Daily Archives: March 2, 2008

A Good Illustration of why Political Cartoons are Valuable

They take risks to try to get to the truth

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

Is a Lean Economy Turning Mean?

Nicole Flennaugh has a college degree, office experience and the modest expectation that, somewhere in this city on the eastern lip of San Francisco Bay, someone will want to hire her.

But Ms. Flennaugh, 36, a widow, cannot secure steady, decent-paying work to support herself and her two daughters. Nearly two years after she was laid off as a customer service representative at the Educational Testing Service, and even after applying for dozens of full-time jobs, she has been getting by with occasional stints as an office temp.

“You’re used to making $17 an hour with benefits, and now you have to take any job for $8 an hour,” Ms. Flennaugh says. On a recent afternoon, she sat in front of a computer terminal at an employment center in a gritty part of town, scrolling dejectedly through online job listings while sending another batch of applications into the ether.

“I’ve literally sat and cried, but my friends with double degrees are doing worse,” she says. “It’s the economy. It’s really bad.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

Response of (Then) Sister Jeannine Gramick to to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

She is charged with the following:

c. Experience becomes the criterion through which the objective norms of morality are judged and set aside.

And she responds as follows:

Clarifications and Corrections

In Building Bridges, I recount that many Catholic gay and lesbian persons have prayed to God and have come to a conscience decision that their life experience, though contrary to the church’s teaching on homogenital behavior, does not separate them from God or the Church community.

I needed to explain more fully the Church’s teaching on conscience and the proper role that experience plays in its formation. In order to form a true conscience, one needs to interpret the experience of one’s life and the signs of the times6. Catholics are guided in this endeavor by the authoritative teaching of the Church, the witness or advice of competent people, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit7.

One’s conscience can make erroneous judgments. The Church teaches that a conscience decision to engage in homogenital behavior is an erroneous judgment and that a person must work to correct this erroneous conscience8. I must take better care to clarify this and stress that Catholics are called to follow this teaching.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Roman Catholic, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

Telegraph: The Pope rules out feminist theology

The Vatican has cracked down on feminist interpretations of the liturgy, ruling that God must always be recognised as Our Father.

In a move designed to counter the spread of gender-neutral phrases, the Holy See said that anyone baptised using alternative terms, such as “Creator”, “Redeemer” and “Sanctifier” would have to be re-baptised using the traditional ceremony.

The Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith said yesterday: “These variations arise from so-called feminist theology and are an attempt to avoid using the words Father and Son, which are held to be chauvinistic.”

Read it all.

Update: The Zenit article on this is here.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, Theology

From the Morning Scripture Readings

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Romans 8:19

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

The Wall Street Journal on the Pew Survey: God's Country

Yet there is something remarkable about so much religious diversity. Elsewhere in the world, religious difference is often a cause for violence and ostracism. America so honors the principle of religious tolerance that it has brought it into the home. Pew’s statistic about church-switching may be less a sign of spiritual flakiness than an emblem of freedom.

It should be noted that a third of the survey’s “converts” have gone from one Protestant congregation to another. In short, America is not, on the whole, giving up serious worship for the sake of New Age platitudes. Half of Americans who grew up without any religious affiliation adopted one in adulthood. Clearly Americans are still convinced there is a such a thing as religious truth — and it’s worth their time to search for it. Sorry, Mr. Hitchens.

The Pew survey confirms what scholars have been saying for years about the winners and losers in this religious economy: Religions that demand the most of people are growing the fastest. The mainline Protestant churches — with their less exclusionary views of salvation, looser rules for sexual conduct and sermons about social justice — have lost membership, especially since the early 1990s. The more traditional evangelical churches keep growing.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture

Father John Flynn: The New Marriage Wrecker

The increasing use of pornography is creating not a few problems. Late last year a judge in Melbourne, Australia, sentenced a man to 11 years in jail on a rape charge, reported the Age newspaper on Jan. 3.

Judge Damian Murphy, said that the Andrew Bowen had acted out a fantasy seen in material downloaded from the Internet.

The article’s authors, Maree Crabbe and David Corlett, commented that one consequence of Internet-based pornography is a shift to more extreme and violent sexual imagery. Scenes that are so degrading and humiliating that they would be banned from film and television are now freely available to anyone with a Web connection.

Crabbe and Corlett said that research shows a link between consumption of pornography and male sexual aggression. Even when the pornography is not violent, exposure to it tends to increase in the viewer tolerance of sexual violence.

Earlier last year a report published in Australia revealed record numbers of visitors to porn Web sites. According to a May 26 article in the Sydney Morning Herald, a survey found that 35% of Internet users had visited an “adult” site at least once in the preceding three months.

According to the article, psychologists and counselors say Internet pornography is a growing cause of marital problems due to increasing numbers of men who become compulsive users.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Pornography, Roman Catholic

Markets Fall on Drumbeat of Grim Reports

An outpouring of negative economic and financial reports soured the mood on Wall Street Friday as banks and other lenders further tightened credit in their struggle to contain damage from losses on mortgages, business loans and related debt.

Shares sank, and investors fled to the safety of Treasuries as the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index fell 2.71 percent and the Dow Jones industrial average dropped 315.79 points, or 2.51 percent, to 12,266.39. Both indexes capped their worst four months since 2002.

Prices of municipal bonds, bank loans and high-yield debt all fell as well.

The markets for ultrasafe debt backed by the federal government and other nations were alone in posting gains. Some commodities, including gold, were also up.

“The drumbeat of economic news has been unrelentingly bad,” said Edward Yardeni, a normally upbeat investment strategist. “The recession scenario is looking more and more credible.”

Read it all.

John Mauldin has more on this, including the following:

Let’s look at 10 recent items which have come across my screen, which I think leave little doubt that we are in a recession. (It could just as easily have been 20, but I think 10 are enough to prove the point.) In no particular order:

1. After hovering above 50 in recent months, the Chicago ISM number dropped sharply to 44.5 in February, notching its lowest reading since December 2001 and coming in well below expectations. This brings this survey in line with the disastrous services survey of last month.

2. The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Survey for the United States came in at 70.8. This is the lowest reading for the index in 16 years.

3. “The New York City Purchasing Manager’s Survey fell for the second consecutive month to 427.7 in February. The current conditions index fell to 43.4, down from 47.9 in January. The six-month outlook index was below 50 for the second consecutive month for the first time in the survey’s history; at 47.5 it was down from 70 in February of 2007. The worsening conditions reflect rising prices coupled with slower job growth and layoffs in financial services, as well as tightening credit conditions and higher unemployment.” (economy.com)

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Stock Market

Ok, the Picture of Guys Playing Rugby means the Subject of this Video is what?

After you guess, watch it all–you may be surprised.

Posted in Uncategorized

Bitter loss for Boeing: Pentagon picks Airbus

In a shocking upset Friday, Boeing lost the long-awaited and lucrative Air Force refueling-tanker contract to a competing bid based on an Airbus plane.

The Pentagon chose Northrop Grumman, partnered with Airbus parent EADS, to build the next generation of Air Force tankers, a contract worth an estimated $40 billion.

Boeing’s loss means the 767 assembly line in Everett will wind to a close around 2012 when the current commercial orders run out. No layoffs are likely, though, as the roughly 600 production workers plus supporting engineers will transfer to other programs, including the 787 Dreamliner.

But Washington state has lost out on the chance to add as many as 2,000 jobs locally at Boeing ”” and perhaps more than 6,000 new jobs overall.

Instead, those jobs will go to Europe and Alabama.

Large sections of the Northrop/EADS tanker will be built in Europe; they will be shipped across the Atlantic for assembly at a new widebody-jet plant to be built in Mobile, Ala., which will gain some 1,500 direct jobs.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Economy, Europe, Globalization

Financial Times: Faith 2.0

For Beliefnet, these are busy times. Super Tuesday, which featured two-dozen state primaries and caucuses, was followed hard by Ash Wednesday. In addition to political coverage, Caldwell and her team were juggling features on chronic pain, the top 10 spiritual moments from American Idol and the Beliefnet Film Awards. Someone had also proposed reviving the annual I Hate Lent blog. “A lot of people do hate Lent,” Caldwell agreed.

The morning meeting was a reminder of the ubiquity of religion in American life ”“ from politics to pop culture ”“ and hinted at the currents that are propelling Beliefnet. Each month, more than three million visitors flock to the site, according to ComScan, the media metrics company, making it the most popular religion destination on the internet.

One measure of Beliefnet’s influence is that it managed in this hectic election season to land exclusive interviews with several of the top US presidential candidates, including Mike Huckabee, John McCain, John Edwards and Barack Obama. Edwards talked about the importance of faith after the death of his son. Huckabee disclosed that the Lord gave him wisdom for the Iowa debates. And Obama reiterated that he is not Muslim, and said he prays each night that he is “an instrument of God’s will”. The two candidates who refused Beliefnet ”“ Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani ”“ were among the first to drop out of the race. All this from a site that did not exist a decade ago.

Beliefnet’s clout seems destined to grow….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Religion & Culture

Cleveland Plain-Dealer: Obama's UCC membership could be thorny issue

Barack Obama is turning Cleveland into the center of the religious struggle for the hearts and minds of voters in the 2008 presidential race.

From visits to evangelical megachurches in South Carolina to special appeals to black churches in Ohio, the most prominent member of the Cleveland-based United Church of Christ has been up front about his faith in ways few Democrats have been in recent years.

In a close election, the denomination with headquarters on Prospect Avenue downtown may put Obama into the White House by giving him the religious credibility to sway moderate faith-based voters to the Democratic ticket.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Religion & Culture, US Presidential Election 2008

The Economist: Disagreements over whether drugs to combat depression are worth taking

A study published in this week’s Public Library of Science (PLoS) Medicine, an open-access scientific journal, raises doubts about dispensing such drugs so freely. Irving Kirsch, of the University of Hull, and his colleagues scrutinised the clinical trials for several new antidepressants, taking care to include those never published (but which, by law, have to be reported to the FDA). They found that SSRIs did not help the vast majority of depressed people much more than placebos did. The net benefits over placebos did not usually reach the level considered big enough to be of clinical significance by Britain’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

This study points to two factors that bedevil proponents of SSRIs: publication bias and the power of placebos. Dr Kirsch believes published data “give an exaggerated view of a drug’s benefit.” People with very severe depression did see benefits above the NICE threshold, but even that was not a ringing endorsement. Dr Kirsch explains that this was not because SSRIs worked much better in the very seriously depressed, but rather that the effectiveness of placebos dropped off sharply in such people, making the drug look better.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine, Psychology

Religion and Ethics Weekly: Obama Religion Questions

Senator BARACK OBAMA (D-IL, in speech): But what I am suggesting is this: Secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square.

KIM LAWTON: Barack Obama has long urged the Democratic Party not to run away from religion. He has spoken openly about his own beliefs, and his campaign has employed a vigorous faith-based outreach strategy. Experts say this has earned him support within the religious community, but religion has also generated controversy for him.

This week, Nation of Islam founder Louis Farrakhan joined the ranks of religious leaders offering praise for Obama. Farrakhan called him “the herald of the Messiah.” This raised concern among Jewish leaders who have criticized Farrakhan for using anti-Semitic rhetoric.

Barack Obama was asked about it during Tuesday’s Democratic debate.

Sen. OBAMA (speaking at Democratic Candidates Debate in Ohio): You know, I have been very clear in my denunciation of Minister Farrakhan’s anti-Semitic comments. I think they are unacceptable and reprehensible. I did not solicit this support.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

Bishop Iker: House of Bishops is ”˜Toxic Environment’

In a statement given to The Living Church, Bishop Jack Leo Iker of Fort Worth said he was “disheartened” that to date he has been “unable to secure a future, safe place for this diocese within The Episcopal Church,” and “saddened by the fact that the HOB has been unwilling to make adequate provision for us in response to our appeal for alternative primatial oversight.”

Bishop Iker described the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church as a “toxic environment,” and said he will not be attending the meeting at Camp Allen March 7-16.

“In recent years I have increasingly dreaded the thought of attending another meeting of the House of Bishops of TEC,” he said. “For me, the small-group table discussions are places of hostile confrontation, not support and affirmation.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Alternative Primatial Oversight (APO), Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth