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Daily Archives: January 15, 2010
American families were squeezed last year as their inflation-adjusted weekly wages fell 1.6 percent — the sharpest drop since 1990 — well below the 2.7 percent consumer inflation rate.
Consumers’ spending power sank in the face of falling wages, job losses and higher prices for energy, medical care and education. Slack pay and scarce job creation are slowing consumer spending, hindering the economy’s ability to mount a strong recovery.
Mary Daly, a retired professor at Boston College who was probably the most outrÃ© of all the dissident theologians who came to the fore of Catholic intellectual life in the years right after the Second Vatican Council, died on Jan. 3 at age 81. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, which might be called the golden age of Catholic dissidence, theologians who took positions challenging traditional church teachings””ranging from the authority of the pope to bans on birth control, premarital sex, and women’s ordination””dominated Catholic intellectual life in America and Europe. They seemed to represent a tide that would overwhelm the old restrictions and their hidebound adherents.
Now, 45 years after Vatican II concluded in 1965, most of those bright lights of dissident Catholicism””from the theologian Hans KÃ¼ng of the University of TÃ¼bingen to Charles Curran, the priest dismissed from the Catholic University of America’s theology faculty in 1987 for his advocacy of contraception and acceptance of homosexual relationships””seem dimmed with advanced age, if not extinguished. They have left no coherent second generation of dissident Catholic intellectuals to follow them.
There’s a certain irony in the fact that Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak traveled to Saudi Arabia, of all places, within 24 hours of his administration’s threat to use draconian measures to quell religious violence. His absence during a crisis is a mistake, as is his government’s approach to it so far.
The “Allah” scandal is the most serious domestic challenge the Najib government has yet faced in its nine months in office. Since a High Court ruling two weeks ago allowed Christians to use the word “Allah” in their Malay-language publications, radical Islamists have capitalized on the fraught climate to intimidate Malaysians and push their agenda. Yesterday saw the 11th in a spate of incidents, with Molotov cocktails, bricks and stones hurled against churches, a convent school, and even a Sikh temple. Lawyers representing Christian plaintiffs have found their offices ransacked. No perpetrators have yet been caught.
So far, the ruling United Malays National Organization is trying to tramp down the violence in any way it can””except the right way, which is to abandon the hardline Islamism that has traditionally appealed to its political base….
A national survey of 1,002 Protestant pastors in November by Nashville-based LifeWay Research found:
”¢28% reported raising less money than in 2008.
”¢57% said the poor economy was hurting their church.
”¢70% reported increased requests from people outside their congregation for assistance.
”¢43% budgeted more money to help more needy people.
”¢3% were considering closing down their churches.
“Churches have not yet entered the recovery,” says LifeWay director Ed Stetzer. “Historically, they tend to recover financially when unemployment decreases, usually after the economy as a whole” recovers.
As the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision nears, anti-abortion activists prepare for the annual March for Life and their counterparts plan religious services to pray for the safety of abortion providers.
But, 37 years after the contentious Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, is there any hope for common ground?
Experts say it will be difficult — especially in light of recent health care battles — but not impossible.
Laurie Zoloth, professor of bioethics and religion at Northwestern University, said there are some projects — such as giving incentives to teen girls to avoid a second pregnancy — that can bring feuding factions together.
THE draft legislation on women bishops will not be coming before the General Synod for debate next month as scheduled. Instead, the revision committee is expected still to be working on it after Easter. It will not now be debated till July.
In February last year, the Synod asked the revision committee to consider the arrangements, embodied in a statutory code of practice, for those opposed in conscience to women bishops.
At its October 2009 meeting, however, it appeared to move away from the code of practice, and voted for “the vesting by statute of certain functions in bishops with a special responsibility for those with conÂscientious difficulties”. The options of an alternative diocese or a regisÂtered society for objectors were ruled out, but it appears there was no vote on the adoption of the simplest form of legislation without a statutory code of practice.
American Catholics will receive an insert in their church bulletins at this weekend’s Masses asking them to lobby Congress on abortion restrictions in the pending health care bill.
Sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, inserts in English and Spanish have been mailed out to nearly 19,000 churches reaching the nation’s 67 million Catholics.
They ask adherents to e-mail, phone or fax their members of Congress asking them not to make taxpayers pay for abortions directly or indirectly, to include conscience protections for health care workers, and to keep health care “accessible and affordable.”
Along with the inserts, priests are being asked to read aloud two statements — one this weekend and the other on the Jan. 23-24 weekend — giving instructions on how to access a USCCB Web site that would allow them to send automated messages to their members of Congress as well as House and Senate majority leaders.
The draconian penalties in Uganda’s proposed ”˜Anti-Homosexuality Bill’ have come under sharp criticism from the Christian Churches of Uganda.
In its December 17 Christmas message, the Uganda Joint Christian Council, a coalition of the country’s Anglican, Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches, said that while its individual member churches had not yet issued formal statements on the proposed bill, all were opposed to the harsh penalties proposed for the suppression of vice.
On 14 Oct MP David Bahati of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) tabled a private-members bill before parliament entitled the ”˜Anti-Homosexuality Bill’ that would stiffen Uganda’s sodomy laws. The proposed law has come in part in response to concerns over growing child-sex tourism in East Africa and the highly publicized arrests of two NGO workers, as well as with the perception that Uganda’s culture is under siege by the West.
Jeff Walton: Are Pagan practices finding an increasingly receptive audience in the Episcopal Church?
The monthly meditation had a playful air about it.
“A crone is an old woman. A crone is a witch. A crone is a wise woman. Which one will you be, my friend? Which one I?”
Wrapped around a rite for “croning”, the meditation embraced a history of mystical women and offered prayers to “Mothering God” and “Eternal Wisdom.” But the article was not in a new age publication or Wiccan blog: it was on the pages of the September newsletter of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington.
Entitled “Crone Power”, the meditation innocuously sat opposite a story about choosing a children’s Bible and next to a column on St. Jerome. The newsletter quickly drew the attention of Anglican bloggers, many of whom found the placement of what appeared to be a Wiccan ritual to be jarring in an official church publication. But intentionally or not, the publication and placement of the rite were reflective of a new reality: one in which practices drawn from or inspired by pagan belief, including witchcraft, are increasingly finding acceptance within the ranks of the Episcopal Church.
Fr. Sexton cited an idea from Diana Butler Bass that worshipers are less interested in a church with answers than in one that accepts them as they ask questions.
“I think there is much truth to her statements, and my biggest fear for our church is and has been that we will allow it to remain in its complacency and continue to be distracted (sex) and insulated (who’s in, who’s out),” he wrote. “I believe we do need to become passionate, imaginative, open, justice seeking, inclusive, and loving communities of faith that actually live as if we believed our baptismal promises were important. ”¦ We need to once again be motivated by the fire of the Holy Spirit.”
Ms. Watson expressed delight that the diocese placed such an emphasis on the question of evangelism.
“I know that the only reason that my family and I enjoy the abundance of life we do today is because of the transformative power of Christ’s love as we have experienced it through the Episcopal Church,” she wrote.
“People two, three or four years apart are having completely different experiences with technology,” said Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project. “College students scratch their heads at what their high school siblings are doing, and they scratch their heads at their younger siblings. It has sped up generational differences.”
One obvious result is that younger generations are going to have some very peculiar and unique expectations about the world. My friend’s 3-year-old, for example, has become so accustomed to her father’s multitouch iPhone screen that she approaches laptops by swiping her fingers across the screen, expecting a reaction.
And after my 4-year-old niece received the very hot Zhou-Zhou pet hamster for Christmas, I pointed out that the toy was essentially a robot, with some basic obstacle avoidance skills. She replied matter-of-factly: “It’s not a robot. It’s a pet.”
The Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Revd Tom Butler, vice chair of the Archbishops’ Council’s Mission and Public Affairs Council, said: “I welcome the Dying Matters initiative as an important contribution to the debate about dying and death. The advances in palliative and end of life care have been helpful in improving the quality of life of those who are dying and their families, and I hope that this new coalition will bring help and information to many people.”
Hilary Fisher, Director of the Dying Matters Coalition, said: “We are delighted that the Church of England has joined the Dying Matters coalition. For too long, issues of death and bereavement have been perceived as too big or scary to talk about; the ensuing silence has resulted in isolation and confusion among dying people and their families. Openness, conversation and communication are vital in addressing this.
Thou dost show me the path of life;
in thy presence there is fulness of joy,
in thy right hand are pleasures for evermore.