Daily Archives: June 1, 2009

Stephen Mansfield: Obama's faith fits our times

Perhaps most important of all, he believes in a “living word of God,” one that ever reveals and expands, that comes from unexpected sources. “When I read the Bible,” he has written, “I do so with the belief that it is not a static text but the Living Word and that I must be continually open to new revelations whether they come from a lesbian friend or a doctor opposed to abortion.”

These “new revelations” might come from a non-Christian religion as well, for Obama does not believe his Christianity is the final word. “I am rooted in the Christian tradition,” he has said. But “I believe there are many paths to the same place and that is a belief that there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people.”

Already in his first months in office, then, he has hosted a Jewish Seder, attended a Baptist church, and put a Pentecostal in charge of the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives and Neighborhood Partnerships. He invited a gay Episcopal bishop to speak at an inaugural event, but he also asked the most prominent American evangelical of our time to give an opening prayer. And when he spoke at the University of Notre Dame recently, he both honored the Catholic tradition and defied that faith’s stand against abortion rights, all the while saying we must carve out a new unity on the issue of abortion. And this is what we can expect a big tent faith-based presidency, rooted in a non-traditional approach to Christianity yet seeking to draw in nearly every religious tradition. For this, he understands, is how the majority of the people he serves would want it to be.

Read it all

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture

Mike Potemra: Father Kowalski's Silly Sermon

I attended Pentecost Sunday services at New York’s Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and the liturgy was, in general, lovely and uplifting. But the sermon, by the Very Rev. James Kowalski, was a case in point of why politics should be avoided in the pulpit….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, TEC Parishes

8 New Ways You Might Be Destructively Addicted

2. Night-Eating Syndrome
Similar to Binge-Eating Disorder, this malady is characterized by a compulsion to raid the fridge””but is distinguished by the time it takes place: well past midnight. It affects 1.1%”“1.5% of the general population, and people who suffer from it tend to eat at least a quarter of their daily calories in the middle of the night. Scientists believe Night-Eating Syndrome may be a pathway to obesity, partly because people who suffer from it tend to grab for calorie-laden comfort foods.

3. Internet Addiction
According to an article in the American Journal of Psychiatry, this is a disorder “that involves online and/or offline computer usage and consists of at least three subtypes: excessive gaming, sexual preoccupations, and email/text messaging.” It has several components, including excessive use, which is “often associated with a loss of sense of time or a neglect of basic drives”; withdrawal, which leads to “feelings of anger, tension, and/or depression when the computer is inaccessible”; tolerance, meaning “the need for better computer equipment, more software, or more hours of use”; and negative repercussions, “including arguments, lying, poor achievement, social isolation, and fatigue.”

Check out the whole thing.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Psychology

G.M. Seeks Bankruptcy and a New Start

General Motors filed for bankruptcy on Monday morning, submitting its reorganization papers to a federal clerk in Lower Manhattan.

G.M. said it had $82.3 billion in assets and $172.8 billion in debts. Its largest creditors were the Wilmington Trust Company, representing a group of bondholders holding $22.8 billion in debts, and affiliates of the United Auto Workers union, representing nearly $20.6 billion in employee obligations.

The filing itself seemed anticlimatic. It was a simple procedure done thousands of times each day across the country, by individuals and business alike. But not usually, as in this case, by companies like G.M. that have woven themselves into the fabric of America culture.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Credit Markets, Economy, Law & Legal Issues, The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto Industry

Industry Fears Americans May Quit New Car Habit

For all the drastic cuts and financial overhauls that are meant to secure a future for General Motors and Chrysler, their prospects in coming years will be determined more by the answer to a simple question: Can American drivers live without that new-car smell?

In recent years Americans appeared to be hooked on it and took advantage of home equity loans, easy credit and cheap short-term lease deals to send new-car sales to levels of more than 17 million a year.

Now the market has collapsed by 46 percent to below 10 million, as people are making do with the cars they have, leaving the industry to debate ”” and worry ”” about what the new normal will be once the recession ends.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto Industry

John Dart–How many in mainline? Categories vary in surveys

Few doubt that the graying of members, low birth rates and various controversies have contributed to the diminishing numbers of mainline Protestants found in the United Methodist Church, the Evan gelical Luth eran Church in America, the Pres byterian Church (U.S.A.), the Epis copal Church, the American Baptist Churches and the United Church of Christ.

But has the slippage become precipitous, threatening to reduce mainline Protestants ever closer to remnant status? “A generic form of evangelicalism is emerging as the normative form of non-Catholic Christianity in the United States,” said Mark Silk, who helped design the 2008 American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS).

That survey, which polled more than 54,000 adults, reported in March that the number of mainline Christians had slipped to 12.9 percent of adult Americans””down from 17.2 percent in 2001 and 18.7 percent in 1990””as evangelical numbers grew.

By contrast, the Pew Forum’s U.S. Religious Landscape Study, after polling 35,000 adults in 2007, reported last year that 18.1 percent of adults said they were affiliated with “mainline Protestant” churches.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lutheran, Methodist, Other Churches, Presbyterian, TEC Data

Anatole Kaletsky: Has the threat of a Great Depression vanished?

Still not convinced? Green shoots are sprouting into a jungle around the world. Consider a few of the economic indicators published in the past two weeks: British house prices have risen in two of the past three months. Japan has experienced its biggest monthly increase in industrial production since the Fifties. Consumer and business sentiment are rising strongly in the United States and Britain and are even showing some signs of life in Europe. In America, where all the trouble started, unemployment claims have fallen, durable goods orders and property sales have bounced back and house prices have stabilised, although not yet in the 20 boom-bust cities sampled by the Case-Shiller index, which the markets, in their wisdom, have chosen to emphasise.

The list of bullish statistics could go on, but it can be best be summarised in the market’s own judgment world share prices have enjoyed a three-month rally, led by commodities, retailers and financials, capital markets have re-opened, with record issuance of equities and corporate bonds, credit spreads have narrowed and government bond prices have fallen in exactly the way they did at the start of the recovery in 2003.

Yet most economic commentators have remained sceptical or even contemptuous of all this evidence….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, Economy, Globalization, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Albert Mohler–A Wicked Deed in Wichita — A Test for the Pro-Life Movement

The cold-blooded murder of Dr. George Tiller on Sunday morning presents the pro-life movement in America with a crucial moral test — will we condemn this murder in unqualified terms?

I sincerely hope so. It takes a bad situation and makes it even worse. Read it all.

Update: The National Right to Life statement is here:

The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), the nation’s largest pro-life group, today condemned the killing of Dr. George Tiller. The following statement may be attributed to NRLC Executive Director, David N. O’Steen, Ph.D.:

National Right to Life extends its sympathies to Dr. Tiller’s family over this loss of life.

Further, the National Right to Life Committee unequivocally condemns any such acts of violence regardless of motivation. The pro-life movement works to protect the right to life and increase respect for human life. The unlawful use of violence is directly contrary to that goal.

The National Right to Life Committee has always been involved in peaceful, legal activities to protect human lives threatened by abortion, infanticide and euthanasia. We always have and will continue to oppose any form of violence to fight the violence of abortion. NRLC has had a policy of forbidding violence or illegal activity by its staff, directors, officers, affiliated state organizations and chapters. NRLC’s sole purpose is to protect innocent human life.

NRLC will continue to work through educational and legislative activities to ensure the right to life for unborn children, people with disabilities and older people. NRLC will continue to work for peaceful solutions to aid pregnant women and their unborn children. These solutions involve helping women and their children and do not involve violence against anyone.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Violence

Jesse Bering: Why Girls Are So Cruel to Each Other

What punctured this rose-tinted illusion of mine was the knowledge that these diminutive figures giggling and sitting Indian-style on the carpet before me might also be viewed as incubating adolescents. Perhaps it’s just me, but I’d swear the world knows not an eviler soul than an angry, angst-ridden, hormonally intoxicated teen. And if this little pigtailed girl is anything like the rest of her gender, in just a few years’ time she will unfortunately morph into an eye-rolling, gossiping, ostracizing, sarcastic, dismissive, cliquish ninth-grader, embroiled in the classic cafeteria style…[verbal aggression] of adolescent female social politics.

If that strikes you as misogynistic, rest assured it’s merely an empirical statement. (Rest assured, also, that I’m afraid I have much in common with this tactical style, and I have great respect for more refined Machiavellians, so I’m not casting stones here.) In fact, over the past few decades, scholars from a variety of disciplines””including developmental psychology, evolutionary biology and cultural anthropology””have noted a striking difference in the standard patterns of aggression between reproductive-aged males and females. While teenage boys and young male adults are more prone to engage in direct aggression, which includes physical acts of violence such as hitting, punching and kicking, females, in comparison, exhibit pronounced social aggression, which includes such obnoxious things as mentioned in the various acts of…[verbal aggression] listed above.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Psychology, Teens / Youth, Women

A Miami Herald Editorial: Cutié's decision allows Archdiocese to focus on real problems

On Thursday, Mr. Cutié mercifully brought it to a close. By joining the Episcopal Church and announcing plans to marry the woman to whom he has been romantically linked, the 40-year-old former Roman Catholic priest made a decision that should put an end to the story. It was, in retrospect, where the story has been heading all along. As long as Mr. Cutié refused to renounce his temporal love, he could not continue on the same spiritual path.

The Catholic Archdiocese took his action to mean that he had ex-communicated himself. It’s a shame that Mr. Cutie did not reach out to the Catholic bishop to announce his intention to join the Episcopal Church. Still, his decision should bring the affair to a tidy end.

Now the archdiocese can concentrate on its more fundamental and worrisome problems — finding a way to keep struggling parishes and charities alive in a time of shrinking collections.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Ecumenical Relations, Episcopal Church (TEC), Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Roman Catholic

Miami Herald: Father Cutié gets standing ovation at his first sermon at new Episcopal church

On his return to the pulpit Sunday, Rev. Alberto Cutié tried to say hello to his new congregation.

He couldn’t.

First came the standing ovation. Then, cheering. And the cameras, held high in the air, as though at a rock concert, capturing every moment. Inside the tiny Episcopal Church of the Resurrection of Biscayne Park, more than 300 people — more than three times the normal attendance — turned out to greet him for Sunday morning service.

Cutié looked out at the crowd and said, “I am humbled by your presence here.”

The priest nicknamed ”Father Oprah” gave his first sermon since famously leaving the Roman Catholic Church after published photographs showed him nuzzling a woman on a Florida beach. Unlike in Catholicism, Episcopal priests can marry.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Ecumenical Relations, Episcopal Church (TEC), Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Roman Catholic

RNS: An American Exorcist Plies His Lonely Trade

Pity the poor exorcist, caught between evil spirits eager to inhabit human bodies and a skeptical society loath to believe demons exist outside of movie theaters.

Even church leaders and clergy look askance at exorcists as peddlers of a practice best left in the Middle Ages. Most American exorcists, particularly those appointed by the Catholic Church, keep a low-profile, hesitating to open themselves””and their church– to ridicule and quacks.

But not the Rev. Gary Thomas. The loquacious, 55-year-old Silicon Valley priest is eager to dish about exorcism, the “apocalyptic times” we live in, and even to accuse Catholics who deny demonic possession””including bishops””of renouncing fundamental Christian dogma.

Thomas is pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Saratoga, Calif.””and the official exorcist for the Diocese of San Jose.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Roman Catholic

Benedict XVI Calls on Laity to Recognize Pastoral Responsibility

The Bishop of Rome suggested that “there is still a tendency to unilaterally identify the Church with the hierarchy, forgetting the common responsibility, the common mission” of all the baptized.

“Up to what point is the pastoral responsibility of everyone, especially the laity, recognized and encouraged,” he asked.

Referring to laypeople committed in the service of the Church, the Pope said there should not be “a lessening of the awareness that they are ‘Church,’ because Christ, the eternal Word of the Father, convokes them and makes them his People.”

Benedict XVI thus asked priests to transmit to laypeople a “sense of belonging to the parish community” and the importance of unity. He further encouraged that laypeople draw close to sacred Scripture, through means such as lectio divina, and carry out missionary activity, in first place through living out charity.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, Theology

Soaring UP!

Elizabeth and Selimah (just home from school) and I went to the new Pixar movie last evening. Fantastic.

Posted in * By Kendall, * Culture-Watch, Harmon Family, Movies & Television

Attacks Against Christians Trouble Benedict XVI

Benedict XVI expressed his desire that everyone should enjoy religious freedom in a message written for the new ambassador from India, where Christians were the object of a wave of violence last year in the eastern state of Orissa.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, India, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic