Daily Archives: October 3, 2009

M.I.T. Taking Student Blogs to Nth Degree

Cristen Chinea, a senior at M.I.T., made a confession in her blog on the college Web site.

“There’ve been several times when I felt like I didn’t really fit in at M.I.T.,” she wrote. “I nearly fell asleep during a Star Wars marathon. It wasn’t a result of sleep deprivation. I was bored out of my mind.”

Still, in other ways, Ms. Chinea feels right at home at the institute ”” she loves the anime club, and that her hall has its own wiki Web site and an Internet Relay for real-time messaging. As she wrote on her blog, a hallmate once told her that “M.I.T. is the closest you can get to living in the Internet,” and Ms. Chinea reported, “IT IS SO TRUE. Love. It. So. Much.”

Dozens of colleges ”” including Amherst, Bates, Carleton, Colby, Vassar, Wellesley and Yale ”” are embracing student blogs on their Web sites, seeing them as a powerful marketing tool for high school students, who these days are less interested in official messages and statistics than in first-hand narratives and direct interaction with current students.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Education, Teens / Youth, Young Adults

Europe’s Socialists Suffering Even in Downturn

A specter is haunting Europe ”” the specter of Socialism’s slow collapse.

Even in the midst of one of the greatest challenges to capitalism in 75 years, involving a breakdown of the financial system due to “irrational exuberance,” greed and the weakness of regulatory systems, European Socialist parties and their left-wing cousins have not found a compelling response, let alone taken advantage of the right’s failures.

German voters clobbered the Social Democratic Party on Sunday, giving it only 23 percent of the vote, its worst performance since World War II.

Voters also punished left-leaning candidates in the summer’s European Parliament elections and trounced French Socialists in 2007. Where the left holds power, as in Spain and Britain, it is under attack. Where it is out, as in France, Italy and now Germany, it is divided and listless.

Read it all.

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

Some Thoughts from the Bishop of South Carolina: The Power of Followership

As I’ve been traveling around the diocese speaking at Adult Forums on Parish Visitations, or meeting with clericus and deanery gatherings in preparation for our upcoming Special Convention on October 24 at Christ Church, Mt. Pleasant I have often been asked questions which are worded differently but I believe in each case are trying to get at the same concern. Sometimes the question comes as “Bishop, what do you hope to accomplish through this Special Convention?” Other times it is worded, “What can we (the laity) do to engage this challenge our church is facing?” It is addressing I believe something I was trying to get at in several sections of my Bishop’s Address to the Clergy on August 13. Perhaps it is best termed “The Power of Followership.”
As anyone with even a dabbler’s acquaintance with the literature of Business and Management can attest, much has been written in the last twenty years or so on leadership. Business gurus like Peter Drucker, Warren Bennis, Tom Peters, Max DePree and others have written prolifically on the importance of leaders in both the private and public sectors of society. Clearly many of our institutions in the business, political, educational and ecclesiastical spheres have faltered from a distinct dearth of leadership.

What has received sparse, even parsimonious treatment in this spate of leadership books, however, has been the power of followership. The first person I heard pointing this out was Robert E. Kelley, a professor of Business at Carnegie-Mellon University. Business Week once described him as an “entrepreneur of the mind.” Some years ago I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Kelley lecture on “The Power of Followership.” I thought it was a helpful corrective to our recent leadership-intensive-managerial world. He suggested that many of our institutions did not understand the power of followership””that is, those followers who without star-billing bring enthusiasm, intelligence, self-reliance and innovation to the pursuit of organizational goals.

Only a few of Jesus’ early disciples became profoundly influential leaders and their names we can quickly list. But frankly in most cases the real success of those He called “to follow” him was seen not in the power of their leadership but in the power of their followership. And in most cases that’s what they were””followers. For instance, we do not know the names of those who first preached the gospel in Antioch though the church they founded was arguably the most dynamic Church of the First Century, as least for reaching the Roman world for Christ. The Book of Acts speaks only of those scattered because of the persecution of Stephen who on coming to Antioch spoke (gossiped the gospel) to Hellenists. “And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord.” (Acts 11:21) I believe it is just as true in the Church today. Whenever a parish and diocese can make enthusiastic, intelligent, innovative, self-reliant and Spirit-led disciples the power of followership will become an immeasurable force for growth and mission, including the power to transform the culture.

This, unfortunately, is often the forgotten key to any Church’s success. As I put it in the recent “Bishop’s Address,” if we in the Diocese of South Carolina are going to engage the challenges facing us in the culture and the church “we need believers who are informed, engaged, missional and faithful.” This is all about the power of followership””equipping and unleashing the laity to engage the culture that is permeating both the church and the world. The conversations we are having in our congregations and deaneries in preparation for the upcoming Special Convention, and the proposed resolutions, (as well as the Convention itself) are not ends in themselves: they are steps along the way toward that greater purpose and goal. While acknowledging the ever present need for leaders and leadership we should not forget the equally crucial power of followership””in fact I write this today in this Diocese of South Carolina in praise of followership!

–(The Rt. Rev.) Mark Lawrence is Bishop of South Carolina

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Pastoral Theology, TEC Bishops, Theology

Terry Teachout: Roman Polanski, Hollywood and Justice

Nowadays you practically have to kill somebody to get blacklisted in Hollywood. Mere rape, by contrast, scarcely jiggles the needle of outrage. Producer Harvey Weinstein actually went so far as to describe Mr. Polanski’s odious conduct as a “so-called crime.” The names of such noted filmmakers as Mr. Allen, Jonathan Demme, Michael Mann, Sam Mendes, Mike Nichols, Martin Scorsese and Steven Soderbergh can be found on an international petition whose 100-plus signers “demand the immediate release of Roman Polanski.” Equally predictable was the response of European bureaucrats such as French culture minister Frédéric Mitterrand, who called Mr. Polanski’s arrest “absolutely dreadful,” adding that it made “no sense” for him to be “thrown to the lions for an ancient story.”

We need not take the remonstrations of the French too seriously. They have a long history of forgiving their own artists for pretty much anything, up to and including open collaboration with the Nazis. Far more interesting was the response on this side of the Atlantic. At first, American reaction to the arrest appeared to be breaking along the usual red vs. blue fault lines, with much being made of the fact that Samantha Gailey, Mr. Polanski’s victim, has said that she’s forgiven him (though that didn’t stop her from suing him in civil court in 1988””or from accepting an undisclosed out-of-court settlement to drop the suit).

But the cultural tide started to turn on Monday when Kate Harding, a contributor to Salon.com, wrote a column called “Reminder: Roman Polanski Raped a Child” in which she pointed out, bluntly and accurately, that Mr. Polanski “gave a 13-year-old girl a Quaalude and champagne, then raped her. . . . There is evidence that the victim did not consent, regardless of her age.” Ms. Harding’s piece included a link to the transcript of Ms. Gailey’s 1977 grand-jury testimony, in which she described with gruesome explicitness the crime perpetrated on her person””a crime of which Mr. Polanski acknowledged his guilt in court.

Read it all

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, Movies & Television, Teens / Youth, Theology

More Protestants Find a Home in the Orthodox Antioch Church

Any person’s conversion is by nature an individual and idiosyncratic journey, and Mr. Oren’s reflected not only his visceral sense that Orthodoxy had a “core of holy tradition” but also his intense concern over theological concepts like giving the Eucharist to baptized infants, which may not animate other believers quite the same way.

Yet in its broader outlines, his movement from the Protestant realm into the Orthodox one, specifically into the Antiochian branch, attests to a significant and fascinating example of denominational migration. Over the last 20 years, the Antiochian Orthodox Church ”” with its roots in Syria and Lebanon and its longtime membership in the United States made up almost entirely of Middle Eastern immigrants and their descendants ”” has become the destination of choice for thousands of Protestants of Northern European ancestry.

The visible shift began in 1987 with the conversion of nearly 2,000 evangelical Christians, led by Peter E. Gillquist and other alumni of the Dallas Theological Seminary and the Campus Crusade for Christ. More recently, a wave of converts has arrived from such mainline Protestant denominations as the Episcopalian and Lutheran.

Some 70 percent of Antiochian Orthodox priests in the United States are converts, according to Bradley Nassif, who, as a theology professor at North Park University in Chicago, is a leading scholar of the religion. A generation or two ago, Professor Nassif said, converts made up barely 10 percent of Antiochian clergy.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Orthodox Church, Other Churches

U.S. Wonders if Iran Is Playing for Time or Is Serious on Deal

President Obama got what he said he wanted when United States negotiators met with their Iranian counterparts this week in Geneva: direct engagement, without preconditions, with Iran.

But the trick now for Mr. Obama, administration officials concede, will be to avoid getting tripped up. In other words, is the Iranian government serious this time?

The clearest risk is that the Iranians may play for time, as they have often been accused of doing in the past, making promises and encouraging more meetings, while waiting for political currents to change or the closed ranks among the Western allies to break.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Iran, Middle East

Terry Mattingly: Righteous anger should lead to constructive action

Writing in the ecumenical journal Touchstone, [Leon] Podles argued that it’s especially important for Christians and other religious believers to understand that anger is not always a sin or an emotion that must be avoided. In fact, there are circumstances in which it is a sin not to feel anger. The ultimate question, he said, is whether anger leads to rational, constructive, virtuous actions.

Who would argue, for example, that it was wrong for the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to feel righteous anger about the impact of racism and economic injustice on the lives of millions of black Americans? Who would argue that it was wrong for Nelson Mandela to draw strength from the anger he felt during his 27 years in prison under South Africa’s apartheid regime?

It’s crucial in both of these cases, stressed Podles, that these men did not allow their anger to turn into hatred of their oppressors.

Instead, it led to courageous and strategic acts to accomplish worthy goals.

“Anger must be more than mere emotion,” he stressed. “Anger must also be proportionate to the evil that provokes that anger. Take road rage, for example. That kind of anger is completely irrational and it accomplishes nothing.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

Presiding bishop defends Episcopal Church direction in Wyoming

Anglicans have never claimed to base their decisions solely on the Bible, [Katharine] Jefferts Schori said. “We start there, but that’s not the only piece we bring to our decision-making.”

The few biblical passages about same-sex relationships may be talking about exploitive relationships, she said. “Jesus doesn’t say anything about same-sex relationships of the kind the church is talking about.”

Jefferts Schori also drew fire during and after the General Convention for her sermon denouncing “the great Western heresy” that people can be saved as individuals. Salvation happens within a community, she said.

She defended herself on Friday.

“People took it out of context,” Jefferts Schori said. “You can’t be in a right relationship with God without being in a right relationship with your neighbor.”

But she declined to say people can’t be in a right relationship with God without being in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, she said. “God is at work in the lives of people who are not consciously Christian.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Christology, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention, Presiding Bishop, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment

Watch it all–and do you know the reference in the title above?

Posted in Pastoral Theology, Theology

Marketplace–Workers feel jobs are stagnant

Vigeland: You spoke with about a thousand workers, non-management types about their perspectives on work. What did you hear?

Davis: We were somewhat surprised to hear that over half of these workers feel that their careers are stagnant or in limbo.

Vigeland: And did they tell you why?

Davis: Yes, they did. How I would term this is they said that they were “in the no.” They had no challenging assignments, they have no opportunities to learn new skills, they have no room to advance, they get no recognition and they have no line of sight to how their jobs fit in with the objectives of the organization.

Vigeland: Then how do those feelings of stagnation manifest themselves in the workplace. What’s happening?

Davis: People are going to actively seek new jobs as the economy improves. People are saying things like, “I just do what’s asked of me, nothing more, nothing less. I just do my job and go home.” As opposed to people that say, “I’m interested in what I do, I’m excited about going to work.” And it has a negative impact on productivity and quality and customer service in organizations.

I caught this last night while running some errands and it blew my mind. Over 50%! Incredible. Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

Front Page of this Morning's WSJ: Jobs Data Cloud Recovery

Employers cut another 263,000 jobs in September and the unemployment rate rose to a 26-year high of 9.8%, raising worries that the persistently weak labor market could undermine a nascent economic recovery from the worst U.S. recession since the Great Depression.

The economy, by most accounts, has begun to grow again. But Friday’s Labor Department report underscored the risk that without jobs, consumers won’t have income to spend and that will restrain growth and give employers little reason to resume hiring after 21 consecutive months of job losses.

The bleak report comes amid continuing talks between the White House and Congress on extending of some parts of the stimulus package enacted in February, such as unemployment benefits and health-insurance subsidies.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009

A Profile of Miss Betty, Changing lives from a Chicago Basement Kitchen

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

Watch it all–makes the heart glad.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Health & Medicine

A Painfully Funny Tom Toles Cartoon

Check it out.

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

A Charge Delivered to the Clergy of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut

It is happy for us, my Brethren that we have, in our Book of Common Prayer, a standard of faith and worship, conformable to scripture, and agreeable to the practice of the Church in the earliest and purest ages of Christianity. It will be the object of the present discourse to recommend to you a strict adherence to this standard; shunning, on the one hand, those corruptions and superstitions of the Church of Rome, which it was so carefully framed to avoid, and equally rejecting, on the other hand, the errors connected with ultra-Protestantism, and all the extravagances which have recently sprung from it.

The Holy Scriptures, as they were interpreted by the Church during the first two centuries after the ascension of the Saviour, not as they may chance to be interpreted by the wayward fancies of individuals, constitute the only sure basis for us to rest upon.

Guess the speaker and the date before you look (my emphasis).

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

Jobs Report Highlights Uncertainty of U.S. Recovery

The American economy shed another 263,000 jobs in September and the unemployment rate rose to 9.8 percent, reinforcing a broad assumption that many more months of lean times lie ahead for working people.

The latest snapshot of the nation’s job market released by the Labor Department on Friday amplified the notion that the recession has probably ended, as a technical matter. Though the job market continued to worsen, the pace of deterioration remained markedly slower than earlier in the year, when roughly 700,000 jobs a month were disappearing.

Yet the report added to the sentiment that the economic expansion, which is probably under way, will be weak and tentative, with scarce paychecks and anxiety remaining prominent features of American life well into next year.

“This is a weak report,” said Stuart G. Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group in Pittsburgh. “The rate of job loss has tapered off, but we still haven’t reached the point where businesses are willing to hire.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009