Daily Archives: February 9, 2009

Rod Dreher: How much 'truth' is too much?

I don’t need to believe that my church is perfect. But I have learned that my personal response to stories of child abuse is so strong that it prevents me from seeing any other truth. As a Catholic, I kept telling myself that the evil of some priests and bishops does not obviate the church’s teaching. But the deeper I immersed myself in details of the crimes and the stories of the victims, my grief and fury distorted and overwhelmed logic.

The fault was mine. But any institution ”” sacred or secular ”” that has to depend on deception, and the willingness of its people to be deceived, to maintain its legitimacy will not get away with it for long. These days, the attempt to withhold or suppress information doesn’t work to protect authority, but rather to undermine it….

I did not agree with the way Father Neuhaus answered that question when faced with the American Catholic Church’s worst-ever crisis. But he was not wrong to ask it.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Children, Media, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality

Kendall Harmon–Jim Naughton Rightly Sees that TEC is on the Hot Seat Heading into GC 2009

Mr. Naughton, someone with whom I am in frequent disagreement on some Episcopal Church issues, nonetheless correctly assesses the significance of the Alexandria Primates Communique:

The Episcopal Church is going to have to make a decision this summer on whether to remove impediments to the consecration of gay bishops put in place at our last General Convention.

Now there are all sorts of problems with this. He doesn’t mention blessing of noncelibate same sex partnerships, which are also against the teaching and practice of the Anglican Communion and whihc need to be explicitly stopped. And he doesn’t mention that the “impediments” placed were not placed in the way in which they were asked to be placed, nor has restraint been shown by TEC in its practice since (one need only give evidence from the finalists in several dioceses for the post of bishop). He is also quite wrong to say this is about doing the “conservatives” bidding or playing into “their” hands. This is about submitting one to another in the body of Christ, and doing what the Anglican Communion has repeatedly asked us to do.

The key point Mr. Naughton and other activists have grasped is this: Lambeth 1998 1.10 has once again been affirmed. This is where the Communion is, and this is our communal standard. All the pressure is on the leadership of the Episcopal Church to agree to abide by this standard in 2009.

Posted in Uncategorized

A Look back to December 2008: Thoughts from Geoffrey Hoare

I was asked at a dinner party why I had not made a comment about the new ”˜Anglican’ province being formed in North America and claiming 100,000 members. I really don’t have anything to add to what I have already said. The Archbishop of Canterbury has met, eaten and prayed with some of the leading schismatics and appears to be open to the process of this new province seeking recognition through formal channels. Martyn Minns, the Nigerian bishop, originally from Nottingham, England, now residing in New Jersey, has made some comments to the effect that the new province really doesn’t need to operate according to the rules of an English charity (under which the Anglican Consultative Council operates), and suggests that the Archbishop of Canterbury would ”˜clarify’ things for Anglicans if he would get behind this innovation. I’m tired of it all and continue to suspect that The Episcopal Church will continue to be marginalized, –or at least those parts of the church that are willing to move beyond tolerance of GLBT people to affirmation.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Proposed Formation of a new North American Province, Archbishop of Canterbury, Common Cause Partnership

Star-Telegram: Fort Worth-area Episcopalians elect provisional bishop

The newly elected provisional bishop of the reorganized Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth said Saturday that he will work to “make the wide embrace of Christ’s love available” in the wake of a bitter split between two factions of the diocese.

The Rt. Rev. Edwin F. “Ted” Gulick Jr. made his remarks during a news conference at Trinity Episcopal Church after his nearly unanimous election, with 80 of 81 delegates voting for him and one delegate abstaining.

He will lead a group that chose to remain with the Episcopal Church after a majority of delegates in the 24-county diocese voted in November to leave the church.

Read it all.

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

Willem Buiter–Good Bank/New Bank vs. Bad Bank: a rare example of a no-brainer

The logic is simple. Many (probably most, possibly all but a handful) high-profile, large border-crossing universal banks in the north Atlantic region are dead banks walking – zombie banks kept from formal insolvency only through past, present and anticipated future injections of public money. They have indeterminate but possibly large remaining stocks of toxic – hard or impossible to value – assets on their balance sheets which they cannot or will not come clean on.

This overhang of toxic assets acts like a tax on new lending. Banks are required, by regulators or by market pressures, to hoard capital and liquidity rather than engaging in new lending to the real economy. The public financial support offered in the form of capital injections (in the US mainly through preference shares and other non-voting equity), guarantees for assets and for liabilities (old and new), insurance of toxic assets (as provided to Citigroup by the US sovereign) and possibly in the future through direct purchases by the state of toxic assets (using TARP money in the US) and the creation of one or more publicly owned ”˜bad banks’ has been a complete failure.

The bad bank proposals the Obama administration and other governments are considering are non-starters, for the simple reason that they require the valuation of assets whose true value (even on a hold-to-maturity basis) can only be guessed at. The good bank proposal only requires the valuation of those assets on the balance sheets of the existing banks that are easy to value: transparently valued assets. The toxic stuff is left on the balance sheet of the existing banks, which become the legacy bad banks.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, The 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout Plan, The Banking System/Sector

Washington Post: Taking Apart the $819 billion Stimulus Package

I found these graphics helpful.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009

A USA Today Editorial: Expanding legalized gambling doesn’t guarantee easy money

According to recent surveys, serious proposals to seek revenue from new or expanded gambling operations are percolating this winter in at least a third of the states.

There’s just one problem: The most recent evidence says the promised riches won’t materialize. A few examples:

”¢ Kansas authorized state casinos in 2007 on the notion that $200 million could be raised each year for debt reduction, capital improvements and property tax relief. Nearly two years later, private casino developers have pulled out of three of the four proposed casino sites, fearing that there’s little money to be made in today’s down economy.

This isn’t the primary reason to oppose it, but it is yet another one. Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Gambling, Politics in General, State Government

State lawmakers bet gambling can help with budgets

A tell-tale sign America’s chips are down: States are increasingly turning to gambling to plug budget holes.

Proposals to allow or expand slots or casinos are percolating in at least 14 states, tempting legislators and governors at a time when many must decide between cutting services and raising taxes.

Gambling has hard-core detractors in every state, but when the budget-balancing alternatives lawmakers must consider include reducing education funding or lifting sales taxes, resistance is easier to overcome, political analysts said.

“Who wouldn’t be interested if you’re a politician who needs to fund programs?” said Bo Bernhard, director of research at the International Gaming Institute at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas ”” a government-funded program.

It is simply a hidden tax on the poor and it is fool’s gold for policy makers. Makes the heart sad. Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Gambling, Politics in General, State Government

Dallas Morning News: Fort Worth congregations loyal to Episcopal Church reorganize

Fort Worth-area congregations remaining loyal to the Episcopal Church officially reorganized as a diocese Saturday, electing a provisional bishop and other leaders.

Present for the packed special meeting was the Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the 2 million-member Episcopal Church.

She declared that the diocese “is again a full part of the Episcopal Church.”

In November, a large majority of clergy and lay delegates ”“ led by Bishop Jack Iker ”“ voted to withdraw the diocese from the Episcopal Church and realign with a more conservative, Argentina-based province of the Anglican Communion.

Read it all.

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

U.S. bank bailout to rely in part on private money

Wall Street helped produce the global financial and economic crisis. Now, as the Obama administration prepares to unveil a revised bailout plan for the banking system, policy makers hope Wall Street can be part of the solution.

Administration officials said the plan, to be announced Tuesday, was likely to depend in part on the willingness of private investors other than banks like hedge funds, private equity funds and perhaps even insurance companies to buy the contaminating assets that wiped out the capital of many banks.

The officials say they are counting on the profit motive to create a market for those assets. The government would guarantee a floor value, officials say, as a way to overcome investors’ reluctance to buy them.

Details of the new plan, which were still being worked out during the weekend, are sketchy. And they are likely to remain so even after Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner announces the plan on Tuesday. But the aim is to reduce the need for immediate U.S. government financing and relieve fears that taxpayers will pay excessive prices if the government takes over risky securities. The banks created those securities when credit and home prices were booming a few years ago.

Besides devising a way to bring private investors into the bank bailout, the Treasury plan is expected to inject more capital into some banks and to give many homeowners relief from immediate foreclosures.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout Plan, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

Tom Ricks on Yesterday's Meet the Press

MR. [DAVID] GREGORY: So what are the biggest challenges he faces now in Afghanistan?

MR. [TOM] RICKS: Well, I think the first thing is to recognize that it’s not really a war in Afghanistan, it’s a war in Afghanistan and Pakistan. As a friend of mine said, it’s hard to win a war in Afghanistan when the enemy wants to fight it in the next country over, Pakistan.

MR. GREGORY: Right. And that’s the Taliban fighting and winning battles in Pakistan. This is where we went to war to take them out of power.

MR. RICKS: And that’s very scary. And our supply lines through Pakistan are being challenged. Bridges are being blown up, American convoys are being attacked. So I think the first thing that Obama will do is begin to look at it as an Afghan-Pakistan war, in which Pakistan is really the more important factor. We could lose in Afghanistan. It would be unhappy, but not, you know, terrible for us. If you lose Pakistan, you end up having the mujahideen, Islamic extremists, with nuclear weapons. And that was a major al-Qaeda goal that we really do not want to see happen. I don’t think that Newsweek got it quite right the other day when they referred to Afghanistan as potentially Obama’s Vietnam. I think potentially Obama’s Vietnam is Pakistan.

Caught this on the way home from worship yesterday on satellite radio. Mr. Ricks’ new book sounds fascinating. Read it all.[/i]

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Iraq War, Pakistan

A visit to a U.S. ally, but an increasingly wary one

When the envoy Richard Holbrooke arrives here Monday looking for ways to stop a runaway Islamist insurgency that is destabilizing Pakistan, he will find a pro-American but weak civilian government, and a powerful army unaccustomed and averse to fighting a domestic enemy.

In a nuclear-armed nation regarded as an ally of the United States and considered pivotal by the Obama administration to ending the war in neighboring Afghanistan, Holbrooke will face a surge of anti-American sentiment on clear display by private citizens, public officials and increasingly potent television talk shows.

Some remedies offered by his hosts are likely to be unappealing. On almost every front, Pakistani leaders are calling for less American involvement, or at least the appearance of it.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, Foreign Relations, Pakistan

Flight 1549 Pilot Tells of Terror and Intense Focus

The landing had to be perfect in several ways, he said.

“I needed to touch down with the wings exactly level,” he said. “I needed to touch down with the nose slightly up. I needed to touch down at a ”” at a descent rate that was survivable. And I needed to touch down just above our minimum flying speed, but not below it. And I needed to make all these things happen simultaneously.”

After the plane splashed down, he turned to his first officer. “We said, ”˜Well, that wasn’t as bad as I thought,’ ” he said.

The plane was evacuated and Captain Sullenberger, “after bugging people for hours,” said he finally learned that all 155 people on board had survived.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Travel

Alaa Al Aswany: Why the Muslim world can't hear Obama

Our admiration for Obama is grounded in what he represents: fairness. He is the product of a just, democratic system that respects equal opportunity for education and work. This system allowed a black man, after centuries of racial discrimination, to become president. This fairness is precisely what we are missing in Egypt.

That is why the image of Obama meeting with his predecessors in the White House was so touching. Here in Egypt, we don’t have previous or future presidents, only the present head of state who seized power through sham elections and keeps it by force, and who will probably remain in power until the end of his days.

Accordingly, Egypt lacks a fair system that bases advancement on qualifications. Young people often get good jobs because they have connections. Ministers are not elected, but appointed by the president. Not surprisingly, this inequitable system often leads young people to frustration or religious extremism. Others flee the country at any cost, hoping to find justice elsewhere.

We saw Obama as a symbol of this justice. We welcomed him with almost total enthusiasm until he underwent his first real test: Gaza.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Foreign Relations, Islam, Israel, Middle East, Office of the President, Other Faiths, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture, The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle, War in Gaza December 2008--

ENS: Ted Gulick unanimously elected provisional bishop by TEC Affiliated Group in Fort Worth

About 400 delegates and overflow visitors who filled the 116-year-old Trinity Church and its parish hall on Fort Worth’s south side for a February 7 special organizing convention celebrated being “called to life” anew and getting back to the business of being the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.

About 19 clergy and 62 lay delegates representing 31 congregations unanimously elected the Rt. Rev. Edwin “Ted” Gulick, bishop of Kentucky, as provisional bishop by a voice vote in clergy and lay orders. Gulick, who will serve as provisional bishop until at least mid-year while continuing to serve the Diocese of Kentucky, received a standing ovation and sustained applause.

“I cannot tell you how moved I am by your trust and how awed I am by this responsibility,” Gulick told the gathering. He offered thanks to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, as well as to the people of the Diocese of Kentucky.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth