Daily Archives: August 7, 2009

Top US Catholic bishop: Global economic crisis caused in part by people abandoning ethics

The top Roman Catholic bishop in the United States said Wednesday the global economic crisis was caused in part by people abandoning personal ethics, and he’s calling for increased morality in business.

Cardinal Francis George, archbishop of Chicago and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the pursuit of fast profits undermined the financial markets’ ability to regulate themselves.

“An economy that substitutes efficiency for morality will end up both inefficient and immoral,” George said in a speech Tuesday, the first night of the three-day annual convention of the Knights of Columbus, one of the world’s largest Catholic fraternal service organizations.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Economy, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Emily Smith: How Peaceful Is Pacifism?

As a school of thought based on love, Sufism has influenced Catholic and Jewish mysticism and the transcendentalism of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. In the U.S., Sufi teachings have attracted a wide swath of followers. In the music video for Madonna’s 1994 song “Bedtime Story,” whirling dervishes dance to Madonna’s Sufi-inspired verse, “Let’s get unconscious.” To Stephen Schwartz, a convert to Sufism and the author of “The Other Islam: Sufism and the Road to Global Harmony,” the faith’s emphasis on achieving internal peace can fill the “great spiritual hunger in this country and in the West in general.”

“In Sufism, the focus is on fixing the self rather than fixing others. That concept is inherently pacific, not political,” says Hedieh Mirahmadi, a Sufi practitioner. Ms. Mirahmadi is the general counsel of Sheikh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani, the popular deputy master of the orthodox Naqshbandi order. In Sufism, many paths lead to God. Other orders include the aloof Nimatullahi, whose meeting house was described above, the progressive Bekstashi and the militant Qadiri.

The problem arises when the spiritual path to God is blocked with violence. Do Sufis, inherently peaceful, take up arms in the name of the very complicated and controversial notion of jihad, or holy war? Ms. Mirahmadi says no, emphatically. She and her Sufi master, Mr. Kabbani, condemn the behavior of the Naqshbandi Army in Iraq.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Iraq War, Military / Armed Forces, Other Faiths, Violence

Staff Cuts at Episcopal Church Center Begin

The Episcopal Church Center has begun staff layoffs and program changes necessitated by the General Convention’s “austerity” triennial budget, according to a statement released Wednesday by the Office of Public Affairs.

The $141 million, three-year budget adopted by General Convention was a $12 million reduction compared to the budget approved for the 2007-2009 triennium, and $20 million less than the amount approved by Executive Council in January. As part of the cuts, 40 staff positions are being eliminated or will have hours reduced, affecting some 35 current employees in such areas as evangelism, diocesan services, women’s ministry, anti-racism training, lay and ordained ministry, and worship and spirituality.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Episcopal Church (TEC), Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Church Times: ”˜Not in our name’ pro-gay groups

THE Archbishop of Canterbury’s notion of a two-track Anglican Communion is flawed, say 13 organ­isations working towards an “in­clusive” Church of England.

The group expresses “grave con­cerns” about the implications of Dr Williams’s reflections in Covenant, Communion and the Anglican Future, a response to the actions of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in the US (News, 31 July).

It finds the Archbishop’s reference to same-sex unions as “chosen life-style” to be inconsistent with his previous statements on committed and faithful same-sex relationships, and “at odds with our reading of the message of the gospel. . . While we applaud his assertion that we are called ”˜to become the Church God wants us to be, for the better proclamation of the liberating gospel of Jesus Christ’, we find no indication of how that can be achieved for those who are not heterosexual,” the joint statement says.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Roy Hattersly: Harry Patch’s victory was to die in his bed

The name itself tells half the story ”” Harry Patch the humble private soldier who fought, came home and returned to a life of honourable obscurity. But Harry Patch, the last survivor of the First World War battlefields, was an extra-ordinary man. And that half of his character was only revealed when he was an old, old man.

For most of his life he had chosen not to talk about the blood and mud of France and Flanders. Then, as his years drew to a close, he began to bear witness to the sacrifice of his fallen comrades and he became the embodiment of the most famous line of First World War poetry: “At the going down of the sun … we will remember them”. The memories were proud, clear and untainted with anger. He mourned the death of the Germans, against whom he fought, as well as the loss of the men with whom he had stood shoulder to shoulder. The schoolchildren, who were his favourite audience, were not urged to rejoice in victory or glory in triumph. Harry Patch preached the gospel of reconciliation.

Yesterday, the order of service at his funeral in Wells Cathedral left no doubt about the message and meaning of his final days. The congregation sang, “Where Have All The Flowers Gone?” ”” a threnody for young men who died in battle when Harry Patch had grown old. And still the world had not learnt the lesson.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Death / Burial / Funerals, Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Military / Armed Forces, Parish Ministry

Notable and Quotable

“I think there is a very clear recognition of where power lies….The numbers of true believers are probably not as great as we imagine, but the place where truth is created, in a televisual sense, is in the sphere of the popular media.”

Linda Kintz, a professor of English at the University of Oregon in Eugene

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Media, Movies & Television

The Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church passes two resolutions in support of women’s work

General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) met June 11 ”“ 13, 2009. Elaine Cameron, IAWN Provincial Link for SEC and Marion Chatterley, SEC representative with the Anglican Consultative Council Non-Governmental Organization delegation at the United Nations Commission on the Status Women, March 2009, presented the work of the International Anglican Women’s Network to Synod, at the invitation of the Most Revd Idris Jones.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Scottish Episcopal Church

Damian Thompson–Time for Rome to rescue Christians trapped in the Anglo-Catholic wreckage

As for our Catholic bishops, there is now more sympathy for the Anglo-Catholic dilemma. The appointment of Archbishop Vincent Nichols to Westminster is significant; for, although he has never been a “traditionalist”, nor has he ever been at the heart of the dialogue between liberal Catholics and liberal Anglicans that has wasted so much time since the ordination of women priests made reunion impossible. As a young Westminster bishop, he unobtrusively cleared the path to Rome of at least one Anglican priest; there is no reason to think that he will not do the same again.

But the crucial change is that the present Pope, unlike his predecessor, is an admirer of the conservative Anglo-Catholic tradition – and open to the idea that doctrinally orthodox Anglicans should convert together, bringing with them spiritual gifts. He is aware that the practical obstacles to such a move (or series of moves) are immense. But he will not be dissuaded by a Catholic ecumenical lobby that, even now, pays court to liberal Anglicans.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, Other Churches, Roman Catholic

Bankers Win Big in Toxic Pay Plan

(Please note that the headline above is from the WSJ print edition–KSH).

Credit Suisse Group’s novel plan to pay bankers with a brew of its own toxic bonds and corporate loans has gotten off to an unexpectedly strong start, which could put further political pressure on other Wall Street firms to change how they pay their employees.

Late Wednesday, the bank told 2,000 of its top bankers that a $5 billion fund of soured mortgages and bonds — which it granted as a big portion of 2008 pay — had returned 17% since January, according to people familiar with the matter.

The returns registered well below the 75% increase in Credit Suisse shares over the same period, and the 30% uptick in the benchmark Merrill Lynch high-yield bond index. But the fund still outperformed major stock indices, as well as initial expectations of bankers inside and outside the Swiss bank. Many were originally skeptical of the plan, with one decrying what he called the “eat your own cooking” plan as unfair to employees who didn’t contribute to the bank’s 2008 net loss.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Another Hurdle for the Jobless: Credit Inquiries

Digging out of debt keeps getting harder for the unemployed as more companies use detailed credit checks to screen job prospects.

Out of work since December, Juan Ochoa was delighted when a staffing firm recently responded to his posting on Hotjobs.com with an opening for a data entry clerk. Before he could do much more, though, the firm checked his credit history.

The interest vanished. There were too many collections claims against him, the firm said.

“I never knew that nowadays they were going to start pulling credit checks on you even before you go for an interview,” said Mr. Ochoa, 46, who lost his job in December tracking inventory at a mining company in Santa Fe Springs, Calif. “Why would they need to pull a credit report? They’d need something like that if you were applying at a bank.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Britain Buries its Last World War One Veteran

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Moving–watch it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Military / Armed Forces, Parish Ministry

Nigel Hawkes: How serious is the swine flu threat? They're probably just guessing…

A month ago the Government warned us that by the end of August 100,000 people would be getting swine flu every day. Yesterday it produced figures showing that the disease has apparently peaked, with only 30,000 new cases last week. How did they get it so wrong?

The trouble with warning people about the dangers of swine flu is that you’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. Striking the right balance is impossibly difficult. There are always plenty of commentators ready to scent a scare, but following their insouciant advice is not an option. “Calm down, everybody, it’s only a couple of days feeling a bit peaky” was never the first sentence likely to spring to Sir Liam Donaldson’s lips.

That said, it’s worth asking if the message has been right, and if it has been based on sound evidence. It’s also worth asking why the Scottish Government has done so much better in providing timely and complete data than the Health Protection Agency in England.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Health & Medicine

Fannie Mae seeks $10.7B in US aid after 2Q loss

Fannie Mae plans to tap $11 billion in new government aid after posting another massive quarterly loss as the taxpayer bill from the housing market bust keeps growing.

The mounting price tag for the rescue of Fannie and its goverment-sponsored sibling, Freddie Mac, is surpassed only by insurer American International Group Inc., which has received $182.5 billion in financial support from the government so far.

Fannie Mae’s new request for $10.7 billion from the Treasury Department will bring the total for Fannie and Freddie to nearly $96 billion. Freddie is expected to report its quarterly results on Friday.

Ugh. One wonders when the red ink will ever end. Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

ACI–Comment to Mark Harris, re: Preludium Post of 4 August 2009

(Please note that the post of Mark Harris to which this responds may be found here).

So what if your main point is, as we believe, wrong? What if the move forward (C056 and D025) has been undertaken regardless of the threat to Communion and its unity, out of a sense of justice and rights? What if proponents of the new sexual ethic truly want to be a church on its own and fully reject the logic of a Covenant or Windsor? Interdependence in a Communion, as is intimated by 3.2.5, is precisely what is being rejected in favor of autonomy and a federal association. The nominations in LA and MN make that abundantly clear. So again, we hold that your main point is wrong and that TEC is moving clearly and resolutely in the opposite direction of the approved covenant text.

It is because of this that ACI speaks of provisional rejection. What we do not understand is why supposedly liberal Christians wish to hold hostage to their way of thinking those who prefer interdependence in Communion. On logical terms, why must all be bound to go the way of autonomy and a national denomination? Why do you not see that some truly wish to belong to a catholic church and an Anglican Communion via a covenant, instead of being lumped with those whose understanding and hopes are very different? Moreover, most of us believe that in so doing we are upholding the constitution of this church. No one is contesting that your way of being an Episcopalian is winning out in General Convention voting. What we do not understand is why you don’t declare that this entails an autonomous church, and a way of being Anglican the proposed covenant does not embrace, and then let those who wish to embrace this do so? Surely that is congruent with a liberal position and mindset.

What remains terribly confused for those wishing to embrace a covenant of interdependence is your insistence on saying nothing has changed, that there has been no rejection, that we are studying the covenant, etc., but insisting at the same time that the American Episcopal way is a way of autonomy and independent action. If this be so, why not declare it and concede that those who wish to be Episcopalians in Communion ought to do so?

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Covenant, Anglican Identity, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Theology

The Bishop of Upper South Carolina: General Convention 2009””Bishop's Report No. 4

“B033, D025, C056 & the Anaheim Letter: Contradictory or Complementary?” Beloved, with this report I urge us-again-to read carefully the two resolutions which are-appropriately-drawing so much attention from various sources in and beyond The Episcopal Church. My reference is to D025, entitled “Anglican Communion: Commitment and Witness to Anglican Communion”, and C056, entitled “Liturgies for Blessings”. Media accounts (both secular and ecclesiastical) of these two resolutions are generally too brief in their coverage to convey accurately and completely the thought, prayer and dialogue which contributed to their final form-or the actual content of the final wording in the resolutions. (For example, the title of C056, which implies that liturgies are authorized in the resolution, simply states the subject of the resolution, the provisions of which do not authorize such blessings-again, read carefully!).

The Presiding Bishop communicated directly to the Archbishop of Canterbury and to all of the other Primates of the Anglican Communion immediately following the passage of these resolutions-while our General Convention was still in session. The Archbishop of Canterbury, who was present during part of our convention, has written about these resolutions in a document dated 27 July 2009. I refer you to these documents, together with the two resolutions in question, for reading, re-reading, and careful study. They may be found on-line by following the links in this report. Copies of Resolutions B033, D025, and C056 also appear below, immediately following this report. (For those desiring paper copies, please speak to your priest or request them from our Communications Officer, Dr. Peggy Hill: 803-771-7800, ext. 18.)

I voted “yes” on both D025 and C056. Yet, I also signed, with a significant number of other bishops, the so-called “Anaheim letter” which Archbishop Williams describes as expressing the “intention to remain with the consensus of the Communion”. I consider the two resolutions and the Anaheim letter “as a package”, so to speak; their provisions are not in conflict-rather, in complement they create a larger view: where we are, and where we want to be.

The two resolutions describe the present thinking of many in The Episcopal Church. With regard to D025, my decision was significantly shaped by the fact that the General Convention deliberately chose to reject through several actions any effort to repeal, rescind, or amend B033. (B033 was the resolution, of which I was the sponsor and one of the co-authors, through which the General Convention 2006 responded to the call by the Windsor Commission for a moratorium on the ordination of bishops in committed same-gender relationships). From this context, I view D025 as a factual expression of where we in The Episcopal Church presently find ourselves; it is descriptive in nature-thus my vote “yes” on the matter.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops