Daily Archives: March 29, 2009

North Carolina’s CBF Challenged to ”˜Talk the Talk’

“The principle pain in hearing is that we just don’t want to hear some things,” [Fred] Craddock said. “We avoid things we don’t want to hear because they might disturb us.”

One of those things, Craddock implied, is the verbal sharing of one’s faith, a practice he said many have abandoned by letting others’ distasteful misuse and distortion of evangelism silence their own witness.

Too many Christians buy into the idea that a vocal witness is not important and “words don’t mean anything,” Craddock said, when the truth is that “words mean everything.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Baptists, Evangelism and Church Growth, Other Churches, Parish Ministry

An ABC 'This Week' Transcript: Timothy Geithner

Now, Goldman Sachs, for example. Their chief financial officer said he had no material economic exposure to AIG. So why weren’t they forced to take a discount?

GEITHNER: George, we came into this crisis as a country without the tools necessary to contain the damage of a financial crisis like this. In a case of a large, complex institution like AIG, the government has no ability, had no meaningful ability to come in early to help contain the fire, contain the damage, prevent the spread of that fire. Restructure the firm, change contracts where necessary, and helped make sure that the financial system gets through this…

STEPHANOPOULOS: But it would have been the right thing to do, right?

GEITHNER: If we had the legal authority, that’s what we would have done. But without that legal authority, we had no good choices. We were caught between these terrible choices of letting Lehman fail — and you saw the catastrophic damage that caused to the financial system — or coming in and putting huge amounts of taxpayer dollars at risk, like we did at AIG, to keep the thing going, unwind it slowly at less damage to the ultimate economy and taxpayer.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

One Parish Vestry Speaks out on the Election in Northern Michigan: Just Say No

(With permission–KSH).

405 Glenmar Avenue
Monroe, Louisiana 71201

March 7, 2009

To the Bishop Ordinary and Standing Committee of the Diocese of Western Louisiana

Rt. Reverend Sir, ladies and gentlemen of the Standing Committee:

Following prayerful consideration we write to urge that you vote no, and that you withhold consent, to the confirmation of the Rev’d Kevin Thew Forrester as the next bishop of the Diocese of Northern Michigan. We cite two concerns: the process used in selecting candidates by the Diocese of Northern Michigan and the suitability of the candidate himself.

In regard to the process by which nominations were made, the committee charged with this task presented one candidate for election. On the surface, presenting a single candidate raises immediate issues about the transparency of this process. Why was a single candidate presented? Was no one else seen as qualified to stand for election? Should we be concerned there was a small group of people trying to control the process?

Though we are mindful that search committees for rectors do sometimes distill the result of their search process to a single preferred candidate, we are nonetheless mindful of the fact that had the Diocese of Northern Michigan asked the House of Bishops to elect a bishop for them in lieu of holding a diocesan election, which is provided for in Canon III, paragraph 11, section 1b, the House of Bishops would have been required by national canon to present a minimum of three persons to stand for election. This begs the question, “if it is appropriate for the House of Bishops, why is it not appropriate for the Diocese of Northern Michigan?”

Regarding the Rev’d. Forrester’s suitability, he is on record as being both a practicing Zen Buddhist who received lay Buddhist ordination and a Christian. Whereas these two faith traditions may not be mutually exclusive to one another in the life of a lay person, the vows required of a Bishop in Christ’s one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church exclude a person from being beholden to any other faith tradition save Christianity””no matter how complementary to Christianity other traditions might seem.

In the liturgy for the ordination of a Bishop, the candidate is first required to state their belief that the scriptures of the Old and New Testament contain all things necessary to salvation, and that they will conform to the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church. If one takes this question seriously, does a person holding dual religious allegiances forswear himself or herself upon making this declaration? Later in the service, the candidate is required to affirm, “Christ’s sovereignty as Lord of lords and King of kings.” Again, is this possible if one holds to two faith traditions simultaneously? Finally, the candidate is asked if they will the guard the faith, unity and discipline of the Church. Can this be done with integrity when one qualifies their response to the affirmation by claiming to also follow another religious tradition?

We hope and pray that you will keep these concerns in mind as you prayerfully consider voting on the question of granting or denying consent to the confirmation of the next bishop of Northern Michigan. We most strongly urge you to decline to give your consent.

Your Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Gregg L. Riley, Rector C. Joseph Roberts, III, Sr. Warden

David Waller, Jr. Warden Jodi Lyle, Treasurer

Cindy Fisher, Secretary Max Cox, Vestry Member

Gerry Emerel, Vestry Member Tom Mason, Vestry Member

Amanda Reeves, Vestry Member Bryan Caldwell, Vestry Member

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan, Theology

Notable and Quotable

“The dead of the battle-field come up to us very rarely, even in dreams….”We see the list in the morning paper at breakfast, but dismiss its recollection with the coffee. There is a confused mass of names, but they are all strangers; we forget the horrible significance that dwells amid the jumble of type…We recognize the battle-field as a reality, but it stands as a remote one. It is like a funeral next door. It attracts your attention, but it does not enlist your sympathy. But it is very different when the hearse stops at your front door and the corpse is carried over your own threshold…Mr. Brady has done something to bring to us the terrible reality and earnestness of the War. If he has not brought bodies and laid them in our door-yards and along [our] streets, he has done something very like it.”

A New York Times reporter describing an exhibition entitled “The Dead of Antietam” opened by Mathew Brady in September 1862 (Hat tip: Abigail Harmon)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Military / Armed Forces, Parish Ministry

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: Only a united front at the London G20 can save the world from ruin

The [1933] London Conference was a fiasco. President Roosevelt refused to attend. He took a sailing holiday to flag his contempt for Old World posturing. FDR feared a trap to draw America back onto the Gold Standard ”“ the source of the misery ”“ and to lock the White House into Europe’s deflation orthodoxies. As delegates waited, he cabled a message mocking the “old fetishes of so-called international bankers”. Keynes defended him as “magnificently right”.

The London G20 comes earlier in the depression cycle. A good thing too. The fundamental circumstances are worse today than in the early 1930s. The debt burden is higher. The global economy is more tightly intertwined. The virus spreads more swiftly.

Do not be misled by apparent normality. Unemployment lags, and social devastation lags further ”“ although it has already hit the Baltics and Ukraine. Do not compress the historical time sequence either. Life seemed normal in early 1931 when the press reported “green shoots” everywhere. Part Two of the Depression was the killer. Part Two is what we risk now if we botch it.

Read it all.

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

Archbishop confronts BBC Director General over its treatment of religion

Dr Rowan Williams warned Mark Thompson at a meeting at Lambeth Palace that the broadcaster must not ignore its Christian audience.

His intervention comes amid mounting concern among senior members of the Church of England that the BBC is downgrading its religious output and giving preferential treatment to minority faiths.

Read it all.

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

Religion and Ethics Weekly: Pope’s Trip to Africa Wrap-Up

[BOB] ABERNETHY: But this condom thing, that was not an accident. I mean, all questions for the pope on his plane must be submitted in advance, in writing. So he knew what he was going to be asked?

Mr. [KEVIN] ECKSTROM: Exactly. I mean, they knew exactly what they were getting into on this one. And it always makes you wonder if they were actually trying to make some news out of this. You know, the pope’s trip to Africa was news before he even landed in Cameroon.

ABERNETHY: It was, as you said, very successful. He encouraged the Catholics in Africa?

Mr. ECKSTROM: Right. I mean, this is a growing, thriving part of the church that the pope sort of wanted to see and almost needs to see. He’s been decrying this dictatorship of relativism in Europe in sort of an anemic church. And you go to Africa and they can’t fit enough people into the churches. They can’t ordain enough pastors for all the people. It’s a rapidly growing part of the church, and I think there’s a bit of an energy boost for both sides there.

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

Desmond Lachman: Welcome to America, the World's Scariest Emerging Market

After experiencing a few emerging-market crises, I get the sense of watching the same movie over and over. All too often, a tragic part of that movie is the failure of the countries’ policymakers to hear the loud cries of canaries in the coal mine. Before running up further outsized budget deficits, should we not heed the markets that now see a 10 percent probability that the U.S. government will default on its sovereign debt in the next five years? And should we not be paying close attention to the Chinese central bank governor’s musings that he does not feel comfortable with the $1 trillion of U.S. government debt that the Chinese central bank already owns, let alone adding to those holdings?

In the twilight of my career, when I am hopefully wiser than before, I have come to regret how the IMF and the U.S. Treasury all too often lectured leaders in emerging markets on how to “get their house in order” — without the slightest thought that the United States might fare no better when facing a major economic crisis. Now, I fear time is running out for our own policymakers to mend their ways and offer real leadership to extricate the United States from its worst economic calamity since the 1930s. If we insist on improvising and not facing our real problems, we might soon lose our status as a country to be emulated and join the ranks of those nations we have patronized for so long.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, Globalization, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout Plan, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009, The National Deficit, The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto Industry, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

David Rothkopf: Where Are the Leaders?

You wake up in the morning and once again the financial weather report calls for the Apocalypse followed by brief showers of despair. Seeking a ray of hope, you turn on the television and settle in to watch a Capitol Hill hearing. There in the hot seat is the man who holds the entire U.S. economy in his hands. And he looks like Harry Potter….

We do need strong leadership. The world is in chaos. There are riots from Greece to China. Iceland has collapsed, and Mexico teeters on the edge. Pakistan is broke, melting down and awash in nukes. Yes, the stock market soared with Geithner’s toxic asset plan, but didn’t he and Obama dismiss Wall Street’s response when the first version of the bank bailout landed with a thud last month? Don’t we hate Wall Street? Obama and Geithner subsidize hedge funds on Monday and come back with heavy regulations on Thursday. What gives?

Gradually it becomes clear. This is not just a global economic crisis. It’s a global leadership crisis. Obama is still finding his footing, Gordon Brown is on his way out, Hugo Chávez is nuts and Wall Street management is larcenous. Isn’t there someone somewhere with decent values, a firm hand on the tiller and at least one big new idea? Where have all the leaders gone?

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 U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

David Broder: Hiding a Mountain Of Debt

With a bit of bookkeeping legerdemain borrowed from the Bush administration, the Democratic Congress is about to perform a cover-up on the most serious threat to America’s economic future.

That threat is not the severe recession, tough as that is for the families and businesses struggling to make ends meet. In time, the recession will end, and last week’s stock market performance hinted that we may not have to wait years for the recovery to begin.

The real threat is the monstrous debt resulting from the slump in revenue and the staggering sums being committed by Washington to rescuing embattled banks and homeowners — and the absence of any serious strategy for paying it all back.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

Edward C. Green: The Pope May Be Right

When Pope Benedict XVI commented this month that condom distribution isn’t helping, and may be worsening, the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa, he set off a firestorm of protest. Most non-Catholic commentary has been highly critical of the pope. A cartoon in the Philadelphia Inquirer, reprinted in The Post, showed the pope somewhat ghoulishly praising a throng of sick and dying Africans: “Blessed are the sick, for they have not used condoms.”

Yet, in truth, current empirical evidence supports him….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Ethics / Moral Theology, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Theology

Reinstated, chief justice bears hopes of Pakistan

At a Supreme Court hearing on Thursday in a property dispute, the defendant, Gul Zameen, insisted that Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry personally take his case rather than assign it to other justices, as his opponent requested.

“Please, I want you to hear the case,” said Mr. Zameen, 55, who has been fighting over a house in North-West Frontier Province since 1991.

Much to his relief, Mr. Chaudhry agreed.

“We hope he will do justice,” Mr. Zameen’s son, Shahid Rafiq, said later. “Not only with us but with everybody.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Law & Legal Issues, Pakistan

Sunday (London) Times: Germans wreck ”˜global new deal’

Gordon Brown’s carefully laid plans for a G20 deal on worldwide tax cuts have been scuppered by an eve-of-summit ambush by European leaders.

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, last night led the assault on the prime minister’s “global new deal” for a $2 trillion-plus fiscal stimulus to end the recession.

“I will not let anyone tell me that we must spend more money,” she said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Economy, England / UK, Europe, Germany, Globalization, Taxes

Obama Will Face a Defiant World on Foreign Visit

President Obama is facing challenges to American power on multiple fronts as he prepares for his first trip overseas since taking office, with the nation’s economic woes emboldening allies and adversaries alike.

Despite his immense popularity around the world, Mr. Obama will confront resentment over American-style capitalism and resistance to his economic prescriptions when he lands in London on Tuesday for the Group of 20 summit meeting of industrial and emerging market nations plus the European Union.

The president will not even try to overcome NATO’s unwillingness to provide more troops in Afghanistan when he goes on later in the week to meet with the military alliance.

He seems unlikely to return home with any more to show for his attempts to open a dialogue with Iran’s leaders, who have, so far, responded with tough words, albeit not tough enough to persuade Russia to support the United States in tougher sanctions against Tehran. And he will be tested in face-to-face meetings by the leaders of China and Russia, who have been pondering the degree to which the power of the United States to dominate global affairs may be ebbing.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Europe, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama

Do New Bulbs Save Energy if They Don’t Work?

It sounds like such a simple thing to do: buy some new light bulbs, screw them in, save the planet.

But a lot of people these days are finding the new compact fluorescent bulbs anything but simple. Consumers who are trying them say they sometimes fail to work, or wear out early. At best, people discover that using the bulbs requires learning a long list of dos and don’ts.

Take the case of Karen Zuercher and her husband, in San Francisco. Inspired by watching the movie “An Inconvenient Truth,” they decided to swap out nearly every incandescent bulb in their home for energy-saving compact fluorescents. Instead of having a satisfying green moment, however, they wound up coping with a mess.

“Here’s my sad collection of bulbs that didn’t work,” Ms. Zuercher said the other day as she pulled a cardboard box containing defunct bulbs from her laundry shelf.

Read it all from the front page of today’s New York Times.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources