Daily Archives: December 17, 2008

Felipe Morales: A Priceless Lesson In Humility

A few years ago, I took a sightseeing trip to Washington, D.C. I saw many of our nation’s treasures, and I also saw a lot of our fellow citizens on the street ”” unfortunate ones, like panhandlers and homeless folks.

Standing outside the Ronald Reagan Center, I heard a voice say, “Can you help me?” When I turned around, I saw an elderly blind woman with her hand extended. In a natural reflex, I reached in to my pocket, pulled out all of my loose change and placed it on her hand without even looking at her. I was annoyed at being bothered by a beggar.

But the blind woman smiled and said, “I don’t want your money. I just need help finding the post office.”

Beguilingly simple,yet so terribly important, and oh so appropriate at this time of year. Read or listen to it all from NPR

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Poverty

Richard Mouw: The Episcopal Church Needs Evangelicals

This is a complicated issue for many of us who worry about the theological direction of the Episcopal Church in the USA (ECUSA). For one thing, I hate to see conservatives leave over women’s ordination. What that means, among other things, is that they are abandoning many dedicated women clergy who are themselves conservative on the other two issues: biblical authority and homosexuality. But we do have to be clear that it is not enough to say that the departing conservatives are simply setting up “a separate denomination.” In this case they are aligning themselves with the growing majority of Anglican churches around the world–an alignment that liberal Episcopalians are choosing to abandon by their recent actions.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, --Proposed Formation of a new North American Province, Common Cause Partnership, Episcopal Church (TEC), Evangelicals, Other Churches, TEC Conflicts

The Presiding Bishop's address to the National Press Club

Well, is there anxiety in this town, especially as the machinery of government shifts gears? I’ll warrant that there will continue to be a lot of anxiety until the new administration settles in, at least several months from now. Who’s going to sit in which seat at the table? Who’s going to be ”“ or feel ”“ excluded? What last-minute actions will the outgoing administration make?

Perhaps the first role of religion in such times is to be a messenger, like one of those biblical angels, who starts out by saying, “fear not.” Don’t be afraid; this whole thing is a lot bigger than you are. Yes, change is coming, and it will drive some people crazy, and at the same time not go far enough for others. In more secular language, we might say, “don’t sweat the small stuff.” And more of it is small stuff than you might expect. At the same time, the religious voice will remind you that how you deal with the small stuff does not affect you alone ”“ your actions may have consequences beyond your wildest imagining.

That brief introduction might be a helpful framework for what I’m going to assert is the proper role of religion in the public square: diagnosis, linked with both challenge and encouragement. Walter Brueggemann calls it “prophetic critique and energizing.” It grows out of a particular world view, a weltanschauung if you will, that has an idea or ideal of what the world is supposed to look like. That world view is rooted in divine revelation ”“ both in a scriptural tradition and in later encounters with the divine. The prophetic role is to point out the discrepancy between that sacred vision and what the world around us actually looks like, and then to go on to challenge the status quo and encourage movement toward that dream.

Read it all.

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

Quincy Clarifies New Roles of Bishop, Diocese

The standing committee of the Diocese of Quincy recently clarified its relationship with The Episcopal Church and its former bishop, the Rt. Rev. Keith L. Ackerman, who resigned as bishop of the diocese Nov. 1.

“Bishop Ackerman fully supports those of us who have realigned with the Province of the Southern Cone and who are moving forward, as part of the Common Cause Partnership, to build a united, orthodox Anglican province here in the U.S. and Canada,” said the Rev. Canon Ed den Blaauwen, president of the standing committee and vicar general. Canon den Blaauwen added that Bishop Ackerman serves as one of seven lead bishops of the Common Cause Partnership in his role as president of Forward in Faith/North America. That organization has worked for almost two decades for the creation of a traditional Anglican province in the U.S.

“The new province I have long supported is now becoming a reality,” Bishop Ackerman said, “but there are still churches in The Episcopal Church who need care from orthodox bishops.”

Read it all.

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

South Carolina Politics at its Worst: Robert Ford Advocates Bringing Back Video Poker

While Washington looks for ways to boost the nation’s struggling economy, South Carolina has before it a simple solution to help this state overcome its economic troubles.

The General Assembly and state agencies are struggling to balance the state’s budget. Furloughs and across-the-board spending cuts could go even deeper. But we don’t have to take such drastic measures that harm working-class people when we have a workable economic bailout plan that could unleash new revenue and put people back to work.

New money could come from an old industry ”” video poker.

It is hard to put into words how strongly I disgree with this article, which advocates a practice which some have called visual crack cocaine because of its addictive nature. And you know it hits the poor disproportionally hard. Read it all in any case

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Economy, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General

Mahan Siler: Should the church get out of the business of legalizing marriage?

What if we disentangled the church from the state on this matter, framing this debate, not as one, but as two important debates?

There is the civil debate: Should the government legalize gay marriage, thereby extending to same-sex couples the same responsibilities and benefits granted to opposite-sex married couples? What public policy best serves the common good?

There is the religious debate: Does the theological definition of the sanctity of marriage include the blessing of same-sex unions?

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Law & Legal Issues, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

Modest earthquake rattles South Carolina Lowcountry

Walls quivered like cars hitting potholes. Cats jumped straight up in the air. Christmas trees toppled as their owners heard a boom, then a crack.

A 3.6 magnitude earthquake rattled through the Lowcountry just before 8 a.m. Tuesday. It was a strong shot of coffee to jump-start a work day, but no, it wasn’t the “Big One.” Not even close.

And so far, no other activity has been reported where two notorious seismic fault lines open on each other near Summerville.

Read it all. My first thought was maybe a tree hit the house. Then I surmised maybe my son dropped a refrigerator upstairs. It certainly has a way of grabbing your attention–KSH

Posted in * South Carolina

Honoring a Hero Lost in Afghanistan on the home front

A terrific piece here which includes moving interviews with the deceased’s mother and brother. We simply cannot–especially at this time of year–forget them. Watch it all

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Marriage & Family, Military / Armed Forces, War in Afghanistan, Young Adults

Changing credit card terms squeeze consumers

Aggressive rate increases on credit cards are threatening to push struggling consumers into financial ruin, accelerating home foreclosures and the nation’s descent into recession.

The growing problem is reflected in cases such as that of Dennis Spaulding of Corona, Calif. He bought two last-minute plane tickets for his father’s funeral in 2006, a purchase that increased the amount of credit he was using and made him appear riskier to banks. The result: Banks raised the interest rates on four of his credit cards ”” to 24% and higher ”” doubling his monthly payments to about $2,000.

That led to a financial spiral that has put him on the verge of losing his home and filing for bankruptcy. “I see no light at the end of the tunnel,” says Spaulding, a cabinet designer.

Read it all.

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

USA Today: Obama faces a crush of demands from interest groups

Al Gore wants quick action on climate change. Sen. Edward Kennedy says health care reform can’t wait. Labor unions want a bill making it easier to organize.

The American Civil Liberties Union is calling for the immediate closure of the military’s prison for foreign terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The liberal advocacy group MoveOn.org urges a steady troop withdrawal from Iraq. The National Governors Association is pleading for billions in aid to states, pronto.

And, by the way, Mr. President-elect, the American Lung Association would like you to make all federal work sites smoke-free.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

David Brooks: Lost in the crowd

As usual, [Malcolm] Gladwell intelligently captures a larger tendency of thought – the growing appreciation of the power of cultural patterns, social contagions, memes.

His book is being received by reviewers as a call to action for the Obama age. It could lead policymakers to finally reject policies built on the assumption that people are coldly rational utility-maximizing individuals. It could cause them to focus more on policies that foster relationships, social bonds and cultures of achievement.

Yet, I can’t help but feel that Gladwell and others who share his emphasis are getting swept away by the coolness of the new discoveries. They’ve lost sight of the point at which the influence of social forces ends and the influence of the self-initiating individual begins.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Psychology, Science & Technology

Another Blow to the Reputation of the SEC

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, a once-proud agency with an impressive history as the top cop on Wall Street, finds itself increasingly conducting autopsies of leading financial institutions after failing, in the first instance, to perform adequate biopsies.

The latest black eye for the commission came when it was disclosed that inspectors and agency lawyers had missed a series of warning signs at Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities. If it had checked out the warnings, the commission might well have discovered years ago that the firm was concealing its losses by using billions of dollars from some investors to pay others.

The firm was the subject of several inquiries over the years, including one last year that was closed by the agency’s New York office after it had received a referral of potentially significant problems from the Boston office.

Similarly, the commission’s chairman, Christopher Cox, assured investors nine months ago that all was well at Bear Stearns, which collapsed three days later.

The SEC has simply been disastrous. Read it all

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Law & Legal Issues, Stock Market

Georgetown (S.C.) Times: Anglicans form rival province

The Rev. Paul C. Fuener, rector of Prince George Winyah Episcopal Church in Georgetown, agrees. He says although South Carolina is listed in many publications as the “fifth” diocese which may leave the National Episcopal Church, that is unfounded, he says. He agrees with Burwell’s sentiment (above).

“At present most everybody wants to hold together as a diocese,” Fuener said. “We have never talked internally about leaving. If we were to join this new province, we would have to split because everyone wouldn’t want to do that. We tend to be united as a diocese.”

He says the formation of a new Anglican province would be “truly extraordinary.”

“It is not every day that an entire diocese of one of the Anglican provinces gets together and says it is no longer going to be in the province,” Fuener said. “It is sad to me, not upsetting, that it has come to that point where the actions of our national church have driven people to this conclusion that they can’t stay.”

Read it all.

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

Bishop Henderson of Upper South Carolina calls for the election of a successor

Why call for an election now?

I began my ministry at St. Benedict’s Parish in Plantation, Florida, in 1977. I would have been happy serving with the communicants there for the rest of my life. But after thirteen years I realized that, by God’s grace, I had done with them what I knew how to do. They needed someone to take them to the next level of discipleship. At the Cathedral of St. Paul the Apostle, in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin””although I left there upon having received your call””I knew that I had done with them what I knew how to do. They needed someone to take them to the next level of discipleship.

That is the present reality in our diocese. I am concluding, together with you, what I know how to do. When, following our diocesan convention last October, I met with the newly formed Diocesan Executive Council, and recognized their enthusiasm, their commitment, the efficiency of our present Commission structure, and progress we have all made by God’s grace and your ministry””I recognized that it was time for us to take the next step. Upper South Carolina needs a bishop who can cooperate with you, and provide appropriate episcopal leadership, in moving into the next level of Christian discipleship.
It is also true that my ministry as a member and then President of the Title IV Review Committee of The Episcopal Church absorbed some physical, emotional and spiritual energy, and dulled somewhat the edge of my creativity. It has not, however, reduced my love of the Lord and the Lord’s Church, nor the sheer joy I have as a deacon, priest and bishop.

The election process will take approximately 10 to 18 months, depending upon a number of factors. Our Diocesan Council, in its role as the Standing Committee and guided by the canons of the Church, will have the responsibility of establishing a Calling Committee and providing the guidelines for the calling process.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils

Fed Cuts Benchmark Rate to Near Zero

The Federal Reserve entered a new era on Tuesday, setting its benchmark interest rate so low that it will have to reach for new and untested tools in fighting both the recession and downward pressure on consumer prices.

Going further than analysts anticipated, the central bank said it had cut its target for the overnight federal funds rate to a range of zero to 0.25 percent, a record low, bringing the United States to the zero-rate policies that Japan used for six years in its own fight against deflation.

The move to a zero rate, which affects how much banks charge when they lend their reserves to each other, is to some degree symbolic. Though the Fed’s target had previously been 1 percent, demand for interbank lending has been so low that the actual Fed funds rate has hovering just above zero for the past month.

Far more important than the rate itself, the Fed bluntly declared that it was ready to move to a new phase of monetary policy in which it prints vast amounts of money for a wide array of lending programs aimed at financial institutions, businesses and consumers.

In essence, the Fed is embarking on a radically different route to stimulate the faltering economy, and it puts the Fed chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, in partnership with the incoming Obama administration as it moves on a parallel track.

This is a high risk tack in terms of the potential for inflation down the road (unless it is properly handled), but it is much needed. The Fed has been badly behind since this whole crisis began and the chairman was telling us that the subprime struggles would stay “isolated” to a small part of the economy. Better late than never–read it all.

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