Daily Archives: October 13, 2008

Christianity Today: The Comeback Bishop

What’s your advice to the remnant of evangelicals still in the Episcopal Church about giving up church property?

Their property isn’t worth their souls’ health. While our property is precious and important, if it becomes an overwhelming aim, it’s probably good to let go of it. But having said that, the principle thing I would say is that we’re very hopeful that the spirit that we’ve been blessed with here in Pittsburgh will produce a settlement that will [make] a better way forward across the country. We’re also hopeful that the Episcopal Church, in losing battle after battle, will finally just decide that these property battles aren’t worth fighting.

So three things: First, I hope that the way we go through this will provide a precedent both moral and legal for the way other situations might be settled across the country. Second, I hope that the continued failure of the Episcopal Church in its litigation might help it wake up and cease the litigation. And third, in any place where the property has become an overwhelming issue, it might be better for evangelicals to let go of it. Trust the Lord that he’s got the cattle on 10,000 hills. He’s able to restore to us what we lost.

Do you have any second thoughts about creation of this new province for conservative Anglicans?

No second thoughts about it. I would have hoped that the Anglican Communion might simply recognize us as the legitimate bearers of the Anglican franchise here. But that’s not likely to happen in the short run. The significance of the Episcopal Church deposing me is much greater than what most people would assume in this battle for a province. For the worldwide Anglican Communion to see me deposed has been absolutely sobering, and even moderates are shocked and stunned by it.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Cono Sur [formerly Southern Cone], Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Pittsburgh

Maura Casey: Digging Out Roots of Cheating in High School

Surveys show that cheating in school ”” plagiarism, forbidden collaboration on assignments, copying homework and cheating on exams ”” has soared since researchers first measured the phenomenon on a broad scale at 99 colleges in the mid-1960s.

The percentage of students who copied from another student during tests grew from 26 percent in 1963 to 52 percent in 1993, and the use of crib notes during exams went from 6 percent to 27 percent, according to a study conducted by Dr. Donald McCabe of Rutgers. By the mid-1990s, only a small minority said they had never cheated, meaning that cheating had become part of the acceptable status quo.

Dr. McCabe’s later national survey of 25,000 high school students from 2001 to 2008 yielded equally depressing results: more than 90 percent said they had cheated in one way or another.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Teens / Youth, Theology

Graham Kings: Living in time with the rhythm of the Church’s year

Rhythm is the longest English word without a vowel ”” though it has to be admitted that “y” acts as a sort of vowel. It is also basic to our enjoyment in life. We breathe, walk and swim rhythmically, usually without noticing it. We appreciate music, poetry and drama. We become more balanced in our quality of life when rhythms develop naturally.

A man of wisdom once wrote: “Hurry is actually a form of violence exercised upon God’s time in order to make it ”˜my time’.” (Donald Nicholl, Holiness.) In reordering our lives in moments of turmoil, it may be worth considering the rhythm of a year, rather than just of a day or a month. Imagine the year ahead of you. What comes to mind? When does that year begin? Whose year is it? An intriguing question is how do you make God smile? One answer may be that you tell Him your plans.

God sees farther and wider than you see, knows you better than you know yourself and loves you more than you have ever been loved.

Read the whole piece.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

Anatole Kaletsky: Reliance on the US will never be the same

It is pure guesswork whether last night’s European measures will create stability or trigger a further rout in financial markets when they open this morning. But two things are fairly clear about this surprisingly strong and cohesive package. First, while short-term stock market reactions are unpredictable, there can be reasonable confidence about the package’s economic impact ”” it will avert a catastrophic economic collapse or long-term depression. Secondly, the ability of European governments to launch their own financial rescue without waiting for US leadership represents a fundamental shift in global economic relations.

Let me begin with this second point. Since the creation of the Bretton Woods monetary system in 1944 every global financial initiative of any significance has been devised, led and co-ordinated by the US Government. This US leadership did not mean that America always got its way in financial affairs ”” nor that US co-ordination always succeeded, as exemplified by the breakdown of Bretton Woods in 1971. But it did mean that international financial initiatives were never attempted until ideas and the leadership came from Washington. The sole exception to this rule in the past 30 years was the creation of the euro; but this was viewed in Washington as an intra-European affair with limited global consequences.

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

Ken Dilanian: How Congress set the stage for a meltdown

In 2000, a united financial services industry persuaded Congress to allow a vast, unregulated market in derivatives, which are contracts in which investors essentially bet on the future price of a stock, commodity, mortgage-backed security or other thing of value.

Derivatives ”” so named because their value derives from something else ”” also are known as hedges, swaps and futures. They are designed to lower risks for buyers and sellers, but in some cases, economists now say, they gave investors a false sense of security.

Today, derivatives are compounding the risks to a shaky economy because they are tied to complex mortgage securities that have plummeted in value. Instruments called credit default swaps, for example, were supposed to insure investors against default of mortgage-backed securities. With a mass collapse of those bonds, it’s not clear how the swaps can pay off….

Read it all.

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

George Weigel: Clarifying the Responsibility of Roman Catholic Politicians

Catholics feel so at home in the United States that they can joke about the times when their faith was a severe impediment to high national office. After Al Smith’s Catholicism played a major role in his defeat in the 1928 presidential election, or so the old Catholic joke goes, he sent a one-word telegram to Pope Pius XI ”” “Unpack.” By the same token, however, it’s perfectly natural for Catholics to hear echoes of anti-Catholic prejudice when others ask, “What are Catholic politicians supposed to do if public policy is in conflict with Catholic doctrine? Where’s the bright line between faith and public service?” After all, virtually no one else gets asked those questions in American public life.

Still, the questions are there. So are the confusions, some of them caused by Catholic intellectuals who don’t get the logic of the Church’s social doctrine, and others by Catholic politicians who muddy the waters by suggesting that the moral teaching of popes and bishops is “sectarian.” In the hope of answering the questions and clarifying the confusions, I offer the following “small catechism” on the responsibilities of the Catholic politician.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

Report calls U.S. church giving 'lukewarm'

Americans spent nearly twice as much on first-day sales of the video game Grand Theft Auto IV as would be needed by the Southern Baptist Convention to share the gospel with all the world’s “unreached people groups” by 2010, according to a new report on church giving.

The annual report, by the Illinois-based group Empty Tomb Inc., found a general downward trend in church member giving through 2006, which led authors to propose a “global triage to treat what ails the church.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

Ethnic crisis rocks Anglican Church in Benin

Many people who turned out to worship at the Rev. William Payne Memorial Anglican Church, Benin, were prevented from participating in the usual Sunday service by youths protesting alleged ethnicity in the church.

The church situated at 121 A, Mission Road, Benin, was shut down by ministers and worshippers were prevented from gaining access to the complex to prevent a break down of order.

The church is said to have been plagued by disaffection caused by alleged ethnic disenchantment between Igbo speaking worshippers and other ethnic groups.

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Africa

An Interview With Canon Gregory Cameron, Deputy Secretary Of The Anglican Consultative Council

Take the time to listen to it all or, if you prefer read the transcript provided by Jill Woodliff here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Episcopal Church (TEC), Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts, Theology

The Full Text of Bishop MacPherson’s Convention Address in Western Louisiana

There was much debate over the rightness, or better stated, the wrongness of this entire allegation, and there was considerable opposition to the charge against Bishop Duncan. The resistance to the action being taken was centered more on what was seen as pre-emptive action pertaining to the interpretation of the Constitution and Canons of General Convention [2006] and failure to provide due process. The pre-emptive action as applied to the Canons, and failure for proper process, rest in the fact that Bishop Duncan was never inhibited, nor did he have the right of a trial made available to him.

The ruling to place this before the House for deposition was made by the Presiding Bishop, and as I have previously written to the diocese, I was one of the bishops that challenged the ruling based upon the irregularities stated above. This required a two-thirds majority to overrule, and thus did not carry. This was subsequently followed by a request for a roll call vote being asked for by nine bishops, myself included. These things were not carried out in the form of a rebellious mood, but rather, with deep concern for the direction the Church is moving with total disregard for proper order, adherence to the Constitution and Canons, and a precedent being set that will enable the disruption of any bishop or diocese that does not subscribe to the present direction of General Convention or the Office of the Presiding Bishop.

Some, I am certain, will argue about the actions of Bishop Duncan and some of the people of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, and seek to justify the action of the Presiding Bishop and the House of Bishops. My argument is not whether or not he did something, but the fact that we have a new rule of order that has evolved, and it has not been brought about by the Councils of the Church nor is in keeping with Canonical structure. As I have shared before, this is a precedent that is a danger to the dignified order of The Episcopal Church as we have known it, and this must be corrected.

Read it all carefully.

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

U.S. gasoline price marks biggest drop ever: survey

The average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States recorded its largest drop ever as consumer demand continued to wane and oil prices slid, a prominent industry analyst said on Sunday.

The national average price for self-serve, regular unleaded gas fell 35.03 cents to $3.3079 a gallon on October 10 from $3.6582 two weeks earlier, according to the nationwide Lundberg Survey.

It was the lowest national average price since March 21, 2008. Since peaking at $4.1124 on July 11, the average cost of a gallon of gas has receded by 80.45 cents. Diesel fuel fell 21 cents to $3.95 a gallon, the first time since March that it has been below $4.00 a gallon.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources

Britain Props Up Banks as Fed Leads Funding Effort

After a whirl of emergency weekend meetings on both sides of the Atlantic aimed at rescuing the global financial system, Britain began propping up three banks Monday with taxpayer funds while the Federal Reserve and three European central banks announced that they will offer financial institutions unlimited dollars to ease the banking crisis.

Before markets opened in Europe, a statement from the Federal Reserve in Washington said that it, along with the Bank of England, the European Central Bank and the Swiss National Bank would provide funds at a fixed interest rate in advance of each operation “against the appropriate collateral in each jurisdiction.”

The Federal Reserve said it would increase its swap lines with those central banks “to accommodate whatever quantity of U.S. dollar funding” institutions demand. The Bank of Japan was considering joining the plan, the Federal Reserve said in a statement.

In anticipation of an array of banking-related announcements on Monday, Asian markets seemed to have steadied and registered significant gains compared to sharp declines of last week as chaos battered global stocks. European markets opened higher while stock futures in the United States ”” which are bets on the direction of the market before its opening ””rose.

Read it all. The full Fed announcement is well worth noting in full:

:In order to provide broad access to liquidity and funding to financial institutions, the Bank of England (BoE), the European Central Bank (ECB), the Federal Reserve, the Bank of Japan, and the Swiss National Bank (SNB) are jointly announcing further measures to improve liquidity in short-term U.S. dollar funding markets.

The BoE, ECB, and SNB will conduct tenders of U.S. dollar funding at 7-day, 28-day, and 84-day maturities at fixed interest rates for full allotment. Funds will be provided at a fixed interest rate, set in advance of each operation. Counterparties in these operations will be able to borrow any amount they wish against the appropriate collateral in each jurisdiction. Accordingly, sizes of the reciprocal currency arrangements (swap lines) between the Federal Reserve and the BoE, the ECB, and the SNB will be increased to accommodate whatever quantity of U.S. dollar funding is demanded. The Bank of Japan will be considering the introduction of similar measures.

Central banks will continue to work together and are prepared to take whatever measures are necessary to provide sufficient liquidity in short-term funding markets.

Federal Reserve Actions
To assist in the expansion of these operations, the Federal Open Market Committee has authorized increases in the sizes of its temporary swap facilities with the BoE, the ECB, and the SNB, so that these central banks can provide U.S. dollar funding in quantities sufficient to meet demand.

These arrangements have been authorized through April 30, 2009.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, Economy, England / UK, Europe, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Justin Lahart: Rescue Plan Comes Around to Views of the Academics

The government’s plan to buy equity in financial institutions, announced Friday by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, is an idea that many academic economists have championed from the start of the crisis.

Many economists believed that the heart of the government’s initial plan to pay $700 billion for toxic assets was aimed at the wrong target. Purchasing mortgage securities from banks wouldn’t do anything to kick-start lending and get credit flowing again, they said. Rather, banks would use the proceeds they got from the Treasury to pay off debtors, and those debtors would use the proceeds to buy safe assets.

They said a wiser course — the one the Treasury now seems to have come around to — was for government to rebuild the badly depleted cash levels on bank balance sheets. That would cushion institutions against future losses, giving them the wherewithal to lend again. Other hitches in the original plan include coming up with a price for mortgage securities that is above the “fire sale” level they would draw on the open market, but not so high that taxpayers end up getting taken for a ride.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Credit Markets, Economy, Europe, Politics in General, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package

Richard Dooling: The Rise of the Machines

The Wall Street geeks, the quantitative analysts (“quants”) and masters of “algo trading” probably felt the same irresistible lure of “illimitable power” when they discovered “evolutionary algorithms” that allowed them to create vast empires of wealth by deriving the dependence structures of portfolio credit derivatives.

What does that mean? You’ll never know. Over and over again, financial experts and wonkish talking heads endeavor to explain these mysterious, “toxic” financial instruments to us lay folk. Over and over, they ignobly fail, because we all know that no one understands credit default obligations and derivatives, except perhaps Mr. Buffett and the computers who created them.

Somehow the genius quants ”” the best and brightest geeks Wall Street firms could buy ”” fed $1 trillion in subprime mortgage debt into their supercomputers, added some derivatives, massaged the arrangements with computer algorithms and ”” poof! ”” created $62 trillion in imaginary wealth. It’s not much of a stretch to imagine that all of that imaginary wealth is locked up somewhere inside the computers, and that we humans, led by the silverback males of the financial world, Ben Bernanke and Henry Paulson, are frantically beseeching the monolith for answers. Or maybe we are lost in space, with Dave the astronaut pleading, “Open the bank vault doors, Hal.”

As the current financial crisis spreads (like a computer virus) on the earth’s nervous system (the Internet), it’s worth asking if we have somehow managed to colossally outsmart ourselves using computers. After all, the Wall Street titans loved swaps and derivatives because they were totally unregulated by humans. That left nobody but the machines in charge.

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

Using Biology, Not Religion, to Argue Against Same-Sex Marriage

Patricia and Wesley Galloway could not have children of their own. Yet for them, the essence of marriage is rooted in procreation.

“It takes a man and a woman to create children and thus create a family,” Mrs. Galloway, 60, told a legislative panel in Connecticut last year as it was considering a bill to legalize same-sex marriage.

The bill never went to a vote, but on Friday the Connecticut Supreme Court eliminated the need for a bill when it struck down the state’s civil union law and ruled that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry.

The decision was cheered by gay couples who argued that civil unions, despite giving them the same rights as married couples, were something less than marriage. But it has caused consternation among opponents of gay marriage, many of whom, like the Galloways, say their objections are not based on religion or morality, but in nature.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Science & Technology, Sexuality