Daily Archives: February 13, 2009

Ted Baehr and Tom Snyder–A Hollywood Stimulus Plan: Make More Uplifting Movies

Once again, family-friendly, uplifting and inspiring movies drew far more viewers in 2008 than films with themes of despair, or leftist political agendas. Sex, drugs and antireligious themes were not automatic sellers, either. Among the 25 top-grossing movies alone, 14 out of 25 had strong or very strong Christian, redemptive and moral content, and nearly all had at least some such content.

Values of importance to all people of faith were not the only ingredients in many of 2008’s top movies. As in past years, films with strong pro-capitalist content — extolling free-market principles or containing positive portrayals of real or fictional businessmen and entrepreneurs — tended to make the most money. The hero of the biggest success of the year, “The Dark Knight,” is a billionaire capitalist who, disguised as Batman, defends Gotham City and its residents from a crazed, anarchistic terrorist criminal. In “Iron Man,” the second-most popular movie with American and Canadian moviegoers in 2008, a capitalist playboy and billionaire defense contractor stops working against the interests of America and its citizens and uses his wealth to defend America and its free-market values.

I would replace “uplifting” with wholesome. Read it all–KSH.

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

Nouriel Roubini in Sunday's Wash. Post: Nationalize the Banks! We're all Swedes Now

The U.S. banking system is close to being insolvent, and unless we want to become like Japan in the 1990s — or the United States in the 1930s — the only way to save it is nationalization.

As free-market economists teaching at a business school in the heart of the world’s financial capital, we feel downright blasphemous proposing an all-out government takeover of the banking system. But the U.S. financial system has reached such a dangerous tipping point that little choice remains. And while Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s recent plan to save it has many of the right elements, it’s basically too late.

The subprime mortgage mess alone does not force our hand; the $1.2 trillion it involves is just the beginning of the problem. Another $7 trillion — including commercial real estate loans, consumer credit-card debt and high-yield bonds and leveraged loans — is at risk of losing much of its value. Then there are trillions more in high-grade corporate bonds and loans and jumbo prime mortgages, whose worth will also drop precipitously as the recession deepens and more firms and households default on their loans and mortgages.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Credit Markets, 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 National Deficit, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

ENS: In England, Anglican covenant debate reveals mixed expectations

In the past, the Anglican Communion “has been held together by a common history, similar ”¦ ways of worship and the so-called ‘bonds of affection,'” he said. “In a rapidly globalizing world and a fast-developing communion, these are no longer enough.”

Nazir-Ali was introducing a motion that synod “do take note” of a Church of England report that responds to the latest draft (St. Andrew’s Draft) of the Anglican covenant.

“The main purpose of the covenant is inclusion rather than exclusion,” Nazir-Ali said. “We cannot forget, nevertheless, that these questions have arisen for us because of the need for adequate discipline in the communion on matters which affect everyone.”

During a one-hour synod debate, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams disagreed with Nazir-Ali’s position on the covenant. “We mustn’t have excessive expectations of the covenant,” Williams said, cautioning against it being a legal instrument. “It’s part of an ongoing inquiry of what a global communion might look like. At every stage it is something which churches voluntarily are invited to enter into.”

However, the Rev. Canon Chris Sugden of the Diocese of Oxford said he believes that the covenant should be “far more than an expression of fellowship,” and instead be “a matter of legislation and a basis for governance.”

Read it all.

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

Bernard Madoff has 'blood on his hands' over William Foxton suicide

Bernard Madoff, the disgraced financier accused of the biggest fraud in corporate history, was accused of having ”˜blood on his hands’ after a former soldier killed himself over the loss of his family’s life savings.

The son of William Foxton, 65, said his father was so distraught after losing his family’s entire savings in the alleged Ponzi scheme that he shot himself in a park in Southampton on Tuesday with a handgun.

Mr Madoff, 70, is under penthouse arrest and 24-hour surveillance after being arrested on December 11. He was accused of one count of securities fraud after authorities said he admitted to running a scheme over many years with losses of $50 billion.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Bernard Madoff Scandal, Economy, Stock Market

(London) Times: Anglicans called on to convert non-Christian believers

Anglicans were commanded to “go forth and evangelise” yesterday in a dramatic assertion of missionary fervour that could jeopardise carefully built-up relations with Muslims, Jews and other faiths.

The established Church of England put decades of liberal-inspired political correctness behind it in a move that led one bishop to condemn in anger the “evangelistic rants”.

For Muslims, to convert to another religion is condemned as apostasy.

The Church’s General Synod, meeting in London, overwhelmingly backed a motion to force its bishops to report on their “understanding of the uniqueness of Christ in Britain’s multifaith society” and offer guidance in sharing “the gospel of salvation” with people of other faiths and none.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Christology, Church of England (CoE), Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Theology

Atlantic Monthly: The Velvet Reformation

As [Rowan] Williams began his tenure as archbishop in 2003, though, the ordination of Robinson sent the issue of gay bishops to the head of the agenda. By last summer, with the Lambeth Conference approaching, schism seemed inevitable. Some bishops opposed to homosexual clergy held a rival conference in Jerusalem, denouncing Williams as a liberal pawn. Traditionalists announced plans to “go over” to the Roman Catholic Church or form their own church unless Williams got rid of Robinson. Gay activists circulated an old essay by Williams in which he had eloquently celebrated gay and lesbian relationships; the commentariat mocked him as a holy fool for some approving remarks he had made about Islamic law. Friends of Williams said he might resign. “God has given you all the gifts,” one friend told him, “and as your punishment, he has made you archbishop of Canterbury.”

The schism hasn’t come””not yet. The Anglican Communion, the world’s third-largest group of Christians after the Catholics and the Orthodox, is still standing””a “hugely untidy but very lovable” body, in the words of its most famous member, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the South African Nobel laureate. But its unity has been compromised. In December, a half-dozen bishops broke with the Episcopal Church in the U.S. and announced their plans to found a rival Anglican Community for North America.

It is now, with his office under pressure from both left and right, that Rowan Williams’s real work is beginning. Now he must persuade the aggrieved, quarrelsome people he leads to bear with one another once and for all.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts

Church Society: Church of England General Synod Report 12 February 2009

The Covenant process is ongoing but it has been clear for some time that it will not have the teeth to address the problems which precipitated it. It is also clear that it will take a long long time before anything is achieved.

Read it all

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

Nothing to sneeze at decoding the common cold

Scientists have unraveled the genetic code of the common cold ”” all 99 known strains of it, to be exact.

But don’t expect the feat to lead to a cure for the sniffling any time soon. It turns out that rhinoviruses are even more complicated than researchers originally thought.

In fact, the genetic blueprints showed that you can catch two separate strains of cold at the same time ”” and those strains then can swap their genetic material inside your body to make a whole new strain.

It’s why we’ll never have a vaccine for the common cold, said biochemist Ann Palmenberg of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who led the three teams that assembled the family tree of the world’s rhinoviruses.

“No vaccine, but maybe a drug,” she said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine

AP: Obama tries to 'balance' on church-state tightrope

President Barack Obama, signaling early in his administration that religion belongs in the public discourse, has promised to open a big tent to voices from across the spectrum of belief without crossing boundaries separating church and state.

The Democrat’s inaugural pomp was steeped in prayer, and one of his first proclamations included a shout out to “an awesome God.” Last week, Obama used the platform of the National Prayer Breakfast to unveil a new-look White House Office on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships that features a team of policy advisers from both religious and secular social service circles. Most are ideological allies, but not all.

The question is whether such moves will amount to symbolic window dressing or progress finding common ground on moral issues without stepping on traditional culture-war land mines.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Church/State Matters, Law & Legal Issues, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture

Large U.S. banks on the edge of insolvency, experts say

Some of the large banks in the United States, according to economists and other finance experts, are like dead men walking.

A sober assessment of the growing mountain of losses from bad bets, measured in today’s marketplace, would overwhelm the value of the banks’ assets, they say. The banks, in their view, are insolvent.

None of the experts’ research focuses on individual banks, and there are certainly exceptions among the 50 largest banks in the country. Nor do consumers and businesses need to fret about their deposits, which are insured by the U.S. government. And even banks that might technically be insolvent can continue operating for a long time, and could recover their financial health when the economy improves.

But without a cure for the problem of bad assets, the credit crisis that is dragging down the economy will linger, as banks cannot resume the ample lending needed to restart the wheels of commerce. The answer, say the economists and experts, is a larger, more direct government role than in the Treasury Department’s plan outlined this week.

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

Global economic crisis poses top threat to U.S., spy chief warns

The new director of national intelligence told Congress on Thursday that global economic turmoil and the instability it could ignite had outpaced terrorism as the most urgent threat facing the United States.

The assessment underscored concern inside America’s intelligence agencies not only about the fallout from the economic crisis around the globe, but also about long-term harm to America’s reputation. The crisis that began in American markets has already “increased questioning of U.S. stewardship of the global economy,” the intelligence chief, Dennis Blair, said.

Blair’s comments were particularly striking because they were delivered as part of a threat assessment to Congress that has customarily focused on issues like terrorism and nuclear proliferation. Blair singled out the economic downturn as “the primary near-term security concern” for the country, and he warned that if it continued to spread and deepen, it would contribute to unrest and imperil some governments.

“The longer it takes for the recovery to begin, the greater the likelihood of serious damage to U.S. strategic interests,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Foreign Relations, Globalization, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Senator Judd Gregg Withdraws

Sen. Judd Gregg abruptly withdrew his nomination as commerce secretary Thursday, telling Politico that he “couldn’t be Judd Gregg” and serve in Barack Obama’s Cabinet.

The White House ”” where some aides were caught off guard by the withdrawal ”” initially responded harshly to Gregg’s announcement, portraying the New Hampshire Republican as someone who sought the job and then had a “change of heart.”

In a statement, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Gregg had “reached out to the president and offered his name for secretary of commerce” ”” and that he’d promised that, “despite past disagreements about policies, he would support, embrace and move forward with the president’s agenda.”

Read it all.

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

A.S. Haley with a Whole Lot more on San Joaquin

Among the many quotes that are mistakenly attributed to William Shakespeare, Sir Walter Scott’s “Oh, what a tangled web we weave / When first we practice to deceive . . .” is surely one that ranks among those which are the most frequent to be so cited. (It in fact comes from his epic poem “Marmion, a Tale of Flodden Field” [scroll down to Canto VI, Stanza XVII, lines 532-33], written in 1808.) Be that as it may, the quote has proved its worth by describing so aptly the results of deception as a “tangled web”, which all too frequently catches up the deceiver who spun it.

In this post, I want to point up a classic example of the improviser’s art, and to show how it will most likely catch up the improvisers in ways they surely did not imagine at the moment. At the same time, however, the facts I am about to show should let no Episcopal bishop remain comfortable in occupying his or her see. For the truth is that the innovation in this instance sets a most dangerous precedent. And given the manner in which the Episcopal Church (USA) reveres illegal precedent, as in the case of citing the depositions of Bishops Davies and Larrea to justify its subsequent “depositions” of Bishops Cox, Schofield and Duncan, the establishment of any precedent so egregious and illegal as the one I am about to relate should, as I say, be enough to make any Episcopal bishop insecure. For this precedent involves the transformation of the office of the Presiding Bishop from a “primus inter pares”, or first among equals, into a Metropolitan of the Church: a primate not in name only, but one in fact, who can swoop into any diocese and assume the Ecclesiastical Authority there.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin, TEC Polity & Canons

Notable and Quotable

It’s taken so long to get all this stuff on the balance sheets of these banks, it’s going to take a long time to get it off.

Anthony Conroy, head equity trader for BNY ConvergEx in a CBS Marketwatch article today

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, The 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout Plan, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Peter Ould: Anglican Blogs – How do they stack up

Check it out.

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

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, - Anglican: Commentary, - Anglican: Latest News, Blogging & the Internet