Daily Archives: December 12, 2008

Erica Schwartz: Who Will End the Abuse?

It began on the radio this summer. New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind ran a segment on his Saturday night talk show titled “We Are Only as Sick as Our Secrets: Sexual Abuse, Healing the Shame,” featuring graphic accounts of sexual abuse of children in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn.

There had been a few high-profile cases before, but this “was when the floodgates opened,” explained Mr. Hikind, an Orthodox Jew himself. Following the show, additional victims and their family members came forward to share with Mr. Hikind their own stories. “Cases of sexual abuse are not worse among the Orthodox,” clarifies Mr. Hikind. “But when there’s a problem and you don’t deal with it, it gets worse.” Over the past few months he has collected hundreds of testimonies spanning several decades, naming at least 50 alleged pedophiles across the tri-state Orthodox Jewish community, including well-respected rabbis and teachers.

But now these testimonies have become a source of contention.

Read it all. This is a VERY difficult topic that one would rather not even think about, but it must be faced. Given its sensitive nature, please use extra caution in the comments and keep them on topic–KSH.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Children, Judaism, Other Faiths, Sexuality

Federal share of economy soaring

The government’s spending surge to ease the financial crisis and a worsening recession is increasing the federal share of the nation’s economic activity close to $1 out of every $4, the highest level since World War II, an analysis of current and projected payments shows….

Economists warn that the fast pace of government spending could spell trouble in the future: slower economic growth, higher interest rates, and the likelihood that tax increases or spending cuts will be needed to tame a budget deficit headed toward a record $1 trillion. The government reported Wednesday that the deficit for the first two months of the 2009 fiscal year was more than $400 billion.

“That’s the opposite of what we’re trying to do to the economy,” says Maya MacGuineas, president of the non-partisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. The government should boost spending, but “we have to do it really carefully,” she says.

Read it all.

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

Vicar bans Christmas carol O Little Town of Bethlehem

The Rev Stephen Coulter told parishioners not to sing the carol after he visited the West Bank.

He told them the words ‘How still we see thee lie’ were too far removed from life in Bethlehem.

He said where shepherds once used to watch over flocks by night now security guards watched over the people living there.

As a result the carol has been banned from all festive services in his Dorset parish of Blandford Forum.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Christmas, Church of England (CoE), Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry

Terry Mattingly: Sobering numbers about teen behavior

Other results noted by the institute included:

— More then eight in 10 students — 83 percent — admitted that they lied to a parent about an issue of some importance, while 43 percent of the students in public and private schools said that they have lied to save money.

— In a 2006 survey, 60 percent of the students said they cheated on at least one test and 35 percent cheated two or more times. This year, the numbers rose to 64 percent and 38 percent on the same issues.

— The Internet makes plagiarism easy, with 36 percent of the students confessing that vice — up from 33 percent in 2004.

— Self-esteem is not a problem, since 93 percent of the students reported that their ethics and character were satisfactory and, in a popular quote from the survey, 77 percent said that “when it comes to doing what is right, I am better than most people I know.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Teens / Youth, Theology

Catholics should be allowed to succeed to the throne, says Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy

Jim Murphy, the Scottish Secretary, strongly criticised the Act of Settlement, adding to pressure inside the Government for the law to be changed or scrapped.

Mr Straw, the Justice Secretary, earlier this year signalled that ministers are looking at abolishing the 307-year-old Act of Settlement because it is “antiquated” and discriminates against non-Protestants.

Repealing or amending the act could also pave the way for a first-born daughter of Prince William to succeed him as monarch by ending the practice of primogeniture where male heirs are given priority in the succession.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Religion & Culture

Diocese of the Rio Grande Drops Anglican Communion Network Affiliation

“In 2004, the standing committee had expressed support for the work of the Anglican Communion Network in providing a place within The Episcopal Church were those of a more conservative outlook could find a place of encouragement for their mission and ministry within the church,” the standing committee said. “As the Diocese of the Rio Grande looks toward the future, and particularly as it works toward electing its next bishop, the standing committee felt increasingly that the work of the Anglican Communion Network no longer served the constructive purposes hoped for in the 2004 resolution.

“The support of the Anglican Communion Network for the creation of a separate Anglican church in North America, announced on Dec. 3, served as the catalyst for the action of the standing committee at its meeting this week.”

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

Tony Blair to break his silence on religion

The former Prime Minister is said to have given a “dynamite” interview about his religious beliefs, how they influenced his politics and why he decided to leave the Church of England and convert to Catholicism.

The 10-minute discourse will be screened on this Sunday’s BBC One programme Christmas Voices, which is presented by the singer Lesley Garrett.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Religion & Culture

Canterbury Cathedral has now become an 'endangered structure'

The ravages of time and neglect have left Canterbury Cathedral, a World Heritage Site and one of the world’s best known Anglican church buildings, as an endangered structure in need of a massive injection of funds – writes Trevor Grundy.

The Cathedral gained global fame in English literary masterpieces such as the 14th century plays of Geoffrey Chaucer, “The Canterbury Tales”, and the 20th century play by T.S. Eliot, ‘Murder in the Cathedral’.

The public relations manager of the Save Canterbury Cathedral Appeal, Shelley Nye, said 9 million British pounds (US$13.3 million) of the total 50 million pounds needed has been raised, and the campaign will expand nationally and internationally in 2009.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry

Zenit: Secret to Happiness and Wealth Revealed

The United States, of course, leads the way in individual charitable giving, which partly explains why the country is so prosperous. Several of the speakers pointed out that American citizens gave around $300 billion to charity last year, more than the entire income of Sweden, Denmark or Norway. Mary Ann Glendon, the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, said such generosity has been made possible thanks to public and private efforts, not least President George Bush’s initiative to encourage faith-based institutions.

Ambassador Glendon wanted to co-host the conference to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. She recalled how the United States and other countries successfully lobbied the Declaration framers to consider a space for “caritas” in civil society so as not to dampen private initiative or to give too much power to the state. The Soviet Union had wanted to make the state the primary guarantor of all social and economic rights.

Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, referred to Benedict XVI’s encyclical “Deus Caritas Est” in his message to the conference, delivered in his absence by Cor Unum’s secretary, Monsignor Karel Kasteel. The Pope stressed that “caritas” is always needed, even in the most just society, but that what is required, above all, is holiness. “It is not charity that makes us saints,” Cardinal Cordes reminded the conference participants, “but holiness that makes us truly charitable.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Economy, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Roman Catholic, Stewardship

USA Today: Why home values may take decades to recover

More room to fall?

For every $100 spent on a house in 1950 the investment rose slightly through 2002, then soared to about $192 in 2006, adjusting for inflation. Then credit dried up, and the bust began.

Rick Wallick moved into a new, three-bedroom $200,000 home in Maricopa, Ariz., in October 2005. Today, the home is worth $80,000.

The disabled software engineer stopped making mortgage payments this month. His $70,000 down payment is now worthless. His dream house will be foreclosed on next year.

“We’re so far underwater it’s not funny,” says Wallick, 57, who had to return to his original home in Oregon to care for a sick family member and tend to his own medical problems.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market

Church Times: New Anglican province comes into being in US

THE NEW Anglican province in North America proposed by a coali­tion of conservative Anglican groups in the United States and Canada published its draft constitu­tion and canons in Wheaton, Illi­nois, last week (News, 28 November).

The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), formed by the Common Cause Partnership, says it has 700 congregations and about 100,000 members. It “will seek to represent orthodox North Amer­icans in the councils of the Anglican Communion”. It will have an Arch­bishop ”” initially the Rt Revd Bob Duncan, former Bishop of Pitts­burgh, and the Moderator of Com­mon Cause.

At a press conference on Wednes­day of last week in Wheaton, Bishop Duncan told the gathering: “The Lord is displacing the Episco­pal Church.”

In the new provincial structure, congregations and clergy are related together “in a diocese, cluster, or network, whether regional or affinity-based, united by a bishop”. These are defined in the canons as consisting of a minimum of 12 congregations with an Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) of at least 50 each, and a collective ASA of at least 1000. They choose which bishop they want to be under: “A duly ordained male presbyter of at least 35 years of age.”

Read it all.

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

Disaffected Anglicans Form New Anglican Province

[Peter] Frank hopes the Anglican Church in North America will heal some of the breaches within the Church, but acknowledges unspecified threats from unnamed groups as well as lawsuits.

“Last year, the Episcopal church spent $2 million on lawsuits to reclaim parish properties (from disaffected congregations.) We can’t be sure how those lawsuits will come out. There are some lawsuits pending and some settled favorably for the congregations. Some congregations have put the keys (to their church properties) on the desk and walked away. You just don’t sue people back in the church.”

In spite of the troubled birth of the Anglican Church in North America, Frank says the new body will continue to “move against the trend” and maintain the traditions of what it means to be Anglican: maintenance of the distinctive characteristics of the English reformation, a high view of scripture, and a deep appreciation of church tradition.

Read it all.

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

Poll finds teen smoking rate at all-time low

Abuse of prescription drugs continues to be a major problem among teenagers although fewer of them are smoking cigarettes, according to the 2008 Monitoring the Future survey released today.

The survey, which has been conducted for 33 years, found that nearly 10% of high school seniors reported nonmedical use of Vicodin and 4.7% reported abusing OxyContin. Both are strong opioid pain pills. Seven of the top 10 drugs abused by high school seniors were prescription or over-the-counter medications.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine, Teens / Youth

George Conger: Canterbury won’t block or bless new province

The Archbishop of Canterbury will not block the creation of a third Anglican province in North America, sources familiar with Dr. Rowan Williams’ Dec 5 meeting with five traditionalist archbishops, tell The Church of England Newspaper.

However, the archbishop will not give it his endorsement either, arguing his office does not have the legal authority to make, or un-make, Anglicans.

On Dec 5, five members of the Gafcon primates council: Archbishops Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya, Peter Akinola of Nigeria, Emmanuel Kolini of Rwanda, Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone, and Henry Orombi of Uganda met with Dr. Williams in Canterbury for approximately five hours to discuss the current state of affairs within the Communion.

In a half day meeting interspersed with prayer and lunch the archbishops had a “full and frank” discussion of the issues, sources familiar with the proceedings said. “There was no indaba-ding on Friday,” one senior Gafcon bishop told CEN, referring to the ”˜Indaba’ process of directed listening used at the 2008 Lambeth Conference. The Gafcon bishop said the conversation was a direct and forthright discussion of all of the presenting issues.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Proposed Formation of a new North American Province, Archbishop of Canterbury, Common Cause Partnership, GAFCON I 2008, Global South Churches & Primates

Prominent Trader Bernard Madoff Accused of Defrauding Clients

Bernard L. Madoff, a legend among Wall Street traders, was arrested on Thursday morning by federal agents and charged with criminal securities fraud stemming from his company’s money management business.

The arrest and criminal complaint were confirmed just before 6 p.m. Thursday by Lev L. Dassin, the acting U.S. attorney in Manhattan, and Mark Mershon, the assistant director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

According to the complaint, Mr. Madoff advised colleagues at the firm on Wednesday that his investment advisory business was “all just one big lie” that was “basically, a giant Ponzi scheme” that, by his estimate, had lost $50 billion over many years.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Stock Market, Theology