Daily Archives: February 16, 2009

Sacramento Bee: California lawmakers fail to pass budget deal

California legislators tried and failed for a second day Sunday to close a $40 billion hole in the state’s budget, still one Republican vote short of approving a package that contains $14.3 billion in tax increases.

State Sen. Abel Maldonado, a moderate Republican from Santa Maria, indicated in an interview with The Bee that he was willing to consider casting the decisive vote if he was satisfied with the final version of the tax proposal.

“I’m very concerned with the tax package,” said Maldonado, who early Sunday had been quoted as saying he was adamantly opposed to the tax hikes. “We’re still working on that. Everything’s fluid. I don’t like tax increases. ”¦ let me just work on the tax issue. I’m working on that. I don’t want my state to go off the cliff, OK? I don’t want that.”

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

Andrew Davison: The Church of England should nurture theology

When did the Church of England start being embar­rassed by theology? There was a time when our theo­logical learning was met with wonder: our erudition was the stupor mundi. Today, the official theology of the Church of England is more often just stupefying, or it is absent alto­gether.

Two examples from the world of diocesan theological education will set the scene. An academic I know, a leader in his field and a hard-working parish priest, offered to help with his cathedral’s pro­gramme of education. It came to nothing. His sugges­tions were rebuffed for being “too Christian”. Staff at the cathedral said that they prided themselves on out­reach to non-Christians, and any­thing too religious “might put them off”.

Another friend, also a parish priest, attended a course on “leader­ship devel­op­ment” organised by her diocese. It could have been training for Marks & Spencer or NatWest: it was secular management theory from beginning to end.

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

David Carr: Financial Journalists Still Can't figure out how to Cover the recession

Doomsayers generally don’t make good television: they are always right on the way in and rarely correct on the way out. But under any circumstances, the economy is going to be bouncing along the bottom for some time, leaving the press stuck covering a story that refuses to get better. On any other day, the bottom is synonymous with “buying opportunity” on cable financial news, but not when you’re trapped on the Titanic.

The news media in this country are often accused of being contrary and pessimistic, but rarely is that the case. Amid carnage, economic or otherwise, reporters are trained to look for “glimmers of hope,” “signs that the worst is behind us” and “miraculous tales of survival,” especially those that involve a baby ”” or in this case, a 401(k) ”” somehow making it through a hurricane, tornado or mudslide.

And for people who cover personal finance, the narrative of big stock swings and instant profits has been replaced by cautious advice about hunkering down with T-bills and cash. Being a financial news anchor must seem like owning an ice cream parlor where spinach is the only flavor on the menu.

“We are looking for the crocuses and daffodils,” said Tyler Mathisen, managing editor of CNBC, which is owned by NBC Universal. “They may not come up this spring, but they are going to come.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Media, Stock Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

In Web Age, Library Job Gets Update

It was the “aha!” moment that Stephanie Rosalia was hoping for.

A group of fifth graders huddled around laptop computers in the school library overseen by Ms. Rosalia and scanned allaboutexplorers.com, a Web site that, unbeknownst to the children, was intentionally peppered with false facts.

Ms. Rosalia, the school librarian at Public School 225, a combined elementary and middle school in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, urged caution. “Don’t answer your questions with the first piece of information that you find,” she warned.

Most of the students ignored her, as she knew they would. But Nozimakon Omonullaeva, 11, noticed something odd on a page about Christopher Columbus.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Children, Education

A Chart of the Statistics for the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Data

Obama to appoint panel for auto recovery

It will take more than one “car czar” to help get the embattled U.S. auto industry back on track, President Barack Obama has decided. Instead, his administration is establishing a presidential task force to direct the restructuring of General Motors Corp. (GM) and Chrysler LLC, a senior administration official said Sunday night.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers will oversee the across-the-government panel, the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because no announcement has been made.

GM and Chrysler are expected to submit restructuring plans to the government by Tuesday, the deadline for showing how they can repay billions in loans and become viable in spite of a huge drop in auto sales.

The auto industry task force is just one element of Obama’s plan to revive the flailing economy. On Tuesday he’s flying to Denver to sign the $787 billion stimulus bill into law, taking his economic message to the American people, who are giving him high marks for handling the crisis.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto Industry

Henry G. Brinton: How to honor religion and science

In the interest of reconciling science and faith, a helpful distinction would be to say that science deals with things and religion deals with words. When scientists perform their experiments, they are making measurements of the physical properties of things, and no words are allowed to change the results of their research. When religious people use words, on the other hand, they are attempting to create new realities by expressing their understandings, experiences and deepest convictions. There is nothing empty or cheap about religious words used well. In fact, they can influence numerous lives and change the course of history.

And the two men born on Feb. 12, 1809? Darwin looked at the things of this world and came up with the theory of evolution, which has helped countless scientists to understand the mechanics of how various species have come to exist. Abraham Lincoln drew on his deepest convictions to write the Emancipation Proclamation and Gettysburg Address, expressing his belief that our nation was “dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” These words had real power ”” first to free the slaves, and then to start us on a path to equality that has resulted in the presidency of Obama.

There can be peace between science and faith if their distinctive contributions are respected. Scientists will continue to study how things work, while religious leaders will speak of the meaning of life and use their words to create new understandings. This distinction might even be helpful to our new president, as he uses his considerable rhetorical skills to advance one of the goals of his inaugural speech: “to restore science to its rightful place.” It’s a worthy goal, one that can be embraced by both the scientific and religious communities.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

RNS: 200 years later, Lincoln's faith remains an enigma

Seven score and four years ago, Abraham Lincoln stood on the steps of the U.S. Capitol and said North and South alike must suffer for the sin of slavery.

“If God wills that (the war) continue until … every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, so it still must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether,'” Lincoln said in his second inaugural address, quoting the Psalms.

Called “Lincoln’s Sermon on the Mount,” his 1865 address has been deemed the most religiously sophisticated presidential speech in American history. It was delivered by a backwoods lawyer with just one year of formal schooling who never joined a church.

With the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth just past (Feb. 12), the 16th president and his unconventional faith continue to inspire and to confound. Churches, community centers and colleges across the country are celebrating the bicentennial by pondering the Great Emancipator’s words and mounting exhibits exploring his dealings with various faiths.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., History, Office of the President, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Sunday Telegraph–Archbishop of Canterbury: Society is coming round to my views on sharia

On the anniversary of the interview in which Dr Rowan Williams said it “seems inevitable” that some parts of sharia would be enshrined in this country’s legal code, he claimed “a number of fairly senior people” now take the same view.

He added that there is a “drift of understanding” towards what he was saying, and that the public sees the difference between letting Muslim courts decide divorces and wills, and allowing them to rule on criminal cases and impose harsh punishments.

However critics insist that family disputes must be dealt with by civil law rather than according to religious principles, and claim the Archbishop’s comments have only helped the case of extremists while making Muslim women worse off, because they do not have equal rights under Islamic law.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Pittsburgh's Bible Belt rivals South's, scholars say

The region known for steel is quietly making its mark as a religious stronghold with influence stretching nationwide.

A strong work ethic and conservative religious bent, the legacy of early settlers from Scotland and Ireland, has created a Bible Belt here as strong as that in the South and Midwest, theologians say, but with a personality of its own because Pittsburgh, with its many faiths and nationalities, has a deep religious commitment that spans church spectrums.

“God has done something very special here,” said Anglican Bishop Robert Duncan.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Episcopal Church (TEC), Other Churches, Religion & Culture, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Pittsburgh

Telegraph–Christianity in schools: why we're losing our religion

When headmistress Julia Robinson introduced multi-faith assemblies at her Sheffield primary school it seemed like an obvious recipe for classroom harmony. With more than 200 children on her roll, 35 of whom are Muslim, it appeared pointless to have two separate gatherings ”“ a situation she had inherited when she was appointed as head of Meersbrook Bank Community Primary School.

Although the majority of its pupils are white Christians, and one fifth of the pupils come from ethnic minorities, it seemed altogether more inclusive to amalgamate morning prayers.

Aware that religious education has become a much-debated and, at times, divisive issue in modern, multi-cultural Britain, Robinson proceeded with sensitivity and caution. She sought the advice of Sheffield city council, set up a working party and spoke to as many parents as possible. Confident that all were in agreement, she decided to hold a single assembly that included the many religions they represented. All seemed to be going well. Indeed, when Ofsted inspectors reported on the school, they praised its ”caring and inclusive atmosphere”. They applauded Robinson’s leadership and described Meersbrook as a shining example of one in which ”pupils feel safe and develop strong relationships with adults and one another”.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Education, England / UK, Religion & Culture

Virginia Pilot: New Southern Virginia Episcopal bishop to face tough challenges

Some might say the Rev. Herman “Holly” Hollerith IV will land between a rock and a hard place when he’s consecrated today as the new bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia.

In the national sphere, the Episcopal Church is facing a lasting rash of breakaway parishes that call it out of step with religious traditions on homosexuality – an accusation repeated by many of the denomination’s peers overseas.

Meanwhile, the diocese is still mending after a corrosive in-house feud centering on the last permanent bishop, who was pushed into retirement by 2006.

Sandwiched in the middle will be Hollerith, 53, who was elected last fall by clergy and lay representatives to lead the diocese, which includes Hampton Roads.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

Photos from the Consecration of the new bishop of Southern Virginia

Check them out from the Daily Press.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

A Time Magazine Cover Story: How Faith Can Heal

Most folks probably couldn’t locate their parietal lobe with a map and a compass. For the record, it’s at the top of your head ”” aft of the frontal lobe, fore of the occipital lobe, north of the temporal lobe. What makes the parietal lobe special is not where it lives but what it does ”” particularly concerning matters of faith.

If you’ve ever prayed so hard that you’ve lost all sense of a larger world outside yourself, that’s your parietal lobe at work. If you’ve ever meditated so deeply that you’d swear the very boundaries of your body had dissolved, that’s your parietal too. There are other regions responsible for making your brain the spiritual amusement park it can be: your thalamus plays a role, as do your frontal lobes. But it’s your parietal lobe ”” a central mass of tissue that processes sensory input ”” that may have the most transporting effect. (Read “Top 10 Medical Breakthroughs”.)

Needy creatures that we are, we put the brain’s spiritual centers to use all the time. We pray for peace; we meditate for serenity; we chant for wealth. We travel to Lourdes in search of a miracle; we go to Mecca to show our devotion; we eat hallucinogenic mushrooms to attain transcendent vision and gather in church basements to achieve its sober opposite. But there is nothing we pray ”” or chant or meditate ”” for more than health.

Health, by definition, is the sine qua non of everything else. If you’re dead, serenity is academic. So we convince ourselves that while our medicine is strong and our doctors are wise, our prayers may heal us too.

Here’s what’s surprising: a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that faith may indeed bring us health.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Spirituality/Prayer

Down Under Religious divide drives bikie war

An Ancient religious enmity is at the centre of a new conflict in the Sydney bikie scene, with a new gang comprised mainly of Sunni Muslims warring with a group of bikies with a Shiite Muslim background.

While detectives continue to investigate the February 4 bombing of a Hells Angels clubhouse in Crystal Street, Petersham, police and other sources are indicating that the city chapter of the Comanchero is involved in an escalating feud with a new club, Notorious.

The president of Notorious is a Lebanese-Australian with a long-standing association with a bikie from a colourful Sydney Sunni Lebanese family. The two are among Sydney’s original “Nike” bikies – sporting white sneakers, fashionable T-shirts and clean-shaven instead of the traditional boots, dirty vests and bushy beards – and both are from Sunni families from Sydney’s west.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture