Daily Archives: October 6, 2008

An RNS Article on Robert Duncan's Deposition

The charges against Duncan were initiated by Pittsburgh Episcopalians who feared he would lead the diocese into secession and take church property with him.

Duncan “has rejected numerous opportunities and warnings to reconsider and change course,” said the Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh in a statement. “Instead, he has continued to resolutely pursue a course of action designed to remove this diocese and many unwilling Episcopalians from the Episcopal Church.”

Elected bishop of the 20,000-member diocese 11 years ago, Duncan has been a prominent voice for conservative Episcopalians distraught over the liberal drift of the church on biblical interpretation and sexual ethics. He leads the Anglican Communion Network, a conservative network that claims some ten dioceses and 900 congregations in North America.

Duncan is the second Episcopal bishop removed from active ministry this year. In January, Fresno bishop John-David Schofield was deposed for leading the San Joaquin diocese to secede.

Read it all.

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

Time: YouTube Gets Religion

When people think of religion on YouTube, most probably flash to “gotcha” videos of Sarah Palin’s old church or Barack Obama’s old pastor. But the video-sharing site is also being used by a wildly diverse collection of pastors, rabbis, imams, gurus, and pious laypeople ”” like Roman Catholic Steve Silvia, who made the video above ”” to celebrate and explain their creeds. These aren’t glitzy televangelists. In keeping with the YouTube ethos, many simply fire up camcorder and go. But low cost and infinite range, plus the mini-video’s ascent as one of the culture’s preferred ways of imbibing information, means vastly increased exposure for clerics who would otherwise have tiny flocks. “For years, people in my business talked about how the Internet was going to revolutionize religion the way the printing press helped create Protestantism, but it didn’t happen,” says Steve Waldman, founder of the multi-faith website Beliefnet. But with the rise of YouTube, he thinks the unassuming, grass-roots religion clips like the ones that follow “could be the beginning of that kind of transformation.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Religion & Culture

A 23 year old Australian scientist Describes how she invented the I-Jet Solar Cell

The iJET is a new type of solar cell that’s cheap and easy to make, requiring not much more than a pizza oven, some nail polish remover, and a common inkjet printer. Australian scientist Nicole Kuepper describes her invention.

Listen to it all and note carefully HOW she made the discovery.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, Energy, Natural Resources, Science & Technology

Nancy Gibbs: Real Patriots Don't Spend

Judging from tales about the rise and fall of empires, there is always a point when things are going so well that the emperors doubt that anything could ever go wrong. “THRIFT,” warned Nero’s adviser Seneca, “comes too late when you find it at the bottom of your purse.” In the Old World, nations grew fat and then lazy, until they collapsed under their own weight. But that was not to be our story. American greatness–the vision of the founders, the courage of the pioneers, the industry of the nation builders–reflected a mighty faith in the power of sacrifice as a muscle that made young nations strong. Banks were like gyms for the soul: the first savings banks in Boston and New York were organized as charities, where “humble journeymen” could exercise good judgment, store their money and not be tempted to waste it on drink. Architect Louis Sullivan carved the word THRIFT over the door of his “jewel box” bank nearly a century ago, for it was private virtue that made public prosperity possible.

That virtue died with the baby boom, but it had been ailing ever since the Depression, argues cultural historian David Tucker in The Decline of THRIFT in America. That crisis, he writes, invited economists to recast THRIFT as “the contemptible vice which threw sand in the gears of our consumer economy.” A White House report in 1931 urged parents to let children pick out their own clothes and furniture, thereby creating in the child “a sense of personal as well as family pride in ownership, and eventually teaching him that his personality can be expressed through things.” These days you can buy your baby daughter a BORN TO SHOP onesie with little pink purses on it.

Somewhere along the way, THRIFT did not just stop being a value; it became a folly. Saving was for suckers; you’d miss the ride, die leaving money on the table when you could have lived it up. There are no pockets in a shroud, as the saying goes. We once saved about 15% of our income. By the roaring ’80s the rate was 4%; now we’re in negative numbers. Bob Hope liked to joke that “a bank is a place that will lend you money if you can prove that you don’t need it.” But that too changed as easy credit bloomed and usury became another of those vices that had somehow lost its juice. The average American has nine credit cards with a total $17,000 balance. We borrow against our houses and pensions to live in a way that dares us to actually grow old.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, Theology

This Week's TIME magazine cover

Take a look

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

A BBC Reporting Religion Audio Segment on Assisted Suicide

The BBC blurb says:

As a severely disabled woman in Britain goes to court to clarify the law on assisted suicide, could there be a duty to die so you don’t become a burden on your loved ones?

Featured are Debbie Purdy, the disabled woman just mentioned above,John Hardwig of the Philosophy Department of the University of Tennessee, and Professor Hank Jacomsen from a private institute for medical ethics in the Netherlands.

It starts at about 8:40 and the segment runs approximately 9 1/2 minutes.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Parish Ministry, Theology

Robert J. Samuelson in the Washington Post: Panic is the Enemy

What’s occurring now is a frantic effort to prevent a modern financial disintegration that deepens the economic downturn. It’s said that the $700 billion bailout will rescue banks and other financial institutions by having the Treasury buy their suspect mortgage-backed securities. In reality, the Treasury is also bailing out the Fed, which has already — through various actions — lent financial institutions roughly $1 trillion against myriad securities. The increase in federal deposit insurance from $100,000 to $250,000 aims to discourage panicky bank withdrawals. In Europe, governments have taken similar steps; Ireland and Germany have guaranteed their banks’ deposits.

The cause of the Fed’s timidity in the 1930s remains a matter of dispute. Some scholars suggest a futile defense of the gold standard; others blame the flawed “real bills” doctrine that limited Fed lending to besieged banks. Either way, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, a scholar of the Depression, understands the error. The Fed’s lending and the bailout aim to avoid a ruinous credit contraction.

The economy will get worse. The housing glut endures. Cautious consumers have curbed spending. Banks and other financial institutions will suffer more losses. But these are all normal symptoms of recession. Our real vulnerability is a highly complex and global financial system that might resist rescue and revival. The Great Depression resulted from the mix of a weak economy and perverse government policies. If we can avoid a comparable blunder, the great drama of these recent weeks may prove blessedly misleading.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Credit Markets, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Politics in General, Stock Market, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package

Church of England still divided over women bishops vote

The Bishop of Blackburn, the Rt Rev Nicholas Reade, has agreed that the relationship between Synod and the episcopacy needs to be clarified. He said: “Synodical government served us well in the early days but it’s been a kind of juggernaut. I think it’s got totally out of control.”

Bishop Reade spoke against the Synod becoming parliamentary with two competing sides: “Ideally I think the House of Bishops should be there, and we should be listening to the debate, and we should go away and make the decisions.”

He said the clergy and laity should vote, but that it should simply be used as information for the bishops. The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, had also spoken in July against using General Synod as a parliament, emphasising that the Church was managed by synod, rather than governed by it.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

Painful Parody on a Monday Morning

Check it out.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package

NY Times: After Theological Split in Pittsburgh, a Clash Over Church Assets

After an overwhelming vote here over the weekend by the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh that created the second schism with the national church since the 2003 election and consecration of an openly gay Episcopal bishop, both sides were hoping for a simple resolution.

“If the national church would stay out of it, we could work it out,” said the Rev. Jonathan Millard, who favored secession and led the convention on Saturday. “And I think 90 percent of the churches here would agree with me.”

Mr. Millard was referring to that most secular of issues: resolving who owns what among the millions of dollars’ worth of diocesan and parish property.

It is a huge concern for both sides after the vote on Saturday, which realigned the majority of the 74 parishes of the Pittsburgh diocese with a more conservative branch of the church in South America. On Saturday, 119 of 191 lay members voted in favor of leaving the national church, as did 121 of 160 clergy members.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Pittsburgh

Paul Newman leaves a legacy of hope

A lovely video report which I used in the sermon yesterday on Paul Newman’s wonderful service to children–watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Health & Medicine

David Rothkopf: 9/11 Was Big. This Is Bigger.

Two September shocks will define the presidency of George W. Bush. Stunningly enough, it already seems clear that the second — the financial crisis that has only begun to unfold — may well have far greater and more lasting ramifications than the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

That’s because while 9/11 changed the way we view the world, the current financial crisis has changed the way the world views us. And it will also change, in some very fundamental ways, the way the world works….

The current economic debacle is far more likely to be seen by historians as a true global watershed: the end of one period and the beginning of another. The financial chaos has brought down the curtain on a wide range of basic and enduring tenets also closely linked with the Reagan era, those associated with neoliberal economics, the system that the Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz has called “that grab-bag of ideas based on the fundamentalist notion that markets are self-correcting, allocate resources efficiently and serve the public interest well.” Already this crisis has seen not just our enemies but even some of our closest allies wondering whether we are at the beginning of the end of both American-style capitalism and of American supremacy.

Read the whole piece.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Credit Markets, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Stock Market, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package

From the Economist's Lexington Column: George Bush's presidency is ending in disaster

PLENTY of people can be blamed for the calamity on Capitol Hill on September 29th. Two-hundred and twenty-eight congressmen decided they were ready to risk another Great Depression. Nancy Pelosi made an idiotic speech damning the Republicans. Sheriff McCain claimed that he was going to ride into town to sort out the mess””and promptly fell off his horse. But there is no doubt where the lion’s share of the blame belongs: with George Bush. The dismal handling of the financial crisis over the past fortnight is not only a comment on Mr Bush’s personal shortcomings as a leader. It is a comment on the failure of his leadership style over the past eight years.

The convenient excuse for Mr Bush’s performance is that he is at the fag-end of his presidency. Public attention has shifted to the presidential candidates, and the members of the House face the electorate in a month. But this rings hollow: there is nothing about the political cycle that dictates that an outgoing president should have an approval rating of 27% and an army of enemies on Capitol Hill. Bill Clinton ended his two terms with ratings of close to 70%.

The crisis underlined Mr Bush’s two biggest personal weaknesses””his leaden tongue and his indecisiveness.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Politics in General, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package

Corrie Ten Boom: I'm Still Learning To Forgive

It was the first time since my release that I had been face to face with one of my captors and my blood seemed to freeze.

“You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk, ” he was saying. “I was a guard therre. But since that time, ” he went on, “I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fraulein-” again the hand came out-“will you forgive me?”

And I stood there-and could not. Betsie had died in that place- could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking?

It could not have been many seconds that he stood there, hand held out, but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.

For I had to do it-I knew that. The message that God forgives has has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. “If you do not forgive men their trespasses,” Jesus says, “neither will your Father in Heaven forgive your trespasses.”

Quoted in this morning’s sermon by yours truly. Astonishing stuff. Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Europe, Pastoral Theology, Theology

NY Times: Pressured to Take More Risk, Fannie Reached Tipping Point

But by the time Mr. [Daniel] Mudd became Fannie’s chief executive in 2004, his company was under siege. Competitors were snatching lucrative parts of its business. Congress was demanding that Mr. Mudd help steer more loans to low-income borrowers. Lenders were threatening to sell directly to Wall Street unless Fannie bought a bigger chunk of their riskiest loans.

So Mr. Mudd made a fateful choice. Disregarding warnings from his managers that lenders were making too many loans that would never be repaid, he steered Fannie into more treacherous corners of the mortgage market, according to executives.

For a time, that decision proved profitable. In the end, it nearly destroyed the company and threatened to drag down the housing market and the economy.

Dozens of interviews, most from people who requested anonymity to avoid legal repercussions, offer an inside account of the critical juncture when Fannie Mae’s new chief executive, under pressure from Wall Street firms, Congress and company shareholders, took additional risks that pushed his company, and, in turn, a large part of the nation’s financial health, to the brink.

Read it all.

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