Daily Archives: December 23, 2008

Makes the heart sad

From here (La Tribune, in french):

Rene-Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet, the co-founder of hedge fund Access International Advisors, was discovered to be dead by his own hand early Tuesday in his office in Manhattan after losing as much as $1.4 billion in the alleged fraud of Bernard L. Madoff.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Bernard Madoff Scandal, Economy, Stock Market

Archbishop of Burundi Goes on a Peace Mission

(ACNS) The Archbishop of Burundi, the Most Revd Bernard Ntahoturi, recently led a 5-strong ecumenical delegation of church leaders from Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo that met with the presidents of the D.R. Congo and Rwanda in order to convey to them a strong message advocating for peace. “People are tired and want an end to the war,” they said, “and dialogue costs much less than armed confrontation”.

More than 250,000 people fled their homes in the eastern part of the D.R. Congo in order to escape the fighting that broke out between the army and rebels in August. The delegation that was initiated by the AACC added their support to Churches in the D.R. Congo who are working with other agencies to alleviate the suffering of people, especially the displaced; and trying to encourage the disarmament and repatriation of armed Rwandan groups living in eastern DRC.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Primates, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Violence

Madoff Victims May Have to Return 6 Years of Profits, Principal

Like some of Bernard Madoff’s clients, a Florida restaurant owner was lucky enough to withdraw part of his investment before the money manager allegedly confessed to a $50 billion Ponzi scheme. Now he’s worried he might be asked to give it back.

53-year-old investor, who asked not to be identified to protect his stake, took out about $600,000 this year from his $1.5 million account, using some of it to pay down a mortgage. He and other Madoff clients who withdrew funds as long as six years ago may be sued on behalf of other victims to return profits and even principal, securities and bankruptcy lawyers say.

“Right now there are Madoff winners and Madoff losers,” said Lynn LoPucki, who teaches bankruptcy law at Harvard University. “Before this is over there will be nothing but Madoff losers.”

What an unbelievable mess. Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Bernard Madoff Scandal, Economy, Stock Market

Snowball Express honors families of fallen soldiers

A very wonderful story much in keeping with the spirit of the season–watch it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Iraq War, Marriage & Family, Military / Armed Forces, Parish Ministry, War in Afghanistan

E.J. Dionne on the Rick Warren Controversy in today's Washington Post: A Gamble for Obama

Liberals who see Warren as a garden-variety conservative evangelical defined primarily by his opposition to gay marriage accuse Obama of selling them out. Gays and lesbians enraged by Warren’s strong opposition to gay marriage in last month’s California referendum charge Obama with pandering to white evangelicals and fear the president-elect has gone out of his way to offend them in order to curry favor with straight conservatives.

But a more benign view on parts of the religious left casts Warren as the evangelical best positioned to lead moderately conservative white Protestants toward a greater engagement with the issues of poverty and social justice, and away from a relentless focus on abortion and gay marriage.

Read it all and also take the time to read an opposing point of view from Richard Cohen.

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

An Earlier New York Times Article on the Rick Warren Flap

The growing alliance of Mr. Obama and Mr. Warren ”” each of the two publicly refers to the other as “friend” ”” suggests that Mr. Obama hopes to capitalize on the signs of potential generational and political divisions within the evangelical Christian flock. For his part, Mr. Warren is increasingly being spoken of as a kind of minister to the nation, a status previously occupied by the Rev. Billy Graham.

V. Gene Robinson, the Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire, whose consecration caused a painful divide in his church because he is openly gay, said that when he heard about the selection of Mr. Warren, “it was like a slap in the face.”

Bishop Robinson had been an early public endorser of Mr. Obama’s candidacy, and said he had helped serve as a liaison between the campaign and the gay community. He said he had called officials who work for Mr. Obama to share his dismay, and been told that Mr. Obama was trying to reach out to conservatives and give everybody a seat at the table.

“I’m all for Rick Warren being at the table,” Bishop Robinson said, “but we’re not talking about a discussion, we’re talking about putting someone up front and center at what will be the most watched inauguration in history, and asking his blessing on the nation. And the God that he’s praying to is not the God that I know.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Evangelicals, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Theology, US Presidential Election 2008

John Mark Reynolds: Anglicans and Their Unwelcome House Guests

Over the last half-century, the American Church has become an embarrassment to the global Church. They ceased to be Anglican in any meaningful sense, or in some cases even Christian, and the rest of the Anglican world finally decided to clean house. Certain people hijacked the American Anglican “family name,” but had no real ideological connection to the historic faith.

The world is telling them to go find their own house.

Only the most narrow minded person, whose vision of Christianity is parochial enough to see the Church as primarily European and North American, could be confused about the situation. The amazing thing is how patient the global majority has been with the struggling, shrinking American church.

Global Anglicans are a tolerant group, but are finally telling the liberal interlopers to go their own way and stop pretending to be Anglican. They are reaching out to the actual Anglicans that remain in North America and are working to rebuild the American branch of the movement. Worldwide Anglicanism is trying to save the brand!

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Proposed Formation of a new North American Province, Common Cause Partnership, Episcopal Church (TEC), Global South Churches & Primates, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts

Wall Street Journal: In Hard Times, Houses of God Turn to Chapter 11 in Book of Bankruptcy

During this holiday season of hard times, not even houses of God have been spared. Some lenders believe more churches than ever have fallen behind on loans or defaulted this year. Some churches, and at least one company that specialized in church lending, have filed for bankruptcy. Church giving is down as much as 15% in some places, pastors and lenders report.

The financial problems are crimping a church building boom that began in the 1990s, when megachurches multiplied, turning many houses of worship into suburban social centers complete with bookstores, gyms and coffee bars. Lenders say mortgage applications are down, while some commercial lenders no longer see churches as a safe investment.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Credit Markets, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Churches, networking help laid-off workers cope

That’s what Robin Shahan did. The San Ramon, Calif., computer programmer was laid off from Chevron in 1999 and SBC in 2004. In 2005, AT&T let her go when her contract ended. When she was still unemployed months later, Shahan began upgrading her skills. She reviewed a technical book for a friend, which landed her name on the back cover, and read more than 7,000 pages of technical material. She rewrote some of her old applications in the new technologies she’d studied. She posted answers to hundreds of questions on Internet message boards.

“It was like giving myself a pop quiz every day,” says Shahan, who danced around her living room when she was offered a job in March. Shahan was in a position to turn her unemployment into something positive and that helped ease her fears. But the isolation was challenging, she says.

“Prayer helps,” she says. “But if you let your thoughts get the best of you, you can wind yourself up pretty fast. After all, it is like the ultimate rejection, but most of the time it doesn’t have anything to do with you,” she said about a layoff.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Theology

Washington Times: Conservative churches win case in Episcopal split

The judge dismissed a last-ditch effort by the diocese to keep the property when it claimed in September that part of the historic Falls Church in Falls Church city is actually owned by Christ Episcopal Church in Alexandria.

The judge seemed incredulous that the diocese would make such a claim, which, he said, contradicted the testimony of one of the experts ”” church historian Edward L. Bond ”” who appeared on the stand on behalf of the organization.

“Alexandria’s ownership of this property is an 11th-hour revision in theory made 17 months into this litigation, which was designed to fit into the narrowing window left by this court’s multiple letter opinions,” the judge wrote.

Read it all.

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

Bishop of Ripon and Leeds welcomes education plans for young offenders

Bishop John Packer said he agreed “in principle” he agreed with the proposal to move the education provision over to local authorities.

But he added: “My fear, however, is that it will be underfunded and that because it is hidden away from the general population of those local authorities, not much pressure will be put on them actually to achieve the aims that are to be expressed in the Bill.

“I hope that there will be particular expression of the ways in which we can provide support and encouragement for young offenders.

Read it all.

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

Time Magazine's Top Ten Religion Stories of 2008

See what you think.

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

Time Magazine: Finding Jesus in London

James Mumford is a well-dressed 27-year-old from the posh London neighborhood of Pimlico. He holds degrees in philosophy from Oxford and Yale and, like many of Britain’s elite, spent a post-graduate stint working in London’s finance industry. But tonight he wants to talk about how he came to accept the Lord Jesus Christ into his heart. “I don’t mind talking about my faith,” he says, sheepishly. “But it’s a touch embarrassing. Just don’t brand me as a mindless evangelical.”

That peculiarly British reticence may be one reason that an unexpected spiritual awakening among London’s high society has gone unnoticed in recent years. Long considered an aggressively secular city, London has quietly become one of Britain’s most Christian areas, going from the least observant region in Britain in 1979 to the second most observant today. Much of that resurgence in piety is the result of the city’s expanding and devout immigrant population. But there is also a growing number of young, highly educated and moneyed Londoners ”” people such as Mumford ”” who are turning to the church.

The focal point for many of these new believers is Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB), an evangelical Anglican church in plush Kensington. The church’s 4000-strong congregation has almost tripled in the past 15 years, and its average age is 27 years. While HTB does not keep records of these young converts’ wealth, a look at its bulging collection hat offers some clue: the church raised over $7 million from donations last year alone (An average London parish, by contrast, can expect to raise around $150,000, according to data provided by the Anglican church). The church has become so popular that it recently began encouraging hundreds of its congregation to attend dying churches around London ”” as much to ease its own congestion than anything else.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, Evangelism and Church Growth, Other Churches, Parish Ministry

From the Do Not Take Yourself Too Seriously Department

A panel of top business leaders testified before Congress about the worsening recession Monday, demanding the government provide Americans with a new irresponsible and largely illusory economic bubble in which to invest.

The Onion, and, yes, read it all

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

Red Light and Siren: Aren't Businesses Supposed to be Concerned About the Consumer?

Whatever happened to the cost of doing business? There was a time when businesses bit the bullet and absorbed the ordinary cost of doing business. Them days are gone forever. Nowadays, the consumer gets stuck with those costs. Capital improvements? Raise prices. Upgrade computers? Raise prices.

I believe most consumers would agree that it was perfectly reasonable for businesses to charge higher prices to offset the skyrocketing cost of fuel which we experienced in recent months. But now that fuel prices have fallen back down, have businesses lowered prices accordingly? I don’t think so.

When it comes to screwing the consumer, CenterPoint Energy takes the prize.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy