Daily Archives: April 21, 2009

RNS: National Day of Prayer events overshadowed by politics

Every year between 2001 and 2008, former President Bush’s calendar was cleared on the first Thursday in May to mark the National Day of Prayer in the White House East Room with prominent evangelicals.

Now the Obama White House is facing questions of inside-the-Beltway etiquette: Should Obama maintain the open door to conservative critics like James and Shirley Dobson, and if so, should they accept?

Or, will the White House have an official observance at all?

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture

Washington Post: Extremist Tide Rises in Pakistan

A potentially troubling era dawned Sunday in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, where a top Islamist militant leader, emboldened by a peace agreement with the federal government, laid out an ambitious plan to bring a “complete Islamic system” to the surrounding northwest region and the entire country.

Speaking to thousands of followers in an address aired live from Swat on national news channels, cleric Sufi Mohammed bluntly defied the constitution and federal judiciary, saying he would not allow any appeals to state courts under the system of sharia, or Islamic law, that will prevail there as a result of the peace accord signed by the president Tuesday.

“The Koran says that supporting an infidel system is a great sin,” Mohammed said, referring to Pakistan’s modern democratic institutions. He declared that in Swat, home to 1.5 million people, all “un-Islamic laws and customs will be abolished,” and he suggested that the official imprimatur on the agreement would pave the way for sharia to be installed in other areas.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Pakistan, Religion & Culture

ENS: Executive Council hears reports on major-gifts effort, archives relocation, ERD

The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council began its last meeting of the 2007-2009 triennium here by hearing reports about efforts to relocate the church’s archives, cultivate major donors, and respond to extreme poverty around the world.

The meeting at the Wyndham Portland Airport Hotel is taking place in the seat of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine. Council will hear about the mission and ministry of the diocese and of Province I on the evening of April 22.

Council began its meeting April 20 with an organizational plenary session, followed by private conversation. During the plenary session, Council members heard updates from the church’s Mission Funding Initiative, the committee investigating a long-term strategy for the Archives of the Episcopal Church and the work of Episcopal Relief and Development.

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

Pennsylvania files lawsuit against Forward in Faith parish

The Diocese of Pennsylvania has filed suit against the flagship parish of the Forward in Faith movement in the US, the Church of the Good Shepherd in Rosemont, seeking control of the property.

Last month’s pleading, filed on behalf of the diocesan standing committee, asked a suburban Philadelphia court to eject the Rt Rev David Moyer and his congregation from the property, arguing the parish’s secession from the diocese violates canon law which requires parish property to be “held or used for the work of the Episcopal Church.”

The battle between Rosemont’s rector and the Bishop of Pennsylvania, Charles Bennison, began in 2002, when Bishop Bennison deposed Fr Moyer for “abandoning the communion” of the Episcopal Church for contumacy.

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

Stephen Noll: The Ridley Cambridge Covenant Draft–An Appreciation

My first cheer then is for the doctrinal substance of the Cambridge Ridley Draft. It is orthodox and consistent in the main with the “providential ordering of Anglican history and mission.” While I might wish to express the essence of Anglican Christianity somewhat differently, I do not find myself wincing at glaring deviations from the faith once for all delivered to the saints such as one finds routinely in the speeches and writings emanating from The Episcopal Church. My second “50/50” cheer is for setting forth constitutional principles that might lead to the ultimate reform of the Communion and discipline of those who have thrown it into confusion. Whether the Covenant, as currently proposed, will lead to such a reform is contingent on many twists and turns of ecclesiastical politics, including the response of the GAFCON churches and the willingness of the Instruments, especially the Archbishop of Canterbury, to allow certain churches to self-select themselves out of the Covenant and ultimately the Communion. For let it be clearly stated, there is no future for a vibrant and coherent Anglican and Christian body that includes The Episcopal Church (TEC) and Anglican Church of Canada (ACoC) as they now exist.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Covenant

From Gallup: Big Gov't. Still Viewed as Greater Threat Than Big Business

Gallup’s recent update of its long-standing trend question on whether big business, big labor, or big government will be the biggest threat to the country in the future finds Americans still viewing big government as the most serious threat. However, compared to Gallup’s last pre-financial-crisis measurement in December 2006, more now see big business and fewer see big government as the greater threat.

These shifts in attitudes have occurred even as the government has taken on an expanded role in regulating U.S. financial institutions in response to the financial crisis, under the Bush and Obama administrations.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Politics in General, The U.S. Government

A New York Times Editorial: More Hatred From Mr. Ahmadinejad

The fear all along has been that the United Nations conference on racism would be manipulated into yet another forum for demonizing Israel. All too predictably, Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ”” who has called the Holocaust a myth and has advocated Israel’s destruction ”” did just that.

In an ugly speech on Monday that served to divide and incite rather than find constructive solutions to racism, Mr. Ahmadinejad said the formation of the state of Israel left “an entire nation homeless under the pretext of Jewish suffering” in order “to establish a totally racist government in occupied Palestine.”

We commend France and other European nations for walking out in protest.

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, Iran, Middle East

With Son in Remission, Family Looks for Coverage

When Danna Walker left the second-floor conference room and returned tearily to her desk ”” where someone had already deposited a packing box for her belongings ”” her first thought was not of the 14 years she had worked for DHL or the loss of her $37,000-a-year salary.

It was of Jake. In three months, once her benefits ran out, how in the world would she provide health insurance for Jake, her mountainous, red-headed 21-year-old son, who had learned three years earlier that he had metastatic testicular cancer?

Since the day she was laid off in October, Ms. Walker and her husband, Russ, co-owner of a struggling feed store here on the outskirts of Houston, have mounted a largely fruitless quest to find affordable coverage for Jake’s pre-existing condition. Their odyssey has become all too familiar to millions of newly uninsured Americans who suddenly find themselves one diagnosis away from medical and financial devastation.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine

After the NFL, Tony Dungy is still coaching

In many ways, it was like hundreds of pep talks and locker room speeches he’d given in nearly three decades as an NFL coach. Tony Dungy’s message was one of responsibility, of motivation, of not letting down others ”” or yourself. As always, he was pointed and analytical yet smooth and laid-back.

This time, however, Dungy’s audience wasn’t a highly paid collection of elite athletes.

On this day, Dungy ”” a little more than two years removed from becoming the first African-American coach to win a Super Bowl and less than three months after retiring as the leader of the Indianapolis Colts ”” was in a prison yard, a Bible tucked under his left arm.

This is Tony Dungy’s new world, the one he has embraced since walking away from cheering crowds, a salary that exceeded $5 million a year and a team that was equipped for another Super Bowl run.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Prison/Prison Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sports

David Aaronovitch: For politicians, truth is never its own reward

Last week, in one of those autophagous moments that we in the media indulge in, it transpired that this last anonymous person was none other than the wicked Damian McBride, although we weren’t told that at the time. The creature McBride had busied himself – with the complicity of some journalists – in punishing the Chancellor for having been uneconomical with the actualité. No wonder that the former Blair aide, Matthew Taylor, was amused to receive calls from “Sunday journalists” asking to be told more about McBride’s unpleasantnesses. It was, he said, “a bit like someone saying: ”˜Me and my mates have for years been having a very intimate relationship with someone you might vaguely know – what was it like?’.”

All this is a symptom of the mutual catastrophe of trust, in which politicians and journalists are not trusted by the public, and the public is not trusted by politicians and journalists. The public want many things, the almost subliminal logic runs – reassurance, emotional connection, a satisfying narrative – but not the truth.

Read it all. Also, if you haven’t seen The Wire, you are really missing out..

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Theology

UK falls into deflation for first time in 50 years

The country edged into deflation last month as the RPI (Retail Price Index) measure of inflation tumbled to -0.4 per cent from 0 per cent in February, official figures showed this morning.

This is the first time that RPI inflation, which includes housing costs and is used as a benchmark for UK wage deals, has turned negative since 1960.

CPI (Consumer Price Index) inflation, the Bank of England’s target rate, also fell from 3.2 per cent to a one year low of 2.9 per cent is tipped to decline further in the coming months. The Bank of England has forecast that CPI inflation will drop close to zero and stay there until 2011.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Economy, England / UK, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

NBC Video: Remembering Columbine

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Education, History, Teens / Youth, Violence

'Columbine' Debunks The Myths Of The Massacre

Popular explanations for the terror Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold wreaked on their Colorado high school often mention bullying. But Dave Cullen has been following the story since that deadly day, and in his new book, Columbine, he reveals the real story of their rampage.

In his interview with Neal Conan, Cullen warns of the pitfalls of reaching quick conclusions about the “why” behind tragedies like those at Columbine and Virginia Tech. “Key information doesn’t come out for months or even years,” he cautions, “so if you start to come to a determination of why within hours, it may be years before you have the information to make that conclusion.”

Cullen does believe, however, that in the years since Columbine, “people have been much much better about just holding off and saying, ‘we don’t know why yet.'”

Listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Education, History, Teens / Youth, Violence

Bishop Pierre Whalon reflects on the Latest Anglican Covenant Draft

Thus the proposed Covenant’s pedigree is in fact an attempt in our days to begin to answer the questions posed by the Virginia Report. The mostly tacit koinonia that had kept the Communion together had begun to crumble, due to the centrifugal forces that began pulling at the Communion since the 1960s (remembering that the Communion doubled in size since “Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence” in 1963). These have only gotten stronger with the passage of time. It is worth noting that the Covenant does not try to define how the four Instruments should interact. It only pushes back to them a perceived threat to the integrity of the Covenant, not the Communion, from among the signatory churches.

A classic Anglican formulary, to which all Anglicans pay homage, is the Sixth of the Thirty-nine Articles, that Holy Scripture contains all things necessary to salvation, though it does not spell out what those necessary things are. Similarly, this Covenant tries to define a “containment area” in which decisions on the Virginia questions can be made, without spelling out the particulars. Having made this Covenant, in other words, Anglicans could then work toward defining structures and procedures for a global communion of churches.

Two more undiscussed aspects are the blessing of same-sex unions and ordination of people in them, and the incursions by other provinces into The Episcopal Church. Furthermore, a new group has come into being, the Anglican Church of North America, competing with The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada. In March 2009, the Church of Nigeria recognized it, and a few days ago a group of Primates (the “Global Anglican Future Conference Primates”) meeting in London did so as well.[5] The ACNA claims to unite under one jurisdiction a disparate cluster of churches, missions of other provinces, and dioceses calling themselves Anglican.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Covenant, Episcopal Church (TEC), Europe, TEC Bishops

Slippery Hitching Posts: Upheaval in an Institution Based on Stability

To read this provocative account is to think that America’s relationships are in chaos. Even when we live together without marrying, we break up faster than in other places, he says. In one of the book’s surprising findings he says that American children whose parents are married are more likely to experience the turmoil of a parental break-up than Swedish children whose parents live together without being married.

Marriage is nevertheless an American ideal. We are the only Western nation that actually spends government money to support it. The 2005 federal Healthy Marriage Initiative now allocates $100 million a year to promote marriage. It doesn’t seem to be working; marriage rates are declining precipitously, though most Americans are still expected to marry.

Marriage is our battleground. Only in America, Mr. Cherlin says, are gay people campaigning so determinedly for the right to marry. Most gay men and lesbians in Europe, he maintains, view marriage as another oppressive heterosexual institution.

How to explain this peculiar paradox ”” we idealize marriage and yet we’re so bad at it.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Marriage & Family