Daily Archives: May 20, 2008

White House denies Jerusalem Post story about attacking Iran – DJ

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Iran, Middle East

Dancing the Night Away, With a Higher Purpose

In their floor-length gowns, up-dos and tiaras, the 70 or so young women swept past two harpists and into a gilt-and-brocade dining room at the lavish Broadmoor Hotel, on the arms of their much older male companions.

The girls, ages early grade school to college, had come with their fathers, stepfathers and future fathers-in-law last Friday night to the ninth annual Father-Daughter Purity Ball. The first two hours of the gala passed like any somewhat awkward night out with parents, the men doing nearly all the talking and the girls struggling to cut their chicken.

But after dessert, the 63 men stood and read aloud a covenant “before God to cover my daughter as her authority and protection in the area of purity.”

The gesture signaled that the fathers would guard their daughters from what evangelicals consider a profoundly corrosive “hook-up culture.” The evening, which alternated between homemade Christian rituals and giddy dancing, was a joyous public affirmation of the girls’ sexual abstinence until they wed.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Teens / Youth

Debt-squeezed Gen X saves little

At age 30, Bryan Short has, by any standard, achieved professional success since graduating from Boston College and law school at the College of William and Mary. Yet despite his job as a Washington mergers-and-acquisitions lawyer, he’s nowhere near as financially secure as he expected to be by now.

He and his wife own one car and rent a 500-square-foot studio apartment. More than one-third of his take-home pay is gobbled up by repayment of college and law-school debt. Children are unaffordable right now. And retirement savings? They’ve barely begun.

“Despite being what most would consider clearly upper-middle class, highly educated and almost assuredly on no one’s pity party list, I can assure you we live an extremely modest life,” says Short, whose wife, Regina, is pursuing an MBA at Johns Hopkins University.

For years, experts have warned that too many of the USA’s 79 million baby boomers aren’t financially ready for their coming retirements. Yet, if the boomers have had it hard, it’s nothing compared with those next in line: Generation X ”” people such as the Shorts…

Read it all from USA Today.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Young Adults

Jerusalem Post: President 'Bush intends to attack Iran before the end of his term'

US President George W. Bush intends to attack Iran in the upcoming months, before the end of his term, Army Radio quoted a senior official in Jerusalem as saying Tuesday.

The official claimed that a senior member of the president’s entourage, which concluded a trip to Israel last week, said during a closed meeting that Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were of the opinion that military action was called for.

However, the official continued, “the hesitancy of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice” was preventing the administration from deciding to launch such an attack on the Islamic Republic, for the time being.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Iran, Middle East, Military / Armed Forces

One College embraces Its Valedictorian

A lovely piece–watch it all.

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

A living-room crusade via blogging

Jane Novak, a 46-year-old stay-at-home mother of two in New Jersey, has never been to Yemen. She speaks no Arabic, and freely admits that until a few years ago, she knew nothing about that strife-torn south Arabian country.

And yet Novak has become so well known in Yemen that newspaper editors say they sell more copies if her photograph — blond and smiling — is on the cover. Her blog, an outspoken news bulletin on Yemeni affairs, is banned there. The government’s allies routinely vilify her in print as an American agent, a Shiite monarchist, a member of Al Qaeda, or “the Zionist Novak.”

The worst of her many offenses is her dogged campaign on behalf of a Yemeni journalist, Abdul Karim al-Khaiwani, who incurred his government’s wrath by writing about a bloody rebellion in the far north of the country. He is on trial on sedition charges that could bring the death penalty, with a verdict expected Wednesday.

Novak, working from a laptop in her New Jersey living room “while the kids are at school,” has started an Internet petition to free Khaiwani. She has enlisted Yemeni politicians, journalists, human rights activists and others around the globe. Her blog goes well beyond the Khaiwani case and has become a crucial outlet for opposition journalists and political figures, who feed her tips on Yemeni political intrigue by e-mail or text message.

She says her campaign is a matter of basic principle. “This is a country that lets Al Qaeda people go free, and they’re putting a journalist on trial for doing his job?” she said. “It’s just completely crazy.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Blogging & the Internet, Media, Middle East

Economy falters, and the repo man gains

So many people have so many things they can no longer afford. This is an excellent time to be a repo man.

When a boater defaults on his loan, the bank hires Jeff Henderson to go seize, or repossess, its property. The former U.S. Army detective tracks the boat down in a backyard or a marina or a garage and hauls it back here, where he auctions it off. After nearly 20 years in the repossession business, Henderson has never been busier.

“I used to take the weak ones,” he said. “Now I’m taking the whole herd.”

Boating was traditionally the pastime of the well-off, but the long housing boom and its gusher of easy credit changed that. People refinanced their homes and used the cash for down payments on a cruiser, miniyacht or sailboat. Between 2000 and 2006, retail sales for the recreational boating industry rose by more than 40 percent, to $39.5 billion, while the average loan size more than tripled to $141,000.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

China Seeks to Relocate 12 Million Quake Survivors

I tried hard to wrap my mind around that number of people without homes and failed.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Asia, China

Should Britain change the abortion laws?

David Field of Leicester University chimes in on this question on the BBC.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Children, England / UK, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family

The Chinese Earthquake’s terrifying aftershocks caught on tape

I found it very hard to watch–see what you think.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Asia, China

Salt Lake City seminarians cheer Pope Benedict during his recent U.S. Visit

Pope Benedict is a rock star. Following Christian rock superstars and American idols, he arrived at the seminary and entered the field to swelling counterpoint of Bach and the screaming cheers of thousands after personally greeting disabled children in the seminary chapel. The crowd’s expectation was fulfilled, the pope was present; the field erupted and would not relinquish the pope for several minutes of intense cheering.

In his address, the theological reflection was deep and expansive. The ultimate truth is found in the ultimate being, he said, exciting every fiber of St. Thomas Aquinas’ philosophy among the seminarians ”“ and all the people again broke out into shouts of joy.

At the far-flung missions in the Diocese of Salt Lake City, where the celebration of the Mass can be a monthly luxury, the spiritual support of the Christian faithful, though strong, is minimal. The Body of Christ is integral always and everywhere, though the reinforcement of joining people en masse is a uniquely moving moment without which the experience of faith loses a critical taste of universality.

The pope’s message has practical appeal to everyone. As Catholics, he said, we must foster our personal relationship with Christ, as well as be faithful to our liturgical prayer, work actively for charity, and be attentive to God’s call for each person: one’s vocation.

The excitement that filled the day at its beginning became the vehicle for the pope’s words into the lives of everyone who listened to it. For seminarians, it was a first exposure as men in priestly formation to the fullness of the priesthood through the presence of the curia. From the desert of the Boneville Salt Flats to the center of every great city, this was a moment no one who experienced it will ever let go.

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

The Bishop of San Diego's Statement on the California Court Ruling

While visiting the Diocese of El Salvador, I learned of yesterday’s ruling by the California Supreme Court that it is unconstitutional to deny same-sex couples the right to receive a California marriage license. With efforts already underway to place a constitutional amendment on November’s ballot banning such marriages, it is clear that this issue will continue to permeate our political life.

I support the Supreme Court’s decision and oppose the likely effort to amend the constitution. At a federal level, the constitution has only been successfully amended to expand rights, not remove them, and it follows that California would maintain a similar posture.

While supporting the rights of gays and lesbians, I am mindful that our church has not yet made the decision to bless same-sex unions. We are in the midst of a challenging but vital conversation about holy relationships in this diocese and indeed across the communion. I ask all people of the diocese to hold the court’s decision gently. Prayerfully remember that God has placed his children, who share different perspectives on same-sex relationships, next to each other in church every Sunday.

As Archbishop Rowan Williams said, “our baptism puts us in solidarities not of our own choosing.” Let us be good stewards of these solidarities and teach each other, and the wider community, how to listen and learn from each other as we accept the Court’s decision to allow equal access to the institution of marriage.

–(The Rt. Rev.) James R. Mathes is Bishop of San Diego

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops

Religious leaders attack PM's endorsement of embryo bill

The Prime Minister, whose son Fraser suffers from cystic fibrosis, a condition that could benefit from the research, attacked critics of the Bill. “I have deep respect for those who do not agree with some of the provisions in the Bill because of religious conviction,” he wrote in a national newspaper . “But I believe that we owe it to ourselves and future generations to introduce these measures, and in particular, to give our unequivocal backing within the right framework of rules and standards, to stem cell research.”

Cardinal O’Brien, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor and Cardinal Sean Brady questioned the Government’s decision to push through legislation ahead of alternative scientific methods. In a joint statement today they said: “Not nearly enough time has been given to discussing these issues and these questions require answers before and not after legislation.

“We support scientific research that seeks to cure disease and suffering,” they continued. “The HFE Bill has focused on embryonic stem cell research. In fact, much greater progress has already been made towards clinical therapies using adult stem cells. Other emerging techniques hold potential for good, without creating and destroying human embryos.”

Dr Tom Wright, the Bishop of Durham, said opposition to the bill was not confined to Catholic consciences. A letter signed by bishops, clergy and the heads of national Christian organisations said: “We would like to make it plain that as people from other Christian traditions we are completely opposed to the creation of animal-human hybrids, saviour siblings and the removal of the obligation on IVF clinics to consider the child’s need for a father. This is not a narrowly Roman Catholic issue, nor is it a narrowly Christian issue nor indeed is it a narrowly religious issue. It is a human issue. We need to fight to uphold and protect our humanity.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

MPs back creation of human-animal embryos

British scientists will be allowed to research devastating diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s using human-animal embryos, after the House of Commons rejected a ban yesterday.

An amendment to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill that would have outlawed the creation of “human admixed embryos” for medical research was defeated in a free vote by a majority of 160, preserving what Gordon Brown regarded as a central element of the legislation.

The Government is braced for defeat today, however, on a separate clause that would scrap the requirement that fertility clinics consider a child’s need for a father before treating patients. MPs will also consider amendments tonight that would cut the legal limit for abortion from 24 weeks to 22 or 20 weeks.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Life Ethics, Science & Technology, Theology

Communique from the Anglican – Lutheran International Commission

(ACNS)

The Third Anglican ”“ Lutheran International Commission (ALIC) held its second meeting at White Point, Nova Scotia, Canada between 14 and 20 May, 2007, under the chairmanship of the Rt Revd Fred Hiltz, Anglican Bishop of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, and the Revd Dr Thomas Nyiwé, President of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Cameroon.

The Commission has been established by the Anglican Consultative Council and the Lutheran World Federation to continue the dialogue between Anglicans and Lutherans on the worldwide level which has been in progress since 1970. ALIC intends to build upon the work reflected in The Niagara Report (1987), focusing on the mission of the church and the role of the ordained ministry, The Diaconate as an Ecumenical Opportunity (1995), and most recently Growth in Communion (2002), the report of the Anglican ”“ Lutheran International Working Group (ALIWG), which reviewed the extensive regional agreements which have established close relations between Anglican and Lutheran churches in several parts of the world.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, - Anglican: Primary Source, Ecumenical Relations, Lutheran, Other Churches