Monthly Archives: March 2009

Pope's letter to Gordon Brown in full

Very interesting, courtesy of Ruth Gledhill.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Globalization, Other Churches, Politics in General, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

Religious Intelligence: the Bishop of Rochester’s surprise resignation

Details of Bishop Nazir Ali’s new work have not been finalized, the diocese noted, leading to speculation that the 59 year old bishop might be preparing for another role in the Anglican Communion in light of his high profile stance within the conservative wing of the church.

However, the General Secretary of the Church of Pakistan, Humphrey Peters tells The Church of England Newspaper the news of the resignation came as a surprise. “So far we have no idea nor have we heard anything from Bishop Michael Nazir Ali. But, in case he feels like working for Church in Pakistan in these most critical times, the Church will be more than happy to welcome him.”

A spokesman for the Gafcon movement, stated while its leaders were generally aware of Dr. Nazir Ali’s wish to move on, they had no specific knowledge about his Saturday announcement.

Read it all.

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

An Economist editorial on the G20 summit: London calling

THE first task for the leaders of the Group of 20, who will meet in London on April 2nd, will be to do no harm. Don’t fall out over whether Germany and China are spending enough public money to get the world economy going. Let’s not have a row over how to run the IMF. And spare us a tirade against “market fundamentalism”.

The second task is to do something useful. Ideally, the G20 would boost government spending, partly by giving the IMF more money. And it would take five minutes to shunt the re-regulation of finance into groups that can deliberate now and act later, when there is more time and less ire: the last thing to fear from Wall Street today is irrational exuberance.

It is the third task that is being neglected. Publicly, the G20’s leaders would be shocked, shocked if anyone were to turn against open markets. Even so, trade is collapsing and an insidious protectionism is on the rise (see article). As the storm rages, the London summit looks like offering nothing but pieties. The trading system needs more than that.

Read it all

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, Australia / NZ, Economy, Europe, Foreign Relations, Globalization

Archbishop Rowan Williams' Interview with Radio 4's Today programme ahead of the G20 summit

JN:

What is the nature of the moral challenge they face?

ABC:

Commitments have been made. The Millennium Development Goals I think provided a really important focus over the last few years for the responsibility of the developed nations to the less developed ones. This is no time to think of alibis for that because there is no economic problem that is just local in our world. We’ve already seen growth rates slowing down in Africa. It’s estimated that perhaps as many as over 50 million people could be in absolute poverty in the next few years – so I think that has to be at the top of the list this week.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Archbishop of Canterbury, Economy, England / UK, Europe, Globalization, Poverty, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Moms on a Mission Bridge Haves, Have Nots

Watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Children, Economy, Poverty, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Women

NY Times: Banks Starting to Walk Away on Foreclosures

City officials and housing advocates here and in cities as varied as Buffalo, Kansas City, Mo., and Jacksonville, Fla., say they are seeing an unsettling development: Banks are quietly declining to take possession of properties at the end of the foreclosure process, most often because the cost of the ordeal ”” from legal fees to maintenance ”” exceeds the diminishing value of the real estate.

The so-called bank walkaways rarely mean relief for the property owners, caught unaware months after the fact, and often mean additional financial burdens and bureaucratic headaches. Technically, they still owe on the mortgage, but as a practicality, rarely would a mortgage holder receive any more payments on the loan. The way mortgages are bundled and resold, it can be enormously time-consuming just trying to determine what company holds the loan on a property thought to be in foreclosure.

In Ms. James’s case, the company that was most recently servicing her loan is now defunct. Its parent company filed for bankruptcy and dissolved. And the original bank that sold her the loan said it could not find a record of it.

“It is what some of us think is the next wave of the crisis,” said Kermit Lind, a clinical professor at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and an expert on foreclosure law.

Read it all

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

The Episcopal Bishop of Michigan Writes his Diocese

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

As we continue to move towards our Diocesan Special Convention on April 18th, I am mindful that it may be helpful to hear a brief recap of what we as a household have done to date with regard to the 2009 budget and our forecasts for the future. In addition, I will include some of my hopes and expectations for our time together that day.

As you are aware, in October the 2009 diocesan operating budget was passed by convention along with a funding source that allows diocesan council to utilize a portion of the EMF corpus to underwrite any expenses not covered through the other channels of revenue (the aggregate coming from parish apportionments and additional investment income). As part of the budget resolution, the convention approved an additional resolve that called for a special convention in which we are to “review” the 2009 budget and consider “one or more proposals for a sustainable budget for the balance of 2009 and beyond.”
So where are we now and how do we move forward? We are in a different financial place than where we were even 6 short months ago. That difference requires that we look again at both our diocesan ministry and resources and use this time as an opportunity to discern how to realign and re-commit ourselves to God’s project. We are at a place where the household must come to terms with which mission and ministry opportunities it is prepared to sacrifice if we remain committed to budgeting for what we can afford rather than for what we are called to do.

The reality is that our anticipated revenue for 2009 and beyond will not exceed $2,000,000 annually (and may actually be less as we have not yet received all of the 2008 Parochial Reports that were due on March 1). We currently have a budget of $2,985,835. That difference is significant and will require serious reductions in program, personnel and delivery of ministry over a period of time if we are to reduce our expenditures to more closely meet our anticipated revenue.

What we will be asking during the Special Convention is that all members come ready to do two things:

1) to learn first-hand more about our current financial situation as a diocese and

2) to participate fully in conversations regarding priorities of ministry and mission.

It is the canonical responsibility of the Diocesan Council to manage and adjust the diocesan operating budget. Thus, the input and guidance collected from the household gathered in Special Convention will be crucial as we seek a sustainable mission rather than a place of stagnating maintenance.

Sufficient documentation and explanations of what these documents tell us will be the first order of business on April 18th. With the help of our Treasurer, we will show how the market downturn has hurt us and how we can avoid locking in those losses.

We will share not only what would be eliminated with a drastically reduced budget, but also, as one Council member suggested: “what do we get for $2,000,000?”

The second order of business will be to divide into small groups to discuss what has been presented, to prayerfully make some hard choices as we set priorities for our life together into the future, and report those insights to the full convention to further empower the Diocesan Council to proceed on behalf of all.

This is a single agenda convention. No other item of business can be brought before the gathering. This is an extremely important conversation and is not about personal agendas. Rather, this is about the very life and witness of The Episcopal Diocese of Michigan. Come and help us discern the future direction of our common mission.

Faithfully,

–(The Rt. Rev.) Wendell N. Gibbs, Jr. is Bishop of Michigan

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, Stewardship, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

David Brooks on yesterday's Government Intervention in the Auto Market: Car Dealer in Chief

… by enmeshing the White House so deeply into G.M., Obama has increased the odds that March’s menacing threat will lead to June’s wobbly wiggle-out. The Obama administration and the Democratic Party are now completely implicated in the coming G.M. wreck. Over the next few months, the White House will be subject to a gigantic lobbying barrage. The Midwestern delegations, swing states all, will pull out all the stops to prevent plant foreclosures. Unions will be furious if the Obama-run company rips up the union contract. Is the White House ready for the headline “Obama to Middle America: Drop Dead”? It would take a party with a political death wish to see this through.

Furthermore, there’s no reason to think the umpteenth restructuring will produce compelling results. Cost control without a quality revolution will make little difference. There’s no reason to think Americans are going to flock to G.M. cars. (The president lauded their fantabulousness, but G.M. sales fell 51 percent during the first two months of this year while the overall market declined by 39 percent.) Politically expedient environmental demands will make the odds of profitability even more remote.

Corporate welfare rarely works when the government invests in rising firms. The odds are really grim when it tries to subsidize fading ones. (In the ’80s, Chrysler already had the successful K-car in the pipeline.)

The most likely outcome, sad to say, is some semiserious restructuring plan, with or without court involvement, to be followed by long-term government intervention and backdoor subsidies forever.

Read it all. This worries me–I sincerely hope he is wrong..

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

Gideon Rachman: Europe spurns the beloved Obama

If you look at Mr Obama’s top priorities, you get a sense of just how little the Europeans are prepared to give him. More help in Afghanistan? Most Europeans will do the bare minimum. A co-ordinated fiscal stimulus? Sorry, Europe is out of cash as well as troops.

Europe’s grudging attitude to the new president is not only discourteous. It is unwise and self-defeating. Mr Obama is an internationalist. But the American public is war weary and preoccupied by the domestic economic disaster. If even a liberal, internationalist president seems to be getting nothing out of America’s allies, then protectionist and isolationist voices in Congress will only get louder.

Any such development would be disastrous for Europe. The US remains the core of the global economy and the guarantor of security in Europe. The continent’s leaders have a huge interest in fostering and fanning the new American internationalism represented by Mr Obama. Instead, they seem to be doing their utmost to pour cold water on it.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Europe, Foreign Relations, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama

Paying in Full as the Ticket Into Colleges

In the bid for a fat envelope this year, it may help, more than usual, to have a fat wallet.

Facing fallen endowments and needier students, many colleges are looking more favorably on wealthier applicants as they make their admissions decisions this year.

Institutions that have pledged to admit students regardless of need are finding ways to increase the number of those who pay the full cost in ways that allow the colleges to maintain the claim of being need-blind ”” taking more students from the transfer or waiting lists, for instance, or admitting more foreign students who pay full tuition.

Private colleges that acknowledge taking financial status into account say they are even more aware of that factor this year.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Education, Personal Finance, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

AP: China cracks down in Muslim west

An overseas rights activist said Monday that authorities in China’s predominantly Muslim far west are closing unregistered Islamic schools and conducting house-to-house searches in a new security crackdown in the restive region.

The campaign under way for five weeks in the city of Hotan underscores Beijing’s persisting concerns about separatist movements in its Central Asian border province of Xinjiang.

While anti-government protests and a security clampdown in Tibetan areas have grabbed attention over the past year, China has also been battling unrest in Xinjiang, with a flare-up in violence last year that killed 33 people. Like the Tibetans, many of Xinjiang’s ethnic minority Uighurs have chafed under Beijing’s rule and restrictions on the practice of religion.

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, China, Islam, Other Faiths

Sally Kalson: Sexting … and other stupid teen tricks

I understand the frustration of adults who see kids doing things like this with no comprehension of the possible outcomes. That New Jersey teen may have intended those nude photos for her boyfriend (disturbing in and of itself), but she didn’t seem to grasp that once those images were out in cyberspace, there would be no controlling where they went.

This is where the debate over who’s really to blame begins to rage. It’s the kids’ fault for being so stupid. It’s the parents’ fault for not raising them with decent values or knowing what their offspring are up to. It’s the media’s fault for producing an endless flood of sexual imagery selling everything from music to breath mints. It’s the youth culture’s fault for normalizing the public sharing of every private thought and act. It’s the computer geniuses’ fault for building an infinite network that has spawned a viral world of unintended consequences.
There may be some truth in all of these. But teens have been known to foil the best intentions of their parents, and the media techno-genies are out of the bottle and not about to go back in.

Surely there is a better way to impress upon kids the importance of exercising common sense than by threatening to make them pariahs for life. “Re-education” classes are probably a good idea, but not under the threat of prosecution, which tends to create a fair amount of resistance.

Read it all. Interestingly, retired South Carolina Bishop Edward Salmon visited the parish which I serve this past Sunday and raised this very (uncomfrotable) subject during his adult Sunday school class–KSH.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Sexuality, Teens / Youth

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Financial crunch weighing heavily on churches

At a meeting last week of the Urban Church Network, leaders of 80 predominantly black churches in Allegheny County discussed how to stem a financial crisis that has forced some pastors to take a second full-time job and a few churches to close.

Their first concern was how to help neighborhoods through times so hard that robbery and high blood pressure have soared, said the Rev. Jermaine McKinley, assistant director of the Metro-Urban Institute at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. With little of their own to give, they want to teach others how to tap into the government stimulus package to improve their communities.

“Most churches are not in the business of building houses. We don’t build roads. But what we can do is help the community to address the issue,” she said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Parish Ministry, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

For the Government and the Carmakers, a Risky Path Ahead

As an assertion of government control over a huge swath of the industrial landscape, President Obama’s decision to reshape the automobile industry has few precedents.

In essentially taking command of General Motors and telling Chrysler to merge with a foreign competitor or cease to exist, Mr. Obama was saying that economic conditions were sufficiently dire to justify a new level of government involvement in the management of corporate America.

His message amounted to an inversion of the relationship that had helped define the rise of American manufacturing might in the 20th century; now, Mr. Obama seemed to be saying, what is good for America will have to be good enough for General Motors.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto Industry

Finalists for Bishop in The Episcopal Diocese of South Dakota

Check it out.

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