Daily Archives: December 15, 2008

Tom Krattenmaker: 'The end' as a weapon

There is, in progressive circles, a certain fascination with those apocalyptic prophecies that seem to hold so many religious conservatives in thrall. From the sensation over the megaselling Left Behind book series to more recent media flare-ups around figures such as John Hagee (the television pastor of countdown-to-Armageddon fame), the end times seem to be looming at all times.

Turn your attention to a strain of thought ascendant in secular, environmentalist America and you might be surprised to find a similar apocalypse fixation, minus the Book of Revelation and anti-Christ parts. Call it the secular theology of environmental collapse ”” the fearful conviction that the hopelessly corrupt world as we know it has entered its death throes, with massive destruction stalking ever nearer.

Given the huge challenges facing this country and the constant barrage of “be afraid!” messages from politics and pulpits, it’s understandable that many of us have a close relationship with dread.

Yet we should remain wary of doomsday fantasizing, in either its religious or secular form.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Energy, Natural Resources, Eschatology, Other Faiths, Secularism, Theology

The Presiding Bishop Interviewed on Nevada Public Radio

The Program description may be found at the bottom of this page and reads as follows:

Most Rev Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop, US Episcopal Church
… on the on-going tension in the church over the election of an openly gay bishop and her views on the future of religion in this country. Jefferts Schori was Bishop of the Diocese of Nevada when she was elected the first female leader of the church in 2006.

The realplayer audio link is here–listen to it all (an MP3 link is also available on the program page if you prefer that).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop

Dan Martins: Church Property Disputes & Common Sense

…the repeated mantra of “fiduciary responsibility” wears a little thin. One must turn to other factors to make a prudent and sensible decision. If a majority of the present active congregation is in favor of leaving, but a significant minority is in favor of staying, the latter group should certainly not be turned out into the street–or the VFW hall. IMHO, too little imagination and charity have been exhibited in such situations; the winner-take-all mentality has been destructive. (The Colorado Springs situation seems a case-in-point here.)

On the other hand, when a congregation is a relatively recent plant and the facilities have been paid for by parishioners who are more or less the present congregation, and the diocese has made no investment beyond the brand name, and there is an overwhelming vote in favor of leaving, it strikes me as beyond inane to take those folks to court. Justice is just a matter of common sense for those with open eyes.

Then there are the “bite my nose to spite my face” cases where any victory on the part of TEC is pyrrhic because they’re left with a church and a steeple but when they open the doors there are no people. Just heating and lawn care bills–and in many cases, a mortgage. Meanwhile, the people that could be worshiping and serving there are…you guessed it…celebrating the Eucharist in the VFW hall on Sunday mornings. That’s just idiotic. My former parish is in one of the four departed dioceses. Between my departure and my successor’s arrival they eradicated the word “Episcopal” anywhere it was found and replaced it with “Anglican.” Sooner or later, Mr Beers will get around to suing them. If he wins, he’ll have a very handsome set of buildings dating back to the late 19th century and which are a collective black hole for maintenance dollars. I hope he enjoys watching them fall apart, because my guess is that even the residents of the columbarium will have relocated by then.

This is a complicated mess. It requires a complicated cleanup. Nostrums about thievery are not helpful.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Presiding Bishop, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin

John Shepherd: Salvation is not about who is in and who is out

Third, salvation is not about who is in or who is out ”” who are sheep or who are goats.

Can we really imagine the God of all creation, the Lord of Heaven and Earth, being fussed by the status of everyone’s individual belief? Salvation is concerned with the transformation of life. All life. Barriers to the flourishing of all human beings are to be overcome, whatever stage people are at in the awareness of this life-giving dynamic. What matters is that we have all been freed to be all there is in us to be. Otherwise Christ has died in vain.

Are we saved? This is a poor question to ask. A better question is “Are we committed to the process of human flourishing?” If yes, then we are saved.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Theology

Telegraph: Anglicans give Christmas a multicultural makeover

It may have become traditional for angels, three wise men and the baby Jesus to play a starring role in the festive season.

But now Hindu snowmen, a Chinese dragon and a Jewish temple are also to be included in an attempt to make the celebrations more inclusive of Britain’s diverse communities.

Westminster Abbey will unveil life-size snowmen that Anglican clergy hope will help to improve relations and dialogue between other faiths.

Dressed in turbans, with bindi dots on their foreheads, they are intended to demonstrate that Christmas should not be exclusively for Christians.

Read it all.

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

Atheist may sue if law on Las Vegas officiants won't change

In a city launched by shotgun weddings and quickie divorces, and which offers the chance to be wed by faux Liberaces, King Tuts and Grim Reapers, there remains at least one nuptial taboo: You can’t be married by an atheist.

Michael Jacobson, a 64-year-old retiree who calls himself a lifelong atheist, tried this year to get a license to perform weddings. Clark County rejected his application because he had no ties to a congregation, as state law requires.

So Jacobson and attorneys from two national secular groups — the American Humanist Assn. and the Center for Inquiry — are trying to change things. If they can’t persuade the state Legislature to rework the law, they plan to sue.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Atheism, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Faiths

LA Times: Primary care doctors struggling to survive

[Tanyech] Walford is not alone in her struggle. Relatively low earnings, rising overhead and overwhelming patient loads are sending veteran primary care physicians into early retirement and driving medical students into better-paying specialties, creating what the New England Journal of Medicine recently called a crisis.

Primary care doctors “should be able to leave work thinking not of their income, or of unanswered phone calls, or of test results that they might have overlooked,” Boston physician and associate journal editor Thomas H. Lee wrote in the Nov. 12 issue. “They should go home thinking, ‘This is what I was meant to do.’ ”

But after five years, Walford couldn’t hang on any longer. She closed her office nine days ago.

“It’s sad,” said Walford, who has shoulder-length wavy black hair, a cherubic smile and a slight lilt that betrays her Jamaican roots. “I worked really hard. It’s a tragedy.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Health & Medicine

AP: Death on TV reveals a Swiss haven for suicides

Twice a week, on average, in a nondescript building by the railroad tracks, a foreigner comes to die.

Most are terminally ill. Some are young and physically healthy except for a permanent disability or severe, debilitating mental disorder.

Drawn by Switzerland’s reputation as a trouble-free place for foreigners to end their lives, more than 100 Germans, Britons, French, Americans and others come to this small commuter town each year to lie down on a bed in an industrial park building and drink a lethal dose of barbiturates.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Europe, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics

A Great NBC Video Story on Puppies

Ok, so we have three dogs and we’re biased–this nevertheless makes the heart glad–watch it all.

Posted in * General Interest

Archbishop of York says church must become a 'beacon'

The Anglican Archbishop of York says the Church of England should remember how England was united by Christianity centuries ago so it can once again become a “beacon of hope” for the country in times of financial crisis and climate change.

Dr John Sentamu says the importance of the church was underlined when it helped “dry the nation’s tears” over tragedies such as 9/11, the London bombings, the Soham murders and the death of the Princess of Wales.

The primate makes the strident comments in a collection of essays on Faith and Nation, published this week by the Institute of Public Policy Research, defending the established church in response to calls for its separation from the state.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE)

New Haven Register: Gay Episcopal clergy struggle with own church’s stance on marriage

When the Rev. Mary Anne Osborne and the Rev. Joanne Neel-Richard get married Dec. 31 at their Guilford home, they will be surrounded by family and friends, including several other Episcopal priests.

In the church’s view, a couple marries each other by reciting vows. But an agent of the state ”” either a clergy person, justice of the peace or other licensed official ”” must sign the marriage license for the union to be legal in the eyes of the state.

Osborne and Neel-Richard plan to ask one of the priests in attendance to sign the license and expect he or she will say yes, even though the national Episcopal Church and Connecticut Bishop Andrew D. Smith do not permit priests to officiate at same-sex weddings, which the state Supreme Court declared legal on Oct. 10.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Churches source of hope in hard-hit Oshawa

In Oshawa’s gritty south end, tough economic times mean big business for Father Makarios Isaac.

“Everybody has been affected in this neighbourhood one way or another,” said Isaac, priest at St. Philip The Apostle Catholic Church, a stone’s throw from the General Motors’ assembly plants facing layoffs or closure.

It’s a time when the old adage ”” as GM goes, so goes Oshawa ”” affects more and more parts of the community.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canada, Economy, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Roman Catholic, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto Industry

Palm Beach Post: Madoff's arrest in billion-dollar fraud case shocks Palm Beach investors

Bernard Madoff didn’t accept money from just anyone. Clients ideally had to have at least $10 million to open an account with his New York investment firm.

While such wealthy people don’t turn up just anywhere, the Palm Beach Country Club provided enough to make Madoff’s membership in the predominantly Jewish club worthwhile.

On Friday, many of those who had considered themselves lucky to invest their millions with the part-time Palm Beacher were calling their accountants, their brokers and each other, wondering whether they had lost it all.

“Everyone is in shock,” said Richard Rampell, a Palm Beach accountant. “They’re embarrassed. They don’t want to believe they got taken.”

Read it all.

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

CEO of Google, the former CEO of Hewlett Packard, and the CEO of Walmart on the Economy

MS. CARLY FIORINA: …I think all of those statistics are an important reminder. While we have been focused in Washington on big companies…

…the Detroit automakers, and big unions, the truth is we’re not as concerned, and we should be, about the hundreds and thousands of small businesses who actually create two-thirds of the jobs in this country. Which brings me all the way back to the original problem. We have a recession, a deepening recession right now because credit is unavailable. Credit is unavailable to small businesses so they can’t hire. When hundreds of small businesses can’t hire 10 and 15 people, over time that creates big unemployment numbers. They may not have big unions to represent their interests in Washington. They’re the little guy, but the little guy matters. When credit isn’t available, consumers don’t have the money they need to spend. So I think we have to go back to the root of this problem, ultimately, which is credit is still unavailable. And that is despite massive bailouts of big financial institutions who are still not lending (my emphasis).

Read it all from today’s edition of Meet the Press (and comments from two others besides these three also).

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Credit Markets, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Politics in General, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto Industry, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package

Reserve Bank Credit Chart Courtesy of the Saint Louis Fed

Check it out. Hardly any picture illustrates more clearly that there is ample money available in the financial system, but the banks are not lending it.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Credit Markets, Economy