Daily Archives: January 8, 2010

Mark Pinsky: What Walt Disney Wrought

Walt Disney Co. no doubt expected kudos for breaking racial barriers in its holiday hit, “The Princess and the Frog,” and that praise has come from some quarters. But the entertainment giant also finds itself receiving stinging criticism from conservative evangelical Christians on a Web warpath. Hollywoodjesus.com said the animated feature’s preoccupation with voodoo, black magic, bloody amulets and Ouija boards was “too dark and extreme for this kind of kids’ film.” Christiananswers.net rated the movie “Offensive”; citing a Tarot card reading, soul transfer and implied reincarnation, the site called the film “demonic.” A reviewer for the respected magazine Christianity Today charged that the movie was “disturbing,” with a “hollow, thoughtless core.” These and other essays provoked furious debate involving hundreds of Internet responses, likely echoed in evangelical moms’ groups in churches nationwide. Disney declined to respond directly to the criticism, saying in an email to me: “The Princess and the Frog is a lighthearted musical fairytale set in New Orleans during the jazz age featuring Disney’s first African American Princess, which audiences and critics around the world have enthusiastically embraced.”

What is most interesting about the current controversy is that it’s not new. It’s been going on for more than 70 years, beginning with the release of Disney’s first full-length animated movie, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” in 1938. Reviewers at the time voiced similar worries about the dark magic in that groundbreaking feature.

Walt Disney always called himself a Christian, but his biographers agree that he was skeptical about organized religion and rarely set foot inside a church. He insisted that any narrow portrayal of Protestant Christianity (or any religion, for that matter) in his animated features was box-office poison, especially in lucrative, overseas markets. More broadly, Walt’s fear was that explicit religiosity might needlessly exclude young viewers, while a watered-down version might at the same time offend the devout. Yet the studio’s founding genius also understood that, from the ancient Greeks to the Brothers Grimm, successful storytellers have needed supernatural intervention agents to resolve plots. So, Walt decided, Disney’s cartoon protagonists would appeal not to Judeo-Christian religion but to magic, which was more palatable around the ticket-buying world…..

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture, Theology

St. Andrew's – Bringing Theology Courses

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Jennifer Graham on Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins: Divorce Without Vows

It’s horrible””or, cynics might say, fortuitous””timing for Ms. Sarandon, who has been busy promoting “The Lovely Bones,” in which she plays the glamorous grandmother of the dead teenager who narrates the film. In Alice Sebold’s book, on which the movie is based, Grandma Lynn wears lots of makeup and a secondhand mink and swoops in to rescue a family collapsing into grief and despair. Along the way, she endeavors to stop her daughter from blowing up her marriage via an affair with a brooding detective. “I know something is going on that isn’t kosher,” she tells her daughter. “Capisce?”

Capisce, we do. Ms. Sarandon, whose seemingly golden “domestic partnership” with Mr. Robbins was the stuff of Hollywood legend, is desirous of preserving marriages on screen, but not so much in real life. She famously declined to wed Mr. Robbins, the father of her two sons, because she worried such a stuffy and archaic ritual might harm their relationship.

‘”I won’t marry because I am too afraid of taking him for granted, or him taking me for granted,” she once said. “Maybe it will be a good excuse for a party when I am 80.”

Read it all from today’s Wall Street Journal Weekend Journal section.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Movies & Television, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Sacramental Theology, Theology

Church Times: Bishop and union clash over bullying

The Bishop of Ripon & Leeds, the Rt Revd John Packer, has rejected claims by the Unite trade union that bullying among the clergy is “rife”.

The allegation is based on figures released by the union, which says it deals with 150 cases of bullying among the clergy a year. Unite currently has 2500 members in its faith-workers branch, the majority of whom are ministers of religion.

Last month, the union backed the Revd Mark Sharpe in his case against the diocese of Worcester. Mr Sharpe said that he had been the victim of a four-year campaign of harassment in the Teme Valley South benefice (News, 18/25 December). Unite described the benefice as “toxic” (see below).

Rachael Maskell, a national officer at Unite, said that cases of bullying among the clergy they were dealing with were becoming nastier, “to the point of criminal activity.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Despite Risks, Internet Creeps Onto Car Dashboards

To the dismay of safety advocates already worried about driver distraction, automakers and high-tech companies have found a new place to put sophisticated Internet-connected computers: the front seat.

Technology giants like Intel and Google are turning their attention from the desktop to the dashboard, hoping to bring the power of the PC to the car. They see vast opportunity for profit in working with automakers to create the next generation of irresistible devices.

This week at the Consumer Electronics Show, the neon-drenched annual trade show here, these companies are demonstrating the breadth of their ambitions, like 10-inch screens above the gearshift showing high-definition videos, 3-D maps and Web pages.

The first wave of these “infotainment systems,” as the tech and car industries call them, will hit the market this year. While built-in navigation features were once costly options, the new systems are likely to be standard equipment in a wide range of cars before long. They prevent drivers from watching video and using some other functions while the car is moving, but they can still pull up content as varied as restaurant reviews and the covers of music albums with the tap of a finger.

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

Notable and Quotable

The Church Mouse blog reads: “David Stevenson is the new vicar of St Mary’s Church in Eastwood, Nottingham. By way of introduction, his wife, Diane, wrote an article in the church newsletter, in which she said that she had been a stripper. The piece was written ambiguously, and a follow-up piece in the next newsletter announced that the kind of stripping she had done was stripping chicken at a factory in Nottingham. Whilst providing some light relief, this was also intended to make a point about judging people.

“Unfortunately for Mrs Stevenson, however, the first piece was picked up far more quickly than she imagined. It was featured in a number of news outlets, from local to national, including the Telegraph and the Daily Mail…Perhaps there is a moral in this tale not just for the Mail and the Telegraph, but for the Stevensons as well.”

One contributor writes: “Didn’t she just prove her point really?”

–Today’s Church of England Newspaper, page 16

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

Bloomberg: Geithner’s Fed Told AIG to Limit Swaps Disclosure

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, then led by Timothy Geithner, told American International Group Inc. to withhold details from the public about the bailed-out insurer’s payments to banks during the depths of the financial crisis, e-mails between the company and its regulator show.

AIG said in a draft of a regulatory filing that the insurer paid banks, which included Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Societe Generale SA, 100 cents on the dollar for credit-default swaps they bought from the firm. The New York Fed crossed out the reference, according to the e-mails, and AIG excluded the language when the filing was made public on Dec. 24, 2008. The e-mails were obtained by Representative Darrell Issa, ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

The New York Fed took over negotiations between AIG and the banks in November 2008 as losses on the swaps, which were contracts tied to subprime home loans, threatened to swamp the insurer weeks after its taxpayer-funded rescue. The regulator decided that Goldman Sachs and more than a dozen banks would be fully repaid for $62.1 billion of the swaps, prompting lawmakers to call the AIG rescue a “backdoor bailout” of financial firms.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Federal Reserve, History, Politics in General, The Banking System/Sector, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package, The U.S. Government, Theology, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

The Kelvingrove Gallery in Glasgow

AKMA has a nice picture up–check it out.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Scotland

Sudan archbishop to visit Salisbury

AN archbishop from Sudan will be visiting Salisbury at the weekend to meet with the Bishop, preach in the cathedral and raise awareness of the country’s situation.

Dr Daniel Deng Bul Yak is Archbishop of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, which has had links with the Salisbury Diocese for 37 years.

He is arriving in the UK tomorrow and will be taking part in a peace rally in Whitehall on Saturday before coming to Salisbury to preach on Sunday.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Episcopal Church of the Sudan, Parish Ministry

2 Randolph New Hampshire women wed, Bishop Gene Robinson blesses marriage

The Granite State is the fifth state to allow same-sex couples to marry, joining Connecticut, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Iowa.

Ms. [“Betsy”] Hess, who holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Montana at Missoula, maintains a private practice in Berlin, and the Rev. [“Ellie”] McLaughlin, who earned a Ph.D. in medieval history at Harvard University, is the retired rector of St. Barnabas and a parishioner at St. Paul’s, Lancaster.

They described his role as an “unspeakable honor ”” a thrill.”

Bishop Robinson welcomed a congregation of well over 100 people ”” parishioners, the couple’s family members, Randolph neighbors, friends, and other clergy ”” to St. Barnabas and the City of Berlin. He recalled that when now-retired Bishop Douglas Theuner met with the parish in 2001 to tell them that he had found them a priest who was prepared to fill its vacant pulpit, he had alerted them to the fact that the Rev. McLaughlin had a life partner ”” another woman.

“You took a chance on her and loved both of them,” Bishop Robinson marveled. “You learned that God believes in love.

“I’m so proud,” the Bishop said, noting that the Berlin parish had blown away all preconceptions.

Read the whole article from the Winnisquam Echo.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to at KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

After review of mountaintop mining, scientists urge ending it

The consequences of this mining in eastern Kentucky, West Virginia and southwestern Virginia are “”pervasive and irreversible,” the article finds. Companies are required by law to take steps to reduce the damages, but their efforts don’t compensate for lost streams nor do they prevent lasting water pollution, it says.

The article is a summary of recent scientific studies of the consequences of blasting the tops off mountains to obtain coal and dumping the excess rock into streams in valleys. The authors also studied new water-quality data from West Virginia streams and found that mining polluted them, reducing their biological health and diversity.

Surprisingly little attention has been paid to this growing scientific evidence of the damages, they wrote, adding: “Regulators should no longer ignore rigorous science.”

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

Wonder and Devotion: Bringing Science and Faith Together for the Church

Those of you in parish ministry considering continuing education opportunities for 2010, here is a grand possibility to consider.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Adult Education, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

John M. McCardell Elected President of Sewanee

The Trustees today elected John M. McCardell Jr., president emeritus of Middlebury College, following a national search that began in February 2009.

McCardell’s appointment is effective July 1. He succeeds Joel Cunningham, who will retire June 30, 2010, after 10 years as Vice Chancellor.

“John McCardell’s record of achievement as a scholar, as the chief executive of one of America’s finest liberal arts colleges, and as a respected national figure in the public discussion about higher education and student life extends the work of his predecessors and the pursuit of the vision of Sewanee’s founders: to establish a national university located in the South,” said the Rt. Rev. J. Neil Alexander, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, Chancellor of the University and Chair of the Board of Trustees.

“He is an inspirational leader who will strengthen Sewanee’s historic commitment to excellence in the liberal arts and service to the Episcopal Church. We are delighted that he has answered this call to service.”

Read it all and check out the video as well.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Education, Episcopal Church (TEC)

EU members divided over airport body scanners

EU countries have been debating the use of body scanners at airports, in response to the Christmas Day attempt to blow up a US-bound jet.

The European Commission is holding talks with aviation security experts from the EU member states in Brussels.

Italy has said it will introduce the scanners for US-bound flights, alongside the Netherlands and the UK.

The 27 EU countries are free to use the scanners as long as the security checks do not contradict national or EU law.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Europe, Law & Legal Issues, Terrorism, Travel

New Year but No Relief for Strapped States

It is one of the bleakest new years that states have seen in over a decade.

On Wednesday, governors in California, Kentucky and New York kick off the season of addresses to state lawmakers as at least 36 states struggle to close budget shortfalls and also begin confronting the next fiscal year’s woes.

For many of the states, the new year spells the end to accounting maneuvers, one-off solutions, tax increases and service cuts that were as deep as lawmakers thought they could bear. And governors confront this situation in an election year in which dozens of their jobs are in play, and as many state legislators face their own election challenges.

“A budget gap of 5 percent or 10 percent in any given year is a tough problem,” said Corina Eckl, fiscal director at the National Conference of State Legislatures. “But we’re talking about gaps in excess of 20 percent over multiple years. The size of these gaps is staggering.”

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