Daily Archives: January 19, 2009

Floyd Norris: Should We Force Banks to Lend?

Why save banks if they will not lend?

That has become a significant political issue on both sides of the Atlantic as governments confront the reality that preventing the financial system from collapsing is not the same as repairing it.

In Britain, that led the government of Prime Minister Gordon Brown to announce a new round of bailouts, with a twist. “In return to access to any government support, there will have to be an increase in lending, and that will be legally binding,” Mr. Brown told a news conference today.

In the United States, aides to President-elect Barack Obama sounded a similar theme. “The focus isn’t going to be on the needs of banks,” Mr. Obama’s chief economic adviser, Lawrence H. Summers, said. “It’s going to be on the needs of the economy for credit.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Credit Markets, Economy, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package

Blog of the Nation: What Gene Robinson Actually Said

Follow the links here to the transcript and the video.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to at KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Spirituality/Prayer, TEC Bishops, Theology

Notable and Quotable

[MELISSA] BLOCK: Have you been finding inspiration in the words of other invocations that were delivered?

Bishop ROBINSON: Actually, I’ve mostly found caution in the words of others. I’ve actually read back over the inaugural prayers of the last 30 or 40 years and frankly, I’ve been shocked at how aggressively Christian they are. And my intention is not to invoke the name of Jesus, but to make this a prayer for Christians and non-Christians alike.

Although I hold the Scripture to be the word of God, you know, those Scriptures are holy to me and to Jews and Christians. But to many other faith traditions – they have their own sacred texts. And so, rather than insert that and really exclude them from the prayer by doing so, I want this to be a prayer to the God of our many understandings, and a prayer that all people of faith can join me in.

BLOCK: The God of our many understandings.

Bishop ROBINSON: Yes. You know, I was in treatment for alcoholism three years ago and am grateful to be sober today. And one of the things that I’ve learned in 12-step programs is this phrase, the God of my understanding. It allows people to pray to a God of really, many understandings, and let’s face it, each one of us has a different understanding of God. No one of us can fully understand God or else God wouldn’t be God.

BLOCK: I’m not sure that that God of many understandings has ever been invoked in an inauguration before.

Bishop ROBINSON: Well, I’ve done a lot of things for the first time in my life, and I will be proud to do this one.

From NPR’s All Things Considered on January 13, 2009 (the audio link for which was earlier posted on the blog here)

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to at KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Christology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Spirituality/Prayer, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, Theology

Church of England may ban clergy from joining BNP

The Church of England is to consider banning clergy from joining the British National party amid fears the far-right party is promoting its image as Christian.

Next month’s General Synod, the church’s national assembly, will debate a motion calling on Anglican bishops to formulate a similar policy to that of the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) on the BNP.

The Acpo policy states that no member of the police service may be a member of an organisation whose constitution, aims, objectives or pronouncements contradict the “general duty” to promote race equality. This specifically includes the BNP, the policy states.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE)

Religious Intelligence: Anglican Church chided over Rwanda ”˜Gospel’

The Anglican Church let down the people of Rwanda by preaching a false gospel whose pious words were not backed up by right actions, Prime Minister Bernard Makuza said at the consecration service of the new bishop of Butare.

While he lauded its economic and social development work on behalf of the country, the central task of the church, he argued, was to preach a Gospel that led to the transformation of the inner man. “Churches and religions should embark on teachings that help Rwandans to change their mindset, behaviour and way of doing things. Church teachings must be followed by action” Makuza said on Jan 10.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Rwanda, Theology

Utah's Episcopal bishop to step down in '10

Utah’s Episcopal Bishop — the first woman to serve in that position west of the Potomac River — announced Sunday she would retire in 2010.

Congregations were told that Rt. Rev. Carolyn Tanner Irish would step down during her 14th year of service.

“It will be a retirement well-earned,” said Rev. Mary June Nestler, who has worked with Irish over the past 2½ years. “Few people work harder. She is unfailingly kind and compassionate, and it has been a great pleasure for me to be a part of her team.”

In 1996, Irish became one of the first woman bishops in the Episcopal Church, and the first female bishop west of the Potomac River. Nestler called Irish’s appointment an “incredibly important” accomplishment.

Read it all.

Update: A 10 year graph of some diocese of Utah figures may be found here.

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

Communiqu̩: The Anglican РMethodist International Commission for Unity in Mission

(ACNS) The Anglican – Methodist International Commission for Unity in Mission held its first meeting in the Centro Anglicano de la Diócesis de México in Mexico City, as guests of the Anglican Consultative Council. The Commission was co-chaired by the Right Revd Harold Miller, the Bishop of Down and Dromore (Church of Ireland), for the Anglican Communion, and the Revd Professor Robert Gribben (Uniting Church in Australia), Chairman of the Standing Committee on Ecumenics and Dialogue, on behalf of the World Methodist Council.

The Commission has been given a mandate by its sponsoring bodies as set out in the London Document, the Report of the Anglican – Methodist International Consultation, which took place in London, UK, in November 2007. Building on our common confession of the apostolic faith and our participation in God’s mission, the purpose of the Commission is to advance the full visible communion of Anglicans and Methodists at every level as a contribution to the full visible unity of the Church of Christ. It has been asked to monitor and resource relations between Anglicans and Methodists, and to propose ways to achieve this goal.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, Methodist, Other Churches

Some faiths left out of prayer service

Four Episcopalians and three Jews lead the list of religious figures selected to give sermons, prayers, Scripture readings and blessings at the National Prayer Service at the Washington National Cathedral.

The invitation-only service Wednesday morning, to be attended by the new president and vice president plus members of Congress, the Supreme Court and hundreds of foreign diplomats, will be built around themes of “tolerance, unity and understanding,” according to a press statement released Friday.

Several groups, including Buddhists, Seventh-day Adventists, the Salvation Army and Mormons, were left out entirely.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer

The Steelers Do it Again!

I was worried when it was 16-14 in the fourth quarter. Troy Polamalu played an unbelievable game.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Sports

Hamas Agrees to One-Week Cease-Fire in Gaza Conflict

European leaders gathered in Jerusalem on Sunday evening as Israel sought help in converting a fragile pause in the fighting in Gaza into a blueprint for a more durable calm.

Earlier Sunday, Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza, and other militant groups announced an immediate, week-long cease-fire in the confrontation with Israel. The announcement came about 12 hours after a unilateral Israeli cease-fire went into effect, raising hopes that the 22-day war that killed about 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis had come to an end.

Hamas and its associates gave Israeli troops a week to leave Gaza. Hamas leaders had previously said the group would continue fighting so long as Israeli forces remained in the territory.

Referring to the one-week deadline, Mark Regev, a spokesman for Israel’s prime minister, Ehud Olmert, said that Israel does not “take dictates from Hamas.” But he insisted that Israel, which launched an air offensive against Hamas on Dec. 27 and sent ground forces in a week later, has no desire to stay in Gaza for long.

One week is not long enough but it is a start; let us hope it moves in the direction of a lasting Cease-Fire. Read it all.

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

Congratulations to the Arizona Cardinals

They beat the Eagles and are going to the Super Bowl.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Sports

Thomas Friedman: Time for Shock Therapy for the Banking System

Many commentators have suggestions for Barack Obama on what should be his first meeting at the White House. Here is mine: Mr. Obama and his economic team should convene the 300 leading bank presidents in the East Room and the president should say to each one of them something like this:

“Ladies and gentlemen, this crisis started with you, the bankers, engaging in reckless practices, and it will only end when we clean up your mess and start afresh. The banking system is the heart of our economy. It pumps blood to our industrial muscles, and right now it’s not pumping. We all know that in the past six months you’ve gone from one extreme to another. You’ve gone from lending money to anyone who could fog up a knife to now treating all potential borrowers, no matter how healthy, as bankrupt until proven innocent. And, therefore, you’re either not lending to them or lending under such onerous terms that the economy can’t get any liftoff. No amount of stimulus will work without a healthy banking system.

“So here’s what we’re going to do: we’re going to unclog the arteries. My banking experts have analyzed each of your balance sheets. You will tell us if we’re right. Those of you who are insolvent, we will nationalize and shut down. We will auction off your viable assets and will hold the toxic ones in a government reconstruction fund and sell them later when the market rebounds. Those of you who are weak will be merged. And those of you who are strong will receive added capital for your balance sheets, after you write down all your remaining toxic waste. I am not going to continue rewarding the losers and dimwits amongst you with handouts.”

Without this sort of come-to-Jesus strategy, we’re going to continue to just limp along. We’ll never quite confront the real problem because we don’t want to take the upfront pain. Therefore, the market will never clear ”” meaning start-ups in need of capital will be choked in their cribs and profit-making firms won’t be able to grow as they should.

Read it all. As far as I am concerned, Mr. Friedman hits this one out of the park. This crisis is about massive overleveraging at every level of the economy, especially in the banking system. It has to be fixed, and those who want to fix it need to get ahead of the problem (they are still behind)–KSH.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Credit Markets, Economy, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package

Bailout Is a Windfall to Banks, if Not to Borrowers

At the Palm Beach Ritz-Carlton last November, John C. Hope III, the chairman of Whitney National Bank in New Orleans, stood before a ballroom full of Wall Street analysts and explained how his bank intended to use its $300 million in federal bailout money.

“Make more loans?” Mr. Hope said. “We’re not going to change our business model or our credit policies to accommodate the needs of the public sector as they see it to have us make more loans.”

As the incoming Obama administration decides how to fix the economy, the troubles of the banking system have become particularly vexing.

Congress approved the $700 billion rescue plan with the idea that banks would help struggling borrowers and increase lending to stimulate the economy, and many lawmakers want to know how the first half of that money has been spent before approving the second half. But many banks that have received bailout money so far are reluctant to lend, worrying that if new loans go bad, they will be in worse shape if the economy deteriorates.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Credit Markets, Economy, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package

South Carolina Mark Sanford: Now is time to make overdue changes in South Carolina

The Wall Street Journal printed an interesting piece Tuesday titled “Freedom is Still the Winning Formula,” which summed up the findings of this year’s index of economic freedom. It turns out that there’s an amazing correlation between economic freedom and national income, as the freest enjoy per capita income over 10 times higher than those countries that are viewed as repressed.

Hong Kong took the top spot for the 15th year in a row, and its successes in growing an economy ”” though it isn’t blessed with natural resources ”” should serve as an example for those of us who would like to grow jobs and economic opportunity in our state.

This is particularly the case given the trying economic times, as they could well be the tipping point in facilitating change that I believe has been long overdue in South Carolina. All of this is a long preamble to saying that the five goals I laid out in the State of the State Wednesday night are ultimately about making our economy more competitive ”” and recognizing that if there was ever a year to make change, this is the year. Rather than waiting on a bailout from Washington to stimulate our economy, we propose following the Hong Kong example of both low and flat taxes.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Economy, Politics in General, State Government

For Roman Catholic Schools, Crisis and Catharsis

It is a familiar drill in nearly all of the nation’s Roman Catholic school systems: a new alarm every few years over falling enrollment; church leaders huddling over what to do; parents rallying to save their schools. And then the bad news.

When the Diocese of Brooklyn last week proposed closing 14 more elementary schools, it was not the deepest but only the latest of a thousand cuts suffered, one tearful closing announcement at a time, as enrollment in the nation’s Catholic schools has steadily dropped by more than half from its peak of five million 40 years ago.

But recently, after years of what frustrated parents describe as inertia in the church hierarchy, a sense of urgency seems to be gripping many Catholics who suddenly see in the shrinking enrollment a once unimaginable prospect: a country without Catholic schools.

From the ranks of national church leaders to the faithful in the pews, there are dozens of local efforts to forge a new future for parochial education by rescuing the remaining schools or, if need be, reinventing them. The efforts are all being driven, in one way or another, by a question in a University of Notre Dame task force report in 2006: “Will it be said of our generation that we presided over the demise” of Catholic schools?

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Education, Other Churches, Roman Catholic