Daily Archives: October 18, 2008

Thomas Friedman: Why How Matters

When I think of the financial-services boom, bubble and bust that America has just gone through, I often think about that image. We thought we were flying. Well, we just met the sudden stop at the end. The laws of gravity, it turns out, still apply. You cannot tell tens of thousands of people that they can have the American dream ”” a home, for no money down and nothing to pay for two years ”” without that eventually catching up to you. The Puritan ethic of hard work and saving still matters. I just hate the idea that such an ethic is more alive today in China than in America.

Our financial bubble, like all bubbles, has many complex strands feeding into it ”” called derivatives and credit-default swaps ”” but at heart, it is really very simple. We got away from the basics ”” from the fundamentals of prudent lending and borrowing, where the lender and borrower maintain some kind of personal responsibility for, and personal interest in, whether the person receiving the money can actually pay it back. Instead, we fell into what some people call Y.B.G. and I.B.G. lending: “you’ll be gone and I’ll be gone” before the bill comes due.

Yes, this bubble is about us ”” not all of us, many Americans were way too poor to play. But it is about enough of us to say it is about America.

Read it all.

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

Lehman's Collapse, Stock Sale Probed by Three U.S. Prosecutors

Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. is the subject of three federal criminal probes and at least 12 subpoenas of individuals to testify before grand juries, according to a lawyer for the bank that last month filed the largest bankruptcy in history.

Lead Lehman bankruptcy lawyer Harvey Miller said Oct. 16 in federal court in Manhattan that the investigations were launched by New York U.S. attorneys in Brooklyn and Manhattan as well as in Newark, New Jersey. They are focusing in part on Lehman’s role in the $330 billion auction-rate securities market and possible crimes associated with its $6 billion June stock issue, according to a person familiar with the case who requested anonymity.

“It’s clear they have given it some urgency and priority,” former Justice Department attorney Robert Plotkin said. “Given the notoriety and the headlines, this would be one of the ones that would be on a faster track,” said the lawyer, who now handles white-collar defense cases at Richmond, Virginia-based McGuireWooods.

Read it all

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

In San Joaquin Anglicans and Episcopalians move on

Next weekend’s local diocesan conventions for Anglicans and Episcopalians will be times for celebrations — and not to look back at the rift that led the Anglicans to break away from the U.S. Episcopal Church. Spiritually, both sides are getting past the split and moving in new directions.
“It’s a lot more celebration; a lot less business,” says the Rev. Bill Gandenberger, a spokesman for the Anglicans.

A spokesman for the Episcopalians, the Rev. Mark Hall, says, “People now are talking and having a good time building for unity and good conversation.”

Both sides previously made up the Fresno-based Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. In December, however, it became the first U.S. diocese to secede from the Episcopal Church since the Civil War over differences about homosexuality and interpretation of the Bible.

Read it all.

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

Dr Phillip Aspinall re-elected Anglican archbishop

THE Anglican Church of Australia has re-elected Brisbane Archbishop Phillip Aspinall as its leader for a further six years.

A meeting of the church’s board of electors in Sydney today re-elected Dr Aspinall as Primate.

Dr Aspinall thanked his colleagues for their support and said he was humbled to again be elected to the national role.

Read the whole article.

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

George Will: A Faith's Dwindling Following

“I think,” [Bishop Robert] Duncan says, “the 21st century will be for the archbishop of Canterbury what the 20th century was for the royal family.” That is, an era of diminution.

Because Protestantism has no structure of authority comparable to the Vatican and because it does not merely tolerate but enjoins individual judgments by “the priesthood of all believers” concerning beliefs and obligations, all Protestants are potential Luthers. Hence it is evidence of spiritual vigor that Episcopalians in Quincy, Ill., and Fort Worth will vote on disassociation from the U.S. communion on Nov. 7 and Nov. 14, respectively.

The Episcopal Church once was America’s upper crust at prayer. Today it is “progressive” politics cloaked — very thinly — in piety. Episcopalians’ discontents tell a cautionary tale for political as well as religious associations. As the church’s doctrines have become more elastic, the church has contracted. It celebrates an “inclusiveness” that includes fewer and fewer members.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Global South Churches & Primates, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Pittsburgh, TEC Data

Janice Turner: How American motherhood ruined my life

What is so vital about America, what makes it so thrilling as a nation, is the deep-rooted belief that everything can be improved, transformed and – with enough ingenuity and effort – perfected. Having the American A-list in our midst – and the disposable income of an economic boom – turned British women from a nation of stubbly legged home-permers and gym-avoiders into waxed, manicured, extreme-yoga devotees.

But apply the principles of self-improvement to parenting and insanity beckons. In 2004 the American writer Judith Warner published Perfect Madness, about middle-class mothers in Washington, who, feeling duty-bound to leave their careers, had funnelled every atom of creativity, ambition and status anxiety into raising children. I read it with snorts of derision: women who micromanaged playdates so that their kids made the “right” friends, scheduled in a dozen improving after-school activities, bought Mandarin Chinese flashcards for their babies, campaigned passionately to have chocolate milk banned from the school canteen. This supercharged motherhood seemed so pushy and anxious – so focused on honing a successful end product, a market leader of which they could feel proud.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, England / UK, Marriage & Family

Some Refreshingly Honest Reporting on the State of the Diocese of Washington

On a typical Sunday, [Canon to the Ordinary Paul] Cooney said, church attendance at parishes in the diocese ranges from 14 to 1,039. In half of the diocese’s parishes, fewer than 115 people attend Sunday services. And in the average parish, Church School draws just 27 children.

Data from parochial reports show that over the last 20 years, the diocese’s membership has remained stable in the low 40,000s. But during that same period, the number of pledging households has decreased by about 20 percent.

Over the last 20 years, “we’ve become modestly smaller,” Cooney said.

Despite a lack of consistency in the way membership data has been recorded, the reports indicate a gradual but marked decline in the last 40 years: Since 1967, the number of active communicants in the diocese’s parishes has dropped by approximately 26 percent.

“More analysis remains to be done,” Cooney wrote in a recent memo to the council. “However, it comes as no surprise from reviewing the data thus far that we face the challenging situation of fragile and in some cases declining membership. Of particular concern is the typically small number of children in our congregations.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Data, TEC Parishes

Anglican TV Interviews J.I. Packer

Check it out.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, Theology

Notable and Quotable

–Non Sibi Sed Cunctis

“Not for Ones Self but for All,” the school motto of the Millbrook School where we are this weekend visiting Selimah for parent’s weekend

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education

George Weigel: Pro-Life Catholics For Obama?

One of the most interesting facets of the intra-Catholic furor over Kmiec, Kaveny, Cafardi and other pro-life, pro-Obama Catholics is the way this argument seems to have displaced the struggle between bishops and pro-choice Catholic politicians that was so prominent in 1984 (when the contest was between Geraldine Ferraro and New York’s Cardinal John O’Connor) and 2004 (when the candidacy of John Kerry embroiled the entire U.S. bishops conference in a dispute over whether pro-choice Catholic politicians ought to be permitted to receive holy communion). That displacement, however, is likely to be temporary.

In the wake of ill-advised (and nationally televised) ventures into theology by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden, several bishops””including Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput, Madison Bishop Robert Morlino and Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl””issued statements underscoring the Catholic Church’s unswerving moral opposition to abortion from the very beginnings of Christianity; the morality of abortion was not an open question for serious Catholics, as Pelosi in particular had suggested. (After receiving what seems to have been an avalanche of protest over the Speaker’s misstatement on “Meet the Press,” Pelosi’s own archbishop, George Niederauer of San Francisco, announced publicly that he would invite Mrs. Pelosi in for a conversation.) Moreover, in the wake of both the Pelosi and Biden incidents, the chairmen of the bishops’ pro-life and doctrine committees, Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia and Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., issued sharp statements deploring the misrepresentation of Catholic teaching by the Speaker and the senator.

Many U.S. bishops, in other words, seem exasperated with Catholic politicians who present themselves as ardent Catholics and yet consistently oppose the Church on what the bishops consider the premier civil-rights issue of the day.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Life Ethics, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, US Presidential Election 2008

Douglas W. Kmiec: Can a Catholic vote for the pro-choice Obama?

So can Catholics vote for a pro-choice candidate? The answer is yes, but as I found when I publicly endorsed Obama, you’ve then got “some ‘splain’n’ to do.” It’s a matter of conscience, but had Obama proclaimed himself to be pro-choice and said nothing more, it would have been problematic. But there are those additional words about appropriate education as well as adoption and assistance for mothers who choose to keep their baby.

This is not just debate posturing. It is consistent with Obama’s successful effort to add language to the Democratic platform affirming the choice of a mother to keep her child by pledging pre- and post-natal care, funded maternity leave and income support for poor women who, studies show, are four times more likely to pursue an abortion absent some tangible assistance.

Some might ask, isn’t John McCain, the self-proclaimed “pro-lifer,” still a morally superior choice for Catholics? Not necessarily. McCain’s commitment, as he stressed in the debate, is to try to reverse Roe vs. Wade. But Republicans have been after this for decades, and the effort has not saved a single child. Even if Roe were reversed — unlikely, in my judgment — it merely transfers the question to the states, most of which are not expected to ban abortion. A Catholic serious about preserving life could reasonably find Obama’s educational and material assistance to mothers the practical, stronger alternative.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Life Ethics, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, US Presidential Election 2008

James Martin: His Wife's a Saint, So Is Her Husband

The two traditional roles of the saints are the patron (who intercedes on behalf of those on earth) and the companion (who provides believers with an example of Christian life). And the paucity of lay saints — more specifically, married ones — in the roster is somewhat embarrassing.

Two reasons underlie this anomaly: the outmoded belief, almost as old as the church, that the celibate life was “better” than married life, and the fact that the church’s canonization process is an arduous one, requiring someone to gather paperwork, interview contemporaries if that is still possible and present the case to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

Certainly there have been as many saintly wives and husbands as there have been holy priests and nuns. But religious orders and dioceses know how to navigate the canonization procedures on behalf of bishops, priests, brothers and sisters. By contrast, how many families have the resources to embark on the decades-long process on behalf of even the holiest mother or father? As a result, married Catholics have few exemplars other than Mary and Joseph, whose situation was hardly replicable.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Roman Catholic

The Bishop of Iowa Offers some Thoughts

I did not vote for the deposition of Bishop Duncan for a couple of reasons. I was one of the few who believed that his intention to lead his diocese out of The Episcopal Church was not the same as actually doing it. Secondly, I was impressed with the argument of one of our own partnered gay priests now serving in another diocese that we must act to end the cycle of violence that our Communion struggles really extend on all sides. In that vein, I have also believed that we have to find a broader canonical framework with which to account for one another, which allows for removal and transfer within the Communion of the Anglican Church, and not deposition. I also think accountability should have come from the highest ranking bishop in our Communion five years ago, who had the right idea of making Lambeth 2008 a place for conversation and relationship building, but ought to have started at that point several years ago in face to face interaction.

Is it all now too late? The planet is still in peril. Trillions of dollars of value have been wiped off the portfolios of millions never to be returned in quite that same way. The Church is divided and we face a public to whom we are obliged to witness to the reconciling love of God in Jesus, who has every right to judge us according to the Gospel we promise to proclaim in word and deed but also to live.

With Christ it is never too late. Error turns into truth, sin into righteousness and death into life. The cross and resurrection are our ultimate points of accountability, and even righteous people get things wrong but can start again.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Climate Change, Weather, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Pittsburgh, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--