Daily Archives: September 5, 2008

Canadian Election on October 14th

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Canada

Naomi Scafer Riley: Sarah Palin Feminism

And the goals that young evangelical women have set for themselves reflect this worldview. In 2007, only 0.3% of women at non-Catholic religious institutions said that their probable career was “full-time homemaker.” There was also little difference between the goals of women at non-Catholic religious colleges and those at other schools when it came to pursuing advanced degrees. Surveys of college freshmen don’t necessarily reflect perfectly the choices that young people will ultimately make, but they do give a sense of the values that they have learned at home. Evangelical families now seem to expect their daughters to have careers.

Which is not to say these young women don’t place great importance on having a family. At secular schools 73% thought raising a family was very important, versus 80% at non-Catholic religious schools. Meanwhile, the percentage of women who said that being “very well off financially” was among their important objectives was also similar across the board — 69% at secular schools and 63% at religious ones. These goals are seen as no more incompatible for religious women than they are for secular ones. In fact, religious women may have a better chance of “having it all” than their secular counterparts. Since they tend to get married and have children earlier in life, they are less likely, Mrs. Palin notwithstanding, to have to have to make difficult choices between highly demanding mid-career work and the needs of a young family.

The reasons for these developments are many, but perhaps the most salient one is that evangelicals are an increasingly educated and upwardly mobile population. Evangelical colleges have grown at a rapid pace in the past 20 years, and the ratios of women to men there are even higher than at secular colleges.

So have evangelicals accepted the sexual revolution? Yes and no. While they generally agree that women should have careers, evangelical women and men still have some traditional social views — that sex should be reserved for marriage, that marriage is between a man and a woman, and that the possibility of abortion on demand, far from being a key to women’s happiness, is simply wrong. In other words, like most Americans, they have rejected the more radical elements of feminism. Another newsflash for the pundits, perhaps.

Read it all.

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

Students mark 21st birthdays with 'extreme' drinking binges

College students today celebrate 21st birthdays with an average of 12 drinks for men and nine for women, finds the most in-depth picture yet of the consequences of extreme partying.

The University of Texas-Austin research found 78% of students cited ill effects, including hangovers (54%). Of 44% who had blackouts, 22% found out later they had sex, and 22% got in a fight or argument. And 39% didn’t know how they got home.

Although the study focused on only one campus, researchers say the new level of “extreme drinking” goes way beyond “bingeing” ”” four or five drinks in one sitting. And it’s a phenomenon probably being repeated at schools across the country, researchers say. Studying 21st-birthday celebrations is a new area of research, and no national studies have been done, but studies on a handful of other campuses have found similar extremes.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Education, Young Adults

Charles Krauthammer: Palin's Problem

“There are two questions we will never have to ask ourselves, ‘Who is this man?’ and ‘Can we trust this man with the presidency?’ “

— Fred Thompson on John McCain, Sept. 2

This was the most effective line of the entire Republican convention: a ringing affirmation of John McCain’s authenticity and a not-so-subtle indictment of Barack Obama’s insubstantiality. What’s left of this line of argument, however, after John McCain picks Sarah Palin for vice president?

Palin is an admirable and formidable woman. She has energized the Republican base and single-handedly unified the Republican convention behind McCain. She performed spectacularly in her acceptance speech. Nonetheless, the choice of Palin remains deeply problematic.

It’s clear that McCain picked her because he had decided that he needed a game-changer. But why? He’d closed the gap in the polls with Obama. True, that had more to do with Obama sagging than McCain gaining. But what’s the difference? You win either way.

Obama was sagging because of missteps that reflected the fundamental weakness of his candidacy. Which suggested McCain’s strategy: Make this a referendum on Obama, surely the least experienced, least qualified, least prepared presidential nominee in living memory.

Palin fatally undermines this entire line of attack. This is through no fault of her own. It is simply a function of her rookie status….

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

In New Book, Bob Woodward Says Bush 'Failed to Lead,' Even as Surge Succeeded

Bob Woodward, who wrote two books praising President Bush and then a third harshly criticizing him, is out with a fourth tome that renders a mixed verdict on Bush, lauding the president’s surge of troops into Iraq, but saying “too often he failed to lead.”

At 487 pages, “The War Within” is the fourth installment in Woodward’s series of books on the president. Its release is embargoed until Monday, although an advance copy was obtained exclusively by FOX News.

The new book is less critical than Woodward’s last tome, “State of Denial,” which savaged Bush for his execution of the war in Iraq. “Denial” ended with the line: “With all Bush’s upbeat talk and optimism, he had not told the American public the truth about what Iraq had become.”

Woodward repeats the line in his new book, adding: “My reporting for this book showed that to be even more the case than I could have imagined.”

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Defense, National Security, Military, Iraq War, Politics in General

Historically Speaking: A tale of two churches in New Hampshire

On a hot June evening in 1854, a group of liberal Christians met in the Odd Fellows Hall in downtown Exeter to vote the Universalist Society out of existence. Out of the meeting, the First Unitarian Society of Exeter was born.

There had been a small Universalist presence in the town for decades. Rejecting the notion of predestination, universalist teachings granted salvation to everyone and not just a chosen few. Followers had formed into a congregation in 1831 and by 1841 had built themselves a fine church on the corner of Front and Center streets. But the mortgage on the building was high and they didn’t have enough members to support themselves.

Meanwhile, the Second Parish Congregational Church was leaking members to the growing Unitarian movement. Unitarians rejected the idea of the holy trinity and had elements of universalism tempering those beliefs. Like margarine and butter, the Universalists and Unitarians were similar, but not quite the same. Still, they had enough in common to bring them all together for the meeting at the Odd Fellows Hall. They banded together and quickly paid off the mortgage.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Parish Ministry

LA Times: Only 48% of California high schools meet federal standards, even with easier measure

Hundreds of California high schools met this year’s federal academic targets released Thursday only because the state uses easier standards for high schools than for elementary and middle schools, a Times analysis has found.

But even with this boost, just 48% of the state’s high schools met the federal standard of “adequate yearly progress” in this year’s results.

The Times analysis identified about 300 high schools that were reported as meeting all federal standards even though their combined proficiency scores in math or English language arts on the California standards tests fell below proficiency levels required for federal compliance this year. Their passing marks were based on much higher scores registered on the easier high school exit exam.

In practical terms, this means that high schools are not being consistently evaluated on what their students are supposed to be learning. The situation exemplifies California’s complex, uneven and often competing state and federal accountability systems.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education

Dr. Deborah Pitt’s response to Bishop Tom Wright

From time to time I have pondered on the Archbishop’s viewpoints as revealed to me and whether they should be more widely known. But I had no desire to embarrass Dr. Williams: I didn’t want people mocking him or saying ”˜If he is averagely muddled what does that say about the rest of them!’ I have respect for his authority and I appreciated his responding graciously and candidly to my enquiries. As a physician I have a high regard for the principle of confidentiality. Besides I hoped that in time it would become apparent that he had changed to more orthodox views. I also wanted to be clear before God as to my own motives, for I had at times over the years found myself quite cross with him! In fact other than sharing the correspondence with my vicar at the time I had shown the letters only to a few people and made very little reference over the years. In a way it was all rather embarrassing and awkward and I had to just not fret about it, but hope and pray for the best. Besides, these are my Christian brothers and sisters in turmoil. How can I not be concerned?

The trigger to deciding to send the letters to the Press was this . In the Sunday Telegraph of 13th July I read an article about an interview with the Archbishop of Wales. He stated that he would be happy to ordain a homosexual bishop. It occurred to me that he would not have been so brazen if he had not known that Dr. Williams had significant liberal views on the matter. I had also sensed that the liberal wing of the church knew far more than the GAFCon group about those views. I decided that the balance should be redressed, and that the best place for Dr. Williams’ views to be aired was at Lambeth. The best way to do that was to give any journalist who thought the matter relevant enough the opportunity to challenge Dr. Williams or discuss with other bishops or whatever journalists usually do.

The copies of Dr. Williams’ letters along with a covering letter were mailed on 15th July. However, Ms Gledhill, who was the first to express interest in doing an article, did not get them before she left for Lambeth. This explains the delay in publication.

I enclose a copy of the covering letter. It will help explain my thinking..

It does seem that my hunch was right; from what I have gathered the GAFCon members were startled to learn Dr. Williams’ views and the Liberals knew them anyway.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Church Times: Lambeth absentees press on as letters wait to be sent out

All the Primates have been sent copies of Dr [Rowan] Williams’s post-Con­ference reflections; but on Wednes­day the promised “bridge-building” letters had still not been sent out. “I know it is being worked on in the office, and it is in process. But the letters have not physically gone out to everyone absent yet,” a source in the Anglican Communion Office said.

The press officer, Canon Jim Rosen­thal, confirmed later in the day that they would be sent out at the end of the week.

Dr Williams and Canon Kearon have both been on leave.

The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Peter Jensen, who is the newly appointed secretary of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), told The Guardian last week: “At Lambeth there was talk of building bridges, but as far as I know there has been no approach made.”

His remarks followed the publica­tion of a communiqué from the GAFCON Primates’ Council’s first meeting, held in London from 20 to 22 August. The five Primates ”” of Nigeria, the Southern Cone, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda ”” who formed the Council said that GAFCON “continues its advance”. They had found no reason “to make us hesitate from the course we are taking”.

They warned that a breach of the three Windsor Process moratoriums supported widely at the Lambeth Conference ”” no episcopal ordina-tions of partnered homosexual people, no blessing of same-sex unions, and no cross-border incur-sions by bishops ”” would lead to the Communion’s “fracture”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Lambeth 2008

In speech, John McCain vows to end 'partisan rancor'

Senator John McCain accepted the Republican presidential nomination Thursday with a pledge to move the nation beyond “partisan rancor” and narrow self-interest in a speech in which he markedly toned down the blistering attacks on Senator Barack Obama that had filled the first nights of his convention.

Standing in the center of an arena here, surrounded by thousands of Republican delegates, McCain firmly signaled that he intended to seize the mantle of change Obama claimed in his own unlikely bid for his party’s nomination.

McCain suggested that his choice of Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska as his running mate gave him the license to run as an outsider against Washington, even though he has served in Congress for more than 25 years.

“Let me just offer an advance warning to the old, big-spending, do-nothing, me-first-country-second crowd: Change is coming,” McCain said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

Katrina to Gustav: Faith-based groups play familiar role

When First Baptist Church of Ridgeland opened its doors to Hurricane Gustav evacuees, some of the same people who fled Hurricane Katrina showed up.

“It’s kind of been like a family reunion,” said ministry assistant Jessica Heath. “We have some people staying with us and some stopped by to say hello.”

Hailed as the first responders to the 2005 storm, many churches and faith-based groups found they were even more prepared to help people affected by Gustav. And like they did during Katrina’s aftermath, the seasoned religious groups are quickly mobilizing to help restore normalcy to the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

“We’ll make sure they’re taken care of when they get home,” said Heath, whose church is preparing care packages for the 180 people it’s been housing since Hurricane Gustav struck.

Makes the heart glad–read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Pentecostalism obscured in Palin biography

Palin identifies herself only as Christian in her biography on the National Governors’ Association Web site. In an Aug. 14 interview with Time magazine, she once again described herself as Christian. When pressed, she said she attended a “nondenominational Bible church.”

“I was baptized Catholic as a newborn and then my family started going to nondenominational churches throughout our life,” she said. She did not mention her longtime association with the Assemblies of God, which claims nearly 3 million members and is one of the biggest Pentecostal groups in the U.S.

Grant Wacker, an expert in Pentecostalism at Duke Divinity School in Durham, N.C., said he can understand why. He said the McCain campaign likely doesn’t want Palin associated with the best-known Pentecostal to ever hold public office, former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, an active member of the Assemblies of God.

“Though Pentecostals are diverse and rapidly mainstreaming themselves, the public still perceives them as sectarian and uncompromising, and those traits will not help Palin’s image,” Wacker said.

Read it all.

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

Bishop John Chane: Lambeth and the Life of the Communion

I believe that this gathering had a great chance to move forward in relationship building, and to some extent, as I have mentioned earlier, it did. But when it came to addressing the pressing needs of the Communion to develop a global Anglican strategy to address the issues of disease, poverty, illiteracy, the environment and state-sponsored violence against civilian populations, this conference succumbed to “blaming the victims.” As in 1998, the victims are those whose sexual orientation happens to be different from the majority. It is far easier to blame our divisions and our inability to act as a united Communion to address pressing global issues on those least able to defend themselves. Blaming the least among us continues to divert our attention away from the issues that threaten the very existence of humankind and the environmental health of our planet.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has called for sacrifices to be made to keep the garment of the Communion together. And for the American and Canadian churches, that clearly means sacrificing once again the full participation of gay and lesbian persons in the life of our church. I for one will not ask for any more sacrifices to be made by persons in our church who have been made outcasts because of their sexual orientation.

This Lambeth Conference could have been a positive turning point for the Anglican Communion, but instead the powers that be chose to seek a middle way that is neither “the middle” nor “the way.” It will therefore be up to bishops from around the Communion who have continuing partner and companion relationships to work toward a more holistic view of the church. The Anglican Communion must face into the hard truth that when we scapegoat and victimize one group of people in the church, all of us become victims of our own prejudice and sinfulness.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lambeth 2008, TEC Bishops

The Text of John McCain's acceptance speech this Evening

In America, we change things that need to be changed. Each generation makes its contribution to our greatness. The work that is ours to do is plainly before us. We don’t need to search for it.

We need to change the way government does almost everything: from the way we protect our security to the way we compete in the world economy; from the way we respond to disasters to the way we fuel our transportation network; from the way we train our workers to the way we educate our children. All these functions of government were designed before the rise of the global economy, the information technology revolution and the end of the Cold War. We have to catch up to history, and we have to change the way we do business in Washington.

The constant partisan rancor that stops us from solving these problems isn’t a cause, it’s a symptom. It’s what happens when people go to Washington to work for themselves and not you.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

U.S. Must Buy Assets to Prevent Financial `Tsunami,' Bill Gross Says

The U.S. government needs to start using more of its money to support markets to stem a burgeoning “financial tsunami,” according to Bill Gross, manager of the world’s biggest bond fund.

Banks, securities firms and hedge funds are dumping assets, driving down prices of bonds, real estate, stocks and commodities, Gross, co-chief investment officer of Newport Beach, California-based Pacific Investment Management Co., said in commentary posted on the firm’s Web site today.

“Unchecked, it can turn a campfire into a forest fire, a mild asset bear market into a destructive financial tsunami,” Gross said. “If we are to prevent a continuing asset and debt liquidation of near historic proportions, we will require policies that open up the balance sheet of the U.S. Treasury.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy