Daily Archives: April 27, 2009

Study Shows Americans Leave Religion Due to Drift, Not Rupture

More Americans have given up their faith or changed religions because of a gradual spiritual drift than switched because of a disillusionment over their churches’ policies, according to a new study released today which illustrates how personal spiritual attitudes are taking precedence over denominational traditions.

The survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life is the first large-scale study of the reasons behind Americans switching their religious faith and found that more than half of people have done so at least once during their lifetime.

Almost three-quarters of Catholics and Protestants who are now unaffiliated with a religion said they had “just gradually drifted away” from their faith. And more than three-quarters of Catholics and half of Protestants currently not associated with a faith said that, over time, they stopped believing in their religion’s teachings.

Read it all.

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

Charlie Rose–a Good Discussion on the Economy

A conversation about the economy with Bill Ackman, major investor and hedge fund manager of Pershing Square Capital Management LP, Kate Kelly, Andrew Ross Sorkin and Joe Stiglitz, economist and a member of Columbia University faculty.

Watch it all.

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--

CDC says virus spreading person to person

Yuck.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine

AP: Pope Benedict XVI names 5 new saints

Pope Benedict XVI canonized five new saints Sunday, including Portugal’s 14th century independence leader and a nearly blind Italian monk who died of the plague after tending to the sick.

Benedict presided over the ceremony in a packed St. Peter’s Square, decorated with tapestries featuring pictures of each of the five. He praised each as a model for the faithful and said their lives and work were as relevant today as they were some 700 years ago.

Benedict singled out the Rev. Arcangelo Tadini, who lived at the turn of the last century and founded an order of nuns to tend to factory workers at the dawn of the industrial era. Tadini also created an association to provide emergency loans to workers experiencing financial difficulties.

Read it all.

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

Mark Taylor: End the University as We Know It

The emphasis on narrow scholarship also encourages an educational system that has become a process of cloning. Faculty members cultivate those students whose futures they envision as identical to their own pasts, even though their tenures will stand in the way of these students having futures as full professors.

The dirty secret of higher education is that without underpaid graduate students to help in laboratories and with teaching, universities couldn’t conduct research or even instruct their growing undergraduate populations. That’s one of the main reasons we still encourage people to enroll in doctoral programs. It is simply cheaper to provide graduate students with modest stipends and adjuncts with as little as $5,000 a course ”” with no benefits ”” than it is to hire full-time professors.

In other words, young people enroll in graduate programs, work hard for subsistence pay and assume huge debt burdens, all because of the illusory promise of faculty appointments. But their economical presence, coupled with the intransigence of tenure, ensures that there will always be too many candidates for too few openings.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education

More Atheists Shout It From the Rooftops

Two months after the local atheist organization here put up a billboard saying “Don’t Believe in God? You Are Not Alone,” the group’s 13 board members met in Laura and Alex Kasman’s living room to grapple with the fallout.

The problem was not that the group, the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry, had attracted an outpouring of hostility. It was the opposite. An overflow audience of more than 100 had showed up for their most recent public symposium, and the board members discussed whether it was time to find a larger place.

And now parents were coming out of the woodwork asking for family-oriented programs where they could meet like-minded nonbelievers.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, * South Carolina, America/U.S.A., Atheism, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

JammieWearingFool: Newspaper Circulation Crumbles

The Audit Bureau of Circulations released this morning the spring figures for the six months ending March 31, 2009, showing that the largest metros continue to shed daily and Sunday circulation — now at a record rate.

According to ABC, for 395 newspapers reporting this spring, daily circulation fell 7% to 34,439,713 copies, compared with the same March period in 2008. On Sunday, for 557 newspapers, circulation was down 5.3% to 42,082,707. These averages do not include 84 newspapers with circulations below 50,000 due to a change in publishing frequency.

Read it all.

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

On The Economy, Obama Gets Mixed Marks

The habit of assessing a president’s accomplishments after his first 100 days in office goes back to the first administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt. In his first 100 days, Roosevelt laid the foundations for the New Deal. It’s an impossible standard to meet, says former Federal Reserve vice chairman Alan Blinder.

“I often say that Roosevelt cursed future presidents with the 100 days concept. … It’s just too short,” Blinder says.

In normal times, new presidents can’t hope to match Roosevelt’s accomplishments. In that regard, Obama has an advantage. These aren’t normal times. In fact, they’re the most challenging economic times since the Great Depression. So challenging, says Douglas Holtz-Eakin, John McCain’s former top economic adviser, that Obama began to influence economic policy even before he was inaugurated.

“This is the longest first hundred days, at least in my lifetime,” Holtz-Eakin says. “President Obama actually became the leader right after his election.”

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

Episcopal Church resembles 'Peace Corps in ecclesiastical drag'

A veteran newspaper columnist and longtime member of the Episcopal Church USA says the denomination has cheerfully given up truth to placate a relativistic culture.

William Murchison’s new book is called Mortal Follies: Episcopalians and the Crisis of Mainline Christianity. He says the denomination, like other churches of the American mainline, seems to be in a mad dash to catch up with a secular culture that values self-expression and does not want to promote the holy and just God of the Bible.

Read it all.

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

A.S. Haley on the ACI Bishops Statement and Email Leak Kerfuffle

Viewed as a political prize, however, the Church ceases to be a Church. Its mission is being determined by politics rather than under the governance of the Holy Spirit. So long as the battle rages for the prize, the fiction that it is a Church has to be maintained at all costs, because no one who could affect the outcome must realize what is at stake. And with the publicizing of views like those expressed in the Bishops’ Statement, the risk is now great that the momentum so carefully accumulated over the years will be seen for what it is: nothing more (or less) than a political attempt to take over a money machine.

And that is why the Bishops, the ACI and its lawyer have received the treatment they did. Only those who are plotting already can regard the publication of such a power-renouncing statement of subsidiarity as “an unprecedented power grab by anti-gay bishops who will assert they are not bound by the Episcopal Church’s governing body: General Convention.”

The spectacle of taking over a church politically, of even speaking in terms of a church “power-grab”, is so antithetical to the essence of a church that in the end it must be self-defeating.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Identity, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention, TEC Conflicts

RNS: Berliners' Votes to Decide on Option of Religion, Ethics Classes

Once divided by communism, Berliners are now split over faith as they head to the polls Sunday (April 26) to consider whether to offer public school students the choice of taking religion or ethics classes.

Until now, ethics courses have been mandatory for students in the German capital, thanks to a 2006 measure introduced out of concern about Muslim radicalism after an honor killing of a Turkish girl the year before. By contrast religion classes have been optional, making Berlin an exception in Germany, where most states include them in the public school curriculum.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Germany, Religion & Culture, Theology

AP: Presbyterians Vote Against Allowing Same Sex Partnered Clergy

Efforts to allow gays and lesbians to serve as clergy in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) have been defeated again, sealed by votes Saturday.

But the margin of defeat — the final tally has yet to be determined — is already guaranteed to be much closer than in previous years. That is encouraging for gay clergy supporters and concerning to opponents, with both sides expecting the issue to be revisited in the future.

Last summer, the 2.3 million-member denomination’s General Assembly voted to drop a constitutional requirement that would-be ministers, deacons and elders live in “fidelity within the covenant of marriage between and a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness.”

Any such change requires approval by a majority of the nation’s 173 presbyteries, or regional church bodies. Those votes have been trickling in for months, and on Saturday enough “no” votes had been recorded to clinch the measure’s defeat.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Presbyterian, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

Countries race to contain swine flu outbreak

New Zealand reported suspected swine flu cases Monday in a second group of teenage students returning from Mexico, as Asian nations with potent memories of SARS and bird flu outbreaks screened travelers for fever with thermal scanners.

Hong Kong assigned a team of scientists to find a quick test for the latest virus to raise global fears of a pandemic, following confirmed human cases of the disease in Mexico, United States and Canada.

More than 100 people in Mexico are believed to have died from the new flu and more than 1,600 sickened, prompting widespread school closures and other measures.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine

WSJ: Raising Bill Gates

The battles reached a climax at dinner one night when Bill Gates was around 12. Over the table, he shouted at his mother, in what today he describes as “utter, total sarcastic, smart-ass kid rudeness.”

That’s when Mr. Gates Sr., in a rare blast of temper, threw the glass of water in his son’s face.

He and Mary brought their son to a therapist. “I’m at war with my parents over who is in control,” Bill Gates recalls telling the counselor. Reporting back, the counselor told his parents that their son would ultimately win the battle for independence, and their best course of action was to ease up on him.

This ran on the front page of Saturday’s Wall Street Journal and was cited by yours truly in yesterday’s sermon. Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Marriage & Family

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Make me to know thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me, for thou art the God of my salvation; for thee I wait all the day long.

–Psalm 25: 4,5

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture