Daily Archives: May 19, 2009

Midday Music Break–Palestrina's Nunc Dimittis by the Tallis Scholars

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Music

Russ Douthat: Dan Brown’s America

Piggybacking on the fascination with lost gospels and alternative Christianities, he serves up a Jesus who’s a thoroughly modern sort of messiah ”” sexy, worldly, and Goddess-worshiping, with a wife and kids, a house in the Galilean suburbs, and no delusions about his own divinity.

But the success of this message ”” which also shows up in the work of Brown’s many thriller-writing imitators ”” can’t be separated from its dishonesty. The “secret” history of Christendom that unspools in “The Da Vinci Code” is false from start to finish. The lost gospels are real enough, but they neither confirm the portrait of Christ that Brown is peddling ”” they’re far, far weirder than that ”” nor provide a persuasive alternative to the New Testament account. The Jesus of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John ”” jealous, demanding, apocalyptic ”” may not be congenial to contemporary sensibilities, but he’s the only historically-plausible Jesus there is.

For millions of readers, Brown’s novels have helped smooth over the tension between ancient Christianity and modern American faith. But the tension endures. You can have Jesus or Dan Brown. But you can’t have both.

Read it all.

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

Charlotte Allen–Atheists: No God, no reason, just whining

My problem with atheists is their tiresome — and way old — insistence that they are being oppressed and their fixation with the fine points of Christianity. What — did their Sunday school teachers flog their behinds with a Bible when they were kids?

Read Dawkins, or Hitchens, or the works of fellow atheists Sam Harris (“The End of Faith”) and Daniel Dennett (“Breaking the Spell”), or visit an atheist website or blog (there are zillions of them, bearing such titles as “God Is for Suckers,” “God Is Imaginary” and “God Is Pretend”), and your eyes will glaze over as you peruse — again and again — the obsessively tiny range of topics around which atheists circle like water in a drain.

Read the whole piece.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Atheism, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Reuters: Blue collar U.S. males lose more ground

Rodney Ringler is an unemployed blue collar male without a college degree. He’s hardly alone. Men like him have been the main victims of the current recession in the United States.

“I haven’t worked since December of 2007, around the time this recession started,” Ringler, a 49-year-old computer technician, said as he walked his dog in a Dallas suburb.

He sees little light at the end of the tunnel.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Charles Moore reviews 'Church and State in 21st-century Britain', edited by R M Morris

It now seems a different age, but in fact it is less than two years since Gordon Brown became Prime Minister. When he did so, he declared: “Now let the work of change begin.” Luckily, perhaps, the work of change was quickly snarled up. Today, Mr Brown barely has the authority to change a light bulb (an action, this newspaper has recently revealed, that MPs can charge to the taxpayer).

But one obscure, sudden change that the Prime Minister did institute was to remove his own role in appointing bishops in the Church of England.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Church/State Matters, CoE Bishops, England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

Australian Climate change plan 'on tight track'

Climate change expert Ross Garnaut believes the federal government is on the right track with its climate change policies.

At a public discussion on the sustainability of the future, hosted by the Anglican church in Melbourne, Professor Garnaut praised the government.

“It’s a great relief to me that the government has put the 25 per cent by 2020 target back on the table,” Mr Garnaut told his audience.

“It would have been a regretful thing in the international context if we did not set a very ambitious target.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Australia / NZ, Energy, Natural Resources, Science & Technology

In tight job market, some teens start their own businesses

Eric Cieslewicz has spent the last couple of months drumming up business.

Faced with dismal employment prospects at traditional teen-friendly employers, the 18-year-old has turned his passion for percussion into a money-making venture.

The Milford, Ohio, high school senior set up a website promoting his services as a drum instructor, printed business cards and spread the word that he was open for business.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Teens / Youth

A.S. Haley: You WILL Be an Episcopalian!

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Episcopal Church (TEC)

Notable and Quotable (III)

I know that heaven is not a place so much as it is an attitude. I know that in some real theological sense speculation about heaven is a foolish and wasteful exercise, and yet, despite the best efforts of the modern scientific age, I continue to be fascinated by the idea of heaven, and I suspect that I am not alone. To go “out there,” to think of “up there,” to recover an imagination beyond the paltry “realities” of this life – all of that is stimulated when one uses this language of spiritual geography. Is it real? Is it a place?

You may recall the story that circulated upon the death of Professor Paul Tillich. Some of his friends called Karl Barth with the sad news that Paul Tillich had at last died, and Barth’s immediate response, we are told, was “Well, now he knows.” The knowledge of heaven is not for us, at least not yet, and that is why we have been given the idea and the imagery, and the vivid descriptions, and that is why on Ascension Day we must give some thought to the idea, for that is where we are told Jesus now is.

–Peter Gomes, “Ascension: The Absent and Present Christ,” Sermons: Biblical Wisdom for Daily Living (New York: William Morrow and Company, 1998), pp. 93-94.

Posted in Eschatology, Theology

Notable and Quotable (II)

The times demand Christian courage. These days, courage means that preachers and Christian leaders must set an agenda for biblical confrontation, and not shrink from dealing with the full range of issues related to homosexuality. We must talk about what the Bible teaches about gender”“what it means to be a man or a woman. We must talk about God’s gift of sex and the covenant of marriage. And we must talk honestly about what homosexuality is, and why God has condemned this sin as an abomination in His sight.

Courage is far too rare in many Christian circles. This explains the surrender of so many denominations, seminaries, and churches to the homosexual agenda. But no surrender on this issue would have been possible, if the authority of Scripture had not already been undermined.

And yet, even as courage is required, the times call for another Christian virtue as well”“compassion. The tragic fact is that every congregation is almost certain to include persons struggling with homosexual desire or even involved in homosexual acts. Outside the walls of the church, homosexuals are waiting to see if the Christian church has anything more to say, after we declare that homosexuality is a sin.

Liberal churches have redefined compassion to mean that the church changes its message to meet modern demands. They argue that to tell a homosexual he is a sinner is uncompassionate and intolerant. This is like arguing that a physician is intolerant because he tells a patient she has cancer. But, in the culture of political correctness, this argument holds a powerful attraction.

Biblical Christians know that compassion requires telling the truth, and refusing to call sin something sinless. To hide or deny the sinfulness of sin is to lie, and there is no compassion in such a deadly deception. True compassion demands speaking the truth in love”“and there is the problem. Far too often, our courage is more evident than our compassion.

Dr. Albert Mohler

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

Blog Open Thread: What is the Best Show on Television and Why

Please in your entries do not only name the show but give us your reasons–KSH.

Posted in Uncategorized

Notable and Quotable (I)

After a journey through seven games of mood swings, turns in the story line and questions about just who these Lakers are, Kobe Bryant said he finally learned something about his team.

“That we’re bipolar,” Bryant said with an ear-to-ear grin.

–From Lakers Beat Rockets to Advance to Western Conference Finals in yesterday’s New York Times, by Billy Witz

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Sports

FT: Brazil and China eye plan to axe dollar

Brazil and China will work towards using their own currencies in trade transactions rather than the US dollar, according to Brazil’s central bank and aides to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s president.

The move follows recent Chinese challenges to the status of the dollar as the world’s leading international currency.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, Brazil, China, Economy, Globalization, South America, The U.S. Government

Maggie Gallagher: Traditional Marriage Will Win in the End

Rod Dreher interviews Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage, who draws a positive outlook for the future based on past experience.

Rod Dreher: Maggie, you and I are on the same side of the gay marriage issue, but I am pessimistic about our chances for success. You, however, are optimistic. What am I missing?

Maggie Gallagher: Vaclav Havel mostly. “Truth and love wlll prevail over lies and hate.” On that basis Havel took on the Soviet empire. Where is that invincible empire now?

Same-sex marriage is founded on a lie about human nature: ‘there is no difference between same-sex and opposite sex unions and you are a bigot if you disagree’.

Political movements can–sometimes at great human cost and with great output of energy–sustain a lie but eventually political regimes founded on lies collapse in on themselves.

I don’t think of myself as optimistic: just realistic. What does losing marriage mean? First the rejection of the idea that children need a mom and dad as a cultural norm–or probably even as a respectable opinion. That’s become very clear for people who have the eyes to see it. (See e.g. footnote 26 of the Iowa decision).

Second: the redefinition of traditional religious faiths as the moral and legal equivalent of racists. The proposition on the table right now is that our faith itself is a form of bigotry.

Despair is gay marriage advocates’ prime message point. All warfare, including culture war, is ultimately psychological warfare. You win a war when you convince the other side to give up.

So now you want to decide we’ve lost on an issue where, in the March 12 CBS News poll two-thirds of Americans agree with us. I mean, does this make sense?

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

Edmund Andrews: My Personal Credit Crisis

If there was anybody who should have avoided the mortgage catastrophe, it was I. As an economics reporter for The New York Times, I have been the paper’s chief eyes and ears on the Federal Reserve for the past six years. I watched Alan Greenspan and his successor, Ben S. Bernanke, at close range. I wrote several early-warning articles in 2004 about the spike in go-go mortgages. Before that, I had a hand in covering the Asian financial crisis of 1997, the Russia meltdown in 1998 and the dot-com collapse in 2000. I know a lot about the curveballs that the economy can throw at us.

But in 2004, I joined millions of otherwise-sane Americans in what we now know was a catastrophic binge on overpriced real estate and reckless mortgages. Nobody duped or hypnotized me. Like so many others ”” borrowers, lenders and the Wall Street dealmakers behind them ”” I just thought I could beat the odds. We all had our reasons. The brokers and dealmakers were scoring huge commissions. Ordinary homebuyers were stretching to get into first houses, or bigger houses, or better neighborhoods. Some were greedy, some were desperate and some were deceived.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Personal Finance, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--