Daily Archives: December 11, 2009

David Brooks: The Hanukkah Story

Generations of Sunday school teachers have turned Hanukkah into the story of unified Jewish bravery against an anti-Semitic Hellenic empire. Settlers in the West Bank tell it as a story of how the Jewish hard-core defeated the corrupt, assimilated Jewish masses. Rabbis later added the lamp miracle to give God at least a bit part in the proceedings.

But there is no erasing the complex ironies of the events, the way progress, heroism and brutality weave through all sides. The Maccabees heroically preserved the Jewish faith. But there is no honest way to tell their story as a self-congratulatory morality tale. The lesson of Hanukkah is that even the struggles that saved a people are dappled with tragic irony, complexity and unattractive choices.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Judaism, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Remembrance, and Maybe Sainthood, for Bishop Fulton J. Sheen

To a Catholic boy like Tim Dolan, growing up in the heartland when Protestant neighbors still made casual jokes about the “papists” next door, Bishop Fulton J. Sheen rode into town in the 1950s on the new main street of the United States, the television set, like a true-blue American hero.

“He showed the broad American public that the truths of our faith were consonant with the highest values of the society: patriotism, God, family and the struggle against Communism,” said that boy, now known as Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York.

Archbishop Dolan led a memorial Mass on Wednesday evening at St. Patrick’s Cathedral to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the death of Bishop Sheen. An auxiliary bishop of the New York Archdiocese from 1951 to 1965, the man whom the Rev. Billy Graham called “the greatest communicator of the 20th century” is buried in a crypt under the cathedral altar, which was open for public viewing before the Mass.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Church History, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Promoting the Car Phone, Despite Risks

Martin Cooper, who developed the first portable cellphone, recalled testifying before a Michigan state commission about the risks of talking on a phone while driving.

Common sense, said Mr. Cooper, a Motorola engineer, dictated that drivers keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.

Commission members asked Mr. Cooper what could be done about risks posed by these early mobile phones.

“There should be a lock on the dial,” he said he had testified, “so that you couldn’t dial while driving.”

It was the early 1960s.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Science & Technology, Travel

A Southern California Public Radio program on the Los Angeles Elections


Rt. Rev J. Jon Bruno, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles

Rev. Canon Mary D. Glasspool, Suffragan bisop-elect, Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles

Rev. Canon Diane M. Jardine Bruce, Suffragan bishop-elect, Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles

Listen to it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles

Bishop Jon Bruno Interview by Religion and Ethics Weekly on the LA Election

There has been new controversy across the worldwide Anglican Communion since the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles elected Rev. Mary Glasspool, a lesbian, as assistant bishop. If her election is confirmed by a majority of dioceses within the Episcopal Church, she would become the second openly gay bishop in the denomination, which has been wracked with division over homosexuality. The Episcopal Church is the US branch of the 77-million-member Anglican Communion. In July 2009, the Episcopal General Convention overwhelmingly approved a measure affirming that gays and lesbians are eligible to become bishops.

After the vote, Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly managing editor Kim Lawton asked Los Angeles Episcopal Bishop Jon Bruno how he would explain the vote to Anglicans around the world who oppose gay bishops, and what message he hoped it would send to gays and lesbians.

Watch it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles

(Times) Editorial: A global tax on financial transactions is no remedy for financial crises

The main objection to a Tobin tax, however, is that it will not work. Taxes that do not work are worse than a waste of time. They have a cost, if only by diverting the energies of public servants into impracticable byways and clever bankers into tax avoidance schemes, with no compensating benefit in financial stability. The tax will not work because it is impossible to administer. Traders in, say, London could evade it by booking the transaction in other financial centres that are not covered by the tax. To be effective, the tax would have to be implemented globally.

That is unlikely but not impossible. Perhaps the catastrophic experience of the credit crisis might create agreement among governments. Perhaps all the main financial centres would sign up to the tax. But that still leaves the offshore financial centres. It is difficult to see what possible incentive they would have to implement a tax when it would plainly be in their financial interest to attract business from international banks.

Bad taxes can have far-reaching consequences. One of the reasons that London is so prominent a financial centre dates back to US regulations adopted in the 1960s that limited the amount of interest that banks could pay on deposits. US banks moved to London to get round them, and the huge eurobond market developed as a result.

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

EU calls for tax on financial transactions

A so-called “Tobin Tax” has been pushed by France and the UK, but is less popular in the US.

The leaders called on the IMF to look at a range of options to ensure that banks do not take excessive risks that could lead to another financial crisis.

The call comes in a draft statement expected to be approved later.

“The European Council emphasises the importance of renewing the economic and social contract between financial institutions and the society they serve, and of ensuring that the public benefits in good times and is protected from risk,” the draft statement said.

Speaking at a conference in Brussels, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown said: “We need a better relationship between the banks and the people they serve.

“There has been a growth in support in recent weeks for this idea and many, many countries are looking at it.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Economy, England / UK, Europe, Stock Market, Taxes

Allen Quist–Marriage Penalty in health care bills

“There is a huge middle class marriage penalty hidden in the House and Senate health care bills. The penalty becomes evident by evaluating questions like the following: How much would two single people, each making $30,000 per year, pay for private health insurance if the Pelosi bill was in effect now? The answer is $1,320 per year for both individuals combined (based on the premium limits and subsidies outlined on the charts below). But how much would they pay for the same level of insurance under the Pelosi bill if they were to marry? Their combined cost would then be about $12,000 a year (the estimated cost for private insurance).

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Health & Medicine, House of Representatives, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate

Fourteen Minnesota churches leaving ELCA over vote to allow clergy in same-sex unions

More than a dozen Lutheran congregations in Minnesota have vowed to leave the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) after a vote in Minneapolis this summer to allow gay and lesbian pastors in committed relationships to serve as clergy. The fifteen churches will join a new denomination called Lutheran CORE and leave the ELCA, the largest Lutheran denomination in the world.

The leaders of Lutheran CORE say the ELCA has moved too far away from the Bible.

One from the long list of I-have-not-yet-had-a-chance-to-post-yet.

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

Rick Warren opposes proposed gay sex law

Pastor Rick Warren today asked Ugandan pastors to oppose a proposed law that could bring death to Ugandans engaging in gay sex.

The Saddleback Church pastor had come under fire last week on the Internet and in the media for not taking a stand or issuing a condemnation of the proposed legislation.

In a video posted on YouTube, Warren asked Ugandan pastors to speak out against a proposed law by a Ugandan pastor who endorsed proposed legislation making gay sex punishable by life in prison or even in some cases death.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Church of Uganda, Evangelicals, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Uganda

RNS: Partnered Lesbian Bishop Aware but Undaunted by Controversy

[Gene] Robinson said. “`It’s not about your experience and credentials, but about whether a gay or lesbian person is fit to be a bishop.”‘

In a majority of the Anglican Communion, the answer is a resounding no. Several times since Robinson’s election, Anglican leaders, including Williams, have asked Episcopalians to “exercise restraint” by not consecrating any more gay bishops. Williams reiterated that request on Sunday in his strongest language to date.

“The Archbishop of Canterbury seems to me to have been pushed over the tipping point,” said David Steinmetz, a professor Christian history at Duke Divinity School in Durham, N.C. “That’s very hard to say about him; he’s such a gentle man. On the other hand, they really have thumbed their collective noses at him.”

[Mary] Glasspool, though, said the Episcopal Church held a moratorium on gay bishops from 2006-2009, and that’s long enough.

“We have waited, we have held back,” Glasspool said. “And now we need to get on with the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ, and proclaim who we are: an open and inclusive church.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles

Church Times Article on the Los Angeles Episcopal Election

The election has to be confirmed, or could be rejected, by diocesan bishops and diocesan standing com­mittees. That decision will have very important implications.

[Rowan Williams said]: “The bishops of the Communion have collectively acknowledged that a period of gracious restraint in respect of actions which are con­trary to the mind of the Commun­ion is necessary if our bonds of mutual affection are to hold.”

Canon Glasspool, whose late father was an Episcopal priest op­posed to women’s ordination, won on the seventh ballot, with 153 clergy votes and 203 lay votes. She had enough clergy votes to win by the end of the third ballot, but many Spanish-speaking delegatesat the diocesan convention had sup­ported her closest rival, the Revd Irineo Vasquez.

A majority of bishops and stand­ing committees of all the dioceses is required to give consent to a bishop’s election within 120 days. The Bishop of Los Angeles, the Rt Revd Jon Bruno, acknowledged at a press conference rumours of “a concerted effort not to give consent”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles

From the Morning Scripture Readings

In thee, O LORD, do I seek refuge; let me never be put to shame; in thy righteousness deliver me! Incline thy ear to me, rescue me speedily! Be thou a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me! Yea, thou art my rock and my fortress; for thy name’s sake lead me and guide me.

–Psalm 31:1-3

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Times) Canon Mary Glasspool: time for Church to open door to rights for gays

She said that many Episcopalians had close relationships with Anglicans worldwide. She recently attended the enthronement of an archbishop in Africa as the representative of her present diocese in Maryland. At least one senior member of the Anglican Church in Ghana will attend her proposed consecration in May.

While calling for unity, Canon Glasspool remained unrepentant: “My perception of where the Episcopal Church is is that we are embracing God’s ever-unfolding reign of love and justice. I have heard from hundreds if not thousands of people who feel freed up by this, who are proud of the Episcopal Church, who are anxious to realign themselves with a Church that takes seriously the love of Jesus Christ for all people.”

She declined to comment on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s warning that her election raised “very serious questions”. Anglican leaders meeting in Canterbury this week have called for the Episcopal Church to show “gracious restraint” when it comes to assenting to her election.

“I pray daily for the Archbishop of Canterbury as I do for our presiding bishop,” she said, adding that she was “deeply grateful” for the trust shown in her by the Los Angeles diocese.

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles

Rod Dreher: Uganda's insane proposed anti-gay law

It’s hard to imagine that a nation not led by the Taliban is actually considering passing a law imposing the death penalty, and other harsh penalties, on gays and lesbians. But it’s true (though I’ve seen information in the past couple of days saying that lawmakers behind the legislation are considering abandoning the capital punishment provision). Andrew Sullivan reports that Sen. Tom Coburn, one of the most socially conservative members of Congress, has called for the Ugandans to come to their senses. Rick Warren has done the same thing.

Read it all and follow the links.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of Uganda, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture