Daily Archives: December 22, 2008

Divorce rates drop as couples realize it's cheaper to stay together

The recession and economic turmoil is creating a new class of casualties: Married couples who can’t afford to get divorced. In these tough times many people are finding it’s cheaper to stay together, even when they can’t stand each other.

“The reason that the economy has such an enormous impact on divorce is that most people in the middle-income brackets are getting by on whatever income they have. They’re just getting by,” said Bonnie Booden, a family law and divorce attorney in Phoenix.

A major factor in the divorce downturn, Booden said, is divorced couples have to establish two separate households with current funds — a prohibitive factor when you’re looking at divorce in tough economic times.

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

Oliver Thomas: Can faith help heal our divide?

While national leaders must set the proper tone, wars are won in the trenches. Local pastors, priests, imams and rabbis will be called upon to do much of the heavy lifting. For example, getting attached to one another might mean getting unattached to things. Clergy can remind us that the things that give our lives meaning rarely cost money. They do, however, cost. We will need to become better listeners. And less judgmental. We might even relax our grip on the notion that all of life must be adversarial. Perhaps cooperation, rather than competition, is the pathway to this new American dream.

But I would go beyond cooperation. This is really about forgiveness ”” a cornerstone of our Western religious traditions. I would ask parishioners to be big enough to forgive one another for their differing political and religious views. And in so forgiving, people would heal themselves. Withholding forgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping your enemy will feel sick.

This is not just about being nice. It’s about being “one nation” ”” the only way America really works.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture

Andrew Carey–Anglican Schism: it is the fact of the matter

Each new meeting of the Communion now reinforces this impression that the ”˜schism’ has taken place, because complete sacramental communion is demonstrably no longer possible. The most recent news, of course, is that an alternative province is being formed across North America bringing together the various acronyms and groupings we are coming used to: the Network, CANA, dioceses linked to the Southern Cone, and parishes under the oversight of Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, together with traditionalist continuing churches which long ago broke away.

In the absence of any meaningful overtures from the official American and Canadian leadership, and no proposals for any effective alternative oversight, and amid a determination to press on with scandalous and acrimonious litigation, there is probably no option now other than a third North American province. Furthermore, the level of theological heterodoxy in the Episcopal Church is worryingly high. A number of dioceses have rejected the moratoria which were called for with impunity and it looks clear that at the next General Convention it will be business as usual in the liberal drift of the denomination.

Apart from the sexuality issue, relativism both morally and theologically is normal theology in TEC. Very few Episcopal leaders will say with any confidence that Jesus Christ is the only way to God; instead they apologise for missionary activity in the past, and proclaim a muted, stunted, deformed Gospel to the world.

Yet the formation of a third province is not universally favoured by those who otherwise reject North American innovation. The Gafcon route is an ”˜outside’ strategy that has given up on the ability of the Anglican Communion to discipline itself in accordance with Bible and tradition. There is however an insider’s strategy as well, which believes that the Windsor process is roughly the right direction for the Communion to go, that it will actually result in discipline.

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

CNS News: Judge Allows Virginia Anglicans to Leave Episcopal Church and Keep Their Property

The selection of Robinson in 2003 set off a wide-ranging debate within the church, with conservative congregations saying that the Episcopal Church had abandoned historic doctrines and traditional teachings in a number of key theological issues ”“ including sexuality.

“While on paper this has been a battle about property, the division within our church has been caused by TEC’s decision to walk away from the teaching of the Bible and the unique role of Jesus Christ.,” Minns said.

“They are forging a prodigal path ”“ reinventing Christianity as they go ”“ which takes them away from the values and beliefs of the historical church here in the United States and the worldwide Anglican Communion as a whole.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Virginia, TEC Departing Parishes

Mark Steyn: We're in the fast lane to Bailoutistan

“See the USA in your Chevrolet!” trilled Dinah Shore week after week on TV.

Can you still see the USA in your Chevrolet? Through a windscreen darkly.

General Motors now has a market valuation about a third of Bed, Bath & Beyond, and no one says your Swash 700 Elongated Biscuit Toilet Seat Bidet is too big to fail. GM has a market capitalization of about $2.4 billion. For purposes of comparison, Toyota’s market cap is $100 billion and change (the change being bigger than the whole of GM). General Motors, like the other two geezers of the Old Three, is a vast retirement home with a small money-losing auto subsidiary. The UAW is AARP in an Edsel: It has three times as many retirees and widows as “workers” (I use the term loosely). GM has 96,000 employees but provides health benefits to a million people.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, 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

WSJ Front Page: Developers Ask U.S. for Bailout as Massive Debt Looms

With a record amount of commercial real-estate debt coming due, some of the country’s biggest property developers have become the latest to go hat-in-hand to the government for assistance.

They’re warning policymakers that thousands of office complexes, hotels, shopping centers and other commercial buildings are headed into defaults, foreclosures and bankruptcies. The reason: according to research firm Foresight Analytics LCC, $530 billion of commercial mortgages will be coming due for refinancing in the next three years — with about $160 billion maturing in the next year. Credit, meanwhile, is practically nonexistent and cash flows from commercial property are siphoning off.

Unlike home loans, which borrowers repay after a set period of time, commercial mortgages usually are underwritten for five, seven or 10 years with big payments due at the end. At that point, they typically need to be refinanced. A borrower’s inability to refinance could force it to give up the property to the lender.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package

Archbishop of Canterbury warns recession Britain must learn lessons from Nazi Germany

Dr Rowan Williams risks causing a new controversy by inviting a comparison between Gordon Brown’s response to the economic downturn and the Third Reich.

In an article for The Daily Telegraph, he claims Germany in the 1930s pursued a “principle” that worked consistently but only on the basis that “quite a lot of people that you might have thought mattered as human beings actually didn’t”.

Dr Williams, the most senior cleric in the Church of England, then appears to draw a parallel between the Nazis and the UK Government’s policies for tackling the downturn, which he says fails to take account of the “particular human costs” to the most vulnerable in society.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Europe, Religion & Culture

Archbishop Rowan Williams–Put aside your principles and remember: all you need is love

Karl Barth was, by any standards, one of the most deeply principled intellectuals of the age, someone who was quite ready to pay the price of conscience in an insane and tyrannical state. It was probably only his Swiss citizenship that saved his life. So it’s all the more surprising to read some of his words in a Christmas sermon preached in 1931, where he says that the real good news of Christmas is that we are given permission to be free from our principles. We need, he says, “to be able to live with principles, but we must also be able to live without them”.

Why is this good news ”“ and what has it got to do with Christmas, with this Christmas in particular and our current anxieties and hopes?

What Barth saw beginning to take its grip on Germany in 1931 was a system of “principle” that worked quite consistently once you accepted that quite a lot of people that you might have thought mattered as human beings actually didn’t. As the nightmare decade unfolded, the implications of this became clearer and clearer. And what he was warning against was the temptation of unconditional loyalty to a system, a programme, a “cause” which was essentially about “me and people like me”. It’s about the danger of my agenda, our needs, the programme of this particular group, its safety and prosperity.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Archbishop of Canterbury, Economy, England / UK, Europe, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Churches in USA more diverse, informal than a decade ago

Worship services may still be the USA’s most segregated hour, but fewer congregations are now completely white, finds a study comparing churches, synagogues and mosques last year with a decade ago.

The National Congregations Study says 14% of primarily white congregations reported no minorities in their midst last year, compared with 20% in 1998.

Such steep change in a short period is noteworthy because “religious traditions and organizations are widely considered to be remarkably resistant to change,” says sociology professor Mark Chaves of Duke University School of Divinity, the lead researcher. “There’s movement in the right direction.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

The New Lambeth Palace Library Website

Do check it out.

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

Pastor Rick Warren defends invitation to the inauguration

Under fire for opposing gay marriage, influential evangelical pastor Rick Warren said Saturday that he loves Muslims, people of other religions, Republicans and Democrats, and he also loves “gays and straights.”

The 54-year-old pastor and founder of Saddleback Church in Southern California told the crowd of 500 that it’s unrealistic to expect everyone to agree on everything all the time.

“You don’t have to see eye to eye to walk hand in hand,” said Warren.

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

In Columbia South Carolina A Reeling City Is a Snapshot of America's National Economic Woes

Even before the job fair opens, the line snakes into the parking lot of the state fairground, a muted parade of lives derailed by layoffs.

“It kills me, it eats me up inside,” said Raymond Vaughn, who has been out of work for seven months, since he lost his job as a window installer. His fiancée now pays the bills. “I go into this fantasy world where I’m like, I’m in the wrong life and I’m actually a millionaire. It really bothers me I can’t do the things I’d like for her. Sometimes you get where you feel less than a man.”

As the American economy sinks deeper into one of the more punishing recessions since the Depression, frustration and fear color the national conversation.

This city in the center of South Carolina is an ideal listening post. According to a range of indicators assembled by Moody’s Economy.com ”” from job growth to change in household worth ”” this metropolitan area came closer than any other to being a microcosm of the nation over the last decade.

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

Alan Blinder: Missing the Target With $700 Billion

UNFORTUNATELY, Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. has turned this old song into the unofficial theme of the Troubled Assets Relief Program, the $700 billion bailout. His frequent changes of direction are not only embarrassing, they also upset the very markets this program was designed to calm.

It pains me to say this, because I was among the first to call upon Congress to create two institutions to deal with the financial crisis: one to buy and refinance home mortgages, the other to buy what came to be called “troubled assets.” The legislation signed in October empowered the TARP to do both. Sadly and amazingly, it has done neither.

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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 Observer: Church of England attendance 'to fall by 90%'

In one of the most holy weeks in the Christian calendar, a report says that in just over a generation the number of people attending Church of England Sunday services will fall to less than a tenth of what they are now.

Christian Research, the statistical arm of the Bible Society, claimed that by 2050 Sunday attendance will fall below 88,000, compared with just under a million now.

The controversial forecast, based on a “snapshot” census of church attendances, has been seized upon by secular groups as proof that the established church is in decline. But the Church of England has rejected the figures, saying they were incomplete and ignored new ways of worshipping outside the church network.

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

A BBC Radio Four Today Programme Audio Segment: Do Britons believe in Christmas?

The BBC blurb:

A large majority of people in Britain do not believe the Biblical story about the birth of Jesus to be a reliable historical account, a survey suggests. New Testament scholar Simon Gathercole, of Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, discusses the survey carried out by religious think tank Theo, which also suggests almost a quarter of those describing themselves as Christians share this scepticism.

Listen to it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Christmas, Church of England (CoE), Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, England / UK, Religion & Culture