Daily Archives: January 4, 2009

Economist–Gaza: the rights and wrongs

The scale and ferocity of the onslaught on Gaza have been shocking, and the television images of civilian suffering wrench the heart. But however deplorable, Israel’s resort to military means to silence the rockets of Hamas should have been no surprise. This war has been a long time in the making.

Since Israel evacuated its soldiers and settlers from the Gaza Strip three years ago, Palestinian groups in Gaza have fired thousands of rudimentary rockets and mortar bombs across the border, killing very few people but disrupting normal life in a swathe of southern Israel. They fired almost 300 between December 19th, when Hamas ignored Egypt’s entreaties and decided not to renew a six-month truce, and December 27th, when Israel started its bombing campaign….To that extent, Israel is right to say it was provoked.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Israel, Middle East, Violence

Julia Chang: Raising Kids in the City

Here’s what comprises the typical American dream: Getting married, having 2.5 kids, and buying the house with the white picket fence, two-car garage, and well-manicured lawn. Here’s what it usually doesn’t include: hauling groceries up a fourth-floor walkup; dodging taxis, harried pedestrians and street vendors during the morning commute; and paying a premium for an apartment considered a walk-in closet anywhere else.

For many New Yorkers, however, those inconveniences are a part of daily life”“and are only amplified when they decide to start rearing little urbanites. Then their biggest issues run from minor logistics such as hauling a stroller up two flights of subway stairs, to major headaches like a preschool application process that rivals those of Ivy League schools. Despite these challenges, Christian parents in New York say that raising a family here provides as many opportunities as it does obstacles: They get to participate in the unique ways in which God works in an urban environment, a setting where community ministry plays a particularly important role.

“You do think, ‘Why not move to Long Island?’ It’s one hour from the city. [But] having grown up in the suburbs, we made an intentional decision to stay here,” says Maria Liu Wong, assistant director at City Seminary of New York, who lives in Manhattan’s Lower East Side with her husband Tony and son Joshua, 3. Diversity and the desire to get involved with their community convicted them to stay in the area. “Being at City Seminary, I’ve thought a lot about choosing ways to invest in your neighborhood,” Liu Wong says. “I want my child to have diverse friendships, and there’s a greater opportunity for my kid to do that [in the city].”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Children, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family, Other Churches

Israeli troops reach the edge of Gaza City

Israeli tanks and infantry battalions swept up to the very edges of Gaza City today, battling die-hard Hamas fighters and sealing off the bomb-scarred capital city from the rest of the coastal territory.

With the civilian death toll rising by the hour and diplomatic efforts to halt the fighting making no headway, the head of the UN refugee agency called the situation a “catastrophe”.

But Israel made clear it was not about to heed calls for a swift ceasefire to “Operation Cast Lead”. It insisted that it had to smash Hamas and destroy its weapons stockpile in order to ensure a lasting peace not just for its citizens, who have endured years of Palestinian rocket fire, but for the people of Gaza themselves.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Israel, Middle East, Violence

What's up with this doc? Oh, a lot

Reporting from Oakland ”” Morris F. Collen, M.D., is a pioneer in harnessing the vast power of computers to improve healthcare. He is hip-deep in studying the ways that prescription drugs could interact and harm the elderly. He’s hard at work on his sixth book.

But he just might be most proud of his brand new driver’s license.

“Can I show you something you’ll never see again?” Collen asks, reaching for his well-used billfold. He pulls out the rectangle of pedestrian plastic. He points to the date of birth: 11-12-13. He points to the expiration date: 11-12-13. He grins.

“The one is in the 20th century,” he says, tickled still. “The other is in the 21st century. That represents 100 years. When I looked at that, I said, ‘My God, that’s probably the only one in the country.’ ”

What a great man and what a lovely description of his wife to whom he was married for 60 years. I would love to meet him. Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine

(Sunday London) Times: No recovery from the crunch until the credit flows

If nothing else makes this situation stand out it is that the Bank, having cut interest rates to their lowest level since 1951, appears set to reduce them this week to the lowest since 1694. This is terrible news for savers and far from unalloyed good news for borrowers, given that loans are so hard to get.

The urgent task of Alistair Darling, therefore, is to break this lending logjam. Left to themselves, banks will do nothing. The herd instinct that led them to lend too much during the good times now persuades them into what Lord Myners, a Treasury minister, describes as “reckless caution”. Bankers really do only lend you an umbrella when it is not raining.

Read the whole editorial.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Credit Markets, Economy, England / UK, Politics in General

Religion and Ethics Weekly: Looking ahead to Possible Major religion Stories for 2009

[BOB] ABERNETHY: And John, what do you see of particular interest to the Vatican and to U.S. Catholics?

JOHN ALLEN (Vatican Correspondent, National Catholic Reporter): Well, I think in many ways, you know, the mega story of ’09 is going to be church-state relations under Obama ”” both the promise and the peril of that relationship. I think that the peril is maybe a little easier to get our hands around. It would focus on the traditional life issues. The new president has indicated he intends to sign an executive order liberalizing embryonic stem ”” federally funding for ””embryonic stem cell research right out of the gate as part of that first 100-days package. That certainly will produce some backlash in some religious circles. I think the deeper danger is if the Democratic-controlled Congress and the Obama people were to move forward with the Freedom of Choice Act, which is this piece of legislation that’s been around a long time, and you get different readings on how realistic it is, but in effect it would eliminate existing federal and state restrictions on abortion. The U.S. Catholic bishops have certainly made clear that if that were to gain momentum we would, in some ways, be back to a very serious cultural war in this country.

Watch or read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Church/State Matters, Law & Legal Issues, Media, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, US Presidential Election 2008

A Local Editorial on the Obama Stimulus Package: No Christmas in January

A short sampling being circulated among congressional Republicans includes items from a list compiled by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and from local reporting around the nation. Philadelphia seeks $100 million to redevelop land for a casino. Spirit Mountain, Minn., seeks $6 million for snow-making equipment. A zoo in Rhode Island seeks $4.8 million for a polar bear exhibit and other improvements. Las Vegas, home to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, wants millions for a proposed organized crime museum and a pedestrian walkway to the Tropicana Hotel. Missouri plans to spend the entire $750 million it seeks for transportation on highways, but nothing on mass transit.

These wishes provide Congress with an unparalleled opportunity to pick and choose, a decision process that would lead to the Great Mother of all earmark bills. The Washington Post reports that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Majority Leader Reid want to have the stimulus bill ready for Barack Obama’s signature on Jan. 20, when he is sworn in as the 44th president.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McCon-nell of Kentucky and House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio want to slow the process down, with good reason. It is not enough to demand that projects be ready to go in order to create employment ”” the only criterion being applied at present. They should also fulfill a clear sense of national priorities.

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, US Presidential Election 2008

Obama Says U.S. Must Act Swiftly to Address Economy

President-elect Barack Obama said that Democrats and Republicans need to act with urgency to address the “great and growing” economic crisis, warning of double-digit unemployment if swift action isn’t taken.

“These are America’s problems, and we must come together as Americans to meet them with the urgency this moment demands,” he said today in his weekly radio address. “If we don’t act swiftly and boldly, we could see a much deeper economic downturn that could lead to double-digit unemployment.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, US Presidential Election 2008

Tim Wu on Jonathan Zittrain's latest work: The New New Media

The first time Jonathan Zittrain gave a speech on the future of computing, he greatly surprised his audience. The year was 1985, and Zittrain was a magazine columnist and the “system operator” of an online forum for users of Texas Instruments computers. As a leading figure in the community, Zittrain was invited to speak at a big convention in Chicago. The surprise was that Zittrain had recently turned fifteen. No one had ever met him in person: when he was appointed system operator, sight unseen, he was thirteen.

Now Zittrain is older and more worried, as is evident from the title of his provocative and engaging book. Zittrain tells us that whatever the Internet’s glorious adolescence, its middle age will be sharply shaped by the problem of computer security. “Today’s viruses and spyware,” he writes, “are not merely annoyances to be ignored.” Zittrain has a graph showing the number of security incidents over the last decade, and it resembles the Dow Jones average over the 1990s. He predicts a coming crisis, grave measures, and, as “security problems worsen and fear spreads,” broad acceptance of “some form of lockdown.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet

Gurcharan Das: The Next World Order

Both the Chinese and the Indians are convinced that their prosperity will only increase in the 21st century. In China it will be induced by the state; in India’s case, it may well happen despite the state. Indians expect to continue their relentless march toward a modern, democratic, market-based future. In this, terrorist attacks are a noisy, tragic, but ultimately futile sideshow.

However, Indians are painfully aware that they must reform their government bureaucracy, police and judiciary ”” institutions, paradoxically, they were so proud of a generation ago. When that happens, India may become formidable, a thought that undoubtedly worries China’s leaders.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Globalization, India

Israeli Ground Forces Push Into Gaza

Israel moved its troops into Gaza starting a ground offensive eight days after launching an airstrike campaign in efforts to end rocket attacks from Hamas militants.

“We have just a short while ago launched the second stage,” a spokeswoman for Israel Defense Forces Maj. Avital Leibovich, said in an interview broadcast on CNN.

She said that troops are targeting areas responsible for the launching of rockets into Israel, as well as tunnels, bunkers, and training facilities ”” “everything that is affiliated with Hamas is a legitimate target,” Major Leibovich said.

“We have many, many targets, and therefore to my estimate it’s going to be a lengthy operation,” she added, with specifying how long the ground war could last.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Israel, Middle East, Violence

The Anglican Communion Institute: Patient Endurance – On Living Faithfully in a Time of Troubles

These convictions and commitments are reflected in patient and enduring witness rather than in strategies and tactics designed to bring about desired future states. They grow from trust that God will use faithful witness in his own time and in his own way to bring about his purposes””purposes that do not stem from our imaginings or our desires but from God’s justice and God’s mercy.

Just what are these convictions and commitments? Here we must summarize a host of conversations to which we have been party over the past several years. The convictions revealed are these.

1. The weakness and disarray of TEC (and indeed of the churches of the West) are best understood as the result of divine displeasure at pervasive misconstruals of Christian belief and practice coupled with a common life that blows neither “hot nor cold.”
2. It is a form of delusion and disobedience to place oneself and ones friends outside the judgment God intends for the health of his church. Rather, fidelity calls for acceptance of the judgment as both just and merciful. It calls also for faithful Christians to live through that judgment to the end. This way is none other than the way Christ himself walked, believing not in a future state of his devising and constructing but in God’s power, through his death, to give life to the dry bones of his people.
3. The pattern of Christ’s life suggests the necessity of a clear differentiation between a way faithful to his life and teaching and one that has simply assumed the form of the culture with which the leadership of TEC has identified.
4. The obedient form of differentiation suggested by the pattern of Christ is not separation but faithful persistence along a different path within the fellowship of the church that has nurtured one as a Christian but has, nonetheless, gone astray.

Read it all.

Update: Sarah Hey has a lengthy response to this here which concludes this way:

Let’s be clear. There are Episcopalians who are most interested in the “inside strategy.” The fact that the ACI and I assume the Communion Partners group eschews the “inside strategy” does not mean that those Episcopalians do not exist.

On the other hand, it is good to see the ACI and the Communion Partners continue to clarify their goals publicly. Their expressed goals do not make them “bad organizations.” Their goals merely express who they are and what they intend to do — and it’s important for clergy who are making decisions about participation in either organization to be aware of what those organizations mean to do. There are some good people in both organizations and, from the perspective of this layperson, the Communion Partners is currently the only place that an inside strategy clergyperson can gain some fellowship.

In the same way, we all know what the new Anglican entity — the ACNA — is clearly seeking. Those who leave for the ACNA have obviously abandoned any “inside strategy” as well.

At this point, those Episcopalians interested in the inside strategy need to connect with one another, and seek counsel where they can — but with crystal clarity that there is no organizational or institutional or national help for them. We are, as I have said for the past almost two years, on our own. Acknowledging that fact is the first step towards clarity and healing and seeking help where we can find it, with those who share our goals — and of course, fellowshiping with joy with all orthodox Anglican brothers and sisters, whether in the ACI, the Communion Partners, or the ACNA.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Proposed Formation of a new North American Province, Anglican Identity, Common Cause Partnership, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Instruments of Unity, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts, Theology, Windsor Report / Process