Daily Archives: August 19, 2009

Catherine Fox: The Virgin Mary can test everyone’s assumptions

In the end, these are intellectual exercises. My understanding of Mary is more instinctive and visceral, coming through the experience of motherhood. My first brush with it came the Christmas after my first son was born. He was premature, and at four months old, still tiny. As the choir sang “Hush, do not wake the infant king. Soon will come sorrow with the morning, soon will come bitter grief and weeping: sing lullaby”, I found myself crying. Tears splashed on his head as I realised that for all the ferocity of maternal love, I could not protect him from bitter grief and weeping. Later, as he and then his younger brother were growing up, I could no longer bear the Passion narratives, and showed my sons up on the Good Friday March of Witness, weeping when the Gospel accounts, dulled by childhood familiarity, sprang hideously to life. Mary, at the foot of the Cross. How could she stand there? How could she stand anywhere else?

This autumn my older son will leave home for university. I found myself talking at last to Mary. “You know what it’s like. Even if my son will never die on a cross, you understand that motherhood is always a sword through the heart. Pray for me.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Theology, Theology: Scripture, Women

Warren Buffett: The Greenback Effect

The United States economy is now out of the emergency room and appears to be on a slow path to recovery. But enormous dosages of monetary medicine continue to be administered and, before long, we will need to deal with their side effects. For now, most of those effects are invisible and could indeed remain latent for a long time. Still, their threat may be as ominous as that posed by the financial crisis itself.

To understand this threat, we need to look at where we stand historically. If we leave aside the war-impacted years of 1942 to 1946, the largest annual deficit the United States has incurred since 1920 was 6 percent of gross domestic product. This fiscal year, though, the deficit will rise to about 13 percent of G.D.P., more than twice the non-wartime record. In dollars, that equates to a staggering $1.8 trillion. Fiscally, we are in uncharted territory.

Because of this gigantic deficit, our country’s “net debt” (that is, the amount held publicly) is mushrooming. During this fiscal year, it will increase more than one percentage point per month, climbing to about 56 percent of G.D.P. from 41 percent. Admittedly, other countries, like Japan and Italy, have far higher ratios and no one can know the precise level of net debt to G.D.P. at which the United States will lose its reputation for financial integrity. But a few more years like this one and we will find out.

An increase in federal debt can be financed in three ways: borrowing from foreigners, borrowing from our own citizens or, through a roundabout process, printing money….

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Taxes, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009, The National Deficit, 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, The United States Currency (Dollar etc), Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

Daniel Finkelstein–The NHS: Britain and America are both right

The only meeting point is that we face a common crisis. Available treatments now outstrip our ability (never mind our willingness) to pay for them. In the US this is experienced as a crisis of cost, with health inflation rampant. In the UK it is experienced as a crisis of provision, with the State refusing to finance life-saving procedures.

The fatuous efforts to compare the quality of US care with that of the UK never seem to give sufficient prominence to the money Americans spend purchasing their quality. The World Health Organisation records that in 2006, Americans spent $6,719 per head while Britons spent $2,815. One result of this disparity is the startling fact that the US Government spends more on healthcare per head of population than the UK Government does ($3,076 in the US compared with $2,457 in the UK). The Obama reforms are required as much to get a grip on these costs as to ensure universal healthcare.

Meanwhile, in the UK we have some control over costs (although it doesn’t always feel like that) but little answer to the pressing problem of the next decade ”” how do we decide how much of our income to spend on treatment and how do we cope with the fact that, while every person has a different answer to this question, we all still feel that everyone should get a good standard of care.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., England / UK, Health & Medicine, Politics in General

Bishop Nazir-ALI pleads for captive female converts in Iran

Earlier this week, Iran released French student Clotilde Reiss, who has been accused of spying, but she has to remain in the French embassy in Tehran awaiting the verdict on her trial. Six months ago, Esha Momeni, an American student visiting Iran, was arrested and placed in solitary confinement in the notorious section 209 of Tehran’s Evin prison for daring to campaign for women’s rights. She is now back in the US. But there are other, equally horrific stories of human rights abuses against women in Iran which have received less international publicity. The case of two of them, Maryam Rustampoor, 27, and Marzieh Amirizadeh, 30, also suffering in Evin prison, has been taken up by the Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, who steps down soon as a diocesan to concentrate on helping persecuted Christians around the world.

Read it all and watch the video too.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Iran, Middle East, Other Churches

ELCA Assembly Begins Discussing Proposed Social Statement

(ELCA News)

Y.T. Chiu described himself as a “former homophobe” who, encouraged by his pastor to look at the ELCA documents, changed his mind about the issue. “Change is good; being a rebel is not bad,” said Chiu, Northeastern Ohio Synod.

The Rev. Craig Werting of the South Dakota Synod urged voting members of the assembly not to be swayed by the “many stories on both side of this issue that present emotional appeals.”

Anyone who listens cannot help but be moved,” he said, “but emotions themselves do not make an argument. Instead of following the emotion of the day, sometimes we must put feelings aside and do what scripture tells us to do.”

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

Living Church: Lutherans Begin Debate on Sexuality Statement

The assembly met for non-legislative discussion beginning at 10:30 a.m. Voting members lined up at several microphones and quickly began calling for the document’s approval or defeat.

Robert Benne of the Virginia Synod said he opposes the document not because of its possible consequences but because its perspective is intrinsically wrong. “The word of God should not be put up for a vote,” he said.

Y. Chiu, a physician from the Northeastern Ohio Area Synod, called himself a “reformed homophobic.” He said he changed his beliefs after considering an earlier church teaching in 1993. “Change is good,” he said. “Being a rebel is not bad.”

Pastor Phillip Nielsen of the Nebraska Synod, a conservative, said the document oversimplifies the sexuality debate by neglecting the perspectives of bisexual and transgender persons. It does not present the nuanced arguments of either primary side, he said, but merely presents summaries of opinions.

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

Journal-Sentinel: Lutherans to vote on gay clergy, same-sex relationships

“We’ve arrived at a very dangerous place, because what we’re considering doing is stepping away from holy Scripture”‚.”‚.”‚.”‚ and when we do that, we’re lost,” said the Rev. Mark Knappe, pastor of Gloria Dei Lutheran church in Menomonee Falls and one of 19 people dispatched from the Greater Milwaukee Synod to vote on the national resolutions this week.

His voice is in the minority in a synod that leans toward full inclusion of gay and lesbian members and passed its own resolution in May recommending the national ELCA adopt the measure allowing congregations to recognize monogamous same-sex unions and accept clergy who have entered into them.

“There’s room in our church for diversity of opinions and even diversity of interpretations of Scripture,” said Greater Milwaukee Bishop Paul Stumme-Diers, also a voting member at the assembly.

“I think we realize that gay and lesbian persons do not have a choice in terms of their sexual orientation, and I would like to see them be given equal rights in society and within the church.”

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

William Murchison: How the 1960's Ruined America

(The title above is the one given in the local paper’s posting of this article on the op-ed page this morning–KSH).

Many a gentleman and scholar failed to credit his eyes in the ’60s as placid campuses erupted with hatred, malice and unreason. I wouldn’t presume to guess how many believed intuitively in Original Sin ”” the inborn pride and madness of the human race. I can’t imagine that even the most irreligious came away from the ’60s without some intuition of human defectiveness.

Woodstock, my eye! Peace and love ”” mere dumb show; dish towel disguises for the awful passions hiding below, starting with the passion to have it ”” whatever “it” might be ”” all one’s way, without reference to norms, traditions, dignity, tolerance, free speech, the received wisdom of the species.

“However irrational political processes may be,” writes Lyman, “they are not made any more rational by ‘violent’ behavior. Rationality itself was widely scored in the 1960s and suffered setbacks. It has never entirely regained its place in its supposed Temple, the University.” No, and probably won’t in our lifetimes.

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

Episcopal clergyman criticized in Bethlehem

On Monday, the diocese issued a statement noting Marshall had received a formal letter of complaint from the Standing Committee saying [Gregory] Malia “has by certain publicly known actions and failures to act, abandoned the Discipline and Worship of this Church.”

The bishop then issued a new inhibition that bars Malia from conducting priestly ministries or presenting himself as a priest. The renewed restrictions come with a deadline: Malia has six months “to make matters completely right according to the Church’s canon law.”

Marshall wrote that “If at the end of six months matters remain as they are now, formal deposition will take place.” Deposition is what is commonly referred to as [being] “defrocked,” meaning Malia would be permanently removed from the priesthood.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

Episcopal leader presents views in new book

GT: What message do you want to convey with this book?

Jefferts Schori: It’s really about what the reign of God looks like in today’s terminology. It shows examples of that that I’ve encountered and I’ve encouraged people to follow. The Millennium Development Goals give a concrete image of the reign of God. They give benchmarks of shalom, and metrics, which is not something the church does well or often. That part is very constructive in motivating people.

GT: Last month you were at General Convention in Anaheim, Calif. How did it go?

Jefferts Schori: General Convention was wonderful! People were careful with each other, and respectful ”” it was a different convention (from the last one) in that sense. There was no animosity. People treated each other appropriately. We had so many visitors from around the Anglican Communion (the worldwide organization that includes the Episcopal Church and 37 other provinces) ”” 15 primates and a number of other bishops, and lay people too! We invited them to come see how we make decisions. A lot of them were surprised at the strength of our House of Deputies (one of two legislative houses of General Convention, made up of clergy and lay people; the other is the House of Bishops). In many places, the bishops tell everyone how things are going to be, so we were delighted that people came and saw the way we work.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Books, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention, Presiding Bishop

In San Antonio Christ Church members wrestle with new Episcopal policies

Hundreds of members of Christ Episcopal Church, one of the largest and most influential Episcopal churches in South Texas, filled their parish hall Tuesday evening to meet with their bishop, Gary Lillibridge, and ask him this: Is there room in the Episcopal Church USA for their long-standing, conservative beliefs?

At the Episcopal Church’s annual meeting last month, its leaders voted to open the door to ordaining gay clergy in committed relationships and blessing same-sex unions.

The decision has sparked much discussion among the 90 parishes in the Diocese of West Texas, a district with about 30,000 members that spans much of South and Central Texas. Lillibridge voted against the new policies at last month’s convention, saying restraint at this unstable time is best for dealing with this controversial matter.

“At this point, it’s going to take all of us working together with God’s wisdom as a very diverse diocese to come up with a response,” he said after the meeting at Christ Church, the largest donor to the West Texas Diocese and its largest church with up to 800 people at weekly services.

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

A Profile of the Class of 2013

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

I am probably posting this because we are dropping off our son at Boston University this coming weekend to begin his freshman year–KSH.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education, Young Adults

”˜The Lord is with us in our suffering’: In Pittsburgh Roman Catholic Priests Minister in a Crisi

When Bishop David Zubik and three of his priests heard about the shootings at the LA Fitness gym in Collier Township, their goal was to be present to the victims and their families.

The bishop went to UPMC Mercy after getting a phone call from Father Matt McClain telling him about the tragedy where three women were killed, nine others were injured and the shooter committed suicide.

“I was so impressed to see how the hospital was handling this, especially in the crowded central lobby,” Bishop Zubik said.

With several shooting victims in surgery, he was able to speak with two of the husbands. “I was inspired by the depth of their faith,” he said.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Death / Burial / Funerals, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Roman Catholic, Violence

Roman Catholic Sydney Archdiocese: Young People Rise to the Challenge on Sex and Marriage

“Rise stands for Restoring Integrity and Sexual Ethics,” explains Jessica Langrell, one of the conference organisers who describes the Conference as the start of a nationwide movement set up to challenge current sexual standards.

“But instead of opposing these standards we want to replace them with a new set that restores dignity to sexuality and human relationships,” she says.
The Conference which will run over two days will include workshops, group discussions, inspirational speakers and participation in a breakfast at Parliament House on 13 August to celebrate National Marriage Day.

Representing the young Australians at the conference, the organisers of Rise Australia will attend the 500-strong assembly of politicians and leading national marriage and family organisations for breakfast, and will have the opportunity to address the gathering.

“Our report to them will focus on how marriage today is under stress and how Rise Australia intends to counter this by fighting for a return of sexual ethics and traditional values,” Jessica says. “We see the breakfast as our national launching pad and a way for people to see that contrary to the popular image of teenagers and young people, casual sex is not for us and that there is a growing movement across the country intent on restoring dignity to relationships as well as sexual integrity.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Theology, Young Adults

In New Jersey Faith in commitment for gay couples

And yet, every member of the Episcopal clergy I talked with last week, said the votes on both resolutions represented a step in the right direction. The votes sent a message, explicitly reaffirming that gays and lesbians had a place in the church and that the church was committed to the Anglican Communion. That stood in contrast to the somewhat more equivocal position the church had taken several years ago.

”As an issue that relates to human rights, the notion that we could feel that it was appropriate to turn people away from the church when they are committing to a relationship under God when they want God’s blessing was a real ironic turn of events,” said the Rev. Lisa Caton, a Pennington resident who is rector of Canterbury House, the Episcopal Church at The College of New Jersey.

My hope ”” as a straight, non-Christian who believes that gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry ”” is that the church’s vote will send a signal that the Christian community in the United States is not of one mind on the issue. The so-called Christian right ”” politically conservative, evangelical fundamentalist Christians ”” and the Catholic Church have been fairly vocal about their opposition to same-sex marriage. And, as with abortion, their views too often are assumed to represent all Christian thinking.

”The Christian right has such a loud voice on this and quite often people think they speak for all Christians,” said the Rev. Karin Mitchell, rector of St. David’s Episcopal Church in Cranbury. “So it is import that the Episcopal Church witness clearly to our stand on treating people equally.”

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