Daily Archives: October 19, 2008

In South Carolina Anxious times for state employees

Across the Lowcountry, across the state, nearly 65,000 state employees will be nervously watching the Statehouse this week as the General Assembly takes either an ax or a scalpel to the state budget.

The Legislature could make across-the-board cuts, or lawmakers could pore through the budget looking to cut things they don’t like.

It’s expected to be messy. Jobs could be lost, careers ended. Some state employees are nervous, others merely paying attention. Still others have heard this song all too often.

The last time the state had budgeting problems, between 2002 and 2004, some 700 state employees lost their jobs, and thousands of others were furloughed. It was a scary time to be a state employee, but this round is even worse. Back then, the economy wasn’t this bad.

Read it all.

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

TEC affiliated Group in San Joaquin charges Southern Cone San Joaquin clergy with abandonment

The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin today determined that sixteen deacons and thirty-six priests had abandoned the communion of the Episcopal Church. Findings against each of the fifty-two clergy were based on specific violations of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church related to their support of attempts to remove the diocese from the Episcopal Church, and their repudiation of the ecclesiastical authority of the Episcopal Church and the diocese.

Should the bishop concur with these findings, the clergy will be inhibited and not allowed to function as an Episcopal priest or deacon, or be employed by an Episcopal congregation. Episcopal Church law provides clergy six months to recant and return to the Episcopal Church. Clergy who do not recant will be removed from the ministry of the Episcopal Church.

Read it all.

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

A Letter from the Pittsburgh Standing Comittee to the Presiding Bishop

October 16, 2008

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
The Episcopal Church
815 Second Avenue
New York NY 10017-4503

Dear Bishop Schori,

The statements contained in your October 9, 2008 letter to the members of the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh are not authorized by the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church and are not authorized by the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.

In particular, and without limitation, the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church and of our Diocese give you no authority to “find” anything relating to the Standing Committee nor do they give you authority to “recognize” anyone, including authority to “recognize” any one as the ecclesiastical authority of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. Indeed, they give you no authority to “find” anything regarding any Diocesan Standing Committee. Thus, your “recognition” of anyone as ecclesiastical authority of a diocese is of no canonical effect.

The only reason we are the ecclesiastical authority for the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh is because of your illegal “deposition” of Bishop Robert W. Duncan. Your effort to take advantage of this illegal action by following it with a subsequent illegal action (i.e., seeking to “recognize” members of a diocesan standing committee despite the fact that you have no jurisdiction or authority to do so) is wholly improper.

Finally, I stress that despite your illegitimate attempt to challenge our proper role as the ecclesiastical authority of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, we hold no ill-will toward those parishes of the Diocese that are now seeking to form in Western Pennsylvania a new diocese affiliated with The Episcopal Church. The Diocese of Pittsburgh stands ready to work with these parishes to reach a fair settlement of all claims and/or disputes regarding property.

Sincerely,

The Rev. David D. Wilson
President
Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh

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

A Letter from the Presiding Bishop to the Pittsburgh Standing Comittee

October 9, 2008

The Rev. Geoffrey Chapman
Mr. Kenneth Herbst
Dr. Theresa Newell
Mr. Wicks Stephens
The Rev. David Wilson
The Rev. Karen Stevenson
Ms. Gladys Hunt-Mason

Dear Sirs and Madams,

I am writing to you because I have been informed that you held positions on the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh prior to and/or during the most recent Convention of the Diocese in October 2008. It has come to my attention that in the past year you have taken actions in support of an attempt to take the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh out of the Episcopal Church and into an affiliation with the Province of the Southern Cone. I understand that these have included supporting amendment of the Diocese’s Constitution and Canons and attempting to organize as the Standing Committee of an entity that identifies itself as a Diocese of the Province of the Southern Cone. These actions directly conflict with the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church.
Canon I.17.8 of the Episcopal Church provides that “[a]ny person accepting any office in this Church shall well and faithfully perform the duties of that office in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of this Church and of the Diocese in which the office is being exercised.” In light of your recent actions, I find that you have been and are unable to well and faithfully fulfill your duties as members of the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh under Canon I.17.8. Accordingly, with this letter I inform you that I do not recognize you as members of the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.

I regret the decisions that you have made to attempt to take the Diocese out of the Episcopal Church and the necessary consequences of these actions. I give thanks for your service in the past, and pray that it may once more be a blessing to the Diocese. I remain

Your servant in Christ,

–(The Rt. Rev.) Katharine Jefferts Schori

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

Illinois Episcopalians face historic vote

The Episcopal Church of the United States dates back almost as far as the Revolutionary War. In Illinois, it was organized 173 years ago. And the Episcopal Diocese of Quincy, Ill., has existed for well more than a century.

But if all goes as expected, the Diocese of Quincy will soon leave the parent church and align itself with the Anglican community based in South America.

A rift that has existed for decades broke open in 2003 after the Episcopal Church of the United States consecrated its first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

“This is an example of how far the Episcopal Church has moved to a contemporary liberal theology,” said the Rev. John Spencer, a spokesman for the diocese that includes Christ Church, Moline; Trinity Church, Rock Island; and St. Mark’s Church, Silvis, Ill. “It’s just not grounded in Scripture anymore.”

Read it all.

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

From hard knocks to Harvard

A nice story about a teacher giving back–watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education

Colin Powell endorses Obama for President

Powell, a retired Army general who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under the first President Bush before becoming secretary of state in the current administration, is one of the most highly decorated military officers of modern times and an admired figure in both parties. The Obama campaign is likely to cite the endorsement as an answer to critics and undecided voters who have questioned the foreign policy credential of Obama, a first-term senator whose national experience amounts to four years in the Senate.

Powell said a major part of his decision to turn his back on his own party was his conclusion that Obama was the better option to repair frayed U.S. relations with allies overseas.

“This is the time for outreach,” Powell said, saying the next president would have to “reach out and show the world there is a new administration that is willing to reach out.”

In particular, he said, he welcomed Obama’s president to “talk to people we haven’t talked to,” a reference to Obama’s controversial statement that he would be open to direct diplomacy with Iranian leaders.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, US Presidential Election 2008

Financial collapse fallout hitting kids hard

Watch it all.

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

Roderick Strange: We have been beguiled and betrayed by Mammon

If [Bill] Clinton’s remark is one mantra, another is the saying: “Render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” It has been used often as the basis of a kind of theology of politics, especially by politicians who want to safeguard their arena from any intrusion by the Church. Jesus Himself, they like to argue, is telling bishops and theologians to mind their own business. But as usual the neat biblical distinction is not quite as straightforward as it may at first appear.

Remember the context. Some disciples of the Pharisees have come to Jesus. First, they flatter Him, describing Him as an honest man who speaks His mind without fear or favour. And then they pose the question: “Tell us your opinion, then. Is it permissible to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” It is, of course, a trick question. The answer “yes” would identify Him as a Roman supporter, a sympathiser with the occupying power; the answer “no” would identify Him as a potential rebel, sympathetic to resistance. Either answer would undermine His position and influence. But Jesus recognises what is happening. He calls for a coin, asks whose head is on it, and when they say, “Caesar’s,” He replies, “Very well, give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar ”” and to God what belongs to God.” He is not establishing the theology of economics, but evading a trap.

Read it all.

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

Joe Nocera: Shouldn’t We Rescue Housing?

But recently a proposal came across my desk that I believe is so smart, and so sensible, that I hope our nation’s policy makers will give it a serious look. It comes from Daniel Alpert, a founding partner of Westwood Capital, a small investment bank. I have quoted Mr. Alpert frequently in recent columns, because he has been both thoughtful and prescient on the subject of the financial crisis.

Here’s his idea: Pass a law that encourages homeowners with impaired mortgages to forfeit the deed to their lenders but allows them to stay in the homes for five years, paying prevailing market rent. Under the law Mr. Alpert envisions, the lender would be forced to accept the deed, and the rent. After five years, the homeowner-turned-renter would have the right to buy the home back, at fair market value, from the lender.

There are so many things I like about this idea that I hardly know where to begin. Let’s start with the fact that it doesn’t require a large infusion of taxpayers’ money. Indeed, it doesn’t require any government money at all. It also doesn’t let either homeowners or lenders off the hook, as many other plans would. The homeowner loses the deed to his home, which will be painful. The lending institution, in accepting prevailing market rent, will get maybe 60 or 70 percent of what it would have gotten from a healthy mortgage-payer. (Rents are considerably lower than mortgage payments right now.) That will be painful too. Moral hazard will not be an issue.

As Mr. Alpert told me the other day, his proposal “admits the truth: the homeowner doesn’t have equity, and the lender has taken a loss. They should exchange interest, but not in a way that throws the homeowner out in the street.”

Read it all.

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

Eric Lane and Michael Oreskes–Financial boom, financial bust: What happened?

Every now and then, even the smartest of us need to relearn the lessons of American history. Take Alan Greenspan and the unfolding story of the current credit crisis. Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, is “the Oracle” given much of the credit for America’s great economic boom — and now some of the blame for the bust.

Critics say it was the growth of largely unregulated investments known as derivatives — which Greenspan encouraged and defended — that helped produce the present crisis. Greenspan’s defense of these investments was based in part on an optimistic view of human nature. Excesses, he believed, would be prevented because individuals would restrain the worst of their greed and self-interest to protect their own reputations.

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

PBS Religion and Ethics Weekly: 2008 Campaign: Catholic and Jewish Voters

SEVERSON: Unlike Sarah Palin, Lori is pro-choice and in favor of gun control. She’s very worried about the economy, but again, the threat of terrorism trumps all.

Ms. LOWENTHAL MARCUS: I know people who have lost their jobs. It’s terrifying.But the idea of an entire nation being wiped off the face of the earth — if we are not alive, doesn’t matter how much money we make or what kind of job we have.

SEVERSON: Not far from Lori’s house, David Broida, a writer who also runs a tennis center for kids, is a devoted Jew for Obama. He was there at the convention. Broida supports Obama for the same reason that Lori opposes him.

DAVID BROIDA: I am just as concerned about Israel, Israel’s security, but in my judgment Barack Obama is the better candidate on Israel for American voters.

SEVERSON: Why is that?

Mr. BROIDA: We’re interested in negotiations. Israel is in a very precarious position, with Iran being armed with nuclear weapons probably or going to be. So we need to be thinking in terms of diplomacy, and we need the best diplomatic team out there.

Read it all.

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

Bush plans to host a Financial summit of world leaders

President Bush will announce he plans to host a summit of world leaders in the near future to discuss the global response to the financial crisis, a senior administration official said today.

Word of the impending announcement came at Camp David where European leaders are lobbying Bush to hold a summit by year’s end.

The summit will focus on ideas to prevent a crisis from recurring in the future and to preserve the free market system, said the Bush administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the announcement has not yet been made.

Read it all.

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

Stephen Smith: Remember when athletes had the guts to stand up for their beliefs?

“Remember, no one saw Martin Luther King coming,” Edwards says. “He was a young, second-level preacher. Nobody saw Malcolm X coming out of prison. Nobody saw Tommie Smith, John Carlos and Harry Edwards coming out of San Jose State. I’m convinced that, irrespective of what we think we see from a social and political standpoint relative to this generation of athletes, there’s somebody out there whom we simply don’t see coming. I don’t think we are wise enough or visionary enough to say that this generation is lost or that this generation can’t get it done. Keep the faith.”

We know what the hope is. But what about the reality, in light of all the money on the table and its tremendous power to manipulate? Think about those antiprotest waivers, the ones everybody is apparently all too willing to sign, and tell me that any modern-day star will use his or her platform to speak up about terrorism, sweatshops in third-world countries or other unspeakable human rights violations.

Which leaves us with a question: Do we even care anymore? The way Tommie Smith and John Carlos did””and still do?

Read it all. The protest of Smith and Carlos happened 40 years ago this week.

A video which reminds us of some of what 1968 was really like is here.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, Race/Race Relations, Sports, Theology

Connecticut clergy of mixed minds on gay marriage

The Connecticut Catholic Conference issued a strong statement opposing the decision, which it said “imposes the recognition of same-sex marriage upon the people of Connecticut.”

Pointing out that the General Assembly approved civil unions, but not marriage, in 2005, the conference said, “The real battle in this court case was not about rights, since civil unions provide a vast number of legal rights to same-sex couples, but about conferring and enforcing social acceptance of a particular lifestyle, a lifestyle many people of faith and advocates of the natural law refuse to accept.”

Bishop Andrew D. Smith, leader of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut, said priests in the diocese could not perform same-sex weddings because marriage is defined in the Book of Common Prayer as “a solemn and public covenant between a man and a woman in the presence of God.”

“For us to change that practice in terms of having clergy officiate at gay or lesbian marriages, we have to change the prayer book,” which is authoritative for Episcopalians, Smith said. It cannot be changed without the approval of two national conventions.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), TEC Bishops