Daily Archives: May 14, 2008

Evangelist Hagee Apologizes for Catholic Slur

Influential and controversial televangelist John Hagee has apologized to Catholics for referring to the Roman Catholic Church as the “great whore.” Hagee is supporting Sen. John McCain for president, which has led some Catholic leaders to criticize McCain.

Listen to it all from NPR.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Ecumenical Relations, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, US Presidential Election 2008

In South Florida Churches, synagogues feel economic pinch

With the economy down and needs up for the homeless, the hungry and the elderly, donations to South Florida churches and other religious institutions are straining to keep up with soaring needs, leaders say.

At the Miami Archdiocese, collection-plate revenues are steady, but assessments that individual parishes pay are slow in coming or are down, and needs are up sharply, resulting in the layoff of 49 of the 182 staff members at its Pastoral Center on Biscayne Boulevard, said spokeswoman Mary Ross Agosta.

In a letter to parishioners, Archbishop John C. Favalora said: “Each year, a greater number of parishes and programs are seeking our financial help, and, therefore, we must prioritize. We can only work with what we have.”

South Florida’s Jewish, Methodist, Episcopal and other faithful face similar problems.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Economy, Judaism, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

US foreclosure filings surge 65 percent in April

More U.S. homeowners fell behind on mortgage payments last month, driving the number of homes facing foreclosure up 65 percent versus the same month last year and contributing to a deepening slide in home values, a research company said Tuesday.

Nationwide, 243,353 homes received at least one foreclosure-related filing in April, up 65 percent from 147,708 in the same month last year and up 4 percent since March, RealtyTrac Inc. said.

Nevada, Arizona, California and Florida were among the hardest hit states, with metropolitan areas in California and Florida accounting for nine of the top 10 areas with the highest rate of foreclosure, the company said.

Irvine, Calif.-based RealtyTrac monitors default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions.

Read it all.

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

Seeking to Help Persecuted Iraqi Christians

Check it out and consider partcipating.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Iraq War, Other Churches

An FT Editorial on Google: Emperor for life?

Google’s dominance in search, and therefore in search-based advertising, has been based on offering the best product. That can change, and has done so in the past. Who now trembles at the mention of AltaVista, Lycos or even Yahoo?

Still, regulators must watch Google’s current practices. Even a short-lived monopoly can exploit its customers if it so chooses. Larry Page, Google’s co-founder, has been reported as claiming that the company cannot affect pricing because it sells advertising by auction. That is nonsense. Google could restrict supply, forcing auction prices up.

Yet the bigger risk is that Google parlays fleeting excellence into entrenched power. While it lacks Microsoft’s networked dominance, it has the financial clout to buy out rivals, especially fledgling competitors in online search. Google is also hoping to thrive both in advertising on mobiles and in the growing world of online video. That is a legitimate aim, but regulators must be vigilant. More importantly, Google’s rivals had better start offering a credible alternative.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet

USA Today: Blowout bolsters Clinton resolve

Hillary Rodham Clinton crushed Barack Obama by more than 2-1 in the West Virginia primary Tuesday ”” a victory that was surely personally satisfying but came as the Democratic presidential nomination is nearly in the grasp of her rival.

“There are some who have wanted to cut this race short,” Clinton told raucous, cheering supporters in Charleston, but she left no doubt she plans to stay in the race through the final contests.

“I am more determined than ever to carry on this campaign until everyone has had a chance to make their voices heard,” she said, calling herself a stronger candidate in a general election and a better-prepared president.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

Edward Luttwak: President Apostate?

One danger of such charisma, however, is that it can evoke unrealistic hopes of what a candidate could actually accomplish in office regardless of his own personal abilities. Case in point is the oft-made claim that an Obama presidency would be welcomed by the Muslim world.

This idea often goes hand in hand with the altogether more plausible argument that Mr. Obama’s election would raise America’s esteem in Africa ”” indeed, he already arouses much enthusiasm in his father’s native Kenya and to a degree elsewhere on the continent.

But it is a mistake to conflate his African identity with his Muslim heritage. Senator Obama is half African by birth and Africans can understandably identify with him. In Islam, however, there is no such thing as a half-Muslim. Like all monotheistic religions, Islam is an exclusive faith.

As the son of the Muslim father, Senator Obama was born a Muslim under Muslim law as it is universally understood. It makes no difference that, as Senator Obama has written, his father said he renounced his religion. Likewise, under Muslim law based on the Koran his mother’s Christian background is irrelevant.

Of course, as most Americans understand it, Senator Obama is not a Muslim. He chose to become a Christian, and indeed has written convincingly to explain how he arrived at his choice and how important his Christian faith is to him.

His conversion, however, was a crime in Muslim eyes; it is “irtidad” or “ridda,” usually translated from the Arabic as “apostasy,” but with connotations of rebellion and treason. Indeed, it is the worst of all crimes that a Muslim can commit, worse than murder (which the victim’s family may choose to forgive).

Read it all.

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

Racist Incidents Give Some Obama Campaigners Pause

Danielle Ross was alone in an empty room at the Obama campaign headquarters in Kokomo, Ind., a cellphone in one hand, a voter call list in the other. She was stretched out on the carpeted floor wearing laceless sky-blue Converses, stories from the trail on her mind. It was the day before Indiana’s primary, and she had just been chased by dogs while canvassing in a Kokomo suburb. But that was not the worst thing to occur since she postponed her sophomore year at Middle Tennessee State University, in part to hopscotch America stumping for Barack Obama.

Here’s the worst: In Muncie, a factory town in the east-central part of Indiana, Ross and her cohorts were soliciting support for Obama at malls, on street corners and in a Wal-Mart parking lot, and they ran into “a horrible response,” as Ross put it, a level of anti-black sentiment that none of them had anticipated.

“The first person I encountered was like, ‘I’ll never vote for a black person,’ ” recalled Ross, who is white and just turned 20. “People just weren’t receptive.”

For all the hope and excitement Obama’s candidacy is generating, some of his field workers, phone-bank volunteers and campaign surrogates are encountering a raw racism and hostility that have gone largely unnoticed — and unreported — this election season. Doors have been slammed in their faces. They’ve been called racially derogatory names (including the white volunteers). And they’ve endured malicious rants and ugly stereotyping from people who can’t fathom that the senator from Illinois could become the first African American president.

The contrast between the large, adoring crowds Obama draws at public events and the gritty street-level work to win votes is stark….

Read it all from yesterday’s Washington Post.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Race/Race Relations, US Presidential Election 2008

Daniel Barenboim–Israel at 60: My land, my pain

There are photographs hanging on the walls of my dressing room in the Staatsoper Berlin, photographs that remind me of what I see when I look out the windows of my house in Jerusalem. They are slightly faded, and here and there the paper is crumbling, but one can easily recognize the views. The Old City, the Dome of the Rock with its shining cupola, the walls, the gates.

Sometimes I sit in this room before a performance, looking at these pictures and thinking of Jerusalem, of Israel, my home. Before 1989, this room was supposedly a refuge of the East German Stasi, the state police; if I happened to be a sentimental person, that fact would surely help me to become unsentimental, but I am not a sentimental person. The situation in the Middle East is much too close to me, much too personal to be able to be sentimental about it.

Since 1952 I have owned an Israeli passport. Since I was 15 years old, I have traveled the world as a musician. I have lived in London and in Paris and I commuted for years between Chicago and Berlin. Before I had an Israeli passport, I had an Argentinean one; later I acquired a Spanish one. And in 2007, I became the only Israeli in the world who can also show a Palestinian passport at an Israeli border crossing.

I am, so to speak, living evidence of the fact that only a pragmatic two-state solution (or better yet, absurd as it sounds, a federation of three states: Israel, Palestine and Jordan) can bring peace to the region.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Israel, Middle East, Music

Michael Paulson: Catholic colleges avoiding controversial honorees

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is one of the nation’s most powerful Catholics, but this year the only commencement address she gave was at one of the eight campuses of Miami Dade College.

Senator John F. Kerry is headlining three commencements this year – the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, UMass Lowell, and Wheelock College – but it’s been nine years since he’s done one at a Catholic institution, Boston College Law School.

As for the scion of the nation’s most famous Catholic family, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, his major commencement address this year is at Wesleyan University, founded by Methodists.

After repeatedly getting criticized by conservative Catholics, and after years of pressure from the Vatican and some American bishops, Catholic colleges and universities are now shying away from politicians – especially those who, like Kennedy, Kerry, and Pelosi, support abortion rights – as commencement speakers and honorary degree recipients.

Instead, the schools are scrutinizing the public records of potential honorees for evidence of open dissent from key church teachings, especially on abortion, and they are choosing noncontroversial church insiders or nonpolitical figures for their most prominent honors. “I think there’s a concerted effort to use the moment of naming people who reinforce the Catholic identity of our institutions, and I’m pleased by that,” Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston said in an interview.

Read it all.

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

Plan for Cross Shakes Columbia to Its Core Values

Now, one congregation’s plan to place a 16-foot cross on a new building at the town’s oldest interfaith center in Wilde Lake Village has stirred an anxious response. Some guardians of local tradition see the cross as a challenge to the core values of Columbia.

“I think it’s just wrong,” said Robert Tennenbaum, a planner and architect who helped design Wilde Lake. “This is Columbia — you are talking about a special place.”

Since the Wilde Lake Interfaith Center opened in 1970 with a feast of bread and honey, St. John United Church and St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church have shared the discreet low building, which has no outer markings to distinguish it as a house of worship. But after several years of planning and fundraising, St. John United, a congregation that melds Methodist and Presbyterian traditions, is expanding to provide more room for its flock.

The Rev. R. Whitfield “Whitty” Bass, pastor of St. John United, said he doesn’t see why anyone would be offended by a cross on the exterior of a building. “The cross is a symbol of freedom,” he said.

But others feel just as strongly that the cross will be an offense to the idea of interfaith centers as sanctuaries of inclusion.

“A number of people are really disturbed about it,” said Rhoda Toback, a village resident and former member of the Wilde Lake Village Board.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

Why Former Episcopal Bishop John Lipscomb Became a Roman Catholic

1. The .. experience [in the Episcopal Church] was primarily one of inward-looking mediation and reconcilliation attempts from day one, and all along Lipscomb was less and less able to be at peace about what he was doing. First, ECUSA continually took positions which refuted sound moral theology. Secondly, the ‘gifts’ of catholicity that Lipscomb had hoped to infuse into ECUSA were simply not wanted. And, he was just so tired of the jargon which carefully differentiated ‘Anglicanism’ from ECUSA, and shopped for bishops; to have such a misguided sense of boundaries in the Church is not ‘catholic’ at all.

2. The unity which John 17 calls for is a unity for the purpose of a united mission. This had become impossible in ECUSA. And, ECUSA’s brand of ecumenism apart from truth could never produce any sense of unity at all; added to that is the fact that the English Reformation was about rebellion from the outset, the quest for unity becomes futile. In other words, the Anglican crisis is 500 years old….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Other Churches, Roman Catholic, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, Theology

CNN Projects Hillary Clinton as the Winner of West Virginia

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

Press Release: Colorado Church Property Dispute Unresolved

(From the Anglican parish of Grace and Saint Stephen’s Church).

(Colorado Springs, Colorado) Judge Larry E. Schwartz of the El Paso County District Court issued a decision today that the property dispute between Grace Church and St. Stephen’s and the Episcopal Bishop and Diocese of Colorado cannot be resolved by summary judgment and must go to trial court. Yet, significantly and critical to Grace Church and St. Stephen’s legal argument for ownership of the property in question, Judge Swartz concluded that the parish is a valid, non-profit corporation recognized by the State of Colorado since 1973.

Judge Schwartz’s decision was in response to a hearing held on May 2, 2008 at the El Paso County Courthouse in which 18 members of Grace Church and St. Stephen’s requested that personal lawsuits brought against them by the Episcopal Bishop of Colorado be dismissed.

In May of 2007 Grace Church and St. Stephen’s voted to affiliate with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) in a congregational election. Of the 370 votes cast, an overwhelming 342, or 93%, voted for Grace Church and St. Stephen’s, one of the oldest Episcopal Churches in Colorado, to leave the Episcopal Church over its departure from traditional Christian beliefs and practice.

Since that time the Episcopal Bishop and Diocese of Colorado have sued the corporation of Grace Church and St. Stephen’s, 18 individual members and lay-leaders of the congregation, and an affiliated elementary school, St. Stephen’s Classical School, for the 17 million dollar historic landmark church building in downtown Colorado Springs.

In today’s decision Judge Schwartz wrote that “over six volumes of affidavits, correspondence and documents have been filed over the last year in support of various issues that will ultimately need to be addressed.” As a consequence, “Neither party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law under summary judgment analysis”¦.Material facts ”¦ are clearly in dispute.”

In response to Judge Schwartz’s decision, Jon Wroblewski, senior warden of Grace Church as St. Stephen’s, said, “We are grateful for the careful and deliberate seriousness with which Judge Swartz has considered our case. Furthermore, we are pleased that the judge recognized the fact that the parish’s 1973 corporation has been doing business as a legal entity unchallenged by the Episcopal Church for 35 years, that our corporation is recognized by the Secretary of State, that this property case is very different from previous cases involving church property disputes, and that neutral principles of law prevail over and against sectarian arguments about ecclesiastical hierarchy. Sadly, I think that this case is proving to be an embarrassment to Christian witness in this community and beyond. The vicious actions of the Bishop and Diocese of Colorado to attack a congregation’s right of self-determination, to personally sue 18 upstanding members of a community in their capacity as volunteer non-profit directors, and to sue an elementary school are unconscionable. Surely there is a better way for Christian people to behave in the public eye. We hold out hope, however forlorn, that the Bishop will repent and come to some reasonable mediated settlement; but if not, justice must prevail.”

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

Mark Noll reviews Lamin Sanneh's "Disciples of All Nations: Pillars of World Christianity"

The pillar that continually returns as obviously of greatest importance to Sanneh is that of “translatability.” Some readers may wonder what more there is to say that Sanneh has not already said in his pathbreaking academic study Translating the Message: The Missionary Impact on Culture (Orbis, 1989) and more recently in a cheeky volume of self-interrogation, Whose Religion Is Christianity? The Gospel Beyond the West (Eerdmans, 2003). Yet this theme is so important for what Sanneh believes about the nature of God, about human cultures under God, and about Christianity as an intrinsically world religion that he continues to find new meaning in the process by which the scriptures””and then the whole of Christian faith””move from one language-culture-mental framework to another.

Sanneh writes that God exists “at the center of the universe of cultures, implying equality among cultures and the necessarily relative status of cultures vis-à-vis the truth of God.” Translatability shows why “no culture is so advanced and so superior that it can claim exclusive access or advantage to the truth of God, and none so marginal and remote that it can be excluded.” It takes flesh in “the ethical monotheism Christianity inherited from Judaism” in such a way that it “accords value to culture but rejects cultural idolatry.” And it shows why “in any language the Bible is not literal; its message affirms all languages to be worthy, though not exclusive, of divine communication.” If the faith embodied in Jesus Christ resounds in its essence “with the idioms and styles of new converts,” it was then inevitable that Christianity would become “multilingual and multicultural.” Sanneh has previously faced the question of whether one activity can bear all of this interpretive weight. This book provides his most convincing answer.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Ecclesiology, Globalization, Missions, Theology