Daily Archives: October 14, 2009

Report Finds 1 Billion Hungry People Across the World

Failure to act by governments and international institutions has left more than 1 billion around the world undernourished, according to a coalition of religious, human rights and development groups.

“Despite record grain crops worldwide, the number of undernourished people in the world reached in 2009 the historically high figure of 1.02 billion people, about 100 million more than in 2008,” says a report released Monday (Oct. 12) by a coalition of groups including Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, the Swiss Protestant agency Bread for All and the FoodFirst Information and Action Network.

The worldwide recession that started last year “pushed aside” the global food crisis, according to the report, “Who Controls the Governance of the World Food System.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Globalization, Poverty

For area Anglicans in New York State, visit is a milestone

Since its inception in 2004, the Anglican Community Church’s goal has been to become a part of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), member Terrey Lee says.

That goal has now become a reality, since the church was accepted into “this communion of Anglicans” earlier this year. The move will officially be christened with a visit from Bishop David Bena, Lee and church leaders said.

Bishop Bena plans to visit the church at 10 a.m. Oct. 25 at the corner of Richmond Avenue and North Lyons Street. All are welcome to attend the service.

“With Bishop David Bena’s visit to our church later this month comes a real sense of completion of our goal to be a part of this great body of Anglicans,” Lee said. “It is a great pleasure as well as a great honor to have his presence known in our church. This single accomplishment has been of the utmost importance to our church and each of its members.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Parish Ministry

Ruth Meyers: Baptismal Covenant and commitment

One of the best known texts from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer is the Baptismal Covenant. We often refer to it by title ”“ “Our Baptismal Covenant calls us to work for justice and peace,” or “the Baptismal Covenant makes us all evangelists” ”“ with the expectation that our audience knows exactly what we mean.

The commitments we make in the last five questions, particularly the last three, show up in mission statements and on church websites as summaries of what it means to be Christian, and I suspect that they have been the basis of many a sermon series or Lenten study.

It is gratifying for a liturgist to see such a clear example of our worship, our common prayer, sinking so deeply into our consciousness. Praying does shape believing.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Baptism, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sacramental Theology, Theology

Credit Tightens for Small Businesses

Many small and midsize American businesses are still struggling to secure bank loans, impeding their expansion plans and constraining overall economic growth, even as the country tentatively rises from its recessionary depths.

Most banks expect their lending standards to remain tighter than the levels of the last decade until at least the middle of 2010, according to a survey of senior loan officers conducted by the Federal Reserve Board. The enduring credit squeeze appears to reflect an aversion to risk among lenders confronting great uncertainty about the economy rather than any lingering effects of the panic that gripped financial markets last fall, after the collapse of the investment banking giant Lehman Brothers.

Bankers worry about the extent of losses on credit card businesses as high unemployment sends cardholders into trouble. They are also reckoning with anticipated failures in commercial real estate. Until the scope of these losses is known, many lenders are inclined to hang on to their dollars rather than risk them on loans to businesses in a weak economy, say economists and financial industry executives.

“The banks are just deathly afraid,” said Sam Thacker, a partner at Business Finance Solutions in Austin, Tex., which helps small businesses line up financing. “I don’t see commercial banks coming back to the market anytime soon.” In the long view, tighter loan standards seem healthy after a terrible crisis attributed in part to years of recklessly lenient lending.

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

Giving back during a recession

It’s unusual to hear about any new business owner who feels that giving back is an integral part of the business plan.

Imagine how rare that trait is for a business that started the exact moment as the current recession. Chris Rutledge, the young owner of Red Line Painting had a plan when he started out and despite news reports that sent others to stockpile, he kept his hands open.

He stuck to his plan and faced down the economic tsunami that took out much older corporate giants and kept taking it one day at a time. It’s all working out, slowly but surely.

This is wonderful–read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Parish Ministry, Stewardship

In Recession, China Solidifies Its Lead in Global Trade

With the global recession making consumers and businesses more price-conscious, China is grabbing market share from its export competitors, solidifying a dominance in world trade that many economists say could last long after any economic recovery.

China’s exports this year have already vaulted it past Germany to become the world’s biggest exporter. Now, those market share gains are threatening to increase trade frictions with the United States and Europe. The European Commission proposed on Tuesday to extend antidumping duties on Chinese, as well as Vietnamese, shoe imports.

China is winning a larger piece of a shrinking pie. Although world trade declined this year because of the recession, consumers are demanding lower-priced goods and Beijing, determined to keep its export machine humming, is finding a way to deliver.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Economy, Globalization

David Brooks: The Young and the Neuro

When you go to an academic conference you expect to see some geeks, gravitas and graying professors giving lectures. But the people who showed up at the Social and Affective Neuroscience Society’s conference in Lower Manhattan last weekend were so damned young, hip and attractive. The leading figures at this conference were in their 30s, and most of the work was done by people in their 20s. When you spoke with them, you felt yourself near the beginning of something long and important…..

All of these studies are baby steps in a long conversation, and young academics are properly circumspect about drawing broad conclusions. But eventually their work could give us a clearer picture of what we mean by fuzzy words like ”˜culture.’ It could also fill a hole in our understanding of ourselves. Economists, political scientists and policy makers treat humans as ultrarational creatures because they can’t define and systematize the emotions. This work is getting us closer to that.

The work demonstrates that we are awash in social signals, and any social science that treats individuals as discrete decision-making creatures is nonsense. But it also suggests that even though most of our reactions are fast and automatic, we still have free will and control.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education, Psychology, Science & Technology, Young Adults

Cheryl Wetzstein: Marriage is more than cohabiting

Was it normal for Ms. Lasko to have expected fidelity from her longtime cohabiting partner? The answer is yes, according to the landmark 1994 National Sex Survey from the University of Chicago.

That survey of 3,500 people found that 94.6 percent of cohabiters and 98.7 percent of married people expected sexual exclusivity from their partners.

But the survey found that expecting fidelity didn’t mean getting fidelity, especially among unmarried people. Of married men, 4 percent said they had cheated on their wives in the past year. Of cohabiting men, 16 percent had cheated. And of single men with steady girlfriends, 37 percent had cheated.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Theology

Bishop Bennison’s Attorney Decries ”˜Avenging Court’

The defense attorney for the Rt. Rev. Charles E. Bennison, Jr., has expressed exasperation with the Episcopal Church’s Court for the Trial of a Bishop as he prepares to appeal his client’s conviction and sentencing.

Most recently the court rejected the bishop’s request for a new trial based on 200 personal letters, which his attorney, James Pabarue of Philadelphia, said conflicted with testimony given in court.

Mr. Pabarue believes the court misapplied Canon IV.14.4 because the case involved Bishop Bennison’s response to sexual misconduct by his brother and not any sexual misconduct by the bishop.

“The church has a way of playing more games than do secular courts,” Pabarue told The LivingChurch.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Pennsylvania, Theology

Time Magazine–Catholic Schools: How to Fix Parochial Schools' Decline

He is neither old nor a priest nor particularly attached to time-honored traditions. At 35, John Eriksen, one of the nation’s youngest Catholic-school superintendents, offers a ruthless assessment of parochial education. “The biggest threat that urban Catholic schools face is nostalgia,” he says both of districts nationwide and of his own diocese of Paterson, N.J. A Notre Dame and Harvard graduate fluent in Spanish and Arabic, Eriksen is part of the next generation of Catholic leaders in search of new ways to halt decades of student attrition. “We’ve been running these schools in a way that might have worked 30 or 40 years ago but doesn’t work now,” he says.

Of that, there is no doubt. Nearly 1 in 5 Catholic schools in the U.S. has closed its doors this decade. To non-Catholics, this may not appear to be something worth worrying about. But parochial schools are one of the largest (if not the largest) alternatives to the American public-education system, and their steady decline inordinately affects urban low-income minorities who would otherwise be left at the mercy of public schools that have proven incapable of educating them.

Many Catholic schools, however, are following in the steps of their public brethren and trying to survive by changing the way they do business….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Education, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

NPR–Military Buddhist Chapel Represents Tolerance

Sarah Bender is the Buddhist program leader at the Air Force Academy. She says she has plenty of questions herself about whether it’s ever right to kill in order to stop further harm. But, Bender says, she leaves the academy every Wednesday evening feeling like this is where she’s supposed to be.

“People in the military come up ”” for real ”” against questions that most of us just consider abstractly,” Bender says. “The questions of Buddhism are the questions of life and death. So, where else would you want Buddhism than right there where those questions are most vivid?”

Bender says the academy is now a place where cadets and staff are free to practice any religion they choose.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Buddhism, Military / Armed Forces, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Dollar loses reserve status to yen & euro

Over the last three months, banks put 63 percent of their new cash into euros and yen — not the greenbacks — a nearly complete reversal of the dollar’s onetime dominance for reserves, according to Barclays Capital. The dollar’s share of new cash in the central banks was down to 37 percent — compared with two-thirds a decade ago.

Currently, dollars account for about 62 percent of the currency reserve at central banks — the lowest on record, said the International Monetary Fund.

Bernanke could go down in economic history as the man who killed the greenback on the operating table.

After printing up trillions of new dollars and new bonds to stimulate the US economy, the Federal Reserve chief is now boxed into a corner battling two separate monsters that could devour the economy — ravenous inflation on one hand, and a perilous recession on the other.

“He’s in a crisis worse than the meltdown ever was,” said Peter Schiff, president of Euro Pacific Capital. “I fear that he could be the Fed chairman who brought down the whole thing.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Budget, Economy, Europe, Federal Reserve, Globalization, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government, The United States Currency (Dollar etc)

100 Best Professors Who Blog

Read it all. (Hat tip: Instapundit)

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Education

LA Times–California Christians worship in a big way

Once again, the Sunday faithful have packed the cavernous sanctuary at Shepherd of the Hills Church in the San Fernando Valley, clapping and swaying for Jesus as a band rocks the hall.

“Come bless the Lord,” the worshipers sing. “Praise his name to the ends of the Earth.”

Most churches would be thrilled to fill their sanctuaries any day of the year.

Shepherd of the Hills, a nondenominational church in Porter Ranch, does it six times a weekend, attracting 8,000 people to its energetic services and offering a lesson about the growth of evangelical Christianity in California.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Other Churches, Parish Ministry

LA Times–Healthcare overhaul bill clears Senate Finance Committee

Legislation that would transform the nation’s healthcare system cleared a significant hurdle today as the Senate Finance Committee voted 14-9 for a sweeping overhaul.

Just one Republican, Sen. Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, voted for the bill. But that represented a victory for the White House, which had heavily courted Snowe, and it allowed overhaul advocates to claim that there was a vestige of GOP support for the measure.

“Is this bill all that I would want? Far from it,” Snowe said in announcing her vote. “But when history calls, history calls.”

The bill would require Americans to have health insurance, provide federal subsidies to help low-income workers buy insurance, establish new insurance marketplaces, regulate health insurer practices and expand Medicaid. The plan as drafted is estimated to cost $829 billion over the next 10 years.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Senate