Daily Archives: October 11, 2008

Diocese of Pittsburgh Developments (V): a Post-Gazette Article

Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has recognized as the true Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh those who refused to secede Saturday with the majority of local Episcopalians into the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone in South America.

She confirmed the Rev. James Simons and two others as the “rightful Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.” The Standing Committee governs in the absence of a bishop. The Rev. Simons, rector of St. Michael of the Valley, Ligonier, was the only member of the previous Standing Committee to oppose secession.

Both dioceses now call themselves “the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.”

“The presiding bishop’s word today was certainly welcome news,” said Rich Creehan, spokesman for the U.S.-based Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Read the whole thing.

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

Notable and Quotable (II)

“There’s nothing that’s come anywhere near this.”

Alan Valdes, a trader for brokerage and financial services firm Hilliard Lyons, said past market crises ”” the 1987 crash, the dot-com bust, the savings and loan collapse ”” were “child’s play” compared with the last two weeks on Wall Street.

An Associated Press article on recent market action

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Stock Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Diocese of Pittsburgh Developments (IV): An ENS article

[Jim] Simons and [Andrew] Roman contacted Jefferts Schori by email to tell her what had happened and to ask her to consult with the Standing Committee about providing episcopal assistance for the diocese. The Presiding Bishop replied with her recognition of Simons, Murph and Roehrich as the diocesan Standing Committee and told them that she had asked Clayton Matthews, bishop for pastoral development, to assist help them obtain that assistance.

“I give thanks for the work that the Standing Committee has undertaken and look forward to learning of your progress as you move forward in this mission,” Jefferts Schori said in her letter. “You and the people of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh continue in my prayers and those of Episcopalians across this church.”

Jefferts Schori has also written to each of the former members of the Standing Committee, notifying them that they are no longer part of the ecclesiastical authority of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh Standing Committee became the ecclesiastical authority on September 19 when Duncan’s deposition prevented him from exercising his authority in the diocese.

Read it all.

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

Diocese of Pittsburgh Developments (III): Jim Simons Writes the Standing Committee Again

On Wednesday afternoon, I received a phone call from David Wilson, President of the Standing Committee, informing me that in 15 minutes there would be a conference call with the other seven members and that they intended to remove me from the Standing Committee. Two reasons were given. First, I had not accepted my letter of transfer to the Southern Cone. Actually, I had missed the announcement at convention and the letter was never offered to me. When I returned home that evening I found it in the mail having been sent the previous day. The second reason given was that my parish, St. Michael’s, appeared on this web site as having decided to stay in the Episcopal Church. I was not asked to join the conference call and was offered no due process. I do not recognize the authority that purported to take these actions. Providentially at that moment, I was meeting with key leaders of the Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church. After I reported the phone call to those assembled, and with the advice of the Diocesan Chancellor, I immediately appointed two new members to the Standing Committee, which the canons give me the authority to do. This was done at 2:44 P.M. I am pleased to announce that Ms. Mary Roehrich and The Rev. Jeff Murph, who were in attendance at the meeting, immediately accepted those appointments.

Later in the day, I received a letter by e-mail from David Wilson informing me that the remaining seven members of his Standing Committee consider themselves to be aligned with the Province of The Southern Cone.

This information was conveyed to the Presiding Bishop’s office and today we received recognition as the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh in the Episcopal Church and because of the absence of a Bishop, the ecclesiastical authority.

Read it all.

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

Diocese of Pittsburgh Developments (II): the Standing Committee Writes Jim Simons

Dear Jim,

Now that the Diocese has voted to amend its Constitution and align with the Province of the Southern Cone, it is our duty on the Standing Committee to faithfully serve as the Diocese’s ecclesiastical authority within that organizational structure.

Your recent letter “to the people of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh” makes clear that you do not believe that you have this duty, but rather that you feel called to a different duty ”“ to challenge the validity of the Diocese’s realignment. Your October 6 letter to the members of the Standing Committee also reflects this perspective.

I fully understand that your position on these issues is a matter of personal conviction. Nonetheless, I must sorrowfully conclude that your letters (and other actions) are a violation of your obligations as a member of the Diocese’s Standing Committee. Further, your actions, and the Resolution of your parish which you have already forwarded to the Diocese, make clear that you are no longer qualified to be a member of the Standing Committee under Article IX, section 2 of the Diocesan Constitution. Accordingly, I am calling a special meeting of the Standing Committee to fill the vacancy left by your departure.

Read it all.

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

Diocese of Pittsburgh Developments (I): Jim Simons wirtes the Standing Committee

October 6, 2008

The Rev. David Wilson
St. David’s Episcopal Church
905 East McMurray Road
Venetia,PA 15367

Dear David:

I am sending this letter to each member of the Standing Committee.

I am sure you are aware that I did not support Saturday’s actions of the Convention of the Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church in amending the diocesan Constitution to remove the “accession” clause and in accepting the invitation of the Archbishop of the Southern Cone to “join” that Province. On the other hand, it is my understanding that you did support those measures. If I am wrong in that understanding and you are in a position to demonstrate to me that you opposed and publicly repudiated those actions, I would appreciate you letting me know promptly. I shall assume that I am correct if you do not communicate to me a contradiction of my
understanding by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, October 8th.

Despite the tensions of the recent past I have greatly appreciated the opportunity to serve the mission of Christ with you in our capacities as members of the Standing Committee, and I pray that your ministry will be faithful and rewarding in the time ahead.

Faithfully Yours

–(The Rev.) Jim Simons, rector, St Michael of the Valley, Lignoier, Pennsylvania

Posted in Uncategorized

James Freeman: Credit Crunch for Kids

It’s time to enjoy the upside of the credit crisis. As Washington scandals go, this one is strictly G-rated. Unlike the excesses of the 1990s, the current debacle doesn’t make you turn off the radio whenever national news is broadcast in the presence of youngsters. And rather than trying to prevent certain phrases from seeping into dinnertime conversation, you’d actually be thrilled if your kids could use “credit default swap” in a sentence.

There’s a teachable moment here: “Should we spend money that we don’t have?” I put this question to the peanut gallery gathered at my breakfast table. Laughter all around from the under-10 set. OK, I was leading the witnesses.

But further study with a statistically insignificant sample of one 7-year-old suggests that piling on too much leverage is not instinctive behavior. My son Neal was skeptical of the idea that he could buy the things he wants by borrowing. “Why would I do that? I want my own money.” He also wondered who would want to lend to him.

Read it all.

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

Washington Post: The End Of American Capitalism?

….the repercussions of crisis that began in the United States are global. In Britain, where Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher joined with President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s to herald capitalism’s promise, the government this week moved to partly nationalize the ailing banking system. Across the English Channel, European leaders who are no strangers to regulation are piling on Washington for gradually pulling the government watchdogs off the world’s largest financial sector. Led by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, they are calling for broad new international codes to impose scrutiny on global finance.

To some degree, those calls are even being echoed by the International Monetary Fund, an institution charged with the promotion of free markets overseas and that preached that less government was good government during the economic crises in Asia and Latin America in the 1990s. Now, it is talking about the need for regulation and oversight.

“Obviously the crisis comes from an important regulatory and supervisory failure in advanced countries . . . and a failure in market discipline mechanisms,” Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the IMF’s managing director, said yesterday before the fund’s annual meeting in Washington.

In a slideshow presentation, Strauss-Kahn illustrated the global impact of the financial crisis. Countries in Africa, including many of those with some of the lowest levels of market and financial integration and openness, are now set to weather the crisis with the least amount of turbulence.

Shortly afterward, World Bank President Robert Zoellick was questioned by reporters about the “confusion” in the developing world over whether to continue embracing the free-market model. He replied, “I think people have been confused not only in developing countries, but in developed countries, by these shocking events.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Economy, Globalization, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Tim Keller: The Importance of Hell

In 2003 a research group discovered 64% of Americans expect to go to heaven when they die, but less than 1% think they might go to hell. Not only are there plenty of people today who don’t believe in the Bible’s teaching on… [hell], even those who do find it an unreal and a remote concept. Nevertheless, it is a very important part of the Christian faith, for several reasons.

Read it all.

Posted in Eschatology, Theology

Notable and Quotable (I)

“I called just last week about one of my clients ”” they had an adjustable rate that went up to 9 percent….They could afford if it they lowered (payments) by about $200, and the bank wouldn’t even talk to us.”

Real estate agent Lindsay Dukes from a front page article in the local paper (well worth reading in its entirety)

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Financial Times: Market Crash shakes world

US stock prices suffered their worst weekly loss in history on Friday, prompting a pledge from global policymakers to implement an aggressive but broad-brush plan to combat the financial crisis.

Finance ministers and central bankers meeting in Washington said they would use “all available tools” to prevent the failure of any systemically important banks after a day of virtually indiscriminate selling in Asia and Europe and unprecedented volatility in the US.

I really didn’t think I would witness another crash in my lifetime. My oh my. Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Stock Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Religion and Ethics Weekly: Theology and Economy

British economist Alfred Marshall, well known for his Marshallian scissors of supply and demand, once said that the modern science of economics “puts man in the saddle.” In other words, all that now defines economic exchange is what humans decide. “Man” takes the place of God in driving history. Perhaps the wild speculation in the stock market that has come to a ruinous end for many (recall that some economists were predicting the Dow would reach 36000 by 2005 — do they still have their jobs? — and the impending fluctuations, where some would try to outguess the market and receive windfall profits, only accentuating the fluctuations) might cause us to reconsider Marshall’s wisdom.

What would it mean to think of economics in terms of God and the good? It would mean in part, I think, that we would take more seriously the problem of usury, which is often mischaracterized. Usury occurs when anyone thinks he or she can have an unlimited growth of money without it being related to validly productive enterprises. It is a sin against God’s created order. The vice of usury is greed, wanting a maximization of profit without relating it to any fruitful created product. Profit is permissible, but within a context of production that is good and can be rightly ordered to God. Once we have a system where an enterprise such as a corporation can be productive, that is to say, its workers produce quality products that serve the common good and better the lives of their neighbors and even turn a modest profit, and yet the first obligation of the CEO of that corporation is not to those workers or those neighbors but to the maximization of shareholders’ profit, then we have an improper disjunction between work, productivity, and money. Diligence, loyalty, and work are no longer rewarded. What gets rewarded is speculation. We lose any relationship between what is produced and how it is rewarded.

Read it all.

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

Paul Krugman: Moment of Truth

The response to this downward spiral on the part of the world’s two great monetary powers ”” the United States, on one side, and the 15 nations that use the euro, on the other ”” has been woefully inadequate.

Europe, lacking a common government, has literally been unable to get its act together; each country has been making up its own policy, with little coordination, and proposals for a unified response have gone nowhere.

The United States should have been in a much stronger position. And when Mr. Paulson announced his plan for a huge bailout, there was a temporary surge of optimism. But it soon became clear that the plan suffered from a fatal lack of intellectual clarity. Mr. Paulson proposed buying $700 billion worth of “troubled assets” ”” toxic mortgage-related securities ”” from banks, but he was never able to explain why this would resolve the crisis.

Read it all.

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

WSJ: The Mystery Worshipper

Department stores hire mystery shoppers. Restaurant chains bring in undercover diners to rate their food and service. Churches enlist Thomas Harrison, a former pastor from Tulsa, Okla., and a professional mystery worshipper.

Mr. Harrison — a meticulous inspector who often uses the phrase “I was horrified” to register his disapproval of dust bunnies and rude congregants — poses as a first-time churchgoer and covertly evaluates everything from the cleanliness of the bathrooms to the strength of the sermon. This summer, Mr. Harrison scoured a megachurch in Cedar Hill, Texas, and jotted down a laundry list of imperfections: a water stain on the ceiling, a “stuffy odor” in the children’s area, a stray plastic bucket under the bathroom sink and a sullen greeter who failed to say good morning before the worship service. “I am a stickler for light bulbs and bathrooms,” he says.

Mr. Harrison belongs to a new breed of church consultants aiming to equip pastors with modern marketing practices. Pastors say mystery worshippers like Mr. Harrison offer insight into how newcomers judge churches — a critical measure at a time when mainline denominations continue to shed members and nearly half of American adults switch religious affiliations. In an increasingly diverse and fluid religious landscape, churches competing for souls are turning to corporate marketing strategies such as focus groups, customer-satisfaction surveys and product giveaways.

Read it all from the front page of the Weekend Journal section of today’s Wall Street Journal.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

South Dakota Reservation Churches Prepare Lawsuits to Halt Closings

The decision to close nine churches on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota has sparked a growing controversy, with the congregations now preparing to file lawsuits in tribal court to keep their churches open.

The strongest public challenge to the closings to date has come from members of Christ Church, Red Shirt Table, who sent a six-page letter to Bishop Creighton Robertson dated September 10. When asked to comment on the letter, South Dakota diocesan administrator Randy Barnhardt said the bishop’s office had not received a copy. But Lorri Ann Two Bulls, a member of Christ Church, reported that the certified letter sent to Robertson “was returned and had been refused by the bishop’s office.” Mr. Barnhardt subsequently confirmed that the diocese had refused to receive the letter. Copies were also sent to members of South Dakota’s Standing Committee, as well as national church officials and the local media.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, TEC Parishes