Daily Archives: December 18, 2009

A message from the Archbishop of Canterbury on the Anglican Communion Covenant

Take a careful look and there are lots of documents here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Covenant, Archbishop of Canterbury

4 Big Mortgage Backers Swim in Ocean of Debt

Though the four are not in all the same businesses, they were caught in one of the same traps: They sold mortgage guarantees ”” in some cases to each other. Now when homeowners default, as they are doing in record numbers, these companies are covering the losses. Essentially, taxpayer money to these companies is being used partly to protect banks and other investors who own the mortgages.

Like the big banks, these four companies would no doubt prefer to be free of government assistance, which comes with pay and other restrictions on their executives. But they appear at risk of getting onto a debt merry-go-round, where they have to draw new money from the government just to keep up with their existing government debts.

Fannie Mae recently warned, for example, that it could not pay the dividends it owes the Treasury, so “future dividend payments will be effectively funded with equity drawn from the Treasury.”

All the companies have recently drawn new government money or are in talks to do so…

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, The Banking System/Sector, The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto Industry, The U.S. Government

Johnathan Fitzgerald: Winning Not Just Hearts but Minds

On Dec. 8, some of America’s brightest contemporary intellectuals gathered at the New School to discuss the tenuous relationship between “Evangelicalism and the Contemporary Intellectual.” Sponsored by Brooklyn-based literary magazine n+1, the panel featured The New Yorker’s Malcolm Gladwell and James Wood and The Nation’s former associate literary editor Christine Smallwood. While these thinkers all grew up in close proximity to evangelicalism, there was one conspicuous absence from the conversation: an intellectual who still professes the Christian faith. The discussion was predictably thoughtful, though evangelical belief was treated as something necessarily dispensed with on the way to becoming a public scholar.

This feeling of intellectual distance from grass-roots Christianity is not new. It’s been almost 30 years since Charles Malik, a former president of the United Nations General Assembly and a devout Christian, gave a speech at Wheaton College called “The Two Tasks.” To the audience assembled for the dedication of Wheaton’s Billy Graham Center, he said: “The greatest danger besetting American evangelical Christianity is the danger of anti-intellectualism.” This idea was picked up by historian Mark A. Noll 14 years later in his 1994 book “The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind.” The “scandal” of the title, he said, was “that there is not much of an evangelical mind,” despite what he sees as a biblical mandate to better understand creation. Mr. Noll asserts that this lack is reinforced by the historical experience of evangelicals in America, whose churches and ministries have gained more adherents at the cost of fostering anti-intellectualism and bad theology.

Read it all.

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

Many Americans scale back seasonal trips or stay put

More than half of U.S. residents who wanted to travel during the holidays have significantly cut back their plans or canceled trips altogether because of the fragile economy, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll shows.

Americans are suffering from high unemployment, income reductions and financial insecurity that continue to undermine the travel business, even as the economy shows tepid signs of recovery, according to economists and poll respondents.

“I crunched the numbers, checked numerous airlines and it just wasn’t a possibility,” said Lisa Emmett-Gagliano, 48, of Mesa, Ariz. Emmett-Gagliano, a single mother on disability, wanted to take her two daughters to Chicago to visit family they hadn’t seen for nine years.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Travel

From the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion

The following resolution was passed by the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion meeting in London on 15-18 December, and approved for public distribution.

Resolved that, in the light of:

1. The recent episcopal nomination in the Diocese of Los Angeles of a partnered lesbian candidate
2. The decisions in a number of US and Canadian dioceses to proceed with formal ceremonies of same-sex blessings
3. Continuing cross-jurisdictional activity within the Communion

The Standing Committee strongly reaffirm Resolution 14.09 of ACC 14 supporting the three moratoria proposed by the Windsor Report and the associated request for gracious restraint in respect of actions that endanger the unity of the Anglican Communion by going against the declared view of the Instruments of Communion.

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

Requiem for South Carolina Deacon the Rev. Mark Rodger Chaplin

We were all so saddened last Sunday afternoon, as we began to hear the news that our friend and dear brother Mark had been taken from us.

All around us, in the church and in the world, we sense the buzz and excitement of this particular time of year. And we wish that we could blend right in with all the holiday revelers, and we wish that Mark could join in with us”¦

But in our deeper moments of reflection, we understand that the whole point of Jesus coming among us was to share the sufferings that are common to all humanity, and ultimately, to conquer this ugly thing called “Death” by his own death and resurrection.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Death / Burial / Funerals, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics

Kononga launches Christmas offensive against worshippers

Since the start of Advent the ZRP and Kunonga loyalists have disrupted services and locked out congregations across the diocese loyal to Dr Gandiya and the Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA).

Dr Kunonga’s fresh campaign for control of the church in Harare is a “real test to the fragile government of National Unity,” the Rev Paul Gwese reported, “as it was at the intervention of the co-ministers of Home Affairs” that Anglicans were able to “use their churches without been disrupted by rogue police officers aligned to Kunonga.”

In an email sent to supporters dated Nov 29, Dr Gandiya recounted how the ZRP and Kunonga clergy broke up a service he was leading at St Clare’s Mission in Murewa.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Latest News, Africa, Zimbabwe

Saint Andrew's, Mount Pleasant, S.C., reports on An Important Vote

On behalf of the staff and former Sr. Warden’s we wish to thank you for your faithful commitment to engage the discernment process this fall. While the question before our congregation was a serious and sobering one, the depth and richness of the materials and sermons combined with your participation in LifeGroups has worked to deepen our corporate understanding of the Lord’s direction in our life and the call upon this parish, so, thank you.

Last night we gathered to count the response forms and by a 93% ”“ 6% margin the congregation has overwhelmingly recommended that St. Andrew’s affiliate with the Anglican Church in North America and separate from The Episcopal Church.

Read it all..

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Departing Parishes

LA Times: Senate healthcare bill now relies on regulation

When Senate Democratic leaders agreed this week to remove a public insurance plan from their massive healthcare bill, they did more than quash a liberal dream of expanding the government safety net. They effectively pinned their hopes of guaranteeing coverage to all Americans on a far more conventional prescription: government regulation.

The change sprang from a compromise made to placate conservative Democrats wary of a new government program. But shorn of a “public option,” the Senate healthcare bill has reverted to a long-established practice of leveraging government power to police the private sector, rather than compete with it.

Despite the resistance among Republicans and conservatives to more government regulation, even the insurance industry has agreed to broad new oversight of their business in exchange for the prospect of gaining millions of new customers.

Read the whole article.

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

President Obama's speech to the Copenhagen climate summit

Good morning. It’s an honor to for me to join this distinguished group of leaders from nations around the world. We come together here in Copenhagen because climate change poses a grave and growing danger to our people. You would not be here unless you ”“ like me ”“ were convinced that this danger is real. This is not fiction, this is science. Unchecked, climate change will pose unacceptable risks to our security, our economies, and our planet. That much we know.

So the question before us is no longer the nature of the challenge ”“ the question is our capacity to meet it. For while the reality of climate change is not in doubt, our ability to take collective action hangs in the balance.

I believe that we can act boldly, and decisively, in the face of this common threat. And that is why I have come here today.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Climate Change, Weather, Denmark, Energy, Natural Resources, Europe, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama

USA Today: Multi-site churches mean pastors reach thousands

Susan Hong stops Pastor Tim Keller as he dashes up the steps of a Baptist church on a hectic corner of Broadway and West 79th Street.

She heard him preach at 10:30 a.m. on the Upper East Side. Now she has brought friends to hear him at the West Side 5 p.m. service. He briefly greets her, then slips into the service just before his sermon.

In 45 minutes, before the final hymn, Keller’s gone ”” off to deliver the same sermon, “The Gospel Changes Everything,” on the East Side.

Then, again, Keller, founder and senior pastor of Manhattan’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church, will dash back to West 79th Street for his fourth service of the day at three leased locations.

Read the whole article from the front page of yesterday’s paper.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Evangelism and Church Growth, Other Churches, Parish Ministry

Church Times: Researchers report big drop in Christian adherence in UK

Belief in God in the UK continues to lag a long way behind the United States, a new study suggests. In the US, 61 per cent of those surveyed said that they had “no doubt” that God existed; in the UK, the percentage was just 17. In the US, just four per cent said that they were not religious at all: they don’t believe in God, attend religious services, or even identify with a reli­gion; in the UK the percentage was 31.

The figures come in a paper by David Voas and Rodney Ling, to be published in British Social Attitudes: The 26th report, to be released on 27 January. The US figures are based on the American General Social Survey 2008; the UK ones come from the 2008 British Social Attitudes survey, which interviewed 4486 people.

The authors suggest a significant decline in religious practice in the UK. “Over the last quarter of a century, the number of people des­cribing them­selves as Christian has dropped from 66 per cent to 50 per cent.”

Read it all.

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

Report: Near 70 percent of nations face religious restrictions

About one-third of the countries in the world have high restrictions on religion, exposing almost 70 percent of the globe’s population to limitations on their faith, new research shows.

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life based its analysis, released Wednesday (Dec. 16), on 16 sources of information, including reports from the U.S. State Department and human rights groups as well as national constitutions.

Overall, one-third of the countries were found to have high or very high restrictions on religion as a result of government rules or hostile acts by individuals and groups. Religious minorities often feel the brunt of hostilities because they are perceived as a threat to the culture, politics or economy of a country’s majority population, the 72-page report said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Islamic insurgents hack into CIA state-of-the-art Predator drones

Predator drones used by the CIA against Islamic militants have been hacked into by insurgents using nothing more sophisticated than a $25.95 (£16) off-the-shelf software, it was revealed last night.

Although the insurgents were not able to control the $20 million aircraft, typically armed with Hellfire missiles and flown over the battlefields of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, they could watch live video feeds beamed back to US control stations through their electronic “eyeballs”.

The hackers’ success raises the disturbing possibility of the Predators being taken over and used to attack US or British forces, or perhaps even domestic targets. Although Predator aircraft are usually flown by remote control from thousands of miles away, some are kept for testing at US Airforce bases such as Creech, near Las Vegas.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Defense, National Security, Military, Science & Technology, Terrorism, War in Afghanistan

Daily Mail: Drinking epidemic 'fuels surge in cancer'

Round-the-clock drinking and cut-price alcohol are to blame for an ‘appalling’ rise in cancers, experts warned today.

Cases of cancer of the mouth have gone up by half in the past decade, with a 43 per cent rise in liver tumours. There have also been big rises in breast and colorectal cancer.

Many experts are blaming alcohol consumption, which has doubled in the UK since the 1950s and has been fuelled by Labour’s decision to relax licensing laws.

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Alcoholism, England / UK