Daily Archives: June 8, 2009

Europe Vote Deepens Gloom for Gordon Brown

After outmaneuvering what amounted to an attempted coup last week by members of his own cabinet, Prime Minister Gordon Brown, confronted disastrous European election results Monday that could amplify calls within his party for his ouster.

With nearly all the votes counted, Mr. Brown’s Labor Party was beaten into a humiliating third place behind the small, euroskeptic United Kingdom Independence Party and the opposition Conservatives in first place.

David Cameron, the Conservative leader, said the vote showed a “desperately weak and divided government” locked with its internal adversaries in a “slow dance of political death.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Europe, Politics in General

CNS: Few surprises, but some glimmers of hope in new US Roman Catholic church statistics

Statistically, there are few surprises in the 2009 Official Catholic Directory.

The number of patients served in Catholic hospitals and the number of clients assisted by Catholic charitable agencies went up. Fewer baptisms, first Communions, confirmations and marriages were performed in Catholic churches last year. The number of Catholic parishes and elementary schools in the U.S. continues to decline.

But here and there, there are signs of hope in the statistical summary that is designed to present a snapshot of what the U.S. Catholic Church looked like on Jan. 1, 2009.

The totals for priests, permanent deacons and diocesan seminarians each experienced a small increase in the 2009 book. There were more students in Catholic colleges and universities; in private, Catholic-run high schools and elementary schools; and in high school religious education programs.

Read it all.

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

ENS: All Saints, Pasadena, clergy opt out of civil marriages until same sex couples can legally wed

Clergy at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California, are opting out of performing civil marriages until gay couples can legally wed–and are encouraging other clergy to do likewise, according to the Rev. Ed Bacon, rector.

“At the heart of Jesus’s moral vision and All Saints’ historic mission is respecting the dignity of every human being,” Bacon said in a June 3 press release announcing the decision, which is effective immediately.

“The California Supreme Court in its recent opinion has ruled that those of same-gender affections are second-class citizens,” Bacon added. “Denying fundamental rights to a certain classification of humanity is blatant discrimination with which our governing board, the other clergy of All Saints, and I will not participate. We invite other clergy and congregations to join us in this stand for marriage equality.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Sexuality, TEC Parishes

An Introduction to the Constitution and Canons of ACNA – By Bishop Robert Duncan

Editor’s Note:Bishop Robert Duncan, Bishop of Pittsburgh and moderator of the Common Cause Partnership gives his view on the proposed Constitution and Canons of the Anglican Church in North America

How do we renew what was best about the tradition that produced us? How do we not repeat the patterns that subverted our life as a biblical and missionary province? How do we adapt learnings from the vibrant newer branches of the Anglican Communion? How do we restore our role as the bridge among and between the various denominational expressions of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church? How do we have both freedom and accountability? How can we be truly catholic, truly evangelical, truly charismatic and truly conciliar in a 21st century context ”“ both North American and global? These are all questions that shaped the deliberations of the Governance Task Force, and the wider consultations the Governance Task Force undertook, and that resulted in the Constitution and Canons proposed for ratification at the inaugural Provincial Assembly of the Anglican Church in North America.

The Constitution and Canons go much further than anyone imagined possible just a year ago….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Proposed Formation of a new North American Province, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Common Cause Partnership

Parental Lifelines, Frayed to Breaking

For the past five years, Ernie DiGiacomo has been able to count on parents to guarantee the $1,500 to $2,500 rents he charges for the 15 apartments he owns in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. When he called renters who had missed payments, he often heard, “My parents will send you a check.”

But in the past six months, the parents are pulling back financial help, he said, and as a result, he has watched more renters move out.

“Most of them are moving back with parents,” Mr. DiGiacomo said.

Read it all.

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

Obama’s Economic Circle Keeps Tensions High

President Obama was getting his daily economic briefing one recent morning when a fly distracted him. The president swatted and missed, just as the pest buzzed near the shoes of Lawrence H. Summers, the chief White House economic adviser. “Couldn’t you aim a little higher?” deadpanned Christina D. Romer, the chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisers.

Mrs. Romer was joking, she said in an interview, adding, “There are only a few times that I felt like smacking Larry.” Yet few laughed in the president’s presence.

If the Oval Office incident was meant as a lighthearted moment, it also exposed the underlying tensions that have gripped Mr. Obama’s economic advisers as they have struggled with the gravest financial crisis since the Depression, according to several dozen interviews with administration officials and others familiar with the internal debates.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Federal Reserve, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

Drop the comic altar ego, clergy told

LAUGHTER may be the best medicine, but God is no joke, according to an Anglican bishop who has chided Christian church leaders who think of themselves as stand-up comedians and resort to making jokes during sermons.

The Bishop of South Sydney, Robert Forsyth, says there is nothing funny in “lame-fisted attempts” to crack jokes and be funny during services and church meetings. Humour has its place, but God and church, he says, is no laughing matter.

“I am frankly sick of ‘leaders’ ruining the atmosphere of the meeting/service and disrupting the focus on God with half-baked comic lines,” he wrote for a Sydney Anglican online ministry resource guide. “Or they detract from my reflection upon some important point made in the sermon with smart cracks or attempts to make funny comments about the preacher or the sermon.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics

Vancouver Sun: It's all church property — but which church?

In general, the four dissident Anglican congregations argue in their 44-page submission that B.C.’s civil court should give them the right to continue worshipping in the Anglican buildings because they are remaining in “communion” with the wider Anglican church.

In the end, Justice Kelleher is being asked to rule on a moral, religious and ecclesiastical dispute that has for several decades drawn much emotional energy from both conservative and liberal Anglicans.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Law & Legal Issues

Abbotsford News: Church lawsuit in court

A three-week trial is underway in Vancouver that will determine who gets the keys to St. Matthew’s Anglican Church in Abbotsford ”“ the Diocese of New Westminster, or the local congregation.

In February 2008 the church voted ”“ by a majority of 186 to four ”“ to break away from the Anglican Church of Canada over the issue of same-sex blessings.

Linda Seale of Abbotsford is a St. Matthew’s trustee, and was the only local person to testify.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Law & Legal Issues, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

For Sotomayor and Thomas, Same Paths to the Top but Different Forks

If Judge Sonia Sotomayor joins Justice Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court, they may find that they have far more than a job title in common.

Both come from the humblest of beginnings. Both were members of the first sizable generation of minority students at elite colleges and then Yale Law School. Both benefited from affirmative action policies.

But that is where their similarities end, and their disagreements begin. For the first time, the Supreme Court would include two minority judges, but ones who stand at opposite poles of thinking about race, identity and opportunity. Judge Sotomayor and Justice Thomas have walked parallel paths and yet arrived at contrary conclusions, not only on legal questions, but on personal ones, too.

Judge Sotomayor celebrates being Latina, calling it a reason for her success; Justice Thomas bristles at attempts to define him by race and says he has succeeded despite the obstacles it posed. Being a woman of Puerto Rican descent is rich and fulfilling, Judge Sotomayor says, while Justice Thomas calls being a black man in America a largely searing experience. Off the bench, Judge Sotomayor has helped build affirmative action programs. On the bench, Justice Thomas has argued against them with thunderous force.

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

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues, Race/Race Relations

Sandy Lewis and William Cohan: The Economy Is Still at the Brink

Why hasn’t President Obama insisted on public hearings over what happened during this financial crisis?

Not a single top executive of a Wall Street securities firm responsible for causing the financial crisis has had the courage or the decency to step forward in front of the cameras and explain to the American people in his own words exactly how and why he allowed his firm to cause the crisis. Both Mr. Fuld and Alan Schwartz, the chief executive of Bear Stearns at the end, in their Congressional testimony blamed the proverbial once-in-a-century financial tsunami. Do they or any of their peers really think this is true?

There may be a way to find out. There is much talk nowadays coming from top bankers ”” Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, Jamie Dimon of JPMorganChase, John Mack of Morgan Stanley and even Ken Lewis of Bank of America ”” about seeing how quickly they can repay to the Treasury the TARP money Mr. Paulson forced on them. One precondition of their being allowed to repay the funds should be a requirement that each gives a public deposition and explains, under oath, what truly happened and why.

This piece was given an astonishing full page on yesterday’s New York Times op-ed page. Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout Plan, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009, The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto Industry, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

Nicholas Kristof: Rising Above I.Q.

What’s the policy lesson from these three success stories?

It’s that the most decisive weapons in the war on poverty aren’t transfer payments but education, education, education. For at-risk households, that starts with social workers making visits to encourage such basic practices as talking to children. One study found that a child of professionals (disproportionately white) has heard about 30 million words spoken by age 3; a black child raised on welfare has heard only 10 million words, leaving that child at a disadvantage in school.

The next step is intensive early childhood programs, followed by improved elementary and high schools, and programs to defray college costs.

Perhaps the larger lesson is a very empowering one: success depends less on intellectual endowment than on perseverance and drive. As Professor Nisbett puts it, “Intelligence and academic achievement are very much under people’s control.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education

Fordlandia: The Failure Of Henry Ford's Jungle Utopia

Fordlandia isn’t just the story of a plantation; it’s a story about Ford’s ego. As disaster after disaster struck, Ford continued to pour money into the project. Not one drop of latex from Fordlandia ever made it into a Ford car.

But the more it failed, the more Ford justified the project in idealistic terms. “It increasingly was justified as a work of civilization, or as a sociological experiment,” Grandin says. One newspaper article even reported that Ford’s intent wasn’t just to cultivate rubber, but to cultivate workers and human beings.

In the end, Ford’s utopia failed. Fordlandia’s residents, ever in hope their patriarch would someday visit their Midwestern industrial town in the middle of the jungle, gave up and left.

These days, Fordlandia is quite beautiful, Grandin says. The “American” town where the managers and administrators lived is abandoned and overgrown. Weeds grow over the American-style bungalows, and bats roost in the rafters, and little red fire hydrants sit covered in vines.

I cuaght this by podcast when runing this evening and found it absolutely fascinating–I had never heard anything about it before. Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, History, South America

Obama to take a greater role on health care

But Mr. Obama has grown concerned that he is losing the debate over certain policy prescriptions he favors, like a government-run insurance plan to compete with the private sector, said one Democrat familiar with his thinking. With Congress beginning a burst of work on the measure, top advisers say, the president is determined to make certain the final bill bears his stamp.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Health & Medicine, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The U.S. Government

65 years after D-day, Normandy's gratitude toward US has not faded"If they hadn't come, where would

“If they hadn’t come, where would we be today?’ said [Louis] Delevin, 77, who as a farm boy of 12 provided the pilots with apple cider between raids on the retreating German troops. “You don’t have to be a great scholar to understand that the freedom we enjoy today was decided in those days in 1944.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Europe, France, History, Military / Armed Forces