Daily Archives: May 4, 2008

A Fiery Theology Under Fire

Black liberation theology was a radical movement born of a competitive time.

By the mid-1960s, the horns of Jericho seemed about to sound for the traditional black church in the United States. Martin Luther King Jr. was yielding to Malcolm X. Young black preachers embraced the Nation of Islam and black intellectuals sought warmth in the secular and Marxist-tinged fire of the black power movement.

As a young, black and decidedly liberal theologian, James H. Cone saw his faith imperiled.

“Christianity was seen as the white man’s religion,” he said. “I wanted to say: ”˜No! The Christian Gospel is not the white man’s religion. It is a religion of liberation, a religion that says God created all people to be free.’ But I realized that for black people to be free, they must first love their blackness.”

Dr. Cone, a founding father of black liberation theology, allowed himself a chuckle. “You might say we took our Christianity from Martin and our emphasis on blackness from Malcolm,” he said.

Read it all.

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

An Editorial from the local paper: Gas-tax 'holiday' from reality

Sen. Barack Obama, the other Democratic presidential contender, has rejected the tax interruption as a “quick fix” with limited benefits and numerous drawbacks.

The White House and congressional leaders in both parties also sound rightly dubious. Other well-informed votes against the gas-tax holiday: Friday’s Los Angeles Times quoted Joseph Doyle, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor, as saying economists are “as close to unanimous as you can get” in regarding it as a “horrible idea.”

Yes, higher gas prices are tough on our personal and collective budgets. Then again, higher gas prices strengthen motivation for fuel conservation, alternative-energy development and mass transit.

Our long-term energy problems require long-term solutions, not short-term gas-tax “holidays” that merely delay the inevitable adjustments we must make now that the era of cheap oil is over.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources, Law & Legal Issues, US Presidential Election 2008

From the Front Page of the Local Charleston S.C. Paper: Tough times, tough choices

Squeezed by surging gasoline and grocery prices, the Dentons and other middle-class families are looking to cut corners any way they can to keep their household budgets afloat. It’s become a daily struggle for those who exist in that gray zone between safety nets and Easy Street.

People are trading name brands for generic offerings, eating out less, pooling errands to avoid car trips, clipping more coupons ”” whatever they can do to save a few bucks here and there.

“We’re in some very uncertain times right now,” said Frank Hefner, an economics professor at the College of Charleston. “I don’t think we are going back to the ’30s where people didn’t spend money, but people are thinking more about how they spend their money.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Economy

Tony Best: Marriage not for everyone

“Not every one is called to marriage.” Canon Llewellyn Armstrong, an Anglican (or Episcopal) priest for almost 50 years, was explaining why he has advised some couples against getting married because they are not marriage material.

“There are various reasons why people get married,” said the Rector of Calvary/St Cyprian’s Church in Brooklyn, who insists on counselling lovers before he agrees to perform the wedding ceremony.

“They would come and try to give the impression that they are so much in love and I can see through [them], that it’s not the case,” he added.

“We have situations in which other people tell couples they should be married [like] you are getting old and therefore should look for someone with whom you should settle down.

“Couples often get married for immigration purposes. And yes, I have suggested to people that they should not go ahead with the marriage ceremony because I didn’t see the marriage working.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Marriage & Family

Army Hospitals Struggle to Stop Drug Overdoses

Since June, there has been a rash of overdoses at Army hospitals, including some, like [Sgt. Robert] Nichols’, that have resulted in deaths. The medications prescribed for soldiers are so potent that they can be dangerous when taken with other drugs or alcohol. Overdoses have become another problem for the Army to grapple with in the wake of criticism of the care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and other military hospitals.

Eleven medications were found in Nichols’ body, including painkillers to treat his physical wounds from an explosion in Iraq and drugs to ease the nightmares, insomnia and memory loss caused by his post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

Susan Nichols said that several times before he died, Robert Nichols asked his doctors to reduce the medications “because he felt like he was a zombie and he could only function for a small portion of the day.”

Brig. Gen. James Gilman, commander at Brooke, said Nichols’ death is still under investigation, so he could not discuss details. But he said the Army has made changes to try to prevent a repeat of that kind of death.

“We obviously went back and looked at medications and whether there are additional steps to take to make it safer,” Gilman said. “It would be unthinkable not to reassess everything that you’re doing when an event like this happens.”

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Health & Medicine, Iraq War, Military / Armed Forces

Andrew Sullivan: Obama-Clinton, a hate-filled dream ticket

It is for many in the Obama camp an unthinkable thought. But politics is sometimes the art of adjusting today to what seemed inconceivable yesterday. I’m talking about the possibility ”” and the powerful logic ”” of a unity Obama-Clinton ticket for the Democrats.

I never thought I’d even consider it; but times change; politics shifts, and in the roiling flux of this American campaign, a bold unifying gesture could make the Democratic ticket ”” and an Obama presidency ”” unstoppable almost overnight. It’s still highly unlikely, but so was JF Kennedy running with Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan running with the first George Bush.

The rationale for a fusion ticket is the same as for any grand political compromise. Very few people in Washington believe that Barack Obama can now be denied the Democratic nomination. Even after the past month, as Hillary Clinton has hung in there, as the scandal about Jeremiah Wright (Obama’s firebrand cleric) scandal has battered the post-racial Obama brand, and as white Reagan Democrats have proven resistant to a new young black freshman senator, Obama has actually increased his number of delegates. Clinton simply cannot overcome the edge he built up in February and March, however cruel his April turned out to be. And the superdelegates ”” who will ultimately decide — have also been slowly trending his way.

The decision last week by the former Clintonite Democratic Party chairman, Joe Andrew, to switch from Clinton to Obama confirmed the super-delegate trend.

And the raw truth is: Clinton’s victories in Ohio and Pennsylvania and persistence in states such as North Carolina and Indiana, which vote this Tuesday, have kept Obama from closing the deal definitively. Worse: the demographics seem to be hardening into a difficult dynamic for him.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

Microsoft withdraws offer for Yahoo

Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said his company increased its offer to $33 per share, from the $31 per share cash-and-stock bid that it initially made on January 31. But Yahoo was looking for $37 a share, Ballmer said.

“Despite our best efforts, including raising our bid by roughly $5 billion, Yahoo has not moved toward accepting our offer,” Ballmer said in a statement.

“After careful consideration, we believe the economics demanded by Yahoo do not make sense for us, and it is in the best interests of Microsoft stockholders, employees and other stakeholders to withdraw our proposal,” said Ballmer.

Yahoo was not immediately available for comment.

Laura Martin, a senior analyst at Soleil Securities, said Yahoo was demanding too high a price and she expected its shares to fall $8 on Monday when trading resumes on the Nasdaq. The shares closed up nearly 7 percent at $28.67 on Friday on hopes of an agreement between Microsoft and Yahoo.

“The Yahoo guys want too much money for their company. We think $33 a share is fair in the context of the weakening economic environment and adverse advertising trends,” Martin said, who has a “hold” rating on Yahoo shares.

I continue to be embarrassed by the leadership at Yahoo. Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Blogging & the Internet, Economy

Jonathan Sachs: Teach your children well the power of Passover

Some years ago I read a book, written by an Israeli, about the relationships between Jews, Muslims and Christians in the Holy Land. It contained a fascinating remark made by a nun, Sister Maria Teresa: “I watch the [Jewish] families who visit here on weekends; how the parents behave toward their children, speaking to them with patience and encouraging them to ask intelligent questions. It’s an example for the whole world. The strength of this people is the love of parents for their children.” I see a very similar devotion to children among the Sikhs I’ve been privileged to know.

Sister Maria’s remark touches on another feature of Judaism: the idea that Jewish parents must teach their children to ask questions. We do not believe that faith is blind or unquestioning. Nor do we believe that education is a process in which adults speak and children listen, adults command and children obey. That is the sign of an authoritarian culture, not a free society.

In the Hebrew Bible, people ask questions of God, and the greater the person, the deeper the question.

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Judaism, Other Faiths

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Then the LORD said, “I have seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters; I know their sufferings,

and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Per’izzites, the Hivites, and the Jeb’usites.

And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them.

Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring forth my people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.”

–Exodus 3:8-10

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Among Orthodox Jews, More Openness on Sexuality

Shortly before Toby Goldfisher Kaplowitz married two years ago, she went to a kallah teacher ”” a woman who prepares Orthodox Jewish brides to be intimate with their husbands.

The teacher spent most of her time going over how to observe the laws prohibiting physical contact between husband and wife during the woman’s menstrual period and for a week afterward. She described sex as “”˜so horrible, so painful, but said, ”˜I’ll give you some tips to deal with it,’ “ Ms. Goldfisher Kaplowitz recalled.

“I was really shocked,” she said. “I knew it was probably true for some women, but I didn’t want to be one of them.”

Today she teaches brides herself in Brookline, Mass., taking a very different approach.

Ms. Goldfisher Kaplowitz is part of a movement among more liberal Orthodox Jews toward open discussion of sexuality and sexual health.

“Sexuality needed addressing,” said Jennie Rosenfeld, director of Tzelem, a project housed at the Center for the Jewish Future, at Yeshiva University, that focuses on the topic. “Having grown up in the Orthodox community, it was too often a subject not spoken about, especially by people of authority, like teachers and rabbis, people who should be addressing it.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Judaism, Other Faiths, Sexuality

The Economist: Venerable Newspapers face extinction

THE New York Times once epitomised all that was great about American newspapers; now it symbolises its industry’s deep malaise. The Grey Lady’s circulation is tumbling, down another 3.9% in the latest data from America’s Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC). Its advertising revenues are down, too (12.5% lower in March than a year earlier), as is the share price of its owner, the New York Times Company, up from its January low but still over 20% below what it was last July. On Tuesday April 29th Standard & Poor’s cut the firm’s debt rating to one notch above junk.

At the company’s annual meeting a week earlier, its embattled publisher, Arthur “Pinch” Sulzberger, attempted to quash rumours that his family is preparing to jettison the firm it has owned since 1896. Carnage is expected soon as dozens of what were once the safest jobs in journalism are axed, since too few of the staff have accepted a generous offer of voluntary redundancy.

Pick almost any American newspaper company and you can tell a similar story.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Media

As Methodist meeting in Fort Worth ends, union embodies lingering divisions

Two United Methodist women from Chicago exchanged vows Friday in a park near the Fort Worth Convention Center where this week delegates at an international conference affirmed the church’s stance that the practice of homosexuality is not biblical.

With a procession of about 200 supporters, Julie Bruno and Susan Laurie walked from the convention center to General Worth Square, singing This Little Light of Mine. Their ceremony was performed by a lay person from New York, although some clergy were in the crowd and applauded. Audience members also spoke a blessing of the union.

The event symbolized some of the deepest divisions that remain unresolved at the end of the 10-day General Conference of the United Methodist Church. Nearly 1,000 delegates representing more than 11 million people gathered to address denomination concerns and social issues.

Bishop Ben Chamness of the 28-county Central Texas Conference said there was “a great spirit of holy conferencing … by people with different views.”

Read it all.

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

The Presiding Bishop and the Pope's Visit–a Response to Philip Turner

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Presiding Bishop, Roman Catholic, TEC Conflicts

The Anglican Scotist Continues to Be an Ineffective Critic

“The emphasis is totally on this one ethical dimension of our faith. … That’s important…”

Note carefully the quote above from yours truly in the article cited, in which I agree about the importance of stewardship of the environment with the Presiding Bishop. But the analysis of the Anglican Scotist cites me as saying something I did not say. This typifies the pattern of talking by one another which continues apace in far too many instances in the current TEC.

I continute to insist that there needs to be far more self-criticism in the current environment, and when criticism of those who differ with us is attempted, it needs to reflect the arguments which it is seeking to refute accurately and fairly–KSH.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop

'Rocket science' takes off in a Texas school

Watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education, Science & Technology