Daily Archives: November 2, 2008

Notable and Quotable (II)

In terms of a future renewal, much of it will depend on a commitment to individualism, something that has been much maligned in recent years. We hear so much trendy, tedious talk today of how bad individualism is, and how we need to think in terms of “the group.” The problem is that the group usually offers conformity, not genuine community. The drift in the United States today is toward the submergence of the self into Mass Mind, a trend that is powerfully encouraged by corporate culture and the new technology. Along with this — as in the early Middle Ages — we see the dissolution of interiority, and the loss or denigration of individual judgment and achievement. All this is a major factor in the disintegration of American culture, which, popular opinion to the contrary, is a herd culture, not an individualistic one. Thus political scientist Kenneth Minogue writes that the fashionable attack on individualism amounts to “a project for closing down the innovative vitality of the modern world.” An important aspect of the new monastic option is thus a rejection of this project, of the group, and of attempts at institutionalization. Today’s “monk” is committed to a renewed sense of self, and to the avoidance of groupthink, including anticorporate or anti-consumer culture groupthink. The monastic option will not be served by the new monastic “class” being a class of any sort. As the quote* from E. M. Forster on page 9 shows, the power of this contribution lies precisely in its lack of institutionalization. Membership cards and badges (whether real or metaphorical), avant-garde language and appropriate party line, organization and even visibility — these are the exact opposite of what the monastic option is about. We don’t need to form our own little institutes or committees; that would be the kiss of death. In The Dark Side of the Left, Richard Ellis shows how avant-garde political movements, including environmentalism and feminism, become utopian, Manichaean, and finally tyrannical; but he admits that this is a right-wing tendency as well. The point is, it is a group tendency. The more individual the activity is, and the more out of the public eye, the more effective it is likely to be in the long run. Not that like-minded souls shouldn’t make connections, but the key is to keep these links informal. As Kenneth Minogue rightly notes, Western individualists have a capacity for joint action that exceeds that of communally organized civilizations.

–Morris Berman, The Twilight of American Culture (New York: Norton & Company, 2000), pp. 88-89

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*The quote from E. M. Forster [What I Believe, 1939] on page 9 is as follows:

I believe in aristocracy,…Not an aristocracy of power, based upon rank and influence, but an aristocracy of the sensitive, the considerate and the plucky. Its members are to be found in all nations and classes, and all through the ages, and there is a secret understanding between them when they meet. They represent the true human tradition, the one permanent victory of our queer race over cruelty and chaos….On they go — an invincible army, yet not a victorious one. The aristocrats, the elect, the chosen, the Best People — all the words that describe them are false, and all attempts to organize them fail. Again and again Authority, seeing their value, has tried to net them and to utilize them as the Egyptian Priesthood or the Group Movement, or some other worthy stunt. But they sip through the net and are gone; when the door is shut, they are no longer in the room; their temple…is the Holiness of the Heart’s Imagination, and their kingdom, though they never possess it, is the wide-open world.

Posted in Uncategorized

From Midwest to M.T.A., Pain From Global Gamble

During the go-go investing years, school districts, transit agencies and other government entities were quick to jump into the global economy, hoping for fast gains to cover growing pension costs and budgets without raising taxes. Deals were arranged by armies of persuasive financiers who received big paydays.

But now, hundreds of cities and government agencies are facing economic turmoil. Far from being isolated examples, the Wisconsin schools and New York’s transportation system are among the many players in a financial fiasco that has ricocheted globally.

The Wisconsin schools are on the brink of losing their money, confronting educators with possible budget cuts. Interest rates for New York’s subways are skyrocketing and contributing to budget woes that have transportation officials considering higher fares and delaying long-planned track repairs.

And the bank at the center of the saga, named Depfa, is now in trouble, threatening the stability of its parent company in Munich and forcing German officials to intervene with a multibillion-dollar bailout to stop a chain reaction that could freeze Germany’s economic system.

A really good article on just some of the massive collateral damage from the financial crisis which climaxed with the Credit Freeze Crisis of fall 2008–read it all.

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

Internet collaboration still in infancy: Wikipedia founder

The age of public collaboration over the Internet is still only in its infancy, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales told AFP in an interview.

The 42-year-old web guru, in an effort to show Wikipedia’s impact thus far, referenced a recent trip to a slum in India where he “met this young man on the street who told me that he had used Wikipedia to pass his 11th grade exams.”

“Wow, that’s really cool, right? We’ve had some impact, even in such a place where I’m talking to this guy, and there’s mud streets, and cows, and it’s really quite a different environment from London.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet

Resolutions Approved at the recent Diocese of Michigan Convention

Read them carefully and read them all.

Note that the resolution that committed funds to a thorough study of the diocese is not listed there and it reads as follows:

Resolved, that the 174th Convention of the Diocese of Michigan grants permission to Diocesan Council to utilize the Extended Ministries Fund (EMF) corpus “not to exceed $325,000 for phase one of the proposed program” as outlined in the EMF report accepted at the August 23, 2008, Diocesan Council Meeting.

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My thanks to Herb Gunn for this–KSH.

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

Notable and Quotable (I)

One further aspect of our current spiritual collapse is our inability to relate to one another with a minimum of courtesy or even awareness. It has become common now not to respond to any sort of request if the answer is no. Increasingly, if someone applies for a job and fails to get it, they are not notified to that effect; they never hear anything at all. People are also fired indirectly, with companies refusing to let them know why. We have stopped holding doors for one another; don’t bother to answer messages; disappear from each other’s lives without explanation or regret; betray one another and then refuse to discuss it. Rudeness is now acceptable, because I am the only one who inhabits my solipsistic world. (The flip side of this phenomenon is the replacement of civility by corporate politeness: “Have a nice day,” “Thank you for choosing AT&T,” etc.) At root there is a fear of any kind of involvement at all, for real friendships require risk and vulnerability, and more and more, Americans feel that they lack the psychological strength for that. Bottled rage and resentment are the norm, as millions live in isolation, without any form of community and are content to have soap-opera characters for “friends.” In this regard, I found it intersting that by 1996, academic conferences began to be held on “the erosion of civility”””something that was unheard of even five years before that. And the extreme dark end of the spectrum here is represented by the high school massacre in Littleton, Colorado, on 20 April, 1999 (Hitler’s bithday, symbolically enough), when two badly alienated teenagers in black trenchcoats set about murdering their fellow students.

–Morris Berman, The Twilight of American Culture (New York: Norton & Company, 2000), pp.57-58

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

Episcopal bishop retires after 11 years with NW Texas diocese

The Rt. Rev. C. Wallis Ohl Jr., who retired Saturday from his post as bishop of the Diocese of Northwest Texas of the Episcopal Church, has definite plans for his retirement.

“The first thing I’m going to do for about six months is nothing,” he said. But he quickly went into a list of things he has planned.

“I’m going to work on getting my house ready to sell,” he said. “We’re going to do some painting, stripping of wallpaper, yard work and a few things like that.

Read it all.

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

John Steele Gordon: Speculators, Politicians, and Financial Disasters

Fueled by easy credit, the real-estate market had been rising swiftly for some years. Members of Congress were determined to assure the continuation of that easy credit. Suddenly, the party came to a devastating halt. Defaults multiplied, banks began to fail. Soon the economic troubles spread beyond real estate. Depression stalked the land.

The year was 1836.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Economy, History

Dale Rye on the Diocese of Sydney's Recent Vote: What’s Up Down Under?

The recent decision of the Diocesan Synod of Sydney, in the Anglican Church of Australia, to allow the administration of Holy Communion””i.e., the celebration of the Eucharist””by deacons and eventually laity seems outlandish to many overseas Anglicans. It makes considerably more sense within the context of Australian Anglicanism, which has a very different history than The Episcopal Church (TEC) and its various offshoots (I will get to that later). Australian Anglicanism is exceptionally diverse as a result of that history, and its diversity has led the Anglican Church of Australia to adopt a unique pattern of organization.

Just as some Episcopalians are frustrated when other Anglicans cannot understand TEC’s particular form of synodical governance, so I expect Australians feel when outsiders try to apply their own context to matters Down Under. I write the following as an American outsider, but one who has long been fascinated enough by the local variations on the common Anglican theme to make a study of them.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Ecclesiology, Eucharist, Sacramental Theology, Theology

Religion and Ethics Weekly: 2008 Campaign: Young Evangelicals

[KIM] LAWTON: Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is one of the most prominent evangelical colleges in the country. Students here tell us they’re concerned about a broad spectrum of issues. Nineteen-year-old sophomore Emily Daher is active in politics and has been working to reduce the influence of money on the electoral process. She says she does believe abortion and gay marriage are important, but they aren’t the things she’s focusing on this election.

EMILY DAHER: There are so many issues that, as a Christian, I’m being called to help with as well. And I feel specifically in this election we have the war in Iraq, we have this economic situation, we have health care, we have all these issues that are really being pushed and really need help with.

LAWTON: Daher says she’s particularly concerned about the environment. In our survey, nearly 60 percent of young evangelicals said that combating global warming is extremely or very important to them, and nearly 80 percent supported an international treaty to end global warming.

Ms. DAHER: As a Christian, especially the environment is really important to me, because I was put on this earth in God’s creation to take care of the earth and be a steward to the earth. And if we don’t take care of it then we’re just letting this beautiful, wonderful creation from the Lord just go to waste.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, US Presidential Election 2008, Young Adults

Bishop Jack Iker: We Are Contending for the Faith

“Contending for the Faith” is the theme of this year’s Diocesan Convention, and it aptly describes what lies at the heart of the controversy that surrounds us. Others have argued that it is a matter of contending for property, or contending for the authority of The Episcopal Church over us, or contending for homosexual rights in the church. But these are simply some of the side issues confronting us. The real issue is the faith. We are taking a stand for the historic faith and practice of the Bible, as we have received them, and against the continuing erosion of that faith by TEC. This Diocese stands for orthodox Christianity. TEC stands for a revisionist and compromised version of what the Church has always taught.

In introducing the proposed changes to our Constitution and Canons for last year’s Convention, the Standing Committee wrote: “To submit to and comply with the current direction of the General Convention would mean for us to embrace a distortion of the Christian faith that our forebears would not recognize as a continuation of ”˜the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship.’”¦ We cannot act against our conscience and in violation of the faith once delivered to the saints.” One year later, after much debate and discussion, our resolve remains the same: to fearlessly contend for the faith.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

Fear of Deflation Lurks as Global Demand Drops

As dozens of countries slip deeper into financial distress, a new threat may be gathering force within the American economy ”” the prospect that goods will pile up waiting for buyers and prices will fall, suffocating fresh investment and worsening joblessness for months or even years.

The word for this is deflation, or declining prices, a term that gives economists chills.

Deflation accompanied the Depression of the 1930s. Persistently falling prices also were at the heart of Japan’s so-called lost decade after the catastrophic collapse of its real estate bubble at the end of the 1980s ”” a period in which some experts now find parallels to the American predicament.

“That certainly is the snapshot of the risk I see,” said Robert J. Barbera, chief economist at the research and trading firm ITG. “It is the crisis we face.”

Read it all.

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

Korean churches growing rapidly in Southern California

Korean immigrants in Greater Los Angeles have established the biggest Korean community outside Asia, and their growing influence on the business community is well known. Perhaps less obvious is the extraordinary growth of Korean churches, which tend to practice a brand of Christianity emphasizing daily worship and missionary work.

Experts say that nearly 80% of Korean immigrants attend church. By comparison, a study by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life this year found that 54% of Americans went to church weekly, more than once a week or a few times a month. The rest attended services occasionally or not at all.

“The local church is the center of fellowship, comfort and consolation,” said Anselm K. Min, professor of philosophy of religion and theology at Claremont Graduate University.

Read it all.

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

Notable and Quotable

“Let us seek to fill this place with rescued souls, not transferred members.”

–Bishop Mark Lawrence in his sermon today at the consecration of the new worship facility at Christ Saint Paul’s, Yonges Island

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, TEC Bishops

A Glorious Day at Christ Saint Paul's

This was a long time in coming, and was the source of a joy-filled celebration today. It is a great testimony to the faithfulness of apparently ordinary people slugging it out in the trenches for Jesus and somehow, through the work of the Holy Spirit, able to do extraordinary things.

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

San Francisco’s Prostitutes Support a Proposition

When Proposition K was added to Tuesday’s ballot, many people likely snickered at the possibility that San Francisco might take its place alongside such prostitute-friendly havens as Amsterdam and a few rural counties in nearby Nevada.

But this week, it became readily apparent that city officials are not laughing anymore about the measure, which would effectively decriminalize the world’s oldest profession in San Francisco. At a news conference on Wednesday, Mayor Gavin Newsom and other opponents seemed genuinely worried that Proposition K might pass.

“This is not cute. This is not fanciful,” Mr. Newsom said, standing in front of the pink-on-pink facade of a closed massage parlor in the Tenderloin district. “This is a big mistake.”

Supporters of the measure say it is a long-overdue correction of a criminal approach toward prostitutes, which neither rehabilitates nor helps them, and often ignores their complaints of abuse.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues