Daily Archives: January 9, 2009

Illinois House Impeaches Governor

The Illinois House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to impeach Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich on Friday morning for abusing his power as the state’s chief executive , making him the first governor in Illinois’s history to be impeached and sending his case to the state Senate for trial.

The House deliberated less than an hour and a half before voting 114-1 to oust Governor Blagojevich just one day after a 21-member House investigative committee unanimously recommended impeachment. The only member to vote against impeachment was Milton Patterson, a Democrat from Chicago.

The last governor to be impeached was Evan Meacham of Arizona, who was removed from office in 1988 after serving just 15 months.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Politics in General

Under the Surface of Today's Employment report

From Gary Dvorchak:

Headline numbers looked more benign, but I just got an update from market strategist Bill King noting that without seasonal adjustment, the job loss was 954,000. Also, the “birth/death model” inexplicably created 72,000 jobs in December, which is ridiculous. So you can make the case we lost a million jobs in December.

Update: From Bloomberg:

“The labor market is clearly not functioning at all,” Wachovia economist John Silvia says of ongoing job losses, underscored by today’s non-farm payrolls data. “This will be a big hit to consumer spending and confidence. It suggests a very long, challenging recession.”

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

Retired Quincy Bishop to Serve Anglican Diocese

The standing committee of the Anglican Diocese of Quincy announced that the Rt. Rev. Edward H. MacBurney, Bishop of Quincy from 1988 to 1994, had agreed to serve as an assisting bishop for the diocese on a temporary basis.

Last fall, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori charged Bishop MacBurney with abandonment of communion and inhibited him for performing sacramental episcopal acts at an Anglican Church that formerly was part of The Episcopal Church in the Diocese of San Diego. The inhibition was lifted and the charges were dropped after Bishop MacBurney wrote to the Rt. Rev. James Mathes, Bishop of San Diego. In a brief interview with The Living Church, Bishop MacBurney denied that he had apologized or agreed to stop performing sacramental episcopal acts for breakaway Anglicans.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

A Taiwan Church News Editorial: Rethinking Evangelism

(Taiwan Church News)

Evangelism should definitely be one of the missions of the church and many churches today are trying their best to excel in this area. Some churches try to research the local sub-culture before promoting a strategy. Others participate in mission conferences in search for the best method available to spread the gospel. Still others try to mimic successful models they have seen other organizations apply in order to invigorate local evangelism. However, regardless of how much effort churches put into the ministry of evangelism, who is the key person affecting the development of this ministry? The answer is the pastor.

Though churches may have successful evangelism strategies, as soon as the pastor moves away, everything comes to a halt. Furthermore, all the resources and experiences that the previous pastor built during his time ministering in the area are seldom passed on, so the new pastor must often start from scratch. Though this phenomenon is a major loss and a waste of resources for many local churches, it has always been prevalent among churches from past to present. Therefore, the pastor becomes an important topic of discussion when discussing evangelism ministries.

When studying this issue, one important item that cannot be ignored is the negative effect a pastor’s relocation will have on local evangelism ministries. Furthermore, the higher the rate of relocation, the more harm is inflicted. So, how do we prevent this situation and stop the harm that is being inflicted? Below are my humble suggestions.

First, we must revise the current system. We are confident that pastors are very clear about their calling and will always be faithful to their churches. They normally will not relocate based on impulse alone. However, the realities of life often tempt them to relocate and the decision to move or stay is not determined by one individual alone. Therefore, churches and pastors must first agree that pastors will not look at the relocation issue lightly. In addition, churches must endeavor to remove factors that would tempt a pastor to relocate. For example, within the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT), pastoral salary and related benefits are major temptations luring pastors away from churches they are currently serving. The reason is because a pastor’s salary and benefits are often determined by the financial situation of the church where the pastor is serving. Since salaries vary a lot depending on where one is serving, many pastors must use their skills to fight for “top jobs”. Such a system in the PCT creates an inevitable collision between a pastor’s calling and the realities of life, which is a problem we must address. The high turnover among pastors in rural churches is a well-documented fact. How can Christians have confidence their church’s evangelism ministries when top leadership at the church is constantly changing? Though overhauling the current system will be a long process, it is also a problem the PCT must address because the effects of high turnover rates are harming church evangelism as a whole. The General Assembly and local presbyteries can assist and encourage pastors by offering subsidies to financially poor churches so that they can pay for their pastors’ vocational training or increase their pastors’ income. That way, pastors won’t be distracted by looking for more salary to support his family.

Second, we must allow local churches to partner with seminaries so that seminaries can nurture the kind of pastors churches need. That way, once seminarians graduate, they can return and serve the churches that sponsored them. This would greatly improve the development and continuation of local evangelism because these graduates will already know a great deal about the local church’s history, background, and outreach ministries. They will also already possess a lot of knowledge about the needs of the locals. Though this suggestion may affect the PCT’s system determining how and where seminarians are sent upon graduation, the change would also facilitate the way church evangelism is passed down and carried on, thus worthy of some reflection.

There are many success stories today when it comes to church evangelism, and in all of them, the pastor plays a key role. Furthermore, the length of a pastor’s tenure also affects the local church’s attempts at evangelism. The more frequently a church’s pastor relocates, the harder it is for that church’s ministry to bear fruit. One reason is that church members can sense whether a pastor exhibits confidence in his daily work, which will have spillover effects in church evangelism. Therefore, the challenges facing evangelism ministries mentioned above should not be glossed over. I hope that my humble suggestions above will stir discussion on the topic as we seek to find solutions to problems and improve the way churches do missions.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Evangelism and Church Growth, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Presbyterian, Taiwan

IRD Mourns Passing of Fr. Richard John Neuhaus

IRD President James Tonkowich commented: “The passing of Father Neuhaus is a great loss to the IRD and to the causes we fight for and represent. Neuhaus sought to advance a religiously informed public philosophy for the ordering of society, one in which the extremes of theocracy or rigid secularism were declined in favor of open engagement between religion and public life….”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Death / Burial / Funerals, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Update on the situation in Gaza from The Rt Revd Suheil Dawani

(ACNS) Jerusalem, January 7th, 2009 – At a time when great tragedy is occurring in the Holy Land in Gaza, I want to share some insight into what we are experiencing on a moment to moment basis. Our Diocese has one of 11 hospitals serving a population of 1.5 million residents in the Gaza Strip. The Al Ahli Arab (Anglican) Hospital has been in operation for over 100 years and has a very dedicated medical staff of doctors, nurses, technicians and general services personnel.

During the best of times they are stretched to their maximum meeting the medical needs of this populous community. Now, during the current military conflict with its heavy toll on human life and material, the hospital faces even greater responsibilities and challenges. The result is growing strain on the hospital’s resources. Every day since the beginning of military operations, the hospital has received 20-40 injured or wounded patients. A large proportion of them require hospitalization and surgery. These patients are in addition to those with non-conflict-related illnesses. About one-fourth of the patients are children.

In addition, the conflict has brought new type of medical and surgical conditions. For example, patients with burns and acute, crippling psychological trauma, are being seen more frequently. Because it is not possible for aid workers to enter Gaza at this time, the hospital’s staff is working around the clock, struggling with the effects of exhaustion and against limited resources in a conflicted area of ongoing military operations.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Defense, National Security, Military, Israel, Middle East, The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East, Violence

Jordan Hylden: A Tribute to Richard John Neuhaus

I was a high school kid when I first “met” Father Neuhaus”“ I can never remember how I came across the First Things website, but somehow I did, and it was like a light switch being turned on in my head. Here was an entire world of Christian thought and tradition, with worlds upon worlds contained in the hallways it pointed me down. I spent I don’t know how many nights poring over issue after issue, drinking it all in like water in a desert. At the time I probably didn’t understand half of it, but that didn’t matter”“ the depth and breadth of the Christian tradition in those pages, the sheer excitement of thinking through the adventure of the Gospel”“ I knew I had found something that was worth a lifetime. And I very well remember thinking: “Wow. Wouldn’t it be something to write this stuff myself someday?”

A few years later, that’s exactly where I found myself”“ working and writing at First Things as a junior fellow. I was in charge of compiling his monthly column, the Public Square, and pretty soon got drafted into covering the Anglican beat for the website as well. Every evening, we gathered for prayer at 338 E 19th St., and each Friday night was dinner at Fr. Neuhaus’s apartment. His apartment was something like a revolving door of old friends”“ Cardinal Dulles, George Weigel, Robert Louis Wilken, Michael Novak, the list goes on. Board meetings and ECT gatherings brought even more friends and comrades-in-arms: Chuck Colson, Robert George, Mary Ann Glendon, David Novak, David Bentley Hart, and Robert Jenson. Every so often, I had to pinch myself: “I’m a farm kid from North Dakota”“ what the heck am I doing here?”

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Posted in Uncategorized

New homes being built smaller

[Kermit] Baker says there is less incentive to buy a bigger, more expensive home as the economy weakens, home prices fall and energy costs remain a concern. He says people are less likely to see a home as a good investment.

Even high-end buyers, Baker says, are showing more interest in smaller, better-crafted homes.

“People don’t want to be wasteful,” says JD Callander of Weichert Realtors. She says they are concerned about utility costs and cleaning requirements.

Clients used to like the status of a big home, she says, but “those days are gone.”

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

AP: Influential Catholic conservative Richard John Neuhaus dies at 72

A native of Canada and the son of a Lutheran pastor, Neuhaus began his own work as a Lutheran minister at St. John the Evangelist Lutheran Church in a predominantly African-American Brooklyn neighborhood. He was active in the civil rights movement and other liberal causes. In 1964, he joined the Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel and the Rev. Daniel Berrigan as the first co-chairmen of the anti-war group Clergy Concerned About Vietnam.

But he eventually broke with the left, partly over the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion. In 1990, he converted to Catholicism and a year later was ordained by New York Cardinal John O’Connor.

“I was thirty years a Lutheran pastor, and after thirty years of asking myself why I was not a Roman Catholic I finally ran out of answers that were convincing either to me or to others,” he wrote.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Death / Burial / Funerals, Lutheran, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

It's time to appoint Britain’s first woman bishop, says Canon Jane Hedges

Senior politicians are in favour of breaking up the all-male enclave of the 26 bishops in the House of Lords, the cleric tipped to become Britain’s first female Anglican bishop believes.

Canon Jane Hedges says that there is increasing discomfort at the highest levels of the Establishment that the power wielded in the Lords by bishops is entirely in the hands of men.

As Canon Steward at Westminster Abbey, she is in a position to know. She has access to the corridors of power and has met nearly everyone at the highest levels of the Establishment, from the Queen and the Prime Minister down.

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

Gerard Baker–Wanted: a superhero to save America

But what Mr Obama really needs right now is a television superhero to help him to rescue the US economy. His inauguration as president in 11 days’ time will take place in what can be described, without hyperbole, as the worst economic conditions the US has faced in at least 70 years. Data due from the Labor Department this morning is likely to show that the US lost more jobs, net, in 2008 than in any year since the Second World War. Economic activity in 2009 is likely to decline at its fastest since the same historic landmark.

Most alarming, not only is there no obvious end in sight, the evidence suggests that things are getting worse. Despite the bailouts last year, the financial system, crippled by the housing market disaster and folly, remains clogged and more big financial institutions are likely to be in trouble in the next few months.

The American consumer, the hero of the global economy in every period of weakness in the past decade – from the Asian financial crisis to 9/11 – has gone on strike.

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

War in Gaza: Israel accused of shelling house full of children

The United Nations has accused Israeli troops of evacuating scores of Palestinians ”“ including children ”“ into a house in Gaza and then shelling the property 24 hours later, killing some 30 people.

In a report published today on what it called “one of the gravest incidents” of the 14-day conflict, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) complained that the Israeli Defence Force then prevented medical teams from entering the area to evacuate the wounded.

Citing “several testimonies”, OCHA said that Israeli foot soldiers evacuated around 110 Palestinians into a house in Zeitun, south of Gaza City, on Sunday. Half of them were children.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Children, Defense, National Security, Military, Israel, Middle East, Violence

Top al Qaeda Targets Reportedly Dead After U.S. Air Strike

Two top al Qaeda officials are believed dead following a New Year’s Day drone attack in northern Pakistan, ABC News has confirmed. U.S. officials said Fahid Mohammed Ali Msalam and Sheikh Ahmed Salem Swedan, both on the FBI’s most wanted terrorists list, were killed in the CIA strike.

Msalam, who also went by the alias Usama al-Kini, and Swedan were both from Kenya and were indicted in the Aug. 7, 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya and for conspiring to kill U.S. citizens.

“It’s amazing that it took 10 years to get these guys when they were on the FBI most wanted list all of this time,” said former national security advisor and ABC News consultant Richard Clarke.

U.S. counterterrorism officials said that they believed the al Qaeda leaders were running operations for the terrorist group in Pakistan.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Pakistan, Terrorism

America's Credit Rating

Check it out.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Credit Markets, Economy, Globalization

RNS: Catholic Theologian Richard John Neuhaus Dies at 72

His 1984 book, “The Naked Public Square: Religion and Democracy in America,” was “one of the most important, debate-changing books in the history of modern conservatism,” said Peter Wehner, a former Bush White House staffer.

William McGurn, Bush’s former chief speechwriter and longtime contributor to First Things, said “His theses nailed to the wall would be that nature and politics abhor a vacuum, and that without access to transcendent truth, democracy will degrade into relativism….”

Neuhaus himself seemed to define his role in his 1975 book, “Time Toward Home: The American Experiment as Revelation.”

“Intellectuals are, broadly understood, those people who mint and market the metaphors by which a society understands itself,” Neuhaus wrote.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Death / Burial / Funerals, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Roman Catholic, Theology