Daily Archives: December 1, 2008

NBER says Recession began in December 2007

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

Rod Dreher on the Republican party, religious Conservatives and the Future

In fact, far from being the demise of the GOP, the coming generation of evangelicals, Catholics and fellow travelers can be the seeds for the conservative movement’s intellectual rebirth.

A few years back, after I had published a National Review cover story about neo-traditionalism that would serve as the genesis for my book Crunchy Cons, I received an e-mail from a young Protestant seminarian. He had read the piece, he said, and finally his conservatism made sense to him. Progressive evangelical Jim Wallis had lectured his seminary class and talked about how they had a duty to help the poor, to build up communities, to care for the environment and suchlike.

The man told me that he and his classmates agreed with all of it, but when Wallis got to the part about why they should become Democrats, it ended that. The seminarians, my correspondent explained, all knew that they were conservatives and couldn’t accept liberal dogma on abortion and sexuality, nor statist solutions. Even so, these young conservative evangelicals were far more sympathetic to most of Wallis’ goals than their parents would have been.

And why not? Shocking as it might be to some, conservatism did not start with Ronald Reagan. There is a rich and varied library of postwar writing by men such as Russell Kirk, Richard Weaver and Robert Nisbet, who were part of the traditionalist conservative school. Traditionalist conservatives focused on questions of cultural and social health; libertarian conservatives were more concerned about the economy and the overweening state.

Read it all.

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

Los Angeles Episcopal diocese to meet in Riverside amid same-sex marriage debate

The leader of the Episcopal Church arrives Friday in Riverside amid a debate on homosexuality that continues to tear the denomination apart.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the 2.4 million-member denomination, will attend the annual meeting of the Diocese of Los Angeles on Friday and Saturday at the Riverside Convention Center. On the convention agenda is a resolution on whether priests in same-sex relationships should be consecrated bishops.

The Los Angeles Diocese includes San Bernardino County and west-central Riverside County.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils

Religious Intelligence: ”˜Silent genocide’ unfolding in central Africa

By: George Conger.

A “silent genocide” is unfolding in Central Africa, church leaders have warned, as soldiers loyal to rebel General Laurent Nkunda march upon government troops holding the city of Goma in the Kivu province of the eastern Congo.

In a statement released through the Congo Church Association, Bishop Bahati Balibusane of Bukavu warns that “over one million people” have been displaced by the fighting. “Men, women, children are living outside, in schools, in churches and in some hospitable families. They don’t have water, food, materials, clothes, utensils and latrines. These people living in hardship are exposed to hunger, illness and death of some fathers, mothers and children,” he wrote in a call for “urgent spiritual, material and financial support.”

Church aid agencies report the fighting between Congolese troops and the rebels has led to widespread atrocities. The Barnabas Fund reports “ young men [have been] killed, women raped by retreating government troops, children kidnapped and forcibly recruited as child soldiers to fight a war that is not their own, soldiers and militias [are] pillaging and looting, and hundreds of thousands of displaced people [are] fleeing for their lives.”

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Africa, Republic of Congo

James Hanvey on Advent: Waiting for the light

A reflective stillness lies at the centre of Advent. Placed between Christ’s first and second coming, the rhythms of the liturgy measure our time. Quietly, but insistently, it awakens our hope and invites us to wait upon the Lord who will fulfil his promise. It assures us that we will not wait in vain. Advent calls us to renew and deepen our trust, while the world finds trust difficult, and “hope” is dismissed as naive. Now, in this season of Advent we come to know that this time, the time in which we live, whatever the time, is the time of our redemption.

The liturgy of Advent is not like the seasonal background music in the shops, designed to put us in the right mood for spending. It is the song of faith, which expresses the reality from which we live our lives, and that faith gives us a particular way of seeing the world, of living in it and for it. Without pretension, we might describe it as a prophetic perspective. The Jewish theologian Abraham Heschel calls it the “exegesis of existence from a divine perspective”. I think this is a good description of what we mean by discerning the “signs of the times”. Christ is the centre of our existence; he is the one who establishes our perspective. For this reason, the Christian way of seeing things is necessarily distinctive. To those who do not share this perspective, it will appear strange. Hence the problem and the puzzle that Christianity poses for a secular culture. The puzzle is not caused by a Christ-centred perspective alone, however. Where a post-Christian society has forgotten how to read the substance of Christian faith, there can be a genuine ignorance but also a cultivated misunderstanding among those who presume to know Christianity already. The old cliché about familiarity breeding contempt can be disconcertingly true. We live at a moment when our society is marked by deep struggles about its identity, values and purpose. The Church wants humanity to succeed, not fail. That is why it is passionately engaged in this struggle. It does not have any ambition to take away the legitimate independence of the secular but it does have a vision of what that might be.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Advent, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Other Churches, Roman Catholic

Charles Krauthammer: From Market Economy to Political Economy

In the old days — from the Venetian Republic to, oh, the Bear Stearns rescue — if you wanted to get rich, you did it the Warren Buffett way: You learned to read balance sheets. Today you learn to read political tea leaves. If you want to make money on Wall Street (or keep from losing your shirt), you do it not by anticipating Intel’s third-quarter earnings but by guessing instead what side of the bed Henry Paulson will wake up on tomorrow.

Today’s extreme stock market volatility is not just a symptom of fear — fear cannot account for days of wild market swings upward — but a reaction to meta-economic events: political decisions that have vast economic effects.

As economist Irwin Stelzer argues, we have gone from a market-driven economy to a politically driven economy….

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Politics in General, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package

The Archbishop of Canterbury's World Aids Day message

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Archbishop of Canterbury, Globalization, Health & Medicine

Myanmar refugees save dying congregation in Tennessee

The church sits on 22 acres of former farmland, with a creek and about 12 acres of bottomland perfect for agriculture. While most of the Karen refugees now work at the Tyson poultry processing plant in Shelbyville, they had been farmers in Myanmar.

At the time, the All Saints property was for sale, and Spurlock told Win the timing was wrong for planting gardens. He feared the property might be sold before the refugees could harvest their crops. Still, the idea stuck with him.

One day in May, while working on a plan to restart the church, he took a walk on the church property, and the idea of starting a farm finally dawned on him. “God gave us this land for a purpose,” he said.

Longtime church member Mark Orr agreed. He and his wife, Landra, have been attending All Saints since its organizational meeting about 12 years ago.

“I’m ashamed to say it, but we had to wait until God slapped us on the head, and said, ‘I gave this land to you, put it to work.’ ”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, TEC Parishes

Episcopal Schism In Groton Leads To Property Dispute

After a five-year spiritual and practical journey that has led them further and further away from the Episcopal Church, [the Rev. Ron] Gauss and his parish, Bishop Seabury Church, are now fully severed from the denomination they once proudly claimed as their own.

Gauss, who was suspended from the priesthood last May, was deposed ”” which means removed from the priesthood ”” by Connecticut Episcopal Bishop Andrew Smith on Nov. 20.

Smith said Gauss was suspended because he “abandoned the Episcopal Church” by aligning his church with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), a mission of the conservative Anglican Church of Nigeria.

“Yes, there’s sadness. I never figured it would get to this point,” Gauss said. “But it’s not the same church I was ordained to, either.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, CANA, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Connecticut

Philip Turner Writes A Response to his Critics on his Recent Article about TEC

Before I do so, however, there are other objections to my analysis that deserve a response. Bishop Whalon and others often argue that Dioceses are “created” by General Convention. This claim, however, is an example of wishful thinking that ignores the legal precision of Article V of TEC’s Constitution. This article is entitled “Admission of New Dioceses,” and not “Creation of New Dioceses.” The first sentence specifies General Convention’s role in the process. It is to “consent.” The wording indicates at the outset that the role of General Convention is secondary, not primary. It consents to actions initiated elsewhere.

The following sentences in Article V elaborate this process. The proceedings “originate” with a convention of “the unorganized area,” not with General Convention. It is the unorganized area that “duly adopts” its own constitution. Article V then describes the legal entity created by the duly adopted constitution not, as before, as an “unorganized area,” but as a “Diocese.” Then the “new Diocese” submits its constitution to the General Convention for consent; and upon receipt of this consent, it enters into “union with the General Convention.”

In this articulation of the steps involved in the creation of a new Diocese, Article V reflects the civil law. When an unorganized area adopts its own constitution, by definition it is no longer “unorganized.” It is a legal entity. In the terminology of Article V, this entity is called a “new Diocese.” This step, furthermore, occurs before the constitutional involvement of General Convention. What happens when the new Diocese obtains the consent of General Convention to its application is that it is “admitted” into union with the other dioceses in General Convention. The transformation from “unorganized area” to “new Diocese” occurs when the diocesan constitution is duly adopted. When General Convention gives its consent, another transformation occurs, but it is not the creation of a new Diocese. It is the transformation of unaffiliated “new Diocese” to member diocese of General Convention.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Covenant, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Polity & Canons, Windsor Report / Process

Students cheat, steal, but say they're good

In the past year, 30% of U.S. high school students have stolen from a store and 64% have cheated on a test, according to a new, large-scale survey suggesting that Americans are too apathetic about ethical standards.

Educators reacting to the findings questioned any suggestion that today’s young people are less honest than previous generations, but several agreed that intensified pressures are prompting many students to cut corners.

Read it all.

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

Practicing abstinence, bride and groom have never kissed

When the officiant tells Claudaniel Fabien he can kiss his bride at the altar Saturday, no one will fault the couple for a little “should I tilt my head this way, or that way?” awkwardness.

It will be the couple’s very first kiss.

And that night could be their very first … uh, back to that kiss.

“I don’t know how long it’ll last, but it’ll be great,” says a confident Melody LaLuz, 28, who is marrying 30-year-old Fabien in Chicago after a yearlong courtship and two-year friendship.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Marriage & Family

Massachusetts Health Care Reform Reveals Doctor Shortage

Health care reform in Massachusetts has led to a dramatic increase in the number of people with health insurance. But there’s an unintended consequence: A sudden demand for primary care doctors has outpaced the supply.

Kamela Christara appears at the triage window in the emergency room at Cooley Dickinson Hospital in western Massachusetts.

The 47-year-old single mother has advanced Lyme disease, and she can’t find a primary care doctor to oversee her care. She’s called half a dozen practices in three towns, and none are accepting new patients. So when problems come up, even routine ones, she comes to the emergency room. Each time, she goes through her medical history with the intake nurse.

Read or listen to it all from NPR.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine

With oil prices in retreat, OPEC struggles to maintain unity

Over the summer, the OPEC cartel could not prevent oil prices from surging to record levels even when its members pumped full out. Now, the producers seem equally unable to stop prices from collapsing as the global economy cools down.

Members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries left an informal meeting in Cairo this weekend without an agreement to reduce production, but with rising doubts about fraying discipline and tensions within the group that accounts for 40 percent of the world’s oil exports.

So great uncertainty still looms over the market. Have producers managed to draw a line in the sand, or will oil prices keep falling in coming months?

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Globalization, Middle East

Scottish Episcopal Church: Peace on Earth?

“World focus on the current economic situation threatens to overshadow the response to the humanitarian crisis unfolding in DR Congo and elsewhere at a time when the message ”˜Peace on Earth’ begins to take centre stage in our thoughts,” declares the Most Rev Dr Idris Jones, Bishop of Glasgow & Galloway and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church.

He continues “Over the past few months we’ve all experienced in some way the effects of the global economic crisis. For some the effects are more shattering than for others. More recently shocking reports of the conflicts in DR Congo highlight the massive humanitarian crisis there and the atrocities being carried out on thousands of people. Peace on Earth?

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Republic of Congo, Scottish Episcopal Church