Daily Archives: May 8, 2008

Notable and Quotable

We are truly pathetic about energy. No help for clean coal, no support for natural gas. Nothing. We are our own worst enemy.

Financial columnist Jim Cramer in a column today

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources

Young Video Makers Try to Alter Islam’s Face

When Ali Ardekani started fishing around on the Internet a couple of years ago for video blogs about Muslims, he did not like what he found: either the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims were depicted as bloodthirsty zealots, or they were offering defensive explanations as to why they were not.

“Arabic sounds foreign and scary ”” you don’t know what is going on,” Mr. Ardekani said in an interview at his small Sherman Oaks apartment, its walls decorated with Koranic verses. “Or they show a woman with the veil, who doesn’t speak, and it is assumed if she did speak she would say, ”˜Help me!’ ”

So Mr. Ardekani, a 33-year-old Web designer, cast himself on his video blogs as Baba Ali, an outsize character with a serious religious message who both dissects and lampoons the lives of American Muslims.

Mr. Ardekani is among the most visible of a new wave of young American Muslim performers and filmmakers trying to change the public face of their religion. His most popular video posting ”” “Who Hijacked Islam?” ”” has garnered more than 350,000 hits on YouTube since July 2006. Of course the uphill battle such efforts face is reflected in the comments section. One viewer remarked darkly, “It’s Muslims that do the hijacking.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Islam, Other Faiths

You are what you (mindfully) eat

Watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Dieting/Food/Nutrition

New London Mayor says evangelicals are being 'shunned'

Boris Johnson, the new mayor of London, has claimed that evangelical faith communities are being shunned in modern society.

In an interview with ReligiousIntelligence.com, he said that the good work done by many Christian and evangelical groups is often just ignored and derided. “I think there is a culture now in our society where if something is even vaguely Christian, if there is a whiff of evangelical fervour about it then it’s almost somehow verboten to fund it,” he told the paper at a hustings event in the lead-up to the election.

He continued: “I think that’s quite wrong because if you look at the good that these groups do and you look at the way we’re going to transform society and undo the breakdown that we’ve seen in family life, the growing-up of kids without boundaries and all the rest of the things we’ve been talking about in this campaign, the Christian groups are essential.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

An Anglican Network in Canada Release on the recent Court Decision

Representatives of the parishes of St George’s (Lowville), St Hilda’s (Oakville) and Church of the Good Shepherd (St Catharines) had argued that sharing the church building created untenable conditions for parishioners. They are now considering their options.

“We are saddened and deeply disappointed that the judge ruled in favour of a sharing arrangement,” said the Ven Charlie Masters, rector of St George’s Lowville. “We attempted this arrangement on February 24th and found it to be terribly difficult. Our parishioners were deeply distressed by the damaging effect the arrangement had on the life and ministry of our congregations. The congregations have experienced much hostility from members of the diocese, particularly since our votes, and they go to church on Sundays for healing and restoration, not to be confronted by conflict and hostility. We are also deeply concerned about the disruption to the community ministries and mission work and those who have benefited from these ministries. We will be consulting with our leadership and congregations to determine the best way forward in light of this decision.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Law & Legal Issues

Terry Mattingly: Ministers find online world time consuming

For millions of users, the World Wide Web has turned into a devil’s den packed with urban legends, pop-up porn, Nigerian get-rich schemes and tidal waves of spam pushing medical products that make sailors blush.

That isn’t how the Internet Evangelism Day team sees things. It notes that “over 1 billion people use the Web,” the “Internet is changing the world” and “God is using the Web to transform lives.”

“The Internet has become a 21st century Roman road, marketplace, theater, backyard fence and office drinks machine,” proclaim the site’s Web masters. “Web evangelism gives believers opportunities to reach people with the Gospel right where they are, just as Jesus and Paul did.”

Tech guru George Gilder knows where the Web evangelists are coming from and offers a hearty “Amen.” He remains convinced that cyberspace is territory that religious leaders have to explore and, hopefully, master.

“The Internet is very good for building communities and, obviously, churches are communities. It allows a particularly charismatic, or brilliant, church leader to reach potential followers not only in his community or in his immediate locality, but all across the country and the world,” said Gilder, the author of two trailblazing books –“Microcosm” and “Telecosm.”

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Parish Ministry

Manifesto aims to make 'evangelical' less political

An “evangelical manifesto” being released today by a group of Christian scholars and theologians is expected to try to take back the term “evangelical” from politics and return it to its theological roots.

“Evangelical” has been widely used to refer to Christians who have conservative political views, but the Evangelical Theological Society requires members to agree on just two points: inerrancy of Scripture, and belief in God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as “separate but equal in attributes and glory” and essential for salvation.

First read the full manifesto, then read the rest of the article about it.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Two Families Grapple with Sons' Gender Preferences

Because Ehrensaft sees transgenderism as akin to homosexuality, she says, she thinks Zucker’s therapy ”” which seeks to condition children out of a transgender identity ”” is unethical.

But that isn’t how Zucker sees it. Zucker says the homosexuality metaphor is wrong. He proposes another metaphor: racial identity disorder.

“Suppose you were a clinician and a 4-year-old black kid came into your office and said he wanted to be white. Would you go with that? … I don’t think we would,” Zucker says.

If a black kid walked into a therapist’s office saying he was really white, the goal of pretty much any therapist out there would be to make him try to feel more comfortable being black. They would assume his mistaken beliefs were the product of a dysfunctional environment ”” a dysfunctional family or a dysfunctional cultural environment that led him or her to engage in this wrongheaded and dangerous fantasy. This is how Zucker sees gender-disordered kids. He sees these behaviors primarily as a product of dysfunction.

The mistake the other side makes, Zucker argues, is that it views gender identity disorder primarily as a product of biology. This, Zucker says, is, “astonishingly naive and simplistic.”

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Psychology, Sexuality

Aging systems releasing sewage into rivers, streams

Pittsburgh’s Allegheny County Sanitary Authority, for example, has agreed to eliminate dozens of “outfalls” that discharge sewage mixed with storm water directly into rivers and streams. The project could cost about $3 billion over the next 20 years.

“We’re not alone,” Arletta Scott Williams, executive director at Pittsburgh’s wastewater treatment plant on the Ohio River, told homeowners attending a town hall meeting last fall. “It is nationwide. There’s nowhere near enough money, and there’s no pot where it’s going to come from.”

Ratepayers certainly will be asked to help foot much of the bill.

In Louisville, residential sewer rates jumped 30% last year to help finance an $800 million sewer renovation program that won’t be completed until 2024.

“We don’t have any recourse,” Louisville resident Roseanne Southard said as officials prepared to approve the increase. “These agencies all want more money, and I’m not making any more.”

The nation’s public wastewater treatment plants and sewage collection systems need about $350 billion to $500 billion over the next 20 years for repairs and expansion, according to estimates from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies. The trade group based the estimates on figures from the EPA and other federal agencies.

This year, the federal government has budgeted $687 million for wastewater improvement, according to the National Association of Clean Water Agencies.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Politics in General, Science & Technology

Gabor Steingart: The End of the Clinton Era

Hillary Clinton II was down to earth and hard as nails. She laughed loudly and could sometimes be mean. She drank beer, not wine and water. In the primaries for the Democratic nomination, she never let up attacking her rival Barack Obama.

She questioned his Christianity, his patriotism, his experience, his judgement and his personal integrity. She labelled him “unrealistic.” She made it clear to the voters: I am tough and he is weak. I am real and he is the creation of a speechwriter.

The longer the campaign went on, the more these two Hillarys diverged from one another. One was a great lady, the other nothing less than a great fighter. She pulled out all the stops, resorting to everything, including self denial.

Voters wanted more emotion, so Hillary II produced tears in her eyes. Voters desired a candidate who would take on the Wall Street kingpins — Hillary II came to the fore. With high gas prices on the minds of voters, Hillary II reached for the gas pump and promised, in the era of global warming, a gas tax holiday — a suspension of the tax on gasoline during peak vacation time.

As a presidential candidate, Clinton wasn’t always elegant, but she was often impressive. She cast an uncompromising spotlight on her rival’s weaknesses. Time may very well show that she was right in many respects.

But the majority of Democratic voters didn’t flock to her on Tuesday. Her combative nature impressed many, but it scared away at least as many others.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

The Pundits declare the race over

Very early Wednesday morning, after many voters had already gone to sleep, the conventional wisdom of the elite political pundit class that resides on television shifted hard, and possibly irretrievably, against Senator Hillary Clinton’s continued viability as a presidential candidate.

The moment came shortly after midnight Eastern time, captured in a devastatingly declarative statement from Tim Russert of NBC News: “We now know who the Democratic nominee’s going to be, and no one’s going to dispute it,” he said on MSNBC. “Those closest to her will give her a hard-headed analysis, and if they lay it all out, they’ll say: ‘What is the rationale? What do we say to the undeclared super delegates tomorrow? Why do we tell them you’re staying in the race?’ And tonight, there’s no good answer for that.”

It was not exactly Walter Cronkite declaring that the Vietnam War would end in stalemate. But the impact was apparent almost immediately, starting with The Drudge Report, the online news billboard that is the home page to many political reporters in Washington and news producers in New York. It had as its lead story a link to a YouTube clip of Russert’s comments, accompanied by a photograph of a beaming Obama with his wife, Michelle, and the headline, “The Nominee.”

The thought echoed throughout the world of instant political analysis, steamrolling the Clinton campaign’s attempts to promote the idea that her victory in Indiana was nonetheless an upset in the face of Obama’s heavy spending and his campaign’s predictions that he would win there, or that she could still come back if delegates in Florida and Michigan are seated.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

British Churchgoing on its knees as Christianity falls out of favour

Church attendance in Britain is declining so fast that the number of regular churchgoers will be fewer than those attending mosques within a generation, research published today suggests.

The fall – from the four million people who attend church at least once a month today – means that the Church of England, Catholicism and other denominations will become financially unviable. A lack of funds from the collection plate to support the Christian infrastructure, including church upkeep and ministers’ pay and pensions, will force church closures as ageing congregations die.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Religion & Culture

Central Washington offers the ultimate act of sportsmanship

A short video is here and a good ESPN article is there. Really touching.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Sports

Clinton gives herself loan and vows to fight on

Barack Obama took a commanding lead in the Democratic presidential race on Wednesday, but Hillary Clinton said she would fight on after loaning her campaign $6.4 million (3.27 million pounds) to keep it alive.

Obama’s big win in North Carolina and Clinton’s slim victory in Indiana widened his advantage in their battle for the right to face Republican John McCain in the November presidential election with just six contests remaining.

The results left the cash-strapped Clinton campaign with few opportunities to halt Obama’s march to the nomination. But the New York senator remained defiant.

“I’m staying in this race until there is a nominee,” Clinton told reporters after a campaign rally in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, which holds the next contest on Tuesday.

Read it all. Apparently, numerous leading pundits didn’t get the same message as Mrs. Clinton.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

AP Analysis: Democrats quietly send word to Clinton it's over

Apart from George McGovern, a plainspoken man who knows something about losing elections, not a single Democrat of national stature publicly urged Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday to end her campaign for the White House.

They didn’t have to.

There was no shortage of other ways to signal, suggest, insinuate or instigate the same thing. And certainly no need to apply unseemly pressure to a historic political figure, a woman who has run a grueling race, won millions of votes and drawn uncounted numbers of new Democratic voters to the polls.

Instead, many Democrats instead preferred to say softly what the party’s 1972 presidential nominee said for all to hear. Barack Obama has won the nomination “by any practical test,” McGovern said.

“Hillary, of course, will make the decision as to if and when she ends her campaign,” he added. “But I hope that she reaches that decision soon so that we can concentrate on a unified party capable of winning the White House next November.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008