Daily Archives: September 16, 2008

Rick Wartzman: The Joneses and the Joads

Nearly 70 years after it was published, John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” — which tells of the dirt-poor Joad family’s epic migration from drought-plagued Oklahoma to fruitful (if unfriendly) Central California — continues to resonate as few novels have. In fact, the book may well be more relevant today than at any time since it first appeared in April 1939.

“The Grapes of Wrath” has always been extraordinarily popular. More than 400,000 copies flew off the shelves its first year in print, making it the nation’s No. 1 seller. So powerful was Steinbeck’s portrayal of the Joads’ plight that people began referring to the fictional clan as if it were real. “Meet the Joad Family,” read one newspaper headline. “What’s Being Done About the Joads?” asked another. “The Joads on Strike,” declared a third.

Before long, thanks in part to Henry Fonda’s performance as Tom Joad on the big screen and Woody Guthrie crooning about the Joads in his “Dust Bowl Ballads,” Steinbeck’s characters had become permanently etched into popular culture. When Bruce Springsteen and Rage Against the Machine sang about “The Ghost of Tom Joad,” legions of fans were already tuned in to the generations-old reference.

Indeed, wherever people exhibit tremendous strength amid terrible anguish, the Joads are a potent symbol. “I suspect I met a few Ma Joads and Tom Joads in Kabul,” said Afghanistan-born author Khaled Hosseini as he described the process that led him to write “The Kite Runner.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Books

Church of England marks Darwin’s contribution to science as bicentenary approaches

The Church of England has developed a new section of its website at www.cofe.anglican.org/darwin to mark the approaching bicentenary of Charles Darwin’s birth in 1809, and the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species in 1859.

As media interest grows in the bicentenary, the pages analyse Darwin’s faith and his relationship with the Church of England. A new essay by the Revd Dr Malcolm Brown, Director of Mission and Public Affairs, gives a personal view of Darwin’s contribution to science, whilst warning of social misapplications of his theories.

The Bishop of Swindon, Rt Revd Lee Rayfield, himself a former biological scientist, has contributed a welcome page to the section, and commented: “Theology and science each have much to contribute in the assertion of the Psalmist that we are ”˜fearfully and wonderfully made’. I hope that this new section will not only provide a source of information and knowledge about Charles Darwin and his work, but that it will prove to be a resource for growing in wisdom and understanding.”

In the new section, Darwin and the Church reveals that Darwin was surrounded by the influence of the Church his entire life. Having attended a Church of England boarding school in Shrewsbury, he trained to be a clergyman in Cambridge; was inspired to follow his calling into science by another clergyman who lived and breathed botany; and married into a staunch Anglican family.

Read it all and follow all the links also.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Science & Technology

Joe Nocera: On Wall St., a Problem of Denial

Last week, it was Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that needed a government bailout. This week, it looks as though American International Group and Washington Mutual will be on the hot seat. We have actually reached the point where there are now only two independent investment banks left: Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. It boggles the mind.

But it really shouldn’t. Because after you get past the mind-numbing complexity of the derivatives that are at the heart of the current crisis, what’s going on is something we are all familiar with: denial.

Indeed, it is not all that different from what is going on in neighborhoods all over the country. Just as homeowners took out big loans and stretched themselves on the assumption that their chief asset ”” their home ”” could only go up, so did Wall Street firms borrow tens of billions of dollars to make subprime mortgage bets on the assumption that they were a sure thing.

But housing prices did drop eventually. And when people tried to sell their homes in this newly depressed market, many of them had a hard time admitting that their home wasn’t worth what they had thought it was. Their judgment has been naturally clouded by their love for their house, how much money they put into it and how much more it was worth a year ago. And even when they did drop their selling price, it never quite matched the reality of the marketplace. They’ve been in denial.

Read the whole article.

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

Jeff Murph–The Lesser of Evils: False Teaching or Schism?

Peter Lee of Virginia elicited howls of protest and outrage a few years ago when he observed that heresy was better than schism. In fact, though I have known and loved and respected Peter for decades, I was pretty sympathetic to his critics, mostly because I believed that he was being rather self-justifying (to defend his decision to give consent to the consecration of Gene Robinson””which the ensuing years have clearly revealed to be a schismatic action) as well as my concern that he was awfully quick to accept that the “lesser evil” of false teaching was necessary (since the lives of the ordained are supposed to be an example to the faithful then living in a sexual relationship outside of marriage constitutes an implicit false teaching).

Though I still think Bishop Lee was being disingenuous, in the light of impending realignment in our own diocese, I have begun to reflect on his claim from a different perspective. For years, I have prayed and counseled and spoken and voted against the drift of the Episcopal Church toward simply reflecting the cultural norms of our society. That certainly is not because I hate those who disagree with me (in fact, often I believe they are motivated by a sincere commitment to a particular biblical interpretation). It is just that, as hard as it sometimes can be, I still have personally seen the power of God’s Word written, interpreted by the apostolic tradition which has been passed down to us as a precious legacy, to renew and transform individual lives and even institutions. A commitment to a desire for holiness, whetted by an obedience in accord with that of the saints and by the help of the Holy Spirit, has led to the change even of nations over the course of Christian history. To depart from this inheritance, on the basis of culturally influenced values, seems a dangerous and precipitous decision to make. As the Anglican primates have said, the onus to justify such changes clearly lies upon the innovators. So, as a consequence, I view the lobbying agenda of certain interest groups in TEC with intense dismay and as being, at the very least, insensitive and unfaithful.

Read the whole piece.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Pittsburgh, Theology

Meanness appears to rub off on television Viewers

Researchers have long known that watching violence on TV or in movies ratchets up aggression, but what about watching people being mean to one another? Could watching Mean Girls make you as aggressive as watching Kill Bill?

A new study suggests the answer is yes.

Brigham Young University professor Sarah Coyne and colleagues asked 53 British college-aged women to watch one of three video clips, featuring either physical aggression (a knife fight from Kill Bill), relational aggression (a montage from Mean Girls) or no aggression (a séance scene from the horror movie What Lies Beneath). They then filled out a brief questionnaire and were allowed to leave the room. Right outside was another researcher who asked if they would like to participate in a study involving reaction times.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Movies & Television

Former Anglican bishop of Rochester to be honoured

David Say, former Anglican Bishop of Rochester for 27 years from 1961, and who died in 2006, is to have a stone monument in his honour.

The memorial stone is to be dedicated at Rochester Cathedral, England’s second oldest, having been founded in 604AD by Bishop Justus, in memory of the town’s long-serving former bishop, David Say.

The member of the House of Lords until his retirement in 1988 will have a dedication of his memorial stone in a service at the cathedral, at 3.15pm on Saturday.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

Urmee Khan: Why Anglican England is better than secular France

It looks like Europe’s most proudly secular country is about to become less secular.

The French Republic, belligerently secular since the Revolution, and whose separation of church and state is encoded in a 1905 law, may start according a special role to the Catholic Church; that at least is one interpretation of comments by President Nicolas Sarkozy that a new, “positive secularity” should recognise the central place of religion in the country. “It would be crazy to deprive ourselves of religion” he said – “[it would be] a failing against culture and against thought”.

His remarks came on Friday as he welcomed Pope Benedict XVI to France, who is visiting to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the supposed appearance of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Lourdes. Opposition figures united in condemnation of the President – to such an extent that on Sunday the Pope had to reassure nervous anti-clericalists that the Church does not seek to usurp the state.

France and Britain could hardly be more different….

Read it all.

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

Conference Examines Future of Anglican Orthodoxy

Two leading Anglo-Catholic bishops presented differing visions for regaining Anglican unity at “The Hope and Future of Orthodoxy in the Anglican Communion: A Festival of Faith Conference,” held Sept. 13 at St. Luke’s Church, Bladensburg, Md.

The Most Rev. Drexel Gomez, Archbishop of the West Indies, and the Rt. Rev. Keith Ackerman, Bishop of Quincy, were the featured speakers at St. Luke’s, an Anglo-Catholic parish in the Diocese of Washington.

The bishops agreed that Anglican unity remains torn, just as the primates said it would be, by the consecration of the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson as the Bishop of New Hampshire””and by the deeper theological divisions evident in The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada.

Archbishop Gomez stressed the importance of a Communion-wide covenant being drafted by an international panel that he leads. “There is nothing on the horizon that offers reasonable hope of holding the Communion together, other than the covenant,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Covenant, Anglican Provinces, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, West Indies

Nathaniel Pierce Chimes in on the HOB and Bishop Dunca's Possible Deposition

The Presiding Bishop’s memo (see below) is a fascinating read. I do not wish to engage the issue of whether Bishop Duncan should or should not be deposed. I am concerned that he or any other Bishop facing deposition should be treated fairly.

The difficulty facing the PB and HoB is clearly, and I think fairly, presented by our Presiding Bishop. “Canon IV.9(2) states that the vote to consent must, first, take place at a ‘regular or special meeting of the House’ and, second, be ‘by a majority of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote.’

Problem: these days it is difficult to get “a majority of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote” to attend an interim meeting of the HoB. And even if that goal were achieved, then a motion to depose would require an almost unanimous vote by the Bishops present.

Pierce’s translation: taking the two requirements together (vote at an actual meeting and a super majority is required), it is difficult to depose a Bishop for abandonment.

Pierce’s observation: I think that was the intention. Note the additional requirements for deposing a priest or a deacon (see Canon IV.10)

What do to do? The PB speaks:

“In these circumstances, I concur with my Chancellor and the Parliamentarian that any ambiguity in the canon should be resolved in favor of making this important provision work effectively and that the discipline of the Church should not be stymied because a majority or nearly a majority of voting bishops are no longer in active episcopal positions in the Church and their attendance at meetings is hampered by age, health, economics, or interest in other legitimate pursuits.”

In secular law any ambiguity is resolved in favor of the defendant or the accused. The general principle is that it is better that 10 guilty persons go free than one innocent person be punished. Here, however, exactly the reverse is being argued. In order for “this important provision [to] work effectively and that the discipline of the Church should not be stymied,” the three in authority have decided to reduce the majority required to the absolute bare minimum, ie a majority of Bishops present and voting. In other words, the bar has been set high, discipline may be stymied, therefore lower the bar.

The PB then states: “I concur with this advice, and that will be the ruling of the Chair. Any member of the House may appeal the ruling of the Chair, which may be overruled by a two-thirds vote pursuant to House Rule XV, p.192.”

If there be any integrity remaining in our House of Bishops, the ruling of the Chair will indeed be successfully appealed.

–The Rev. Nathaniel W. Pierce is an Episcopal pirest and blog reader who lives in Trappe, Maryland

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Pittsburgh, TEC Polity & Canons

Examining the ripple effect of the Lehman bankruptcy

The mood was somber in the packed auditorium at Lehman Brothers international headquarters at Canary Wharf. “It’s over,” said Christian Meissner, the co-head of Lehman’s European and Middle Eastern operations, as he explained that bankruptcy administrators were in charge of the 158-year-old investment bank after desperate talks to work out a deal in New York failed over the weekend.

It certainly is over for Lehman’s 25,000 employees, who have lost a large portion of their fortunes as the firm’s stock has fallen and who are now frantically searching for work.

But for the rest of the financial world, the dire consequences of Lehman’s failure are just beginning. World markets fell, and the dollar wavered as investors everywhere sold assets across the board and sought refuge in the safest securities they could find, government bonds. A guessing game has begun about what the effects of Lehman’s historic default will be.

In particular, fear spread Monday on trading desks that one of the large hedge funds with ties to Lehman Brothers might be caught in the position of having assets at the firm that they would not be able to access – thus increasing fears of a run for the doors by panicky clients.

Read it all. The NBC Evening News last night had its first four stories on the financial crisis–that doesn’t happen very often.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Stock Market

Evangelical Publishers Score Big With Palin Books

In this high season for political books, two evangelical publishers are leading the race to capitalize on fascination with Alaska governor and GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

Tyndale House Publishers of Carol Stream, Ill., has begun distributing a paperback edition of Sarah: How a Hockey Mom Turned the Alaska Political Establishment Upside Down, by Alaska freelance writer Kaylene Johnson. Best known as publishers of the bestselling Left Behind series, Tyndale is printing a whopping 250,000 copies of the book, which first came out in April from Epicenter Press.

Next month, Zondervan of Grand Rapids, Mich., will release Joe Hilley’s Sarah Palin: A New Kind of Leader. According to a statement from Zondervan, the author makes a case for Palin’s leadership by touting her “maverick integrity, electrifying communication style, career agility, and perpetual education.”

Read the whole article.

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

Letter from the Trustees of 3 Vancouver Area Churches to their Congregations

When you elected us as Trustees of your parish, you entrusted us with certain legal and fiduciary responsibilities to support the ministry of the parish and to manage and maintain parish assets so that those ministries could continue and flourish. We believe we have a legal, moral and spiritual duty to act in the best interest of our congregations ”“ the people who elected us to serve them.

The diocese claims that our responsibility as Trustees is to act in the best interest of the Diocese and or the Anglican Church of Canada. Legal threats have been made against us, as Trustees, if we fail to comply with edicts from the diocese. Clearly there are legal and financial implications if we act or if we do not act. After consultation with legal counsel, we have taken steps as a group, on behalf of all four congregations, to ask the courts in BC to clarify who are the valid Trustees of our four parish corporations and what our duties as Trustees are at this time.

We have decided to act together as a group to maintain our unity since the primary issues in dispute ”“ particularly with respect to the trusts surrounding the church properties and assets of the parishes, as well as the duties of the Trustees ”“ are the same for us all.
We are saddened that we are forced to defend ourselves against the diocese’s hostile actions, but the alternative is to voluntarily vacate the churches and hand over the buildings and assets of the parishes to the diocese. We feel this would be an abandonment of the legal and fiduciary responsibilities you entrusted to us as elected Trustees. However, we will certainly comply with any final determination of the court ordering us to hand over our buildings. While we know that the Church is the people not the buildings, we are concerned that the ministry of our parishes will suffer should we be forced to find alternate accommodation for Sunday worship and ongoing ministry.

Read it all and there is more in the Anglican Journal here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces

The Archbishop of York Gives Cautious Welcome to Zimbabwe Deal

Dr Sentamu commented:

“This is a step in the right direction on a path that will hopefully lead to a full restoration of justice, democracy and a final end to the brutal regime of Robert Mugabe.

There will be understandable caution amongst the international community who will be concerned that any aid that follows today’s announcement will find its way to the poor of Zimbabwe and not to those who have abused power over the past three decades.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Zimbabwe

David Broder: The Next President's Due Bill

Last week, just as everyone was settling in to weigh the delightful prospect of a new administration and a new Congress — reformers all, to hear them tell it — a cold-water dash of realism smacked us in the face.

This one was administered by the killjoys at the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), who announced that the next president, whoever he is, will probably inherit a budget that is at least $500 billion out of balance — a record sum that will limit his ability to do any of the wonderful things being promised daily in the upbeat rhetoric of the campaign.

Barack Obama and John McCain scarcely blinked at the news; I didn’t really expect them to do anything more. The last thing candidates want to admit is that, if they win, they will be unable to deliver the goodies they have promised the voters.

Both of them are telling their audiences that they will outdo the Bush administration in every respect. They will not only bring fundamental change to Washington but deliver the big goals everyone craves — peace and enhanced national respect abroad, energy independence, more jobs, affordable health care, a cleaner environment, improved schools and, of course, lower taxes.

You will not hear them admit that, before they do any of those things, they will have to pay a gigantic annual interest bill on the rapidly expanding national debt — or else our foreign creditors will stop lending us the money to pay our bills.

No one is going to be elected on the promise that he will satisfy the bankers in Shanghai and the money managers in Moscow.

But that is the reality. Our country has so thoroughly abandoned any pretense of fiscal prudence, accumulating public and private debt at a breakneck pace, that no president can avoid asking: How do I keep our creditors at bay?

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, US Presidential Election 2008

Zambrano throws no-hitter for Cubs

Immediately after finishing off the game of his life, Carlos Zambrano got down on one knee and thrust his arms toward the sky.

The emotional right-hander threw the Cubs’ first no-hitter in 36 years Sunday night, a 5-0 win over Houston at Miller Park in which he returned from an 11-day layoff in his own inimitable style.

“I guess I’m back,” Zambrano said with a wide smile.

Big Z is back, all right, and better than ever.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Sports