Daily Archives: November 17, 2008

Economy Is Only Issue for Michigan Governor

This is what a day looks like for Jennifer M. Granholm, the governor of Michigan, the state that sits, miserably, at the leading edge of the nation’s economic crisis.

Morning: Rev up government workers and ministers at a huge conference in Detroit to cope with expanding signs of poverty. Afternoon: Tell a room crushed with reporters here, in the state capital, why a federal bailout is essential for the Big Three automakers, who are also, of course, residents of her state. Evening: Pack for Israel and Jordan, where Ms. Granholm hopes to persuade companies that work with wireless electricity, solar energy and electric cars to bring their jobs to Michigan.

Whatever else Ms. Granholm, a Democrat in her second term, might once have dreamed of tackling as a governor (she barely seems to recall other realms of aspiration now), the economy is nearly all she has found herself thinking about, talking about, fighting about over the last six years. And Michigan, which has been hemorrhaging jobs since before 2001 and was once mainly derided in the rest of the nation as a “single-state recession,” now looks like an ominous sketch of just how bad things may get.

“This has been six straight years of jobs, jobs, jobs,” Ms. Granholm said, punctuating the word with three somber claps at her office table. Despite scathing critiques from some here who say she has failed to turn around Michigan’s woes, Ms. Granholm said in an interview that she still believed that her efforts to remake the state’s economy ”” in part by luring jobs that make something other than cars ”” would eventually overcome the steady stream of vanishing jobs.

Read it all from the front page of Saturday’s New York Times.

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

In Hard Times, No More Fancy Pants

Wooden shutters and brick have replaced the silk curtains. Salvaged wood from a barn will stand in for the ruby-tinted glass. As for the chandelier, well, there is no chandelier.

“There’s a shift to get away from glitz,” Ms. Kaufman said. “I’m almost starting to feel that luxury is a dirty word.”

It is no secret that consumers are cutting back, anxious about jobs, plummeting home values and shrinking retirement savings. But that belt-tightening seems to have also prompted a reconsideration of what is acceptable consumerism even for those relatively unaffected by the economic cataclysm.

When just about everyone is making do with less, sometimes much less, those $2,000 logo-laden handbags and Aspen vacations can seem in poor taste. “Luxe” is starting to look as out of fashion as square-toed shoes.

What a welcome change this is. Read it all.

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

Living Church: Convention Planned to Form New Anglican Province

When the Diocese of Fort Worth voted Nov. 15 to become the fourth American diocese to leave The Episcopal Church, the leadership of the Common Cause Partnership (CCP) scheduled a constitutional convention in the Chicago area Dec. 3 to form a new North American Anglican province. The event will be followed by “a province-by-province visitation and appeal for recognition of the separate ecclesiastical structure in North America.”

Significant details about the plan were revealed in a short AnglicanTV internet video clip containing remarks delivered by Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh and Bishop Bill Murdoch, a missionary bishop to the U.S. consecrated by the Anglican Church of Kenya.

Read the whole thing and please take the time to view the video interview here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Common Cause Partnership, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth, TEC Conflicts: Pittsburgh, TEC Conflicts: Quincy, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin

Religious Intelligence: Fort Worth votes to secede from Episcopal Church

The Anglo-Catholic movement in America is dead, the Rt Rev Jack Iker said following the secession of the Diocese of Fort Worth from the Episcopal Church on Nov 15.

By a margin of almost four to one, the 225 members of the Fort Worth Synod meeting at St Vincent’s Cathedral in Bedford, Texas, on Nov 14-15 passed the second readings of five constitutional amendments severing America’s last traditionalist Anglo-Catholic diocese from the Episcopal Church and adopted a motion affiliating with the Province of the Southern Cone.

Over the last 12 months three other American dioceses: San Joaquin, Pittsburgh and Quincy have quit the Episcopal Church over its innovations in doctrine and discipline to take temporary refuge in the Province of the Southern Cone, pending the formation of a Third Province in North America for traditionalist Anglicans. Fort Worth was the last diocese in the Episcopal Church, after the defection of Quincy last week and San Joaquin in 2007, to decline to license or ordain women to the priesthood.

Its departure marks the end of the traditionalist Anglo-Catholic movement in the US church Bishop Iker said. “The Anglo-Catholic branch is more than just wearing fancy vestments,” he explained. “It is the use of the Vincentian Canon;” the fifth century monk St Vincent of Lerins taught the mark of the Catholic Church was that it held a once-for-all received faith, witnessed everywhere and by all. [Quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est.]

Read it all.

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

Chicago Tribune: Quincy diocese among latest to depart an Episcopal Church at a crossroad

The departure of Quincy and three other conservative dioceses raises questions about the future of the Episcopal Church. The church, led by Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, represents the U.S. branch of the 77-million-member worldwide Anglican Communion. However, leaders of the conservative breakaway dioceses are pushing for a second province in North America. Approval of an additional province by the archbishop of Canterbury would be unprecedented and pose a strong challenge to the Episcopal Church.

“You have some significant, traditionalist Episcopal dioceses that no longer feel that they have a future in the Episcopal Church. That’s a tragedy,” said Rev. Kendall Harmon, a theologian in the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. “Now, we also have a bigger group that’s trying to organize, link with the Global South and compete as Anglicans within the same territory. It will be interesting to see how the leadership of the Anglican Communion responds to this.”

Read the whole article.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

What profit is an idol when its maker has shaped it, a metal image, a teacher of lies? For the workman trusts in his own creation when he makes dumb idols!

Woe to him who says to a wooden thing, Awake; to a dumb stone, Arise! Can this give revelation? Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in it.

But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.

–Habakkuk 2:18-20

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Americans are digging deep to save money

As economic news has worsened and recession appears inevitable, Americans’ spending habits have swung from one definition to another.

Spendthrift to frugal, in record time.

After years of free-spending and saying “charge it” at every turn, Americans are using words such as “scrimp and save” and “scrape up some cash.” Now, they’re cutting back on almost all fronts, regardless of how much they earn. According to a recent USA TODAY/ Gallup Poll, 55% say they’ve cut household spending as a result of lower prices in the stock market and fears about the economy. Just slightly more say they’ll spend less on Christmas gifts this year than last.

Read it all. If this becomes a real trend, will it not be a good thing? What was it John Wesley said–earn all you can, save all you can, give all you can–KSH

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Personal Finance

Mark Sanford's political star rising

Gov. Mark Sanford won his first national election Friday.

By the looks of it, being voted chairman of the Republican Governors Association won’t be the two-term South Carolina governor’s last ride on the national stage.

Sanford was about the only one in political circles who missed the buzz about this future Friday, as the GOP tries to find new leadership to pick itself up from a devastating Election Day defeat. The Washington Post dropped his name in a story Friday on a short list of potential GOP candidates for president in 2012.

He hadn’t read it. He’d have to find a copy.

So, is he interested in the job?

Sanford: pause.

And finally, “I’ve learned that you never say never in life. My time in politics has been a strange collision of doors opening. It’s not where I’m aimed, not where I’m focused, but you never say never.”

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a fellow Republican, said he’s happy for his longtime friend. They served in Congress together in the 1990s.

Read it all from the front page of Saturday’s local paper.

Update: The governor was on CNBC’s Squawk Box this past Thursday morning; the interview is well worth the time.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Politics in General

Workers See Health Care Menu Shrink

Because the health plans currently on offer were devised early this year, long before the full magnitude of the financial market meltdown and global recession were evident, experts predict that benefit offerings a year from now during sign-up season could demand that employees dig even deeper into their own pockets.

“Many more big companies will be making dramatic changes in their health plans next year, as the effects of the economic crisis become clear,” said Helen Darling, the president of the National Business Group, a national association of large employers.

Heading into the current enrollment period, the number of workers and their families covered by high-deductible plans has been growing 20 to 30 percent a year, to about 12 million, said Steve Davis, managing editor of Inside Consumer-Directed Care, a trade newsletter. While not a small number, it did represent only about 7.5 percent of the 158 million people with employer-sponsored coverage.

More telling, perhaps, is the fact that of the 12 million people covered by high-deductible plans, fewer than one-quarter of them have a health savings account in which there is actually money, according to Mr. Davis. To help offset their high out-of-pocket costs, most employees who receive a savings-plan contribution from their employers burn through it that same year, rather than bank it.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Tight Times Even Tighter for Charities

IF you’ve been chewing your nails, wondering what the next few months have in store for you, imagine what the mood is like for charities and nonprofit groups, which depend on the kindness of strangers to keep sending money their way.

“For the last 45 days we have not had a daily deposit,” said Mark Holleran, chief executive of Central Arizona Shelter Services, an organization of three homeless shelters in Phoenix. “That may not sound like a lot, but we always had some money coming in every day. I’ve been here 13 years and I’ve never seen this.”

Mr. Holleran describes the drop in small, daily donations as one of the many “little road signs” that he is seeing right now, signaling trouble ahead.

Another, he said, was when a neighboring charity, which had long donated food to his shelters, was forced to start charging them for it. “Their donations are down too, and they’re getting less in-kind donations,” he said.

Read it all.

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

The Latest Marvel? Packages You Won't Need a Saw to Open

A number of retailers and manufacturers have a gift for holiday shoppers: product packaging that will not result in lacerations and stab wounds.

The companies, including Amazon.com, Sony, Microsoft and Best Buy, have begun to create alternatives to the infuriating plastic “clamshell” packages and cruelly complex twist ties that make products like electronics and toys almost impossible for mere mortals to open without power tools.

Impregnable packaging has incited such frustration among consumers that an industry term has been coined for it ”” “wrap rage.” It has sent about 6,000 Americans each year to emergency rooms with injuries caused by trying to pry, stab and cut open their purchases, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

“I shouldn’t have to start each Christmas morning with a needle nose pliers and wire cutters,” said Jeffrey P. Bezos, the father of four young children and founder of Amazon.com. “But that is what I do, I arm myself, and it still takes me 10 minutes to open each package.”

Wrap rage. Lol. is there anyone who can’t identify with this problem? Read it all–KSH

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Science & Technology

Samuel Freedman: Obama Victory Opens Door for next Generation of Black Clergy

“It’s ushered in a new generation of leadership,” said [the Rev.] Mr. [David] Brawley, 40, the incoming pastor of Saint Paul Community Baptist Church in Brooklyn. “It symbolizes the Moses generation passing the baton to the Joshua generation. So the Obama presidency presents us with both an opportunity and a challenge.”

The shift is more than simply chronological. The generational dividing line during the Democratic primaries found many of the established leaders of black Christianity ”” Calvin O. Butts III, Floyd H. Flake, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Suzan Johnson Cook ”” either supporting Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton or staying conspicuously neutral. Mr. Obama’s director of religious affairs, meanwhile, was a 25-year-old Pentecostal minister, Joshua Dubois.

By their life experiences alone, the younger echelon of black clergy sees America differently than the elders whom it learned from and indeed reveres.

Mr. Obama’s speech on race in Philadelphia last March made this exact point, as he tried to distinguish his moderate stance from the sharp, prophetic rhetoric of his longtime pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, US Presidential Election 2008

Obama Calls for Aid to U.S. Auto Industry, With Conditions

President-elect Barack Obama said the government needs to provide help to U.S. automakers on condition that management, labor and lenders come up with a plan to make the industry “sustainable.”

“For the auto industry to completely collapse would be a disaster in this kind of environment — not just for individual families but the repercussions across the economy would be dire,” Obama said in an interview broadcast this evening on CBS News’s “60 Minutes.” Government aid could come in the form of a “bridge loan,” he suggested.

Under normal circumstances, Obama said, allowing General Motors Corp. to enter bankruptcy, undergo a restructuring and then emerge as “a viable operation” might have been a preferred route. If that were to happen now, he said, “you could see the spigot completely shut off so that it would not potentially permit GM to get back on its feet.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, US Presidential Election 2008

Wim Houtman–NEAC 2008: an Evangelical Dutch Report

According to [Richard] Turnbull, the Church of England Evangelical Council will now take its own vote on the resolution. That will not mean a split away from the Church of England, but it does mean the right of orthodox churches to break away from their liberal bishops.

That will result in chaos, conference-goers said: it will enable liberal churches to step out of an evangelical diocese, to realign with the American Church for example ”“ and chaos in England will be complete. “That would be disastrous to the opportunities for the gospel here”, Bishop Keith Sinclair said. He is hoping that CEEC will take a decision that reflects a broader perspective of parties that strive for Anglican unity on the basis of the truth of the gospel.

In the morning, Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali of Rochester had called the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans “a movement under God”. “God is always providing movements when the Church needs them: the missionary movements of the nineteenth century, the charismatic movement in the last century, and now this movement which is calling the Church to remain faithful to the gospel.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, Other Churches

The Economist–What Congo means for Obama

As for Mr Obama, he has a chance to restore America’s moral leadership. That is not something he should do by scouring the world in search of new monsters to slay. Nor, though, can a war-weary America turn its back on people threatened by ethnic cleansing or genocide. Since 2005 the UN has accepted a responsibility to protect people in such cases, so this is not a burden for America alone. But since the UN has no army, and no other countries have the military resources America boasts, there may be times when only the superpower can move soldiers swiftly where they are needed.

Should that call come, Mr Obama will need the courage to respond, notwithstanding Americans’ fatigue. In extremis, if the danger is great and veto-wielding members of the Security Council block the way, he and others might have to act without the Security Council’s blessing, as NATO did in Kosovo. Far better would be an early effort by Mr Obama to reach agreement on the rules to apply and forces to earmark so that the UN can actually exercise its collective responsibility to protect. That will be hard, but Mr Bush was actively hostile to such work. How fitting if the next president made possible a genuinely global response to the next Rwanda, Congo or Darfur.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Republic of Congo, US Presidential Election 2008