Rick LaChappelle, owner of four pawnshops in Maine, calculates he has lent about 33% more money this year than last. “The banking industry is not giving out any money right now,” he said. “So people are relying on second-tier lending institutions.”
Daily Archives: December 30, 2008
Sometime in November, as things now stand, the “Christmas season” begins. The streets are hung with lights, the stores are decorated with red and green, and you can’t turn on the radio without hearing songs about the spirit of the season and the glories of Santa Claus. The excitement builds to a climax on the morning of December 25, and then it stops, abruptly. Christmas is over, the New Year begins, and people go back to their normal lives.
The traditional Christian celebration of Christmas is exactly the opposite. The season of Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, and for nearly a month Christians await the coming of Christ in a spirit of expectation, singing hymns of longing. Then, on December 25, Christmas Day itself ushers in twelve days of celebration, ending only on January 6 with the feast of the Epiphany. Exhortations to follow this calendar rather than the secular one have become routine at this time of year. But often the focus falls on giving Advent its due, with the Twelve Days of Christmas relegated to the words of a cryptic traditional carol. Most people are simply too tired after Christmas Day to do much celebrating.
The “real” twelve days of Christmas are important not just as a way of thumbing our noses at secular ideas of the “Christmas season.” They are important because they give us a way of reflecting on what the Incarnation means in our lives. Christmas commemorates the most momentous event in human history””the entry of God into the world He made, in the form of a baby. The Logos through whom the worlds were made took up His dwelling among us in a tabernacle of flesh. One of the prayers for Christmas Day in the Catholic liturgy encapsulates what Christmas means for all believers: “O God, who marvelously created and yet more marvelously restored the dignity of human nature, grant that we may share the divinity of Him who humbled himself to share our humanity.” In Christ, our human nature was united to God, and when Christ enters our hearts, he brings us into that union.
Not since the days of Margaret Thatcher has the Church of England attacked a Government with such sustained venom. Over the weekend a phalanx of Bishops preached variations on an identical theme. The Bishop of Manchester, Nigel McCullough, described the New Labour administration as “morally corrupt… beguiled by money. The Government believes that money can answer all of the problems and has encouraged greed and a love of money that the Bible says is the root of all evil.”
The Bishop of Durham, Dr Tom Wright, fulminated that “While the rich have got richer, the poor have got poorer. When a big bank or car company goes bankrupt, it gets bailed out, but no one seems to be bailing out the ordinary people who are losing their jobs.” From the more prosperous Home Counties the Bishop of Winchester, Michael Scott-Joynt, declaimed that “The Government hasn’t done anything like enough to help those less well-off, particularly in terms of tax redistribution.”
The Church of England last night tried to avoid a split by watering down its plans for the consecration of women bishops, granting an opt-out to parishioners who refuse to accept the spiritual authority of female clergy.
Under the church’s proposals, parishes could bypass women bishops and women priests by taking their leadership from specially consecrated male “complementary” bishops.
Parents could elect to have their children confirmed and baptised by male clergy while congregations could seek to have sacraments and other divine service removed from the responsibility of a female bishop.
Israel continued airstrikes against Gaza Strip targets for a fourth day on Tuesday, destroying civic and other buildings linked to the militant Hamas movement in a campaign Israeli leaders say will continue until the group is crippled.
Diplomatic efforts to calm the situation are expected to accelerate this week, with European foreign ministers scheduled to meet in Paris today and Arab diplomats set to gather in Cairo on Wednesday.
In advance of the Paris session, the European Commission called for “an immediate halt to military hostilities” in order to spare Gaza’s civilian population, while demanding that Hamas also stop firing its rockets into Israel. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday had also called for a ceasefire.
Though the pace of bombing appeared to slow on Tuesday, Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit told Israel Radio that at this point “there is no room for a ceasefire,” according to news reports from the region. “The Israeli army must not stop the operation before breaking the will of the Palestinians, of Hamas, to continue to fire at Israel.”
The members of Waterfront Community Church attend weekly services in a high school auditorium. Their contemporary Christian music rock band practices at someone’s home. And the pastor relies on a laptop and Starbucks for an office.
The nondenominational suburban Chicago church operates on a shoestring budget and under an unusual financial setup so it can stick to a mission: Give 100% of offerings gathered from the collection plate to those in need.
“We found how little we know about the people around us. We started asking around, ‘What are the needs of the community?”‘ said the church’s pastor and founder Jim Semradek. “When you present that need to people, they’re very responsive. People have very generous hearts.”
In what is believed to be a “first” in the modern era, two former Anglican priests, father and son, have become Roman Catholics and are now both serving as Catholic priests in the UK.
And in a further ecclesiastical twist, Father Dominic Cosslett, 36, and his father, Father Ron Cosslett, 70, are both serving in the same archdiocese under the leadership of Archbishop Vincent Nichols in Birmingham, the favourite to succeed Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor as Archbishop of Westminster when he steps down early next year.
The General Synod will have its first opportunity to consider draft legislation enabling women to become bishops in the Church of England in February, having given in principle agreement to the shape of the legislative package in July. The Legislative Drafting Group on Women in the Episcopate, chaired by the Rt Rev Nigel McCulloch, Bishop of Manchester, has today published its further report and drafts of a Measure and associated Amending Canon, together with an illustrative draft Code of Practice and an Explanatory Memorandum.
“We have published our further report at the earliest opportunity to give everyone the chance to study it before debate. We finished our discussions only just before Christmas,” said the Rt Rev Nigel McCulloch, Bishop of Manchester.
The Church of England has reached an historic agreement on the consecration of women bishops.
After years of struggle to avoid schism, bishops have agreed a formula that enshrines the principle of equality for male and female bishops while appeasing opponents of women’s ordination. The first women bishops could take their place in the Church of England within three years.
The deal, published in a new report yesterday, provides for a class of “complementary” traditionalist bishop for parishes that refuse to accept a woman diocesan bishop. Such “flying” bishops would have to abide by the authority of the woman bishop, according to the accompanying code of practice.
One of the lessons of the present turmoil is the recognition of our interdependence upon each other. It is a lesson that is at odds with the mindset of speculative profiteering, but it is a lesson that bears repeating in times of crisis.
Am I my brother’s keeper? Yes I am. The impact of what happens with a sub-prime mortgage in America has an impact upon my brother employed in Newcastle working for Northern Rock.
Am I my brother’s keeper? Yes I am when speculation leads to mergers, with redundancies for thousands of my brothers and sisters.
Am I my brother’s keeper? Yes I am, because the systemic risk of allowing a bank to fail makes sense only when it is translated into the thousands of individual stories of hardship that flow from its collapse.
9. Half of all retail stores
Many retail stores are obsolete and will be replaced by online competitors. Entire malls will become ghost towns. By this time next year, most video game stores, book stores and toy stores — as well as many other categories — will simply vanish. Amazon.com will grow and grow.
10. Satellite radio
I’m sorry, Howard Stern. It’s over. The newly merged Sirius XM Radio simply cannot sustain its losses. The company is already deeply in debt and would need to dramatically increase subscribers over the next six months in order to meet its debt obligations. Unfortunately, new car sales, where a huge percentage of satellite radios are sold, are in the gutter and stand-alone subscriptions are way down.