Daily Archives: January 22, 2009

NY Times: A Diverse First Presidential Morning Prayer

The Roman Catholic archbishop of Washington, Donald W. Wuerl; the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori; and the primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, Archbishop Demetrios, also offered prayers at other moments in the service.

“It was a conscientious effort to have a broad tapestry representing the faces of American religion,” said Rabbi David N. Saperstein, director and counsel of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, in Washington.

The participants, prayers and even the hymns were chosen by a committee of Mr. Obama’s advisers on religious issues. Altogether, there were three rabbis because the committee wanted to have representatives from the Reform, the Conservative and the Orthodox branches of Judaism (the Orthodox branch usually prohibits participation in a prayer service in a Christian sanctuary).

The Rev. Jim Wallis, a liberal evangelical who is president of Sojourners, a magazine and grass-roots organization based in Washington, said that he and other religious leaders were preparing for a dual role: to challenge the president on policies, and “to clear the way” so people will be prepared to accept the changes he institutes.

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

T.D. Jakes Shares His Inauguration Experience

When it comes to getting advice, President Barack Obama is following the same path as the two men who came before him.

He’s leaning on Bishop T. D. Jakes of the Potter’s House in Dallas. The bishop returned from Washington Wednesday afternoon.

“It was an amazing experience,” Jakes said. He summed up the entire day in one word, “Unity.”

“Republicans and Democrats, young and old were coming together in a sense that was mind boggling.”

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

Living Church: Change of Schedule for Primates’ Meeting

A change in the announced dates for the upcoming primates’ meeting and a slight adjustment to the published calendar of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will make it possible for her to attend the final day of the gathering of Anglican leaders in Alexandria, Egypt.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Primates

Waco Episcopal Church holds inauguration-themed service

Since the days of the founding of this Republic, Episcopalians have prayed each inauguration day that “Rulers may have grace, wisdom and understanding to execute justice and to maintain truth.”

In keeping with a tradition of more than 230 years, some 40 people attended a prayer service at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church of Waco this morning to request heaven’s aid to guide incoming President Barack Obama.

Although Psalm 146 advises “Put not your trust in rulers, nor in any child of earth, for there is no help in them. When they breathe their last, they return to earth and in that day their thoughts perish,” the faithful nonetheless asked God to bless the President of the United States and all those in authority to make them ever mindful of their calling to serve the people.

“Grant them wisdom and strength to know and to do your will,” said the Rev. Jeff Fisher, rector of St. Alban’s.

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

Sharon Watkin's Sermon at Yesterday's National Cathedral Service for the New President

Mr. President and Mrs. Obama, Mr. Vice President and Dr. Biden, and your families, what an inaugural celebration you have hosted! Train ride, opening concert, service to neighbor, dancing till dawn . . .

And yesterday . . . With your inauguration, Mr. President, the flame of America’s promise burns just a little brighter for every child of this land!

There is still a lot of work to do, and today the nation turns its full attention to that work. As we do, it is good that we pause to take a deep spiritual breath. It is good that we center for a moment. What you are entering now, Mr. President and Mr. Vice President, will tend to draw you away from your ethical center. But we, the nation that you serve, need you to hold the ground of your deepest values, of our deepest values.

Beyond this moment of high hopes, we need you to stay focused on our shared hopes, so that we can continue to hope, too.

We will follow your lead.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Disciples of Christ, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Office of the President, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Preaching / Homiletics, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer

Archbishop Williams to visit Diocese of Ely for launch of 900th anniversary celebrations

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams will pay a pastoral visit to the Diocese of Ely as it launches its 900th anniversary celebrations this weekend, 23”“25 January.

During his visit, Dr Williams will meet with all the clergy of the Diocese, and visit communities reflecting its diversity, before taking part in the inaugural Eucharist of the 900th anniversary celebrations at Ely Cathedral on Saturday 24th January. The visit will end on Sunday at Great St Mary’s Church, Cambridge, where he will preach the Hulsean Sermon before the Vice-Chancellor and University.

His pastoral visit will begin on Friday 23rd January at 3 pm in Cambourne, a new town community near Cambridge. Dr Williams will dedicate the site for the construction of an eagerly awaited church building.

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

As the pound falls, so does the mood in Britain

An island nation that bulked up on debt and lived beyond its means. A plunging currency. And a financial system edging toward nationalization.

With the pound at a seven-year low and still falling, and the British banking system requiring ever-larger rounds of government support, it is no wonder that observers in recent days have pronounced this city “Reykjavik-on-Thames.”

While that judgment seems exaggerated, there are uncomfortable echoes of Iceland’s financial downfall in Britain’s trajectory. And for ordinary consumers, who enjoyed a long boom that transformed the drab United Kingdom of old into Cool Britannia, fears are growing that Britain could return to the economic stagnation of the 1970s.

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

On his first day, Obama quickly sets a new tone

President Barack Obama moved swiftly on Wednesday to impose new rules on government transparency and ethics, using his first full day in office to freeze the salaries of his senior aides, mandate new limits on lobbyists and demand that the government disclose more information.

Obama called the moves, which overturned two policies of his predecessor, “a clean break from business as usual.” Coupled with Tuesday’s Inaugural Address, which repudiated the Bush administration’s decisions on everything from science policy to fighting terrorism, the actions were another sign of the new president’s effort to emphasize an across-the-board shift in priorities, values and tone.

“For a long time now there’s been too much secrecy in this city,” Obama said at a swearing-in ceremony for senior officials at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, adjacent to the White House. He added, “Transparency and rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”

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

Christian thinkers grapple with credit crisis issues

Christian thinkers came together at Methodist Church House in London this week to talk about how the Churches could lead the way through the economic crisis.

The speakers at the conference, organised by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, examined the root causes of the current crisis from a faith perspective, and gave their thoughts on what the free churches’ role in addressing the global financial meltdown should be.

John Ellis, strategic leader of the Methodist Church Connexional Team and Treasurer of the United Reformed Church who previously worked at the Bank of England, made the connection between HSBC’s relatively safe riding of the economic storm and its chairman’s Christian faith.

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

The Herald: Bid to end discrimination against Catholics in rules for monarchy

A bid to end the ban on monarchs and heirs to the throne marrying Roman Catholics was introduced at Westminster yesterday in a bid to reverse “centuries of ingrained anti-Catholic prejudice” in Britain’s constitution.

Liberal Democrat MP Evan Harris’s Royal Marriages and Succession to the Crown (Prevention of Discrimination) Bill also seeks to end the discrimination against women in the line of succession under the 300-year-old Act of Settlement.

However, what the Oxford MP’s private member’s bill does not attempt to do is to change the law so that Catholics can become king or queen.

He told The Herald that his bill was not the vehicle for this as it would require the support of the UK Government, which was not minded at present to make such a major change given that it would lead to the disestablishment of the Church of England.

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

US News and World Report: For President Obama, a Somber, Inclusive Inaugural Prayer Service

Twenty clergy members participated in the service, including representatives from the Islamic Society of North America, the Hindu Temple Society of North America, and the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. Prayers were based on the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer but had been retouched to draw on George Washington’s 1789 prayer service and Abraham Lincoln’s 1865 inaugural address.

In her sermon, Watkins drew on words from an array of thinkers, including Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., the Cherokee Indians, and even the president himself. She particularly emphasized the need to draw on American values, like loving one’s neighbor, in the face of crises.

“Our individual well-being depends on a world in which liberty and justice prevail,” Watkins said. “This is the biblical way. It is also the American way.”

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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

Defence to invoke same sex marriage as polygamy trial begins in British Columbia

In February, 2005, Vic Toews, who was then Justice critic for the opposition Conservatives, said changing the definition of marriage would open the door to court challenges from people who wanted polygamous unions.

But even those who argued in favour of expanding the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples say they anticipated this sort of legal manoeuvre.

David Rayside, a political science professor at the University of Toronto who studied the same-sex debate, said yesterday he is not at all surprised that the defence is being attempted in a polygamy case. But he doesn’t think it will fly.

“The claims by same-sex couples were, in some respects, very conventional,” he said. “In fact, there has been no significant change in the direction of moving beyond two people.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Canada, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

FT: Tim Geithner pledges ”˜dramatic’ action

The Obama administration will take action on a “dramatic scale” to revive credit markets and strengthen banks so they are able to lend, Treasury secretary- designate Tim Geithner said on Wednesday.

Testifying to the Senate committee considering his nomination, Mr Geithner said the Obama team was working on a “comprehensive plan” to deal with the banks and hoped to unveil it soon.

“We’re going to have to do more to make sure that the institutions at the core of our system are strong enough that they can lend.”

He refused to offer any insight into how this might work, in spite of pressure from the markets, saying: “We have seen the costs in terms of uncertainty created by tentative signals not followed up with clear actions.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Credit Markets, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009

Caroline Kennedy Withdraws her Bid to be NY Senator

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Politics in General, Senate

Barack Obama’s 2006 Speech on Faith and Politics

It was because of these newfound understandings that I was finally able to walk down the aisle of Trinity United Church of Christ on 95th Street in the Southside of Chicago one day and affirm my Christian faith. It came about as a choice, and not an epiphany. I didn’t fall out in church. The questions I had didn’t magically disappear. But kneeling beneath that cross on the South Side, I felt that I heard God’s spirit beckoning me. I submitted myself to His will, and dedicated myself to discovering His truth.

That’s a path that has been shared by millions upon millions of Americans – evangelicals, Catholics, Protestants, Jews and Muslims alike; some since birth, others at certain turning points in their lives. It is not something they set apart from the rest of their beliefs and values. In fact, it is often what drives their beliefs and their values.

And that is why that, if we truly hope to speak to people where they’re at – to communicate our hopes and values in a way that’s relevant to their own – then as progressives, we cannot abandon the field of religious discourse.

Because when we ignore the debate about what it means to be a good Christian or Muslim or Jew; when we discuss religion only in the negative sense of where or how it should not be practiced, rather than in the positive sense of what it tells us about our obligations towards one another; when we shy away from religious venues and religious broadcasts because we assume that we will be unwelcome – others will fill the vacuum, those with the most insular views of faith, or those who cynically use religion to justify partisan ends.

In other words, if we don’t reach out to evangelical Christians and other religious Americans and tell them what we stand for, then the Jerry Falwells and Pat Robertsons and Alan Keyeses will continue to hold sway.

More fundamentally, the discomfort of some progressives with any hint of religion has often prevented us from effectively addressing issues in moral terms.

Read it all (For those of you who prefer, the Youtube video may be found here).

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