Daily Archives: October 7, 2008

David Brooks: The Testing Time

In his astonishingly prescient book, “The World Is Curved: Hidden Dangers to the Global Economy,” David M. Smick argues that we have inherited an impressive global economic system. It, with the U.S. as the hub, has produced unprecedented levels of global prosperity. But it has now spun wildly out of control. It can’t be fixed with the shock and awe of a $700 billion rescue package, Smick says. The fundamental architecture needs to be reformed.

It will take, he suggests, a global leadership class that can answer essential questions: How much leverage should be allowed? Can we preserve the development model in which certain nations pile up giant reserves and park them in the U.S.?

Until these and other issues are addressed, the global markets will lack confidence in asset values. Bankers will cower, afraid to lend. America’s role as the global hub will be threatened. Europeans will drift toward nationalization. Neomercantilists will fill the vacuum.

This is the test. This is the problem that will consume the next president. Meanwhile, the two candidates for that office are talking about Bill Ayers and Charles Keating.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Globalization, Politics in General, US Presidential Election 2008

The Presiding Bishop Interviewed on NPR's Fresh Air

Here is the NPR blurb:

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first female bishop to preside over the Episcopal Church, has faced a number of crises since she accepted the post in 2006.

At least one diocese has seceded in response to the ordination of the Right Rev. Gene Robinson ”” the denomination’s first openly gay bishop ”” and more congregations may follow.

The events reflect a growing schism within the broader Anglican Communion, and the numerous social and theological pressures on Episcopal congregations.

The segment is just over 40 minutes, listen to it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, TEC Conflicts

Canadian Anglican Church Primate discusses array of issues during Bay L’Argent

Archbishop Fred Hiltz was feeling right at home during his visit to St. Hilda’s Anglican Church in Bay L’Argent last week.
“Most of my ministry, as a parish priest in Nova Scotia, was in parishes like this ”“ big, multi-point, coastal parishes and I love them.
“So, it’s good for my soul to be here. It really is.”

His visit was also fine spiritual nourishment for members of the Anglican Church in the region, many of whom came from around the Burin Peninsula Sept. 29 for a pre-sermon meal, before then settling in for the St. Michael and All Angels Day service.

Read it all.

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

In Hamilton, Ontario, Anglicans not leaving — just joining new network

A Hamilton church that voted on the weekend to leave the national Anglican church body and join the small but growing Anglican Network in Canada, says it is not breaking away.

“We are aligning with the worldwide Anglican church,” said Rev. Sandy Copland of the Church of St. Peter in Hamilton, which was part of the Niagara diocese.

“It’s the Canadian church or parts of it that have broken away.”

Read the whole article.

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

Global fears of a recession grow stronger

When the White House brought out its $700 billion rescue plan two weeks ago, its sheer size was meant to soothe the global financial system, restoring trust and confidence. Three days after the plan was approved, it looks like a pebble tossed into a churning sea.

The crisis that began as a made-in-America subprime lending problem and radiated across the world is now circling back home, where it pummeled stock and credit markets on Monday.

While the Bush administration’s bailout package offers help to foreign banks, it seems to have done little to reassure investors, particularly in Europe, where banks are failing and countries are racing to stave off panicky withdrawals after first playing down the depth of the crisis.

Far from being the cure for the world’s ills, economists said, the rescue plan might end up being a stopgap for the United States alone. With Europe showing few signs of developing a coordinated response to the crisis, there is very little on the horizon to calm rattled investors.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Globalization, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

The Observer: The party's over for Iceland, the island that tried to buy the world

The nation’s celebrated rags-to-riches story began in the Nineties when free market reforms, fish quota cash and a stock market based on stable pension funds allowed Icelandic entrepreneurs to go out and sweep up international credit. Britain and Denmark were favourite shopping haunts, and in 2004 alone Icelanders spent £894m on shares in British companies. In just five years, the average Icelandic family saw its wealth increase by 45 per cent.

But, as a result of the international banking crisis, the billionaires who own everything from West Ham United football club to the Somerfield supermarket chain, Hamleys toy shops and the House of Fraser, are in trouble and the country is drowning in debt.

Iceland’s cheap labour force, the Poles and Lithuanians, have left already – there’s little point in sending home such a worthless currency, and the tourist season is over. Iceland is on its own.

Read it all.

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

South Dakota Convention News

Tim Fountain has the goods–there are multiple entries to read.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils

Rain forest tribe's charge of neglect is shrouded by religion and politics

The Yanomami leaders are wading into a politicized debate about how officials react to health care challenges faced by the Yanomami and other Amazonian tribes. In recent interviews here, government officials contended that the Yanomami could be exaggerating their claims to win more resources from the government and undercut its authority in the Amazon.

Meanwhile, the Yanomami claims come amid growing concern in Venezuela over indigenous health care after a scandal erupted in August over a tepid official response to a mystery disease that killed 38 Warao Indians in the country’s northeast.
“This government makes a big show of helping the Yanomami, but rhetoric is one thing and reality another,” said Ramón González, 49, a Yanomami leader from the village of Yajanamateli who traveled recently to Puerto Ayacucho, the capital of Amazonas State, to ask military officials and civilian doctors for improved health care.

“The truth is that Yanomami lives are still considered worthless,” said González, who was converted to Christianity by New Tribes Mission, a Florida group expelled in 2005. “The boats, the planes, the money, it’s all for the criollos, not for us,” he said, using a term for nonindigenous Venezuelans.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, South America, Venezuela

Fed Considers Plan to Buy Companies’ Unsecured Debt

As pressure built in the credit markets and stocks spiraled lower around the world on Monday, the Federal Reserve was considering a radical new plan to jump-start the engine of the financial system.

Under a proposal being discussed with the Treasury Department, the Fed could buy vast amounts of the unsecured short-term debt that companies rely on to finance their day-to-day activities, according to officials familiar with the discussions. If this were to happen, the central bank would come closer than ever to lending directly to businesses.

While the move would put more taxpayer dollars at risk, it underscores the growing sense of urgency felt by policy makers in a climate where lending has virtually dried up.

The plan was being formulated amid cascading losses in global stock markets, as the banking crisis spread across Europe and investors feared dire consequences for the world economy. The Dow Jones industrial average fell as much as 800 points before a late recovery, finishing down 369.88, below 10,000 points for the first time since 2004.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Credit Markets, Economy

Stephen Mansfield: The new evangelicals

This shift from a more loving heritage has largely been caused by the rise in evangelical political power of recent decades. In an attempt to achieve a noble vision ”” defend the unborn, apply a moral grid to government policy, assure religious liberty ”” loving, patriotic Christians soon found themselves becoming the religious base of the hard-right wing of U.S. politics. Quickly defined by what they were against rather than the good they hoped to do, evangelicals became increasingly identified as a people of faith-based rage, as haters in the name of Christ. They became more Rush Limbaugh than Billy Graham, more Ayn Rand than the Apostle Paul. They became the Republican Party at prayer.

Now, though, as the 2008 presidential election nears, a new evangelical is emerging. Though he stands on the shoulders of the faithful who have come before, he approaches politics with a new caution, with a new prophetic distance. He has seen the excesses, felt the betrayals, understood the deceptions. He is no longer willing to see either party as the Party of God, to regard either as though it has descended unblemished from heaven. He recognizes that both are flawed, yet that both contend for policies near to the social mandate of Scripture ”” on the left the care for the poor, the cause of the stranger in the land and the plea for social justice, and on the right the defense of the unborn and the protection of the traditional family.

This new evangelical seeks to be more biblical than narrowly political and serves both parties by refusing to align exclusively with any party.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Evangelicals, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey: Judgment without borders

The problem should be obvious. International legal relationships and jurisdictional claims are already complex enough in an increasingly interdependent world. Using domestic criminal justice systems as a means of achieving foreign policy ends or, even worse, allowing individual magistrates to use their courts on a freelance basis makes global dispute resolution difficult — if not impossible — even when countless innocent lives are very much at stake, as in Darfur.

And, of course, what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

African leaders, evidently unimpressed with Europe’s claims of moral authority, have condemned the indictments, and Rwandan President Paul Kagame (himself a potential target of a future legal action) has suggested that his own country might proceed against Europeans — specifically against French military officers who advised the previous, genocidal Rwandan government — in response to the Spanish and French indictments.

What we are seeing is not the birth of a global rule of law but a type of worldwide judicial anarchy. Spain’s judges should not be driving foreign policy at the United Nations — but they are.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues

Gregory Rodriguez: Asking the right God question

A new study out of Northwestern University, perhaps without really meaning to, gets at something much more interesting. It starts to provide data and insight that add to our ability to understand what Marx was getting at — not if there is a God and not whether it makes sense that humans should believe, but simply why humans believe….

The study analyzes the results mostly in terms of political divisions. It found that politically conservative Christians described a godless world “as one of incessant conflict and chaos, expressing strong apprehension regarding people’s inability to control their impulses and the attendant breakdown of social relationships and societal institutions.”

Liberal Christians, on the other hand, had a different set of concerns. For them, a world without God would be “barren or lifeless, lacking in color and texture, an empty wasteland that would not sustain them” and in which they would feel lost.

All of the respondents generally imagined life without God as “entailing fear, sadness, interpersonal isolation and loss of meaning and hope.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Atheism, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Roman Catholic Addresses at the Lambeth Conference

In my view they have received too little attention.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Ecumenical Relations, Lambeth 2008, Other Churches, Roman Catholic

Like J.P. Morgan, Warren Buffett braves a crisis

“I told him, ‘You have to do this,’ ” [Charlie] Rose recalled in an interview on Saturday. ” ‘No one has your credibility, and people want to hear what you have to say.’ ”

Buffett agreed to do it, and Rose flew to San Diego, where Buffett would be on Wednesday. The hourlong interview on Wednesday night was vintage Warren Buffett: calm, plain-spoken and wry.

He called the current crisis an economic Pearl Harbor, requiring immediate action. Its biggest single cause, he explained, was the real estate bubble. “Three hundred million Americans, their lending institutions, their government, their media, all believed that house prices were going to go up consistently,” he said. “Lending was done based on it, and everybody did a lot of foolish things.”

As far back as 2003, Buffett had warned that the complex securities at the center of today’s troubles– once so profitable, but now toxic– were “financial weapons of mass destruction.” These securities were engineered by the math quants on Wall Street, and in the interview Buffett expressed his disdain: “Beware of geeks bearing formulas.”

Read it all.

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

David Van Biema of Time: Maybe We Should Blame God for the Subprime Mess

Has the so-called Prosperity gospel turned its followers into some of the most willing participants ”” and hence, victims ”” of the current financial crisis? That’s what a scholar of the fast-growing brand of Pentecostal Christianity believes. While researching a book on black televangelism, says Jonathan Walton, a religion professor at the University of California at Riverside, he realized that Prosperity’s central promise ”” that God will “make a way” for poor people to enjoy the better things in life ”” had developed an additional, dangerous expression during the subprime-lending boom. Walton says that this encouraged congregants who got dicey mortgages to believe “God caused the bank to ignore my credit score and blessed me with my first house.” The results, he says, “were disastrous, because they pretty much turned parishioners into prey for greedy brokers.”

Others think he may be right. Says Anthea Butler, an expert in Pentecostalism at the University of Rochester in New York: “The pastor’s not gonna say, ‘Go down to Wachovia and get a loan,’ but I have heard, ‘Even if you have a poor credit rating, God can still bless you ”” if you put some faith out there [that is, make a big donation to the church], you’ll get that house or that car or that apartment.’ ” Adds J. Lee Grady, editor of the magazine Charisma: “It definitely goes on, that a preacher might say, ‘If you give this offering, God will give you a house.’ And if they did get the house, people did think that it was an answer to prayer, when in fact it was really bad banking policy.” If so, the situation offers a look at how a native-born faith built partially on American economic optimism entered into a toxic symbiosis with a pathological market.

Can we please not blame God but instead this awful theology? Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Pentecostal, Religion & Culture, Theology