of certain primates is far from accurate. She notes, for example, the greater degree of tolerance for homosexuality (though not a denial of its sinful nature) displayed by the Bakolole fellowships that emerged from the East African Revival; the understanding of homosexuality as an imported “colonial” practice that has made it a matter of nationalist well as religious significance; and the continued reservations expressed by Ugandan bishops and priests about the wisdom of constituting AMIA.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, Anglican Provinces, CANA, Church of Uganda, Common Cause Partnership, Episcopal Church (TEC), Global South Churches & Primates, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts

From NBC: Slinging Mud at McCain

Watch it all. Truly reprehensible stuff–makes the heart sad

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, US Presidential Election 2008

The Latest South Carolina Poll: McCain, Huckabee lead among Reps, Obama among Dems

McCain and Mike Huckabee are neck and neck heading into Saturday’s Republican primary in South Carolina, where the outcome could hinge on a bloc of undecided evangelical voters, according to a new McClatchy-MSNBC poll.

The survey, by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, found a battle between McCain, an Arizona senator, and Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor, for the lead. It also revealed a close struggle for third between former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, US Presidential Election 2008

LA Times: Lesbian's bid for ordination among Presbyterians advances

For nearly 23 years, Lisa Larges has sought to become a Presbyterian minister, but she has twice been formally rejected because of a long-standing ban on gay ordination by the Presbyterian Church USA.

But in what appears to be the first national test of a 2006 policy change by the church, Larges, of San Francisco, has moved a step closer to joining the clergy.

After a debate that lasted deep into the night Tuesday, the San Francisco Presbytery, a regional governing body of the national church, voted 167 to 151 to support Larges’ application for ministry, despite opponents’ warnings that the action violated the church’s constitution and would immediately be appealed.

“I’m in shock,” Larges, 44, said Wednesday. “I still feel stunned, honestly, and deeply grateful both to the folks who supported me and to the presbytery for stepping up.”

The Presbyterian Church USA, the nation’s largest Presbyterian group with 2.3 million members, is among many mainline Protestant denominations that are struggling to reconcile conflicting beliefs on biblical authority and the role of gays in the church. In some, including the Episcopal Church, the divide is so deep that many fear it may tear denominations apart.

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

Bishop Herbert Donovan to visit troubled Saint Mark's Cathedral in Seattle

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

Diocese of Virginia, Episcopal Church, Other Faith Groups Oppose Attorney General Intervention

Today, The Diocese of Virginia and The Episcopal Church filed their opposition to the motion by Virginia Attorney General Robert McDonnell to intervene in the consolidated church property cases currently being heard in Fairfax Circuit Court by the Hon. Randy I. Bellows.

In stating their opposition, the Diocese and the Church noted that the Commonwealth had failed to meet the requirements that govern intervention in such a dispute and that the state “lacks any right or interest in the subject matter,” namely the property unlawfully occupied by individuals in the CANA breakaway congregations. The Diocese and the Church raised no objections, however, to the Attorney General filing an amicus curiae or friend of the court brief on the matter of the constitutionality of section 57-9 of the Code of Virginia which is at issue at this stage in the case.

The Diocese and The Episcopal Church have argued that it would be unconstitutional for the court to apply section 57-9 in such a way to rule that a division had occurred within the Diocese or the denomination at large. Such a ruling would be an unconstitutional intrusion by the state into the affairs, doctrine and polity of a hierarchical church.

A trial was held in November on the interpretation and application of that section of the Code of Virginia. The judge has not yet issued a ruling. The third and final post-trial brief ordered by the judge also was filed today.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Virginia

An Email from the South Carolina Diocesan Ecumenical Officer

I just read the article on T19 about Benedict’s invitation to prayer in this week for unity. I thought I would mention that, on this hundredth anniversary of the Octave, Church of the Holy Communion will host the annual (LARCUM) prayer service at 4:00, January 27 at 4:00 pm. Our choir will sing evensong. Mary Virginia Taylor, United Methodist bishop will preach. Also partcipating are: Bp. Donges of the ELCA, Bishop Henderson of Upper South Carolina, Fr. Alexander McDonald (representing the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston) and Bp. Salmon. A reception will follow. All are invited.

–The Rev. Dow Sanderson is rector, Church of the Holy Comunion, Charleston, South Carolina

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, * South Carolina, Ecumenical Relations

LA Times: Markets Plunge as Recession Fears spur a Barrage of Selling

The stock market’s already-brutal start to the new year grew even worse today, driving some major indexes into bear-market territory, as fear of a recession triggered another barrage of selling.

The market fell steadily through the day after brokerage giant Merrill Lynch & Co. divulged a nearly $10-billion quarterly loss and a regional manufacturing report pointed to contraction in the sector.

Not even the endorsement of an economic stimulus plan by Federal Reserve chief Ben S. Bernanke could ease investor fears.

The Dow Jones industrial average sank 306.95 points, or 2.5%, to 12,159.21 — its lowest level since March. It is down 8.3% since the start of the year.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index dived 39.95 points, or 2.9%, to 1,333.25 — its lowest close since October 2006. The index is off 9.2% this month.

The technology-heavy Nasdaq composite index fell a relatively restrained 2%.

Bernanke, testifying on Capitol Hill, again pledged that the Fed would cut short-term interest rates further, and said he supported proposals in Congress to buttress the economy with fiscal-stimulus measures. But his comments were overshadowed by the latest economic data.

Read it all.

Note that the move in the Value Line Index is by definition now a bear market (a decline of 20%). A few blog readers back in the fall would occasionally email and say–why are you posting about the economy, who cares, etc. etc. Never mind that it fits one of the purposes of the blog as it was originally founded. Now the economy is the number issue on the minds of voters in the current Presidential election. Hmmmm–KSH.

Update: There is more from AP here also.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Stock Market