Daily Archives: September 5, 2009

Geoffrey Rowell: The Crucifixion and atrocities of the killing fields

Only a Christ of the killing fields where the love of God was engraved in a like suffering can both judge and transform these appalling realities.

The Gospel accounts of the terrible torture of the Crucifixion of Jesus have at their heart, words spoken from the heart of that agony, a prayer for forgiveness for those who nailed Him to the rough wood; a longing thirst, both physical and spiritual; a commendation of His mother to his beloved Disciple; a promise of paradise to the penitent thief; a cry of dereliction ”” “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” and a commending of His spirit to His Father. “Therefore he who shows us God, helpless hangs upon the tree, and the very nails and spear, tell of what God’s love must be.”

In the Christ of that killing field we find a love reaching out to us that will never let us down and will never let us go.

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Christology, Church of England (CoE), Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, CoE Bishops, Holy Week, Theology

Church of England Newspaper: Same Sex Union Question threatening Scottish church unity

The question of gay clergy threatens to tear Anglicans in Scotland apart, the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC), Bishop David Chillingworth, has warned.

In an interview published Aug 21 in the Scotsman, Bishop Chillingworth said the gay clergy question was “an issue that has been threatening to tear us apart, and many of us live across a spectrum in which out of one side of our minds we can say there is a justice and inclusion issue here, and out of the other there is a dialogue that needs to go on with the traditional teaching of the Church and what the Bible says.

“You can’t wish either of those away. You have to deal with both,” he said. The Primus’ comments come as a push is underway from within the liberal wing of the Scottish church to end its ban on gay bishops and blessings, and in the wake of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s statement that [noncelibate] gay clergy were outside the bounds of Anglicanism.

Read it all.

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

Kausfiles: Health Care–What Went Wrong: The Official kf Version

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Health & Medicine, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama

Religious Intelligence: London mayor calls for greater tolerance of Muslims

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, called for greater tolerance and understanding of Islam and Muslim communities during a visit to the East London Mosque and London Muslim Centre today. He said that harmony and cohesion between all Londoners is vital to the success of the capital.

The Mayor’s message, which comes during the Muslim sacred month of Ramadan, is that there is more that unites Islam and Muslims with other major world religions and with non-Muslims than divides or separates them. In common with many other religions, such as Christianity, Islam teaches that there is only one true God. There are also shared beliefs about societal values and a basic moral code of behaviour.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

States Cut Back and Layoffs Hit Even Recipients of Stimulus Aid

It was just five months ago that Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. made the New Flyer bus factory here a symbol of the stimulus. With several cabinet secretaries in tow, he held a town-hall-style meeting at the factory, where he praised the company as “an example of the future” and said that it stood to get more orders for its hybrid electric buses thanks to the $8.4 billion that the stimulus law devotes to mass transit.

But last month, the company that administration officials had pictured as a stimulus success story began laying off 320 people, or 13 percent of its work force, having discovered how cutbacks at the state level can dampen the boost provided by the federal stimulus money. The Chicago Transit Authority did use some of its stimulus money to buy 58 new hybrid buses from New Flyer. But Chicago had to shelve plans to order another 140 buses from them after the state money that it had hoped to use to pay for them failed to materialize. The delayed order scrambled New Flyer’s production schedule for the rest of the year, and led to the layoffs.

One of those laid off was David Wahl, 52, who had worked there for a decade and who sat behind the vice president at the town-hall-style meeting, soaking up the optimism of the moment. “With mass transit being pushed so hard,” Mr. Wahl recalled, “I figured I’d be able to work until I was 75.”

Read it all.

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

North Charleston Police blitz takes guns off streets

An increased presence on the streets has helped North Charleston police seize hundreds of illegal guns.

With gun arrests now slowing, police wonder if they have finally made a dent in the firearms pipeline that drove violence to record heights.

After recording a total of 55 killings in 2006 and 2007, police launched a number of efforts to get a handle on crime, including a boost in patrols and traffic stops. Police conducted nearly 49,000 traffic stops last year, compared with about 30,300 just two years earlier.

Police Chief Jon Zumalt said he doesn’t think it’s any coincidence that gun arrests and violent crime fell last year during this blitz. That trend continues. Through July, the number of shootings in the city was down 17 percent, following an 18 percent drop in 2008, police said.

Read it all from the front page of the local paper.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, City Government, Politics in General, Violence

The Arctic's geological record indicates warming is human-caused

Long-term climate records from the Arctic provide strong new evidence that human-caused global warming can override Earth’s natural heating and cooling cycles, U.S. researchers reported this week in the journal Science.

For more than 2,000 years, a natural wobble in Earth’s axis has caused the Arctic region to move farther away from the sun during the region’s summer, reducing the amount of solar radiation it receives. The Arctic is now 600,000 miles farther from the sun than it was in AD 1, and temperatures there should have fallen a little more than 1 degree Fahrenheit since then.

Instead, the region has warmed 2.2 degrees since 1900 alone, and the decade from 1998 to 2008 was the warmest in two millenniums, according to a team headed by climatologist Darrell S. Kaufman of Northern Arizona University.

Not only was the last half-century the warmest of the last 2,000 years, “but it reversed the long-term, millennial-scale trend toward cooler temperatures,” Kaufman said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources, Science & Technology

Utah Supreme Court considers legality of couple's marriage

Neldon and Ina Johnson shared their lives for more than 35 years. They were sealed in an LDS temple, had children and celebrated an anniversary each year. They had shared insurance policies and joint tax filings.

Their divorce appeared to be the dissolution of a long, involved marriage — except for the part where they were never actually married.

Seven years after their divorce, amid claims from Ina Johnson that she is owed alimony, Neldon Johnson says that the divorce wasn’t valid because they were never married. On Wednesday, the Utah Supreme Court heard arguments on this complicated case involving common-law marriage laws, deceit and the right of the court to rule on other marriages that aren’t technically legal by state law.

When the couple filed for divorce in 2001, they both indicated that they had been married in 1964 in Arizona, which was the same thing they had told everyone else they knew over the years. The couple went so far as to have their “marriage” sealed in the Manti temple one year after their supposed wedding date.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture

Roubini: "U-shaped" recovery is possible

Nouriel Roubini, a leading economist who predicted the scale of global financial troubles, said a U-shaped recovery is possible, with leading economies undeperforming perhaps for 3 years.

He said there is also an increasing risk of a “double-dip” scenario, however.

“I believe that the basic scenario is going to be one of a U-shaped economic recovery where growth is going to remain below trend … especially for the advanced economies, for at least 2 or 3 years,” he said at a news conference here.

“Within that U scenario I also see a small probability, but a rising probability, that if we don’t get the exit strategy right we could end up with a relapse in growth … a double-dip recession,” he added.

Read it all.

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

Jean Asbury: The Police deserve respect

Regarding Steve Bailey’s column in the Aug. 21 Press-Banner, I would like to know why he found it necessary to make a disparaging remark about cops in his praise for firefighters. It is remarks like this that put a policeman’s life in peril….

I suggest Mr. Bailey go on a ride-along with a local police officer or deputy sheriff, and maybe he will get a new perspective of what a cop’s duties entail. They do not view the public as enemies.

God bless them for all the important work they do. Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, City Government, Politics in General

DMN: Tougher rules ordered for Dallas Episcopal clergy; another stockbroker-priest may be suspended

Diocesan leaders previously told me that priests had long been prohibited from financial involvement with parishioners. But it turns out that the policy was pretty vague — it read, according to the press release: “The relationship of members of the clergy with fellow clergy and with members of the laity must be of the highest moral and professional character.”

Stanton recently suspended Warnky from the ministry after financial regulators barred him from selling securities. The regulators acted because Warnky failed to pay a former parishioner, D.R. Marshall, $50,000 for stock fraud.

RayJennison.JPGDiocesan leaders are now weighing whether to also suspend the Rev. Raymond Jennison (right). He runs First Canterbury Securities, a northeast Dallas firm where Warnky worked, and is priest in charge of St. David’s Episcopal Church in Garland.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Stock Market, TEC Bishops, Theology

Episcopal Diocese of Dallas Implements New Clergy Conduct and Accountability Guidelines

From here:

Dallas Episcopal Bishop James Stanton today announced new policies regarding clergy conduct and accountability. The stronger guidelines include specific restrictions on the clergy from engaging in financial and business dealings with members of their congregations. The new policies and guidelines are effective immediately.

Under these guidelines, the clergy will be barred from soliciting, providing or selling secular products or services to parishioners. This includes the sale of stocks, financial services or other investments. Diocesan officials will review existing business relationships involving clergy and determine appropriate resolution on a case by case basis.

“We have good and faithful clergy in our diocese who care deeply for their people, and we want our clergy to focus on the spiritual and pastoral needs of their congregations,” said Bishop Stanton. “This new policy is designed to eliminate any conflicts of interest, and we hope these changes will raise the level of confidence in our clergy and that of the people under their care,” Stanton added.

The new policy amplifies the long-standing policy of the Diocese, as stated in the Customary (or policy manual) of the Diocese, that reads: “The relationship of members of the clergy with fellow clergy and with members of the laity must be of the highest moral and professional character.”

In addition to the new guidelines, all clergy of the Diocese of Dallas are required to undergo training every five years in “Safeguarding God’s People”, a program that focuses on issues regarding relationships between clergy and those under their care. Failure to comply will result in suspension of all spiritual duties until retraining is completed.

Diocesan officials will continue to evaluate clergy conduct guidelines and make additional changes when necessary.

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

Royal Society warns climate engineering 'could cause disaster'

Giant engineering schemes to reflect sunlight or suck carbon dioxide from the air could be the only way to save the Earth from runaway global warming, according to a group of leading scientists. But they say that these schemes could have their own catastrophic consequences, such as disrupting rainfall patterns, and should be deployed only as a last resort if attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions fail.

The Royal Society, a fellowship of 1,400 of the world’s most eminent scientists, published a report yesterday on the feasibility and possible dangers of technologies for cooling down the Earth, known as geoengineering. The ideas include artificial trees that draw CO2 from the air and mimicking volcanoes by spraying sulphate particles a few miles above the Earth to deflect the Sun’s rays. The most far-fetched would would be to launch trillions of small mirrors into space to act as a sunshield.

A far cheaper solution would be a fleet of 1,500 ships that would suck up seawater and spray it out of tall funnels to create sun-reflecting clouds. However, the report said that these clouds could disrupt rainfall patterns and result in mass starvation in countries dependent on the monsoon.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * General Interest, * International News & Commentary, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Globalization, Science & Technology, Weather

Mark Pinsky in the WSJ: Making God more accessible

The television commercials were disturbing: Traditional-looking churches barring or physically ejecting racial and ethnic minorities, gay couples–and people with disabilities. One tag line was “Jesus didn’t turn people away. Neither do we.” The national campaign, which aired several years ago, was sponsored by the liberal United Church of Christ. “We included people with physical disabilities in these commercials–in a wheelchair or with a walker–as an extension of the call and hope that churches would be intentionally inclusive of ‘all the people,'” said the Rev. Gregg Brekke, a spokesman for the denomination.

Instead, the imagery provoked grumbling from some denominations because of its implied critique of other church traditions. But at least when it came to the physically handicapped, the criticism had more than a grain of truth. Churches, synagogues, mosques and temples are places where people with disabilities might not expect to feel excluded, isolated or patronized. Yet that has often been the norm. For years congregations have effectively excluded the disabled from worship–by steps, narrow doorways and straitened attitudes–or segregated them in “special” services. Houses of worship (except those with more than 15 employees) were excluded from the 1992 Americans with Disabilities Act, which, among other things, bars discrimination against people with physical or intellectual disabilities–including access and architectural barriers–in public accommodations and transportation.

Most faiths’ scriptures mandate corrective steps, and pragmatism may soon require them. The U.S. Census in 2000 counted 54 million disabled individuals–one in six Americans–and that number is probably growing. Wounded Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans are swelling this population. Thanks to neonatal care and technology advances, at-risk infants with severe disabilities now survive into adulthood. Most significantly, the boomer generation is aging and getting ill. Many of them may develop disabilities but still want to pray at houses of worship.

There are challenges to accessibility and inclusion, even for people with the best intentions. The elderly and people with disabilities provide uncomfortable reminders of life’s fragility and of death. Those with mental disabilities can distract during solemn moments. Religious people generally want to be sincere, welcoming and open, but, like everyone else, they often lack the experience to respond the right way.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Health & Medicine, Other Churches, Parish Ministry

WSJ: Loan Losses Spark Concern Over Federal Housing Administration

The Federal Housing Administration, hit by increasing mortgage-related losses, is in danger of seeing its reserves fall below the level demanded by Congress, according to government officials, in a development that could raise concerns about whether the agency needs a taxpayer bailout….

In the past two years, the number of loans insured by the FHA has soared and its market share reached 23% in the second quarter, up from 2.7% in 2006, according to Inside Mortgage Finance. FHA-backed loans outstanding totaled $429 billion in fiscal 2008, a number projected to hit $627 billion this year.

Rising defaults have eaten through the FHA’s cushion. Some 7.8% of FHA loans at the end of the second quarter were 90 days late or more, or in foreclosure, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, a figure roughly equal to the national average for all loans. That is up from 5.4% a year ago.

Read it all.

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