Daily Archives: January 21, 2009

Os Guinness: Faith and Inauguration

A terrible question stalks our land, even at this moment of promise and hope: Is there any principle left by which the United States can transcend the present bitterness and divisions over religion in public life and live up to the promise of the American experiment? Race was the older and, many thought, deeper of America’s problems, but today’s celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday as well as Barack Obama’s election shows how far we have come. Religion in public life is the next challenge.

James Madison called America’s original settlement of this contentious issue the “true remedy,” and for a long time it was certainly the most nearly perfect solution the world has seen.

Today, however, controversies over religion in public life have become the holy war front of the wider culture wars, and the American settlement is going awry. Whether it’s the posting of the Ten Commandments in public places, faith-draped monuments to our war dead or even a government-church partnership ”” as with the faith-based initiatives ”” controversy invariably rears its head at the intersection of religion and public life.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture

Stimulus Projects May Be Slow, CBO Says

Less than half the money dedicated to highways, school construction and other infrastructure projects in a massive economic stimulus package unveiled by House Democrats is likely to be spent within the next two years, according to congressional budget analysts, meaning most of the spending would come too late to lift the nation out of recession.

A report by the Congressional Budget Office found that only about $136 billion of the $355 billion that House leaders want to allocate to infrastructure and other so-called discretionary programs would be spent by Oct. 1, 2010. The rest would come in future years, long after the CBO and other economists predict the recession will have ended.

The report does not analyze the entire $825 billion package assembled by House leaders and aides to President Obama. Parts of the legislation are scheduled to be considered today in the House Appropriations Committee. Other portions of the proposal — including $275 billion in tax cuts and nearly $200 billion for jobless benefits, health care for the poor and other entitlement programs — are expected to pour cash into the nation’s faltering economy much more quickly.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009

Dan Balz: Obama Signals Need for a Sharp Break From the Past

Most clearly, yesterday’s activities confirmed that Obama’s presidency will mark a sharp break from that of George W. Bush. The new president did not hesitate to highlight their differences. Obama spoke of a change of course in the Iraq war and of the “false choice between our safety and our ideals.” Those last words were aimed at the previous administration’s positions on civil liberties and harsh interrogation techniques. Most striking, given Bush’s unpopularity abroad, was Obama’s declaration to a world watching intently and eagerly that “we are ready to lead again.”

Still, perhaps mindful that during his campaign he faced doubts about his readiness to lead in a time of war, Obama was careful to balance his pledge to use diplomacy and cooperation in dealing with the rest of the world with steely words of resolve. To those out to harm the country, he said: “Our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken. You cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.”

The confluence of events and Obama’s politics suggest that his presidency could bring a more momentous shift — from an era of conservative governance to one in which Washington assumes a more central role in the life of the country.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, History, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama

Barbara Kay: The challenge of the black family

He’s not only the first black president, but the good dad he wishes he’d had. She’s not just the first black first lady, but the good mom her good parents raised her to be. Just being themselves, the Obamas ”” a stable and mutually respectful couple, traditionally bourgeois in all the important ways ”” may inspire a more critical healing process than the ongoing one between American blacks and whites: namely, bridging the 45-year-old rift between black men and black women.

It is a great irony of American history that the passage of the longest-overdue social legislation ever written ”” the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act ”” coincided with the collapse in the general culture of the very institutions ”” religion and marriage ”” that sustained black dignity and self-respect throughout centuries of slavery and entrenched racism.

America’s resilient majority-white society was rocked, but not completely rolled, by the sexual revolution that erupted at the end of the civil rights era. But the social pillars of a psychologically fragile black community were toppled in that anti-establishment earthquake.

Read the whole piece.

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

The Full Text of the Inaugural poem

Check it out.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Office of the President, Poetry & Literature, Politics in General, President Barack Obama

Another first: Obama acknowledges 'non-believers'

On a morning of countless firsts in U.S. history, add this: Barack Obama’s inaugural speech is the first time a president has ever explicitly acknowledged not only “Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus” but non-believers as well.

“This inclusiveness is a signature moment in American inaugural history,” says David Domke, professor of communications at the University of Washington in Seattle, who has analyzed religious language in seven decades of inaugural and State of the Union addresses.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Office of the President, Other Faiths, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture

Church of England welcomes Obama inauguration

The Inauguration of Barack Obama this week has been hailed by Church leaders in the UK.

The Church of England’s Committee for Minority Anglican Concerns hailed his election as a ”˜truly redemptive moment’ for the USA.

The group’s chair, the Rev Rose Hudson Wilkin, said: “The election last November of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the USA, culminating in his inauguration this week, is a most momentous occasion.

“His election was a truly redemptive moment and one of pride and aspiration for many people….”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama

Fleming Rutledge: Gene Robinson and the Universal Gospel

The basic problem with Bishop Gene Robinson is not that he is openly and actively homosexual. The real problem is that he does not believe Christianity is a universal faith, nor does he believe that the Hebrew and Christian scriptures have a universal message. Why do I say that? Well, because of some things he said that are quoted in The New York Times. In an article about his being chosen to give a public prayer at the time of the inauguration (not at the inaugural ceremony itself), he said that he had been reading former inaugural prayers and was “horrified” at how “aggressively Christian” they are. He says that his prayer at the time of the inauguration will not be a Christian prayer at all, “and I won’t be quoting Scripture or anything like that.” He said he might offer a prayer to the “God of our many understandings” (using AA language)….

….for a Bishop of the Christian Church to say (aggressively) that he is shocked by Christian prayers offered at past inaugurations and that he will not offer a Christian prayer suggests that he does not really believe that the Christian gospel is truly universal (I do not use that wimpy word “inclusive”).

Read it all. It is about Christology and universal truth claims indeed. And Gene Robinson is just one of many TEC leaders who illustrate this central problem–KSH.

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

Posted in Uncategorized

The 'Toxic' Web generation: Children spend six hours a day in front of screens

Youngsters are shunning books and outdoor games to spend up to six hours a day in front of a screen, a survey has revealed.

Children as young as five are turning their bedrooms into multi-media ‘hubs’ with TVs, computers, games consoles, MP3 players and mobile phones all within easy reach.

The trend triggered warnings that the next generation will struggle to compete in the adult world because they lack reading and writing skills.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Blogging & the Internet, Children, England / UK, Science & Technology

WSJ: The Bush Economy

President Bush is leaving office amid the worst recession in 25 years, and naturally his economic policies are getting the blame. But before we move on to the era of Obamanomics, it’s important to understand what really happened during the Bush years — not least so we don’t repeat the same mistakes….

By pushing all of this excess credit into the economy, the Fed created a housing and mortgage mania that Wall Street was only too happy to be part of. Yes, many on the Street abandoned their normal risk standards. But they were goaded by an enormous subsidy for debt. Wall Street did get “drunk” but Washington had set up the open bar.

For that matter, most everyone else was also drinking the free booze: from homebuyers who put nothing down for a loan, to a White House that bragged about record home ownership, to the Democrats who promoted and protected Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. (Those two companies helped turbocharge the mania by using a taxpayer subsidy to attract trillions of dollars of foreign capital into U.S. housing.) No one wanted the party to end, though sooner or later it had to….

This history is crucial to understand, both for the Democrats who now assume the levers of power and for Republicans who will want to return to power some day. Mr. Bush and his team did many things right after inheriting one bubble. They were ruined by monetary excess that created a second, more dangerous credit mania. They forgot one of the main lessons of Reaganomics, which is the importance of stable money.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Credit Markets, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Office of the President, Politics in General, President George Bush, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package

Nebraska Episcopal Church is focus of court fight

The Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska is suing the rector and lay leaders of a breakaway parish, St. Barnabas. Diocesan officials want the Rev. Robert Scheiblhofer and company to leave the historic church at 129 N. 40th St. and the rectory next door, now that the parish has rejected the authority of the Episcopal Church. The diocese contends it is the rightful owner of the property under church rules and state law.

Scheiblhofer and other parish leaders say they aren’t going anywhere. They contend that the property has always belonged to the parish, that it still does and that the diocese has no claim to it.

The diocese has asked the Douglas County District Court to resolve the dispute. An attorney for Scheiblhofer and St. Barnabas’ vestry, or governing body, is seeking to have the suit thrown out. The first hearing in the case is set for Wednesday.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts

The Washington Post Offers a Glimpse Inside the Worship Service at Saint John's Yesterday

“Through you, may God bless America in a way that we are a blessing to the whole world,” one of the first speakers, Pastor Joel Hunter, told Obama.

Bishop T.D. Jakes, a senior pastor from Houston, used Scripture to offer the incoming president four lessons for his administration. “In time of crisis, good men must stand up,” Jakes said. “God always sends the best men into the worst times.” He also told the worshipers, “This is not a time for politeness or correctness; this is a time for people to confront issues and bring about change. . . . You cannot enjoy the light without enduring the heat.”

Looking directly at Obama, Jakes said, “The problems are mighty and the solutions are not simple, and everywhere you turn there will be a critic waiting to attack every decision that you make. But you are all fired up, sir, and you are ready to go. And this nation goes with you. God goes with you.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, Episcopal Church (TEC), Liturgy, Music, Worship, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Spirituality/Prayer, TEC Parishes

Rick Warren's inaugural invocation gets mixed reviews

In his inaugural invocation Tuesday, evangelical Pastor Rick Warren delivered a message of unity that pleased some of his most vocal critics in the gay and lesbian community.

Yet even as the founder of Orange County’s Saddleback Church appeared to mollify those who have fought with him over gay marriage, he raised other eyebrows by invoking Jesus’ name and concluding with the Lord’s Prayer — both distinctly Christian practices on a day that has typically been characterized by more general expressions of “civil religion.”

“I don’t think he acquitted himself very well,” said Randall Balmer, a professor of American religious history at Columbia University who considers Warren a friend. “To lead the nation in saying the Lord’s Prayer, which is so particularly Christian, was a mistake.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Office of the President, Other Churches, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer

LA Times: Obama sets fresh course for 'remaking America'

Barack Hussein Obama took the oath of office today as the nation’s 44th president — and the nation’s first black chief executive — and told Americans shaken by economic despair and war that shared sacrifice would be required to draw the nation back to prosperity and peace.

“Our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed,” Obama declared in a ringing inaugural address. “Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and begin again the work of remaking America.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama

From the Do Not Take Yourself too Seriously Department

Asked about the kind of job he wanted, an applicant at our tax management company stated, “I seek full authority but limited responsibility.”

–Mike Wilkerson in the February 2009 Reader’s Digest, page 53

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * General Interest, Economy, Humor / Trivia, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market