Daily Archives: February 4, 2009

Living Church: Primates Need Extra Time for Windsor Group Presentation

A presentation by the Windsor Continuation Group (WCG) to the primates’ meeting was scheduled for two hours on Tuesday morning, but spilled over into the afternoon.

In December, the WCG met at the Diocese of West Texas’s conference center and prepared a final draft of its report to the primates. The report was given to the primates Tuesday, but placed under a media embargo until the close of the conference. The news blackout extended to the day’s press conference, where the primates’ spokesman, the Most Rev. Philip Aspinall of Australia, would say only that the archbishops discussed the report over two sessions.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Primates, Primates Meeting Alexandria Egypt, February 2009, Windsor Report / Process

Vatican orders Holocaust row bishop to recant

Holocaust-denying bishop Richard Williamson must “unequivocally and publicly” change his views before he can be admitted to office in the Roman Catholic Church, the Vatican said Wednesday.

Marking a major U-turn for under-pressure Pope Benedict XVI, the Vatican statement also said that Williamson’s remarks were “not known” to the German pontiff “at the moment of lifting the excommunication” of the Englishman and three other renegade bishops last month.

Williamson is on record as denying that the Nazis used gas chambers to eliminate millions of Jews during World War II, saying only 200,000-300,000 Jews were killed in concentration camps.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, History, Inter-Faith Relations, Judaism, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

David Brooks: Ward Three Morality

I’ve become increasingly concerned about the rising number of rich people who are being caught unawares by shifts in the sumptuary code. First, there were those auto executives who didn’t realize that it is no longer socially acceptable to use private jets for lobbying trips to Washington. Then there was John Thain, who was humiliated because it is no longer acceptable to spend $35,000 on a commode for a Merrill Lynch office suite.

Then there are the Wall Street executives who were suddenly attacked from the White House for giving out the same sort of bonuses they’ve been giving out for years. Now there is Tom Daschle, who is being criticized for making $5 million off his Senate prestige.

I’m afraid there are rich people all around the country who are about to suffer similar social self-immolation because they don’t understand that the rules of privileged society have undergone a radical transformation.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Theology

It's cooler than ever to be a tween, but is childhood lost?

The prepubescent children of days gone by have given way to a cooler kid ”” the tween ”” who aspires to teenhood but is not quite there yet.

Tweens are in-between ”” generally the 8-to-12 set. The U.S. Census estimates that in 2009, tweens are about 20 million strong and projected to hit almost 23 million by 2020.

Among them now are Malia Obama, at 10 already a tween, and sister Sasha, who turns 8 this year. With the Obama daughters in the White House, the nation’s attention will focus even more on this emerging group ”” and the new “first tweens” will likely be high-profile representatives of their generation.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Teens / Youth

Ephram Radner Offers some Thoughts on the Toronto Diocesan Announcement on Same Sex Blessings

This is from the comments below but I am highlighting it in case others missed it:

I remain at a loss as to why this is being proposed NOW, and being made public NOW, just as the Primates meet. I am grateful for the openness and desire for discussion around the concrete proposals (unlike some dioceses with which I am familiar). And in the spirit of such discussion, I included the following in a letter I sent yesterday to two of the Toronto bishops.

It is hard to escape the fact that the process you have now set in motion — one that involves public proposals, discussions, synodical actions, and all dealing with a way of ordering a particular “pastoral response” that involves episcopal oversight and particular permissions, following directives that involve the nature of prayers ”“ cannot avoid being seen as one of ecclesial “authorization” of liturgical matters surrounding same-sex unions. The following words of the Archbishop of Canterbury were given at the end of the recent Lambeth Conference:

One of the problems around this is that people in different parts of the world clearly define ‘public’ and ‘rites’ and ‘blessing’ in rather different ways. I’d refer I think to what I said in the address this afternoon. As soon as there is a liturgical form it gives the impression: this has the Church’s stamp on it. As soon as that happens I think you’ve moved to another level of apparent commitment, and that I think is nowhere near where the Anglican Communion generally is. In the meeting of Primates at Gramado in Brazil some years ago, the phrase ‘A variety of pastoral response’ was used as an attempt to recognise that there were places where private prayers were said and, although there’s a lot of unease about that, there wasn’t quite the same strength of feeling about that as about public liturgies. But again ‘pastoral response’ has been interpreted very differently and there are those in the USA who would say: ‘Well, pastoral response means rites of blessing’, and I’m not very happy about that. (Final Press Conference, August 3, 2008)

I would underline two things in this response by Archbishop Williams. First, the key character of putting the “Church’s stamp” on same-sex unions somehow, simply by there being a publically permitted or authorized form of prayer (“liturgical form” ”“ which is a deliberately vague phrase), is crucial. Second, the fact that “pastoral response” was always understood among the Primates at least ”“ and even here with a great deal of trepidation ”“ as involving no more than “private prayers”. Although you and your colleagues may feel that you are proposing something that would fall within this realm of only informal acknowledgments of private prayer, the very process you are following will make this very difficult to sustain in the judgments of many others around the Communion. The fact is that, among other things, your proposal includes the following:

Ӣ Episcopal permission be given to a limited number of parishes, based on Episcopal discernment, to offer prayers and blessing (but not the nuptial blessing) to same-sex couples in stable, long-term, committed relationships, as an extension of the current pastoral norms.
Ӣ Episcopal guidelines on the nature of the prayers/blessing will be established. A particular rite will not be authorized.
Ӣ Episcopal permission for blessings will be required.
Ӣ Evaluation of this pastoral response will be undertaken after one year.
Ӣ No parish or clergy will be required to participate.
”¢ A Bishop’s Commission will be formed to create the guidelines, monitor activity and review.

All of this represents formal, episcopal, diocesan, public, liturgical prayers of blessing. And while it is true that the Archbishop’s remarks above do not carry any kind of formal authority in determining how the Church of Canada and her bishops will define “pastoral response”, I think it fair to say that his rather moderate definitions will be shared by, and even defined more strictly by, many others among our Communion partners. I believe, in short, that it will be very difficult indeed to make the case and persuade others of the fact that the Diocese of Toronto is not moving forward with a contravention of the informal moratorium articulated at Lambeth (and before), not to mention moving in a way that simply does not defer to the general concerns of many Anglicans around the world.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Primates, Anglican Provinces, Episcopal Church (TEC), Primates Meeting Alexandria Egypt, February 2009, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts, Windsor Report / Process

A closer look at the TV numbers makes this the most-watched Super Bowl

Sunday’s Super Bowl kept the officials scrambling to review hard-to-call plays on the field, so maybe it’s no surprise that the TV ratings needed a thorough look too.

After examining the numbers more closely, Nielsen Media Research said Tuesday that NBC’s game actually delivered an average of 98.7 million total viewers, making it the most-watched Super Bowl ever and the No. 2 telecast of all time, behind only the 1983 series finale of “MASH” with 106 million.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Movies & Television, Sports

Anglican Primates Press Briefing Tuesday 3rd February 2009

It lasts a little over 25 minutes for those who wish to watch it.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Primates, Primates Meeting Alexandria Egypt, February 2009, Zimbabwe

Your prayers are Requested for Amy Welborn

Her husband collapsed and died yesterday.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Blogging & the Internet, Death / Burial / Funerals, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Roman Catholic

Alicia Conill: Listening Is Powerful Medicine

It was Sunday. I had one last patient to see. I approached her room in a hurry and stood at the doorway. She was an older woman, sitting at the edge of the bed, struggling to put socks on her swollen feet. I crossed the threshold, spoke quickly to the nurse, scanned her chart noting she was in stable condition. I was almost in the clear.

I leaned on the bedrail looking down at her. She asked if I could help put on her socks. Instead, I launched into a monologue that went something like this: “How are you feeling? Your sugars and blood pressure were high but they’re better today. The nurse mentioned you’re anxious to see your son who’s visiting you today. It’s nice to have family visit from far away. I bet you really look forward to seeing him.”

She stopped me with a stern, authoritative voice. “Sit down, doctor. This is my story, not your story.”

I was surprised and embarrassed. I sat down.

So utterly simple and yet so often forgotten. Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

A Map of the U.S. Showing the Underfunded Status of State Pension Funds

Pretty sobering stuff.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Politics in General, State Government, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

U.S. Plans to Curb Executive Pay for Bailout Recipients

The Obama administration is expected to impose a cap of $500,000 for top executives at companies that receive large amounts of bailout money, according to people familiar with the plan.

Executives would also be prohibited from receiving any bonuses above their base pay, except for normal stock dividends.

President Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner plan to announce the executive compensation plan on Wednesday morning at the White House.

The new rules would be far tougher than any restrictions imposed during the Bush administration, and they could force executives to accept deep reductions in their current pay. They come amid rising public fury about huge pay packages for executives at financial companies being propped up by federal tax dollars.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Stock Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package

Daniel Finkelstein: Happily, children don't have such a hard time

Yesterday, with great fanfare, the results of The Good Childhood Inquiry were published. Knowing you, you probably read all about it. But let’s just say, for a moment, that you didn’t. I will provide a brutal summary. Not at all, all part of the service.

The inquiry concluded that children in Britain are unhappy. This is largely caused by the behaviour of their parents, especially working women. And this damaging behaviour results from the social evil of excessive individualism. There were a couple of hundred more pages, but that just about does it.

Here is an equally brutal summary of my response. Children in this country are not unhappy. The inquiry presents no convincing evidence at all that children are being damaged by the behaviour of their parents or by women working. There is no reason to believe that our individualism is excessive or a social evil. And even if it were, it is impossible to divine what might connect individualism to the happiness of children or the behaviour of parents.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Children, England / UK, Marriage & Family

As Nominee Trips, Health Care Drive Suffers a Setback

The abrupt collapse of Tom Daschle’s cabinet nomination on Tuesday undercut President Obama’s mission to expand health care by depriving him of an unusually well positioned architect for a big legislative campaign and leaving him without a backup plan.

Mr. Daschle’s decision to withdraw his candidacy for secretary of health and human services could slow the president’s drive to reshape the nation’s health care system as the White House searches for a replacement, and it could allow Congress to step into the vacuum during that delay, analysts said.

But the White House insisted that Mr. Daschle’s departure would not stop the effort to cover the uninsured and rein in health costs, a goal that is “bigger than one person,” as the press secretary, Robert Gibbs, put it. “We’re looking for a new nominee,” Mr. Gibbs said, “but the problem has existed for quite some time, and the work toward a solution to make health care more affordable won’t stop or won’t pause while we look for that nominee.”

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

President Obama to water down 'Buy American' plan after EU trade war threat

The European Union warned the US yesterday against plunging the world into depression by adopting a planned “Buy American” policy, intensifying fears of a trade war.

The EU threatened to retaliate if the US Congress went ahead with sweeping measures in its $800 billion (£554 billion) stimulus plan to restrict spending to American goods and services.

Gordon Brown was caught in the crossfire as John Bruton, the EU Ambassador to Washington, said that “history has shown us” where the closing of markets leads ”” a clear reference to the Depression of the 1930s, triggered by US protectionist laws.

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

From the You Cannot Make this Stuff up Department

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Posted in * General Interest