Daily Archives: January 28, 2009

Latest from Bishops in the House of Lords on C of E website

There are 26 bishops in the Lords (the ”˜Lords Spiritual’) who, as well as reading prayers at the start of each day’s meeting, play a full and active role in the life and work of the Upper House. They provide an independent voice, a spiritual insight and a regional perspective in their contributions to the House, which is informed by their work in the dioceses. They regularly speak on a wide range of subjects and are active on committees and in all party groups.

This month in the Lords, the Archbishop of York challenged the Government about lifting the ban on the short selling of shares in the current financial crisis, while the Bishops of Chelmsford and Manchester voiced concerns about the use of violence in and around Gaza and the humanitarian response.

The new website section is designed for those who want to discover more about the bishops’ past and current contributions in the Lords, as well as providing helpful information about the bishops’ present and historic role in the Upper House.

Read it all.

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

Stimulus Plan Would Provide Flood of Aid to Education

The economic stimulus plan that Congress has scheduled for a vote on Wednesday would shower the nation’s school districts, child care centers and university campuses with $150 billion in new federal spending, a vast two-year investment that would more than double the Department of Education’s current budget.

The proposed emergency expenditures on nearly every realm of education, including school renovation, special education, Head Start and grants to needy college students, would amount to the largest increase in federal aid since Washington began to spend significantly on education after World War II.

Critics and supporters alike said that by its sheer scope, the measure could profoundly change the federal government’s role in education, which has traditionally been the responsibility of state and local government.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Education, The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009

'Moments of Clarity' puts addiction in perspective

Christopher Kennedy Lawford’s first book was about his recovery from alcohol and heroin.

Now, Lawford has a new book out, Moments of Clarity: Voices From the Front Lines of Addiction, a compilation of 42 essays by ordinary people and celebrities including Martin Sheen, Susan Cheever, Alec Baldwin and Judy Collins, describing moments that led them to reach out for help.

In it, he describes his own “moment of clarity” on Feb. 17, 1986. He was standing at the windows of a brownstone in Boston and realized his addiction had reached the point of hopelessness.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Drugs/Drug Addiction

CSM: Israeli warplanes hit Hamas tunnels

The news Wednesday that Israeli warplanes bombed Palestinian supply tunnels running into the Gaza Strip again is more than a predictable hiccup in Israel’s self-declared cease-fire. A Palestinian bomb had killed an Israeli soldier on Tuesday. Israel responded with airstrikes the same day, and followed up Wednesday with air attacks on tunnels in the southern Gaza town of Rafah, on the Egyptian border. There were no reported casualties, but residents fled their homes in panic.

The raid underlines – if any underlining was needed – that any lasting truce is going to hinge on the question of what is allowed into Gaza and how.

Since Israel stopped allowing much except humanitarian supplies into Gaza two years ago, in a bid to undermine the strip’s Hamas rulers, Gazans have depended on a warren of tunnels from Egypt for everything from AK-47s to cheese. If they couldn’t get even legit stuff in through the Israeli-controlled border points, Gaza’s merchants have been bringing it in underground. And Hamas’s rocket builders have been bringing their weapons in that way, too.

Read it all.

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

Russia 'stops missile deployment in Europe because of Obama'

Russia held out an olive branch to President Barack Obama today by suspending plans to deploy missiles in Europe, according to a report in Moscow.

An official from Russia’s General Staff in Moscow told Interfax news that the move had been made because the new United States leadership was reconsidering plans to establish a missile defence shield in eastern Europe.

Deployment of Iskander short-range missiles, which can carry nuclear warheads, was being suspended in Russia’s Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad in response, the unidentified official said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Europe, Foreign Relations, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Russia

TEC Affiliated Pittsburgh Committee Statement Regarding Bishop Henry Scriven

An article that appeared on Episcopal Life Online on January 23, 2009 reported that Bishop Henry Scriven, the former Assistant Bishop for the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, had renounced his orders and that the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, had accepted that renunciation. Although the article may suggest otherwise, the Standing Committee understands that this action was not in any sense a disciplinary action or an action taken because of Bishop Scriven’s support for the attempt to realign the Diocese with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Cono Sur [formerly Southern Cone], Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Pittsburgh

US Presiding Bishop deposes Church of England Bishop

The Presiding Bishop of the US Episcopal Church has announced that she has deposed a bishop of the Church of England from the ordained ministry.

On Jan 23, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori announced that she had accepted the voluntary renunciation of ministry given to her by the Rt Rev Henry Scriven, Mission Director for South America of the newly merged South American Mission Society (SAMS) ”“ Church Mission Society (CMS) and removed him from the ranks of the ordained ministry.

Under the terms of American Canon law Bishop Scriven is now “released from the obligations of all ministerial offices, and is deprived of the right to exercise the gifts and spiritual authority as a minister of God’s word and sacraments conferred in ordination.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, TEC Polity & Canons

Living Church: Quincy Churches Vote on Affiliation

Members of Christ Church, Moline, Ill., narrowly defeated a proposal to remain with The Episcopal Church during the annual meeting on Jan. 25. The Rev. Canon Ed den Blauwen, the church’s rector, is president of the standing committee and vicar general of the Diocese of Quincy which voted to join the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone on a temporary basis during the annual synod last fall.

Members voted 80-59 to remain with The Episcopal Church, but failed to achieve the required two-thirds approval the diocese established in order to be released from the diocese. The vestry was divided, but not so bitterly that its members were unable to work together prior to the annual meeting, Canon den Blauwen said.

Read it all.

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

Michiko Kakutani on John Updike: A Relentless Mapper of America’s Mysteries

Endowed with an art student’s pictorial imagination, a journalist’s sociological eye and a poet’s gift for metaphor, John Updike ”” who died on Tuesday at 76 ”” was arguably this country’s one true all-around man of letters. He moved fluently from fiction to criticism, from light verse to short stories to the long-distance form of the novel: a literary decathlete in our age of electronic distraction and willful specialization, Victorian in his industriousness and almost blogger-like in his determination to turn every scrap of knowledge and experience into words.

It is as a novelist who opened a big picture window on the American middle class in the second half of the 20th century, however, that he will be best remembered. In his most resonant work, Mr. Updike gave “the mundane its beautiful due,” as he once put it, memorializing the everyday mysteries of love and faith and domesticity with extraordinary nuance and precision. In Kodachrome-sharp snapshots, he gave us the 50’s and early 60’s of suburban adultery, big cars and wide lawns, radios and hi-fi sets, and he charted the changing landscape of the 70’s and 80’s, as malls and subdivisions swallowed up small towns and sexual and social mores underwent a bewildering metamorphosis.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Books

An LA Times Editorial: Obama reaches out to Arab world

President Obama is not going to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, crush the Taliban, end Iran’s nuclear intransigence, get Syria to stop interfering in Lebanon or end the fighting in Iraq overnight — or next week, or possibly ever. Yet his interview Tuesday with the Al Arabiya satellite channel laid a foundation for better U.S. relations with the Arab world than we’ve had in many years.

Obama’s savvy diplomacy started before he even opened his mouth, with his selection of Al Arabiya to air the first official television interview he has granted since taking office. Not only did this signal a new level of involvement in Middle Eastern affairs, but it gave a boost to a Saudi-owned news channel founded in 2003 to present a more balanced view of regional conflicts than was being produced by the more Islamist-leaning Al Jazeera network. The latter has since become more objective in its coverage, possibly because it was losing viewers to Al Arabiya. Now it has even more incentive to play fair: the chance of landing the next Obama exclusive.

Read it all.

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

Unemployment exacerbates foreclosures in California

The wave of foreclosures, which began in early 2007, was initially triggered by falling home values and resets on adjustable-rate loans. But lenders and industry analysts say the trend is now being exacerbated by rising unemployment, which has shot up to 9.3% in California.

“The people who are defaulting now are not really people who recklessly got into loans they never could have afforded,” said Evan Wagner, the communications director for IndyMac Federal Bank, a big mortgage lender that, having collapsed last year, is being bought by private investors. “These are people who have lost their jobs or who have had their hours cut back at work.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

Russian Orthodox Church elects leader

The interim leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, seen as a modernizer who could seek a historic reconciliation with the Vatican and more autonomy from the state, was overwhelmingly elected patriarch Tuesday.

Metropolitan Kirill received 508 of the 700 votes cast during an all-day church congress in Moscow’s ornate Christ the Savior Cathedral, the head of the commission responsible for the election, Metropolitan Isidor, said hours after the secret ballot was over.

Kirill defeated a conservative rival, Metropolitan Kliment, who received 169 votes, Isidor said. Another 23 ballots were declared invalid.

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Russia

Pope's Stance On Bishops Draws Critics

Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to rehabilitate four excommunicated bishops ”” including a Holocaust denier ”” has caused dismay among Jewish leaders. But the move also has shocked many Roman Catholics, who fear it may point to a repudiation of the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s.

Just days before the pope revoked the excommunication of the four bishops, one of them, Richard Williamson, again denied the Holocaust.

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

Politico: Partisan Breakdown on the Stimulus?

Loath to criticize a president who enjoys stratospheric approval ratings and the good tidings of most Americans, Republicans on the Hill are instead framing their overwhelming opposition to the stimulus bill as a vote against a congressional Democratic leadership that is far less popular than Obama.

“It’s not so much his effort, it’s what the House has done with this bill, what Pelosi has done with this bill,” explained Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), a veteran member of the Appropriations Committee.

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), a young conservative firebrand, was more blunt when asked what happened to Obama’s honeymoon: “Ask Pelosi.”

Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.), a senior appropriator, said that “several people” registered complaints to Obama that the GOP had not been consulted in the development of the bills now being marked up in the Finance and Appropriations committees.

Read it all.

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

WSJ: Top-Selling Pastor Goes Quarterly

He has written one of the best-selling books in history. But can pastor Rick Warren sell a magazine?

The test starts this week, with the debut of Purpose Driven Connection, a quarterly publication from Reader’s Digest Association to be sold as part of a bundle of multimedia products its backers hope will connect Christians to each other and God. A subscription includes access to a Facebook-like Christian social-media Web site and DVD guides for leading a prayer group.

In some respects, the venture represents a sweet spot for publishers, who often think of their brands not as magazines but as tools to unite a community around a shared interest. The new publication has a headliner with legions of loyal disciples linked by their devotion to a subject far more profound than home furnishings or celebrity gossip.

Yet Mr. Warren and Reader’s Digest, partners in the project, would be hard-pressed to choose a tougher time to launch a magazine.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Economy, Evangelicals, Media, Other Churches