Daily Archives: May 23, 2008

McCain Cuts Ties to Pastors Whose Talks Drew Fire

Senator John McCain on Thursday rejected the endorsements of two prominent evangelical ministers whose backing he had sought to shore up his credentials with religious conservatives.

Mr. McCain repudiated the Rev. John C. Hagee, a televangelist, after a watchdog group released a recording of a sermon in which Mr. Hagee said Hitler and the Holocaust had been part of God’s plan to chase the Jews from Europe and drive them to Palestine.

Later in the day, he also rejected the endorsement of the Rev. Rod Parsley of the World Harvest Church of Columbus, Ohio, whose anti-Muslim sermons were broadcast on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Thursday.

Controversy has dogged the Hagee endorsement since Mr. McCain announced it at a February news conference, and just last week Mr. Hagee issued a letter expressing regret for “any comments that Catholics have found hurtful.”

Read it all.

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

Mark Pinsky: The Faith of Flanders

No one would mistake Ned Flanders, the goofy next-door neighbor in “The Simpsons,” for a polished televangelist like Joel Osteen. But over the past two decades the zealous cartoon character has become one of the best-known evangelicals on America’s small screen. With Americans spending exponentially more time on their sofas watching television than in pews listening to sermons, this is no insignificant matter.

In the inevitably intertwined world of religion and commerce, it’s only natural that the man portrayed as “Blessed Ned of Springfield” on the cover of Christianity Today magazine should have his own “new testament.” And so he does. “Flanders’ Book of Faith,” by “Simpsons” creator Matt Groening, is a slim, illustrated entry in the show’s “Library of Wisdom” series.

For years, the TV show’s writers, fiercely protective of their reputation for irreverence, denied that they were in any way sympathetic toward sincere belief, as embodied by the Flanders character. But releasing the book under Mr. Groening’s name puts an imprimatur on that kind-to-religion interpretation, long held in younger evangelical circles.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Movies & Television, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

Juneau Power Crisis Brings Stark Savings Measures

One month after an avalanche knocked out its connection to a hydroelectric dam, much of Juneau, Alaska, is still relying on diesel back-up generators. Residential electricity rates have gone up about 400 percent.

As a result, residents and the city have embarked on an extraordinary conservation campaign. Compact fluorescent light bulbs are common; restaurants routinely dim the lights.

Host Renee Montagne talks to Kate Golden, a reporter at The Juneau Empire

Listen to it all from NPR.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources

Obama, Clinton campaigns holding formal talks, according to CNN

Time magazine has this intriguing blurb:

What will Clinton’s terms of surrender turn out to be? Her husband, for one, seems to have a pretty clear idea what he thinks she should get as a consolation prize. In Bill Clinton’s view, she has earned nothing short of an offer to be Obama’s running mate, according to some who are close to the former President. Bill “is pushing real hard for this to happen,” says a friend.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

An Excellent Resource: Author Jason Byasee visits the Blog and Discusses his own Article

In case you missed it, Christian Century article author Jason Byassee was kind enough to interact with blog readers about his own article on some Illinois area Anglicans. The Anglican disapora is a tough story, and much media coverage of it is not very good–take a look at this discussion and see what you think.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Media

Blogging–It's Good for You

As a personal favor before you start reading this or click the link for the rest of the article guess–based on the title–what publication it is from–KSH.

Self-medication may be the reason the blogosphere has taken off. Scientists (and writers) have long known about the therapeutic benefits of writing about personal experiences, thoughts and feelings. But besides serving as a stress-coping mechanism, expressive writing produces many physiological benefits. Research shows that it improves memory and sleep, boosts immune cell activity and reduces viral load in AIDS patients, and even speeds healing after surgery. A study in the February issue of the Oncologist reports that cancer patients who engaged in expressive writing just before treatment felt markedly better, mentally and physically, as compared with patients who did not.

Scientists now hope to explore the neurological underpinnings at play, especially considering the explosion of blogs. According to Alice Flaherty, a neuroscientist at Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital, the placebo theory of suffering is one window through which to view blogging. As social creatures, humans have a range of pain-related behaviors, such as complaining, which acts as a “placebo for getting satisfied,” Flaherty says. Blogging about stressful experiences might work similarly.

Flaherty, who studies conditions such as hypergraphia (an uncontrollable urge to write) and writer’s block, also looks to disease models to explain the drive behind this mode of communication. For example, people with mania often talk too much. “We believe something in the brain’s limbic system is boosting their desire to communicate,” Flaherty explains. Located mainly in the midbrain, the limbic system controls our drives, whether they are related to food, sex, appetite, or problem solving. “You know that drives are involved [in blogging] because a lot of people do it compulsively,” Flaherty notes. Also, blogging might trigger dopamine release, similar to stimulants like music, running and looking at art.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Psychology, Science & Technology

Church Times: Burmese clerics tell of relief struggle in cyclone aftermath

The Archbishop of Burma and a Burmese priest who is visiting the UK have described the devastation wrought by Cyclone Nargis in their country. One aid worker called the scene he found there a “nuclear landscape”.

In a statement issued on Monday, the Archbishop of Myanmar, the Most Revd Stephen Than Myint Oo, said that the official number of deaths was 78,000, and more than 56,000 were counted as missing. Aid agencies estimate that deaths are nearer to 128,000, and the UN says that 2.4 million people are in grave need of aid.

The Archbishop said that the Church had formed a relief committee and had sent four teams to the affected areas. “In some places, entire villages have been devastated, with few if any survivors. In other places, survivors have huddled together in makeshift shelters awaiting aid.

“Travel in that area is very difficult, and villages are often in very isolated and remote areas, accessible only by boat. The overall situation is still relatively fluid, with government policy shifting in response to new developments.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Latest News, Asia, Myanmar/Burma

Alabama Governor says churches, not state, must rehabilitate prisoners

(RNS) Gov. Bob Riley on Tuesday (May 20) asked Alabama churches to shoulder the burden of caring for newly released inmates, saying the state lacks the flexibility and funds to help them successfully re-enter society.

Leaders from churches and charitable groups were asked to provide a wide range of services to former inmates, including employment assistance, housing, clothing, health care and cash.

Riley said the state’s churches can rise to the challenge just as they do in response to natural disasters such as hurricanes.

“If we can motivate the faith-based community in the state the way we do during an emergency, then we can make a difference,” Riley said to a group of about 500 people, mostly religious leaders.

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

A (Somewhat Dated but Nevertheless Worthwhile) Chicago Tribune Profile of Bill Hybels

Rev. Bill Hybels opens his eyes at dawn, rolls out of bed and lands on his knees. For 10 minutes, he says, he kneels in prayer, thanking God.

That one-on-one time came more easily three decades ago, when Hybels was an evangelist working outside the mainstream, launching an experimental ministry called Willow Creek Community Church.Now Willow Creek is a big part of the mainstream, the South Barrington-based megachurch at the forefront of an international phenomenon counting almost 12,000 congregations.

And Hybels has become a power broker in evangelical Christianity, the CEO of a movement. This year he stepped away from Willow Creek’s day-to-day operations to concentrate on expanding the ministry to the unchurched abroad and to broaden its urban, multicultural reach at home.

“In the early days I was the father, the mother, the uncle, the aunt, the grandmother. I was really the only teacher, the only pastor,” he said. “These days … the church’s dependency on me has gone down just exactly the way we planned it.”

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

Wenatchee World Online: Five things to know about being Episcopalian

The Anglican Communion began with the Church of England separating from the Roman Catholic Church in the middle of the 16th century as part of the Reformation. It is now found in 160 countries throughout the world. The Episcopal Church is the American branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Although Anglicans share in a fairly similar form of liturgical worship, not all Anglicans think alike. “There are vast cultural and theological differences within the church. For example, most of the African churches were started by very conservative English missionaries and, thus, tend to have a rather conservative, literal approach to scripture, the authority of their bishops and social issues, including human sexuality. The American churches evolved in a totally different cultural, political and theological context. … There’s a tremendous clash in approaches” between African and American Anglicans, Boyle said. Many of the African bishops are demanding that the Americans approach the church and religion the same way they do. “The differences are so vast that they are not likely to get easily resolved. Part of what they are demanding is that we all think alike. To us it’s normal to have differences of opinion. For us, our unity isn’t found in thinking alike. It is found in our common worship.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Identity, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry

Boston Globe: Gas cost clouds holiday weekend

Motorists face record gasoline prices as the summer driving season kicks off this weekend, but those willing to spend close to $4 a gallon to leave town may enjoy at least one benefit: less holiday traffic.

The American Automobile Association expects record gas prices and an uncertain economy to reduce the number of people traveling over the Memorial Day weekend for the first time since 2002, when fresh memories of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks kept Americans close to home, said Art Kinsman, spokesman for AAA of Southern New England.

In the Northeast, AAA projects holiday travel will fall 3 percent from a year ago, and travel should slip about 1 percent nationally.

“It’s been climbing steadily for the past several years,” Kinsman said, “but we’ve finally reached the point where gas prices are affecting people’s decision to drive long distances.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources

Deadly Colorado twister splinters homes

You need to watch it all, the picture of the mile wide tornado takes one’s breath away.

Posted in * General Interest

American Airlines to charge for checked baggage

With oil prices hitting new records almost daily, the nation’s largest air carrier, American Airlines, announced drastic steps Wednesday to “remain viable,” including charging new fees for all checked baggage, slashing domestic flights and laying off thousands of workers.

It was one of the most extreme moves yet by a U.S. airline, and came as the price of oil jumped Wednesday to $133.17 a barrel, up $4.19.

Starting June 15 most American passengers must pay $15 for checking a single bag. That comes on top of the airline’s decision two weeks ago to charge $25 for a second bag.

American, the largest carrier at Los Angeles International Airport, said it was compelled to take the actions in what it called an “extraordinary” environment.

Other airlines are expected to take additional steps to fight the twin curses of rising oil prices and a weak economy, increasing prospects for higher fares and crowded planes as the busy summer travel season kicks into gear with the upcoming Memorial Day weekend.

Already, domestic airfares for summer travel are up 20% compared with a year ago, according to Farecast.com, an online travel search service. American said rising oil prices had increased its expected annual fuel costs by nearly $3 billion since the start of the year.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

A Mental Health Break: What is it with Certain Kinds of Employees?

Posted in * General Interest, Humor / Trivia

Froma Harrop: Let laws be marriage-neutral

THE CALIFORNIA court decision advancing gay marriage will reignite “the debate,” the headlines say. How will the issue play out in the presidential campaigns?

My guess is very little. The more time passes since Massachusetts legalized same-sex nuptials (four years ago this month), the less people care about them. Gay marriage hasn’t snagged the tiniest thread in the social fabric of the Bay State, which also happens to have the lowest divorce rate in the country.

But there is a marriage debate we ought to have ”” or to put it more accurately, a non-marriage debate. Over half of American households are now headed by single people. They include young singles and confirmed bachelors, the widowed and the divorced. Some are gay. Most are straight. Except for an occasional nod to elderly widows, single people and their concerns are nearly invisible in the presidential campaigns.

I have nothing against gay marriage per se. I do agree with Dick Cheney (it happens at times) that domestic law is rightly a matter for the states. That way, same-sex marriage evolves with time, starting off in the parts of America that are most comfortable with the idea. Eventually, it will be commonplace.

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I will consider posting comments on this article submitted first by email to Kendall’s E-mail: KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Sexuality