Daily Archives: April 29, 2008

Notable and Quotable (II)

“The superiority of pagan over Christian truth was believed by Catholic Christianity’s critics to subsist precisely in the fact that ‘these things never happened, but always are.'”

–Markus Bockmuehl, quoting Sallustius (4th cent.), De dis et mundo 4 (tauta de egeneto oudepote, esti de aei), against Hauerwas’ Matthew; Pro ecclesia 17:1 (Winter 2008): p. 27

Posted in * General Interest, Notable & Quotable

Americans More Versed In The Bible Than Europeans, Vatican Study Says

Americans are more likely than Europeans to own and read a Bible, but Poles are most likely to have a basic knowledge of Scripture, the Vatican reported Monday.

The statistics are among preliminary findings of a study of Bible reading in the U.S. and eight European countries. An Italian market research firm produced the survey in preparation for an international synod of Catholic bishops to be held this October in Rome.

Read it all.

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

Robert Miola: Shakespeare’s Religion

As the critical pendulum has swung to a new appreciation of religion and spirituality in the early-modern world, all sorts of critics have rushed to claim Shakespeare as their own. In his 1994 A Buddhist’s Shakespeare, James Howe tells of his personal journey to Buddhism and to new understanding. As he studied under an Indian teacher named Trungpa, Howe began to see Shakespeare’s plays differently: “Perhaps not coincidentally, they seemed to change in directions that paralleled the changes I could see in myself. Each time I congratulated myself on the achievement of a new level of wisdom, Shakespeare seemed already to have been there.”

In the 2007 Godless Shakespeare, Eric S. Mallin presents a Shakespeare who has “a mind and spirit uncontained by orthodoxy”; elements of Christianity appear in his work, but “Shakespeare activates these features in decidedly irreligious or ironic ways.”

Such eccentric variations aside, the recent reevaluation of Shakespeare’s religion has generated new understanding. Forbidden Catholicism often functions as a potent fund of myth, ritual, and assumption that enables conflict, inflects situations, and charges action and character. The evidence does not amount to a manifesto of the playwright’s personal belief or to a discursive body of dogma advocated either openly or secretly. But it does grow to something of great constancy, howsoever strange and admirable, and it does, to the confounding of some orthodoxies, have real presence.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Poetry & Literature, Religion & Culture

Notable and Quotable (I)

“Deeper than consciousness . . . is the longing to give love and a willingness to give it sacrificially. The child’s response to the mother’s face is a unique gift to the mother even if the mother knows the three-month-old child will respond to a cardboard face on a wooden stick. The gift, in a primal form, is the gift of sacrificial love because it celebrates or calls forth from the mother the repressed longing in her for the face that will not go away. Her response to the smiling child is implicitly a religious one, and the child’s unwitting gift of grace is a sacrificial one. . . . Speaking ontogenetically, before the emergence of the ego and the decentering of the psyche, a child’s sacrificial love is not a death-ridden thing; rather, it is a matter of drawing the other one into the Presence of God. However, as an adult, such caring is dangerous business. To re-present the Presence of God is after all the point of witnessing (martureo, ”˜to witness’) and martyrdom, but if the recipient of the witness is locked into an ego-structured existence, witnessing to the Presence of God becomes a much bloodier matter, and the usual meaning of sacrificial love emerges. It is the untransformed ego that is the bearer of alienation from the face of God and the repressive preserver of guilt and shame. As the psyche’s own primary response to victimization, the ego reenacts its origins, making victims of birds, animals, people, and God, all in a perverse attempt at self-preservation.

“Combining the primal level with the ego level, it seems that a child’s innocence provokes both religious longing and a sense of condemnation or judgment. Hence, a profound motivation for child sacrifice in some primitive cults would be expiation for distance from God and extinction of the innocent accuser or the accusation always implicit in innocence. The archetypal significance of the slaughter of infants in association with the birth of an infant God may, similarly, have roots in fundamentally ambivalent religious motivations engendered by the underlying defensive structure of the ego. If the infant is God as in the birth of Christ, then the others who are slain become scapegoats; they take on themselves the negative side of the ambivalence engendered by the appearance of innocence that is divine.”

–James E. Loder, The Transforming Moment, 2nd ed. (Colorado Springs, CO: Helmers & Howard, 1989), p. 177

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Marriage & Family

Gracious Uncertainty

Helpful devotional reading for today.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer

Anglican Bishop To Tour Central Diocese on Newfoundland

From here:

The Anglican Bishop for the Diocese of Central Newfoundland plans to tour sections of the Diocese to discuss issues of importance to the church. Right Rev. David Torraville says he is committed to meeting with congregation members to talk about matters such as same sex marriage. Bishop Torraville says they have to look seriously at what’s going on in their own diocese and formulate their own thoughts about it. Bishop Torraville said there are a variety of views on the matter in the Anglican church throughout Canada.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Bob Herbert: Jeremiah Wright Casts a Shadow

All but swooning over the wonderfulness of himself, the reverend acts like he is the first person to come up with the idea that blacks too often get the short end of the stick in America, that the malignant influences of slavery and the long dark night of racial discrimination are still being felt today, that in many ways this is a profoundly inequitable society.

This is hardly new ground. The question that cries out for an answer from Mr. Wright is why ”” if he is so passionately committed to liberating and empowering blacks ”” does he seem so insistent on wrecking the campaign of the only African-American ever to have had a legitimate shot at the presidency.

On Sunday night, in an appearance before the Detroit N.A.A.C.P., Mr. Wright mocked the regional dialects of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. I’m not sure how he felt that was helpful in his supposed quest to bring about a constructive discussion about race and reconciliation in the U.S.

What he is succeeding in doing is diminishing the stature of Senator Obama. A candidate who stands haplessly by as his former spiritual guide roams the country dropping one divisive bomb after another is in very little danger of being seen by most voters as the next J.F.K. or L.B.J.

Read it all.

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

Gene Robinson Interviewed on BBC Radio 4's Sunday Programme

The issue of homosexuality continues to tear the Anglican Communion apart in the build-up to the 2008 Lambeth Conference. In June the conservatives who oppose the ordination of gay priests will meet in Jerusalem, in what some see as an alternative conference. Many of these will refuse to go on to Canterbury for the main meeting in July.

Meanwhile the gay Bishop, Gene Robinson, whose consecration brought this dispute to a head, shows no sign of backing out of the limelight. His latest book In the Eye of the Storm is published this week by the Canterbury Press. He explained why he wrote it.

Listen to it all (just under 7 minutes)

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lambeth 2008, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

A BBC Audio Discussion: Has American lost its moral authority?

Novelist Will Self and historian Simon Schama discuss the question.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A.

On a Personal Note

Elizabeth and I are up here at the Millbrook School where our youngest child Selimah has an interview this morning.

Posted in * By Kendall

A Man in Houston has a Problem

Don Mathis was in for some good news ”” sort of. He wouldn’t have to pay another water bill for 600 years. But the circumstances of such good fortune left the Houston man sourly dismayed.

Mathis thought his check for $99,000 was safely en route to a Dallas securities firm where it would be used to purchase a certificate of deposit. Instead, it arrived at Houston’s Department of Public Works and Engineering office, where it was automatically processed, endorsed and deposited.

“It’s a comedy of errors,” Mathis said, noting that he never suspected anything was amiss until he received a nervous phone call from Dallas. “I have no idea what went wrong. I’ve done this a jillion times.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * General Interest, Economy, Politics in General

Detroit News: Churches start drive to cover the uninsured

Angel Kreutzans has been hobbling around for a month since her minivan broke down and the vehicle ran over her left foot as a truck began towing it.

Her husband keeps telling her to go to the emergency room, but the mother of three reminds him that she is among the 1 million Michigan residents without health insurance.

“I refuse to go to the hospital because I cannot afford it,” said Kreutzans, a Warren resident.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry

Opec says oil could hit $200

Opec’s president on Monday warned oil prices could hit $200 a barrel and there would be little the cartel could do to help.

The comments made by Chakib Khelil, Algeria’s energy minister, came as oil prices hit a historic peak close to $120 a barrel, putting further pressure on global economies.

His remarks suggest Algeria wants Opec to continue to resist calls by US and European leaders for the cartel to pump more oil to help ease prices. But Mr Khelil blamed record oil prices on the weak dollar and global political insecurity.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources

NPR: Why Do We Borrow So Much?

In 1982, Americans saved more than 11 percent of their disposable income. The personal savings rate dropped to just 0.4 percent last year. An economist blames easy credit ”” and how we think about money.

Twenty to 40 years ago, economist and Financial Times columnist Tim Harford says, “a lot of people were denied credit” because of their income, their gender or their race.

“It seems to me that we’ve always been willing to borrow, we’ve always been keen to borrow, if the lenders have been willing to lend to us,” Harford tells Steve Inskeep.

People have “suddenly been given the ability to borrow more ”” credit cards, mortgages, unsecured loans ”” and they’ve taken advantage of that,” Harford says.

Read or listen to it all

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

Raised in boom times, many Gen-X and Yers see their dreams go bust

Jason Liebrecht used to write about his motorcycle adventures on his blog. But since early this month, the 36-year-old San Diego computer software engineer’s daily musings have been about a less thrilling new experience: unemployment.

“Do I find a job, or do I head to Central and South America on the motorcycle?” he wrote on Day 4. By Day 7, he had become more realistic: “So far in the last week I’ve made $1,245 off of EBay sales. Mostly stuff I wasn’t using, or don’t need much. Nice way to clean the house up!”

After selling some stock and applying for unemployment, Liebrecht figures he can pay his $2,300-a-month mortgage and other bills for just two months. When his company health insurance runs out in a few weeks, he’ll go uncovered because he can’t afford the premiums.

“You have to just hope you land on your feet,” Liebrecht said in an interview.

People everywhere are coping with rising credit card balances, falling home values and layoffs. But such worries are particularly jarring for a younger slice of the workforce that has known little but long-term financial prosperity and optimism.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Young Adults