Monthly Archives: December 2008

Breaking Up Is Harder to Do After Housing Fall

When Marci Needle and her husband began to contemplate divorce in June, they thought they had enough money to go their separate ways. They owned a million-dollar home near Atlanta and another in Jacksonville, Fla., as well as investment properties.

Now the market for both houses has crashed, and the couple are left arguing about whether the homes are worth what they owe on them, and whether there are any assets left to divide, Ms. Needle said.

“We’re really trying very hard to be amicable, but it puts a strain on us,” said Ms. Needle, the friction audible in her voice. “I want him to buy me out. It’s in everybody’s interest to settle quickly. That would be my only income. It’s been incredibly stressful.”

Chalk up another victim for the crashing real estate market: the easy divorce.

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

Alan M. Dershowitz: Israel, Hamas, and moral idiocy

The attacks on Israeli citizens have little to do with what Israel does or does not do. They have everything to do with an ideology that despises ”“ and openly seeks to destroy ”“ the Jewish state. Consider that rocket attacks increased substantially after Israel disengaged from Gaza in 2005, and they accelerated further after Hamas seized control last year.

In the past months, a shaky cease-fire, organized by Egypt, was in effect. Hamas agreed to stop the rockets and Israel agreed to stop taking military action against Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip. The cease-fire itself was morally dubious and legally asymmetrical.

Israel, in effect, was saying to Hamas: If you stop engaging in the war crime of targeting our innocent civilians, we will stop engaging in the entirely lawful military acts of targeting your terrorists. Under the cease-fire, Israel reserved the right to engage in self-defense actions such as attacking terrorists who were in the course of firing rockets at its civilians.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Israel, Middle East, Violence

Joseph Bottum, John Mark Reynolds, Bruce Porter: No Case for Homosexuality in Bible

On any plane of argument, the contradiction would appear stunning, but, then, neither Jon Meacham nor Lisa Miller are engaged in argument. They’re speaking, instead, in familiar tropes and fused-phrases and easy clichés. They’re trying to convey a feeling, really, rather than an argument: Jesus loves us, love is good, homosexuals love one another, marriage is love, love is loving–a sort of warm bath of words, their meanings dissolved into a gentle goo. In their eyes, all nice things must be nice together, and Jesus comes to seem (as J.D. Salinger once mocked) something like St. Francis of Assisi and “Heidi’s grandfather” all in one.

In truth, of course, Meacham and Miller actually know what everyone else knows: The Bible offers no support for homosexual marriage. Christianity teaches love, mercy, and forgiveness for those who do bad things, true enough. Look, for example, at the story in the Gospel of John where Jesus offers his divine love, mercy, and forgiveness to a woman guilty of adultery. He shamed those who would stone her. He taught us all that we are sinners and often hypocrites. And then he told her, “Go and sin no more.” He did not reinterpret the Old Testament to proclaim adultery another life-style choice.

Miller demolishes the distinction between sin and sinner, thus eradicating any real conception of sin and guilt. But without sin and guilt there is no need for forgiveness–and no basis for morality. An amoral world may be a quite suitable environment for gay marriage, but it is hardly the kind of world in which most Americans want to bring up their children.

Those who tried to live by the Christian understanding have come to amazingly similar conclusions about what God wants in marriage.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Marriage & Family, Media, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Catholic leader defends Gordon Brown from Anglican bishops' criticism

Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor rejected the Anglican bishops views on BBC Radio Four’s Today Programme, suggesting they were playing a “blame game.”

Instead of blaming the Government for materialism and social problems, the cardinal said that responsibility should be shared more widely. Ordinary people and churchmen also bear some of the blame, he said.

“If we are going to accuse people of immorality it is much further than the Government, it is the whole country,” Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor said. “I am not too happy with the blame game because if we say that there has to be a “conversion”, then I always start with myself.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Economy, England / UK, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor interviewed on BBC's Today Programme

There are multiple segments here on various different topics, scroll down and check them out.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Other Churches, Roman Catholic

Jane Williams–Acts of the Apostles, part 3: An ideal church?

It is very tempting to assume that The Acts of the Apostles is talking about the Christian church as it really should be. And it is true that some of the incidents it describes are so deeply embedded in the Christian psyche that, whether consciously or not, they do operate as the standard against which all later church life is judged. What is not so clear is whether Luke intended his account to work that way. It isn’t always easy to tell when Luke is simply chronicling what his research suggests actually happened, and when he is making theological recommendations.

For example, Acts 2 describes the dramatic beginning of the Christian missionary movement in a scene so important that, like Christmas, it is celebrated every year as part of the Christian calendar. We are told that the disciples were all together in one place for Pentecost, the Jewish festival 50 days after Passover. Suddenly, something like a violent wind filled the house, followed by “divided tongues, as of fire”, which rested on each of them. There is a sense of Luke groping for the words to help us visualise something that defies description ”“ the sound is “like” a great wind, the disciples see and feel something “as of fire”, and they are “filled with the Holy Spirit”.

The point of this experience is not that the disciples should feel spiritually-renewed but to enable them to carry out Jesus’ commission to bear witness to him. In other words, Luke is suggesting that the spread of the gospel is primarily the work of the Holy Spirit. The apostles might act, but the Holy Spirit directs.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Statement by the Right Rev’d Suheil S. Dawani, The Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem on Gaza

(ACNS) Jerusalem – During recent weeks, the three Abrahamic Faiths have observed their Holy Seasons with a sense of peace and goodwill. Therefore, we are greatly grieved by the severity of the ongoing military operations in Gaza that are occurring in heavily populated areas and impacting the civilian population.

As a Diocese with well over a century of an unbroken commitment to the well being and peace of the community in Gaza City through our Al Ahli Arab Hospital, we are both stunned and saddened by the events unfolding in Gaza.

The heavy loss of Palestinian lives and the serious wounds and injuries to many hundreds of innocent bystanders require the immediate cessation of hostilities for the well being and safety of both the Palestinian and Israeli communities, and especially for Gaza and the nearby Israeli population centers. The gravity of the situation threatens to engulf this entire region and we ask the Palestinians and Israelis to return to active negotiations for the well being and safety of both communities.
Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Israel, Middle East, The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East, Violence

Notable and Quotable

Question 81. For whom is the Lord’s supper instituted?

Answer: For those who are truly sorrowful for their sins, and yet trust that these are forgiven them for the sake of Christ; and that their remaining infirmities are covered by his passion and death; and who also earnestly desire to have their faith more and more strengthened, and their lives more holy; but hypocrites, and such as turn not to God with sincere hearts, eat and drink judgment to themselves. (a)

(a) 1 Cor.10:19 What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? 1 Cor.10:20 But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. 1 Cor.10:21 Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils. 1 Cor.10:22 Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he? 1 Cor.11:28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. 1 Cor.11:29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.

Question 82. Are they also to be admitted to this supper, who, by confession and life, declare themselves unbelieving and ungodly?

Answer: No; for by this, the covenant of God would be profaned, and his wrath kindled against the whole congregation; (a) therefore it is the duty of the christian church, according to the appointment of Christ and his apostles, to exclude such persons, by the keys of the kingdom of heaven, till they show amendment of life.

(a) 1 Cor.11:20 When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper. 1 Cor.11:34 And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come. Isa.1:11 To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. Isa.1:12 When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? Isa.1:13 Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Isa.1:14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. Isa.1:15 And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. Isa.66:3 He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog’s neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine’s blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations. Jer.7:21 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Put your burnt offerings unto your sacrifices, and eat flesh. Jer.7:22 For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices: Jer.7:23 But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you. Ps.50:16 But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth?

–The Heidelberg Catechism

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Eucharist, Other Churches, Reformed, Sacramental Theology, Theology

From the Morning Scripture Readings

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.

–Psalm 46:1-3

Somehow oh so very appropriate as this particular calendar year comes to an end–KSH.

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

LA Times: Corruption taints every facet of life in China

The last time his parents saw Liao Mengjun alive, he was heading to school to pick up his junior high school diploma.

A few hours later, they were called to the morgue. They found that their lanky 15-year-old son’s forehead had been bashed in. His right knee jutted through the skin. Both his arms had been broken. He had several stab wounds, internal injuries and a swollen foot.

His index finger was slashed, suggesting his tormentors had tried to make him write something in his own blood.

As if things could be worse, writer Liao Zusheng and his wife, Chen Guoying, concluded that they knew who had killed their son: his teachers. And they believed they knew why: because of their bitter, public complaints about unauthorized fees and systemic corruption in schools and across Chinese society.

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, Asia, China

Family Struggles With Ambiguity Of Genetic Testing

“Information is power,” has become a common mantra. But for many people seeking answers through genetic testing, all the DNA probing ends in this twist: Less certainty, not more.

This sometimes leads to tough personal decisions amid ambiguity. Nashville novelist Susan Gregg Gilmore learned this lesson the hard way.

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Science & Technology, Theology

Israel Likely to Reject 48-Hour Cease-Fire Plan

Israel was expected on Wednesday to reject a proposal for a 48-hour cease-fire in its military onslaught in Gaza, saying it would keep up pressure on Hamas but was open to ways of increasing humanitarian aid.

With its punishing air attacks on Gaza in their fifth day, and with 10 more rockets fired by Hamas militants landing in southern Israel, including three in the city of Beersheba, Mark Regev, the spokesman for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said the country’s leaders “view it as important to keep up the pressure on Hamas.”

“We cannot give them a respite to rearm and regroup. We need a real, sustainable solution, not a Band-Aid,” he said.

He and other officials said Israel was continuing to talk to American and European leaders on ways to build a longer-term cease-fire to end the fighting.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Israel, Middle East, Violence

Companies force workers to take unpaid vacation

Here’s the vacation no one wants, courtesy of the recession: Forced time off without pay.

Financially struggling universities, factories and even hospitals are requiring employees to take unpaid “furloughs” – temporary layoffs that amount to one-time pay cuts for workers and a cost savings for employers. This year, the number of temporarily laid off workers hit a 17-year high.

“If they do it once, I think it’s easier for them to try to do it again,” said Carrie Swartout, who researches traumatic brain injuries at the University of Maryland Medical Center. Maryland is requiring unpaid time off for 67,000 of its 80,000 employees as it struggles with a budget crisis. The state says the furloughs will save an estimated $34 million during the fiscal year.

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

Nashotah House Honors ANiC Leader

The Rt. Rev. Donald Harvey, moderator of the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC), has been awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree by Nashotah House Seminary.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Common Cause Partnership, Episcopal Church (TEC), Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

Telegraph: Women bishops demonstrate the Anglican tradition of compromise

Then, hardly a day later, the Church of England let it be known that it intends to press ahead with the introduction of women bishops , while providing “complementary” male bishops for those clergy who are opposed to the change.

This issue of women’s episcopacy has in the recent past excited extreme passions. But the responses from either end of the divide to yesterday’s news smacked not so much of conflict and schism, as weary resignation. There was, inevitably, some grumpiness from both the women’s campaign and traditionalists over the working details, but neither seems likely to throw their prayer books out of their prams.

Both these events ”“ the bishops’ attack on Government policy and the proposed provisions for women bishops ”“ are good news for the Church of England. Actually, they are very good news, because they reflect valuable aspects of our national, established Church that many of us feared we were losing.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Religion & Culture