Daily Archives: January 12, 2009

Bernard Madoff Will Remain Free on Bail, Judge Rules

Bernard Madoff will remain free on a $10 million bond, a federal judge ruled, denying a request by U.S. prosecutors that he be jailed while awaiting trial on a federal securities fraud charge.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald Ellis in Manhattan today said Madoff, arrested last month for running an alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme, may continue to live under house arrest in his Manhattan apartment on the Upper East Side. Ellis imposed new conditions, ordering Madoff to compile an inventory of all items in his home and barring him from transferring property.

“Because the government has failed to meet its legal burden, the motion is denied,” Ellis wrote in the order. “The government has failed to articulate any flaw in the current conditions of release.”

It seems bizarre to me but I just work here. Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Bernard Madoff Scandal, Economy, Law & Legal Issues, Stock Market

Cardboard Testimonies

Watch it all. A good reminder, I thought, that the gospel is intended to transform.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Evangelism and Church Growth, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

Congratulations to Arizona, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Baltimore for Winning the Playoffs

I enjoyed the games very much and with my wife being a Steel City native you can imagine our response to the last one. I feel very bad for Tennessee and Coach Fisher who beat themselves.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Sports

Pennsylvania courts uphold weddings by clergy ordained online

In three separate cases, three Pennsylvania county judges have ruled that marriages performed by ministers who do not have houses of worship or congregations are legal, rejecting a contrary 2007 ruling that had sowed statewide confusion.

All three suits were brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, which argued that York County Judge Maria Musti Cook was wrong to invalidate a marriage in 2007 because the minister who performed it was ordained online and did not have a physical church or congregation.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Religion & Culture

Tom Krattenmaker: 'Life' movement evolves

Now that he knows the name of a young enslaved prostitute in Indonesia ”” it’s Eka, pronounced “Ecka” ”” Mike Mercer is all in. The human-trafficking resister from Oregon is committed not just to the reclamation of Eka’s freedom and her pre-slavery lot in life, but also to her enjoying life prospects far brighter than if she had never been trafficked and had never crossed his path.

“As a Christian, I can’t be satisfied knowing there are people living in such a condition,” says Mercer, 37, a onetime youth pastor at an evangelical church near Portland and the founder and director of a fledgling non-profit called Compassion First. “As a Christian, I’m a steward of the image of God. And every person on the face of the earth bears that image. I became responsible for Eka the day I met her.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Life Ethics, Other Churches

Gideons mark 100 years of giving out the Bible

Long before cable television, spa treatments and eco-friendly soaps and shampoos became staples in hotel rooms, there was the Bible ”” the Gideon Bible.

And the book with the familiar two-handled pitcher and torch on its cover that most guests find inside hotel nightstands doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon.

Read it all.

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

From Yesterday's Meet The Press: The Obama presidency and its impact on black America

MR. [DAVID] GREGORY: And here you are on–have been on this journey in the course of your life and career, now you’re on this journey to get people as angry as you are, as you’ve said in, in a speech. What do you expect of this new president, who happens to be our first black president?

MR. [BILL] COSBY: Change, challenge for all of us. I believe he’s asking us to be honest. I, I, I believe he’s, he’s asking us to be honest. I believe he’s asking us to look around and see in all honesty what we can do and what makes sense as opposed to what will go into our pockets or make us feel good or who we can punish according to our religion. I think it’s time for all of us to, to do things in terms of community, to stop worrying about what other people think of us and, and just go right on in and begin to talk to our youngsters about correct choices, to not be afraid to, to challenge them and be honest with them and, and, and to not be afraid to just stand and, and work with him and think that we’re working with him to make change and choices and challenge.

MR. GREGORY: One of the things that really strikes me about this book, “Come On, People,” is that as a parent with three young kids, I think it just has a transcendent message.

MR. COSBY: Yes.

MR. GREGORY: Which is that parenting matters.

MR. COSBY: Yes.

MR. GREGORY: That you got to be involved in your kids’ lives, you got to let, let them know that, that you love them.

Caught this on the way home from worship yesterday via satellite radio in the car. Watch or read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Children, Marriage & Family, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Race/Race Relations

Nancy Gibbs: The Recession's Big Test

It’s possible we’ve reached a moment of creative commiseration. A friend in Iowa was invited to a poverty party–“because why should a worldwide recession spoil all our fun!” the invitation said. Guests were told to bring “a dish to share, a (cheap) bottle of wine, a hard-luck story and a devil-may-care attitude.” We share casserole experiments: food itself becomes communal, everything in the fridge pitching in. You learn a lot about your neighbors when you carpool, and save gas too.

And for every story of swindlers and cheats, dwell for a moment on these: Someone placed an 18-karat-gold diamond ring in the Salvation Army kettle in Uniontown, Pa. A Sioux Falls, S.D., hotel manager came up with a plan to open his doors to 200 homeless people for Christmas. A Santa Clarita, Calif., family took in an 83-year-old woman left homeless by wildfires and helped rebuild her life. Food donations in Paradise, Calif., were up fivefold. “We’ll take a cup of kindness yet,” we sing as we welcome a new year, and never more so than this time. Maybe as times get worse, we get better. Our pain makes us feel other people’s too; our fear lets us practice valor; we are tense, and tender as well. And among the things we can no longer afford are things we never really wanted anyway, like the solitude of snobbery, and the luxury of denial.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Economy, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

On a Personal Note: A Harmon Family Report

The following is our annual Christmas letter sent out to friends and family. Authored by my wife Elizabeth (Like most clergy I know, I married up) it may be of interest to some blog readers. For background, my wife is a Family Nurse Practitioner, and we have three dogs, a big black lab, a medium sized orangish puggle, and a small white toy maltese–KSH.

Kendall is a moving target for the dogs since he is never in one place for long (and the dogs follow him from room to room). He can be found running on the elliptical while listening to NPR, using the Apple TV for downloads or catching up on Nightline; at the computer answering email related to various publications and responsibilities or tracking the stock market or updating his blog; walking outside with the dogs throwing the ball; with his head in a book or the Bible preparing sermon texts or articles for journals. Never one to need a great deal of sleep his usually up WAY before dawn and has put in half a normal workday before the rest of the family is awake and coherent.
Elizabeth has switched medical practices and is working part-time in a family practice an hour north of her home in a small town with one traffic light and an IGA food store. Being available to her children and husband for support, talking, errands, counsel and laughter fills her days to the brim and sometimes it overflows in not the easiest of ways.

Abigail spent this summer studying French Literature in Paris, which was a perfect fusion of her love for French and English. She transferred this fall to the College of Charleston as a sophomore, and is enjoying every moment of her new friends and classes. Her American Literature and Literary Studies classes have both refueled her passion for her English major, and she is excited about pursuing this field in the future. After three years of dormitory drama, she finally has her own apartment, which is situated in the old ballroom of a historic Charleston house. She is an active member of a small group with Seacoast church in Mt. Pleasant, and enjoys every chance she gets to drive over the new Cooper River Bridge. Abigail misses the snow of New England and hopes to return North in the future; for now she is looking forward to spring in Charleston and its every-weekend mass exodus to the beach.

Nathaniel is currently knee-deep in the college-app period of his life. Juggling which schools take what form and when is it due and who is writing the references and (praise God) no more SAT exams. This fall he was not home much between school, girlfriend and 2 varsity sports – cross-country and swimming. He will adamantly state that he hates to not have something to do and so we mostly keep in touch by text messaging with a nightly check-in. At present he is considering a double major of economics and computer science but recognizes this may change (as in “have you ever heard of ocean engineering? I was reading up on it and it sounds fascinating!”)

Selimah has transitioned to a boarding school this year and is currently at the Millbrook School in Millbrook NY. Adjusting to freezing weather and lifestyles that may be radically different from hers has pushed her out of her comfort zone but she continues to be resilient with a wry sense of humor. She continues to ride Aherlow, her Irish Sport Horse, who is boarded near the school, and she has discovered the racquet sport of squash this fall, making it onto the junior varsity team. Her competitive drive gets its outlet in smashing the ball. She is also a worker at the Trevor Zoo on the school campus and is currently working with the otters this term and previously tended to the black and white lemurs. The future may hold some kind of animal training or husbandry for her as a work profession.

Posted in * By Kendall, * Christian Life / Church Life, Harmon Family, Spirituality/Prayer

Anglican Church of Nigeria Consecrates 14 new bishops

AT least fourteen new bishops were yesterday in Ughelli, Delta State , consecrated by the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion with an exhortation to be good shepherds and not a wolves to the flocks of Christ .

Making the clarion call while consecrating the bishops during the service held at the All Saints Cathedral Church, Ughelli, the Archbishop and Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, the Most Revd Peter Akinola told the new bishops to abide by the discipline of Jesus Christ in the discharge of their duties as clergies.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry

Dina Mann: Virtual church can't replace real thing

I recently asked a client that I care for about his feelings on televised and virtual church services. He watches them often because illness prevents him from attending “real church.” He said he felt “alone” because there were no people physically around him. He felt disconnected.

My own experience of online prayer and worship is also along these lines. For awhile I attended Compline online and felt a sense of desolation.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Episcopal Church (TEC), Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry

William Rees-Mogg: We may want to borrow but will anyone lend?

Shortly before Christmas, the Speaker of the House of Lords, Baroness Hayman, invited a group of peers and journalists to a meeting to discuss the economic crisis. I was particularly struck by the contribution of Lord Howe of Aberavon, who was the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the early years of the Thatcher Government.

He said that his memory of the financial crisis when the Conservatives returned to power in 1979 was not whether the Government should borrow, but whether it could borrow.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Credit Markets, Economy, England / UK, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Crisis in Gaza imperils 2-state plan

With every image of the dead in Gaza inflaming people across the Arab world, Egyptian and Jordanian officials are worried that they see a fundamental tenet of the Middle East peace process slipping away: the so-called two-state solution, an independent Palestinian state coexisting with Israel.

Egypt and Jordan fear that they will be pressed to absorb the Palestinian populations now living beyond their borders. If Israel does not assume responsibility for humanitarian aid in Gaza, for example, pressure could compel Egypt to fill the vacuum; Jordan, in turn, worries that Israel will try to push Palestinians from the West Bank into its territory.

In that case, both states fear, they could become responsible for policing the conflict between the Palestinians and Israel, undermining their peace treaties with Israel.

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Egypt, Israel, Middle East, War in Gaza December 2008--

Steven Pinker: My genome, my self

Even if personal genomics someday delivers a detailed printout of psychological traits, it will probably not change everything, or even most things. It will give us deeper insight about the biological causes of individuality, and it may narrow the guesswork in assessing individual cases. But the issues about self and society that it brings into focus have always been with us. We have always known that people are liable, to varying degrees, to antisocial temptations and weakness of the will. We have always known that people should be encouraged to develop the parts of themselves that they can (“a man’s reach should exceed his grasp”) but that it’s foolish to expect that anyone can accomplish anything (“a man has got to know his limitations”). And we know that holding people responsible for their behavior will make it more likely that they behave responsibly. “My genes made me do it” is no better an excuse than “We’re depraved on account of we’re deprived.”

Many of the dystopian fears raised by personal genomics are simply out of touch with the complex and probabilistic nature of genes. Forget about the hyperparents who want to implant math genes in their unborn children, the “Gattaca” corporations that scan people’s DNA to assign them to castes, the employers or suitors who hack into your genome to find out what kind of worker or spouse you’d make. Let them try; they’d be wasting their time….

You can’t understand the stock market by studying a single trader, or a movie by putting a DVD under a microscope. The fallacy is not in thinking that the entire genome matters, but in thinking that an individual gene will matter, at least in a way that is large and intelligible enough for us to care about.

So if you are bitten by scientific or personal curiosity and can think in probabilities, by all means enjoy the fruits of personal genomics. But if you want to know whether you are at risk for high cholesterol, have your cholesterol measured; if you want to know whether you are good at math, take a math test. And if you really want to know yourself (and this will be the test of how much you do), consider the suggestion of François La Rochefoucauld: “Our enemies’ opinion of us comes closer to the truth than our own.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Science & Technology, Theology

Tony Blair, now international envoy to the Middle East, on how to stop the fighting in Gaza

Q: Bush is at the end of his term, Obama has been very quiet. Do you see a leadership deficit during this crisis?

A: I think everybody’s working hard to bring it to a solution. But the problem is””the problem remains the problem. The problem is that the Palestinian side is divided. The only way out of this, in the end, is to provide that viable way forward for a Palestinian state. It can be done. Whether it’s the present administration or the next administration, that’s what it takes.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Israel, Middle East, Terrorism, Violence, War in Gaza December 2008--