Daily Archives: November 21, 2008

Julia Virtullo-Martin: A Congregation Fights for the Right to Raze Its Ugly Church

At first glance, the continuing clash between the Third Church of Christ, Scientist, and Washington’s Historic Preservation Review Board looks like dozens of others that have roiled American cities. A declining congregation considers demolishing its expensive-to-maintain church, only to be opposed by local preservationists, who argue that the building should be made a landmark.

The actions taken are the familiar ones. The congregation, which bitterly opposed landmark designation in December 2007, filed a federal lawsuit this August arguing that the designation violated its First Amendment rights by restraining its ability to practice religion freely. The District of Columbia responded by asking the court to dismiss the complaint on technical grounds, but urging the court to wait until the mayor’s agent — the chairman of the office of planning, which oversees the review board — makes a decision. The mayor’s agent has scheduled a hearing for Tuesday. If her decision goes against the District — which seems unlikely — all will be settled. Otherwise, both parties will return to federal court.
But this case is more outrageous than the norm, given the structure in question. Most such controversies swirl around church properties of a certain age, as when, in 1981, St. Bartholomew’s Church on Park Avenue in New York sought, in vain, to demolish its lovely community house in order to build a modernist tower alongside its renowned Byzantine church, constructed in 1916.

The Third Church’s building, by contrast, is relatively new — indeed, too new to be designated historic under federal law.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

In tough economy, schools downsize homecoming dances

Like girls sifting through dresses at Macy’s, the teens milled through aisles of sparkling pastel- and florescent-hued homecoming gowns, stepping into dressing rooms to try them on and then modeling them before their mothers.

But it wasn’t Macy’s. The girls were at a South Florida flea market where the charity Becca’s Closet gives used and new gowns to high school students unable to afford one. One mom said her hours as a nurse’s aide had been cut. Another whose mortgage payment had increased said she felt humiliated to ask for help.

“I heard money was really tight, especially in our household,” said Desiree Banton, a 16-year-old who attends a technical school and was trying on peach, lime green and bright blue gowns. “And my birthday is around the same week, so I knew it was gonna be really difficult to get everything done for homecoming.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education, Teens / Youth

WSJ: Markets don't like what they hear, and don't hear, from the political class

One problem is that this is an especially bad time to have a Presidential transition. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson has more or less announced that he’s done making major policy calls, save for an emergency. He understandably — if a little too loudly amid a panic — wants to leave the field to the new Administration. Yet President-elect Barack Obama has seemed in no hurry to assemble an economic team, or perhaps he simply hasn’t been able to settle on one. With nerves as taut as they are, picking an HHS Secretary…before a Treasury chief is a rookie mistake.

Read it all.

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

Liverpool Bishop calls for mixed-economy approach

The British economy should balance a free market approach to private enterprise with state control of the production of goods and services, the Bishop of Liverpool told the BCSC conference.

The “market is not God” Bishop James Jones told the 2,800 delegates attending the commercial property association meeting at the Liverpool Arena on Nov 11. “A balance between laissez-faire capitalism and the rule of the state is needed,” he said.

Bishop Jones’ questioning of the assumptions of the free market system follows statements made by bishops from across the Anglican Communion in the wake of the global financial collapse while the Archbishops of York and Canterbury have voiced strong critiques of the international financial system.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Economy, England / UK

CBN: Conservatives Form New Anglican Church

Breakaway conservative Episcopal churches are planning to form a new Anglican church in North America.

Leaders of the Common Cause Partnership, a group representing more than 100,000 church members, say they will unveil a new church constitution December 3 at Wheaton Evangelical Free Church in Wheaton, Illinois.

Bishop Robert Duncan, who was ousted by the Episcopal church last month, has been elected to lead the new group.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Proposed Formation of a new North American Province, Common Cause Partnership

A.S. Haley: Bishop Wantland Knows His Canons

Fits the situation at hand perfectly, does it not? By the actions of his diocese, Bishop Wantland has been “removed from the jurisdiction of this Church to the jurisdiction of a Church [the Province of the Southern Cone] in the Anglican Communion.” This Rule lets him ask to remain affiliated with the House of Bishops as an honorary member, with seat and voice but no vote. (There will be be taken up for second reading at GC2009 next June a proposed Constitutional amendment [Res. A020 at GC2006] to confine the right to vote in the House just “to all bishops with jurisdiction, Bishops Coadjutor, Bishops Suffragan, Assistant Bishops and every bishop holding an office created by General Convention.” This amendment, when passed, will deprive all “resigned” [i.e., retired] Bishops of their present right to vote.)

Thus it will be most interesting to see how the Presiding Bishop treats his request. I do not mean to ask what will happen if Bishop Wantland gives the required notice that he plans to attend the next meeting of the House, because the Rule states that no action on the request is required unless and until he actually shows up for the meeting in question. (Should he do so, the Rule provides only that the Presiding Officer of the House at the meeting “nominate” him for honorary membership; it is unclear whether a vote on the nomination would be taken.) No, what I see taking place is something more important: by sending the letter and announcing his desire to assume the status of an honorary member, Bishop Wantland has cut the procedural legs out from any move to depose him as a bishop for “abandonment of communion”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Polity & Canons

Canadian Court ruling means airlines must make room for disabled

Three of the country’s major airlines are finally being forced – after a six-year-legal battle – to make additional seats available at no charge to disabled or obese passengers who need the extra room.

The Supreme Court of Canada cleared the way for the move Thursday, rejecting an application by Air Canada, Air Canada Jazz and WestJet for permission to appeal the new policy imposed by the Canadian Transportation Agency.

The court, in keeping with tradition, gave no reason for refusing to review the case. But the effect was to uphold an agency finding that the air carriers were discriminating against the disabled.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Canada, Economy, Law & Legal Issues

Church Times: Zimbabwe crisis is moral, says bishop

A deep moral and spiritual crisis in Zimbabwe explains why the nation has become so corrupt, the Bishop of Harare, Dr Sebastian Bakare, told the Human Rights Conference in Lulea, Sweden, last week.

The social, economic, and po­litical challenges were just the tip of the iceberg, Dr Bakare said in a keynote address on the place of the Church. He lamented Zimbabwe’s reputation as “a nation that denies basic democratic principles and human rights”, and said that the majority of people were denied a meaningful life, lacking “every-thing except the air they breathe”. Those benefiting from political patronage had access to all that made life easier.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Latest News, Africa, Zimbabwe

Floyd Norris: Investors Cry for More Intervention, but so Far in Vain

As Americans await the arrival of a new administration in Washington, investors are worrying whether the financial system is again in the danger zone.

With the stock market plunging and the credit market entering a new freeze, cries are being heard for a new government intervention to prop up major financial institutions before President-elect Barack Obama takes office.

“We can’t get from here to Feb. 1 if the current ”˜who’s in charge?’ situation continues,” said Robert Barbera, the chief economist of ITG, an investment firm, arguing that Congress should adopt a stimulus package, including temporary tax cuts, as rapidly as possible. Instead, he said, Washington seems paralyzed.

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

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

Teenagers’ Internet Socializing Not a Bad Thing

Good news for worried parents: All those hours their teenagers spend socializing on the Internet are not a bad thing, according to a new study by the MacArthur Foundation.

“It may look as though kids are wasting a lot of time hanging out with new media, whether it’s on MySpace or sending instant messages,” said Mizuko Ito, lead researcher on the study, “Living and Learning With New Media.” “But their participation is giving them the technological skills and literacy they need to succeed in the contemporary world. They’re learning how to get along with others, how to manage a public identity, how to create a home page.”

The study, conducted from 2005 to last summer, describes new-media usage but does not measure its effects.

“It certainly rings true that new media are inextricably woven into young people’s lives,” said Vicki Rideout, vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation and director of its program for the study of media and health. “Ethnographic studies like this are good at describing how young people fit social media into their lives. What they can’t do is document effects. This highlights the need for larger, nationally representative studies.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Teens / Youth

Scientists take a step closer to an elixir of youth

Researchers believe boosting the amount of a naturally forming enzyme in the body could prevent cells dying and so lead to extended, healthier, lifespans..

The protein telomerase helps maintain the protective caps at the ends of chromosomes which act like the ends of shoelaces and stop them unravelling.

As we age, and our cells divide, these caps become frayed and shorter and eventually are so damaged that the cell dies. Scientists believe boosting our natural levels of telomerase could rejuvenate them.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Science & Technology

LA Times Money Blog: Citigroup woes belie Paulson's promise of banking 'stability'

Many things that Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson has said about the credit crunch and financial markets have come back to haunt him.

Now we may be facing a U.S. rescue of Citigroup Inc. — just one week after Paulson assured the American people that the banking system “has been stabilized.”

Citigroup’s shares dived $1.69, or 26.4%, to $4.71 today, leading another meltdown in financial shares, as investors bailed on fears that the sinking economy could torpedo the financial giant.

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

One of Big Three US carmakers ”˜could fail’

Wall Street was last night anticipating that at least one of America’s Big Three carmakers will file for bankruptcy protection within weeks after bail-out plans for the country’s near-bust car industry were left in tatters.

General Motors shares sank to their lowest level since 1938 at one point yesterday amid a showdown between the outgoing Republican Administration under President Bush and the incoming Democrat Administration led by Barack Obama, the US President-elect who takes office on January 20.

While both sides of Capitol Hill bickered over the terms and conditions of a possible $25 billion (£16.8 billion) emergency loan, Wall Street traders became convinced that Washington will fail to devise, vote on, and force through rescue funds in time to save General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford.

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

Reuters: Episcopal Church Realigners aim for new church

[Martyn] Minns, a former Episcopalian elevated to bishop by the Church of Nigeria and leader of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, said the new province could count on 100,000 people as its average weekly attendance. The Episcopal Church says its average weekly attendance is about 727,000.

Becoming a province would require approval from two-thirds of the primates and recognition from the Anglican Consultative Council, another church body.

“More than half of the Anglican world will support us,” Minns said in an interview, referring to the primates. “My guess is that we have provincial recognition from at least a majority.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Proposed Formation of a new North American Province, Common Cause Partnership, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts

US clout down, risks up by 2025 -intel outlook

U.S. economic and political clout will decline over the next two decades and the world will be more dangerous, with food and water scarce and advanced weapons plentiful, U.S. spy agencies projected on Thursday.

The National Intelligence Council analysis “Global Trends 2025” also said the current financial crisis on Wall Street is just the first phase of a global economic reordering.

The U.S. dollar’s role as the world’s major currency would weaken to become a “first among equals,” the report said.

Read it all.

Update: Much more here including a link to the full report.

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