Daily Archives: January 22, 2010

In Chicago Sharing Soul Food, Fellowship and Faith

Dressed in Sunday church finery and fashionable hats, these devout Baptist women looked decades younger than their ages, 70s and 80s ”” evidence, it seemed, of virtuous living.

The group of a half-dozen or so gathers every Sunday after church to talk about their shared bonds: faith in Jesus, and memories of long-ago journeys from sleepy Southern country towns to the big city with its smokestacks and sirens.

“We fellowship,” said Gloria Davis, a native of the Mississippi Delta, “and we remember the days.”

These women were part of one of the nation’s most important periods, the Great Migration, the mass trek of blacks going north for jobs and the hope of civil rights. It has been more than a half-century since the peak of migration to Chicago.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Baptists, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, History, Other Churches, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Women

Supreme Court Ruling on Spending May Alter Political Terrain

Overruling two important precedents about the First Amendment rights of corporations, a bitterly divided Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the government may not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections.

The 5-to-4 decision was a vindication, the majority said, of the First Amendment’s most basic free speech principle ”” that the government has no business regulating political speech. The dissenters said that allowing corporate money to flood the political marketplace would corrupt democracy.

The ruling represented a sharp doctrinal shift, and it will have major political and practical consequences. Specialists in campaign finance law said they expected the decision to reshape the way elections were conducted. Though the decision does not directly address them, its logic also applies to the labor unions that are often at political odds with big business.

The decision will be felt most immediately in the coming midterm elections, given that it comes just two days after Democrats lost a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate and as popular discontent over government bailouts and corporate bonuses continues to boil.

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

Time Magazine: Mass Mutiny: How Scott Brown Shook the Political World

Brown’s victory ”” some called it “the Scott heard round the world” ”” on the eve of the first anniversary of Barack Obama’s Inauguration was an ominous sign for Democrats for the midterm elections ahead and a potentially crippling blow to Obama’s entire agenda. Brown ran explicitly on a promise to be the “41st Senator,” who would give the Republicans the power to block what he called “the trillion-dollar health care bill that is being forced on the American people,” one that will “raise taxes, hurt Medicare, destroy jobs and run our nation deeper into debt.”

That such a message would resonate here was poignant, given that no one had fought harder and longer than Kennedy for universal health care, something that the terminally ill liberal lion had referred to before his death in August as “the cause of my life.” And it was all the more ironic considering that Massachusetts has come closer than any other state to assuring coverage to all of its citizens, thanks to a 2006 law that was championed by a Republican governor, Mitt Romney, who was celebrating onstage with Brown on election night.

Although the rest of the country sees Massachusetts as the bluest of blue states ”” it had not elected a Republican Senator since Richard Nixon was President ”” its political complexion is actually more subtle. Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 3 to 1, but fully half the state’s voters are registered “unenrolled” ”” not affiliated with any party. And four of its last five governors have been Republicans, albeit ones of a more moderate stripe than that of the national party.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Health & Medicine, Office of the President, Politics in General, President George Bush, Senate

Synod’s ”˜full agenda’ to include pensions, Fresh Expressions, and religion on TV

THE NEXT General Synod meeting will take place in Church House, Westminster, from Monday 8 to Friday 12 Feb­ruary. It has a very full agenda, said the secretary general of the Arch­bishops’ Council, William Fittall, at the press briefing on Monday, because it will be “clearing the decks for the Synod at York in July” when the ordination of women bishops will next be debated.

Mr Fittall went on to “refute the myths” that were current in the press that the revision committee on women in the episcopate had been deliberately dragging its feet in order to miss the February sessions and therefore delay any decision, or that the committee had “misapplied itself”.

A large number of proposals had come to the committee, and it was having to examine each in turn, giving the proposers the chance to put their cases personally, and to consider all the legislation line by line.

Asked whether the recent offer from the Pope had further slowed the process down, Mr Fittall refused to commit himself, saying that the committee had had to look at “a lot of big ideas” as well as details. He did not think there was any reason to change the view that 2014 was likely to be the earliest date that a woman bishop could be appointed.

Read it all from the Church Times.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE)

Therapists Report Increase in Green Disputes

Gordon Fleming is, by his own account, an environmentally sensitive guy.

He bikes 12 1/2 miles to and from his job at a software company outside Santa Barbara, Calif. He recycles as much as possible and takes reusable bags to the grocery store.

Still, his girlfriend, Shelly Cobb, feels he has not gone far enough.

Ms. Cobb chides him for running the water too long while he shaves or showers. And she finds it “depressing,” she tells him, that he continues to buy a steady stream of items online when her aim is for them to lead a less materialistic life.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources, Marriage & Family

Terrorism? Fort Hood report doesn’t mention Islamic extremism

House Republicans were keen Wednesday to find out why a report titled “Protecting the Force: Lessons from Fort Hood” fails to discuss Islamic extremism as a possible motive for Maj. Nidal Hasan’s attack in November, which killed 13 and wounded 43.

Frustrated by the Department of Defense’s description of the Fort Hood rampage as an “incident” by an “alleged perpetrator,” several members of the House Armed Services Committee wondered if political correctness is besting common sense as the US tries to understand the nature and strategy of its enemies.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

Anatole Kaletsky: Obama should have blamed Bush, not bankers

The economic pattern of the early 1980s may well be repeated. The US economy is likely to start to recover strongly, with a growth rate of more than 5 per cent expected this month.

But it looks increasingly doubtful that Mr Obama and the Democrats will enjoy the benefits. Having won Massachusetts, the Republicans will have no compunction in claiming that what saved the US economy was the conservative backlash. If the Democrats fail to challenge them, this is the version of reality that American voters will start to believe.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, President George Bush, Senate, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government

Teacher with Bible divides Ohio town

Most people in this quiet all-American town describe themselves as devoutly Christian, but even here they are deeply divided over what should happen to John Freshwater.

Mr. Freshwater, an eighth-grade public school science teacher, is accused of burning a cross onto the arms of at least two students and teaching creationism, charges he says have been fabricated because he refused an order by his principal to remove a Bible from his desk.

After an investigation, school officials notified Mr. Freshwater in June 2008 of their intent to fire him, but he asked for a pre-termination hearing, which has lasted more than a year and cost the school board more than a half-million dollars.

The hearing is finally scheduled to end Friday, and a verdict on Mr. Freshwater’s fate is expected some months later. But the town — home to about 15,000 people, more than 30 churches and an evangelical university — remains split.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

Patrick J. Hayes: Father Paul Wattson and the Quest for Church Unity

The theme for this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is “You Are Witnesses of These Things” (Luke 24:48). Coinciding with the Scottish centennial celebration of the World Mission Conference at Edinburgh, widely acknowledged as an ecumenical milestone, the theme strikes at the soul of collaboration between churches: what we memorialize together, what we work on, what we anticipate through God’s grace. Whether we speak in a prophetic voice, like the Paul Wattsons of a prior generation, there is always a call to set aside a passive stance and move.

Action of some sort never negates a stillness of mind and heart, but flows from it. Achieving that quietude comes from asking ourselves sometimes difficult questions: What do I believe? To whom shall I turn? Who am I? What is impressive about the path Fr. Wattson took is not so much his rather spectacular conversion or the issues attendant upon it, as much as the authenticity of its genesis, together with its manifold fruits. Roman Catholics cannot ignore the abiding fealty Fr. Wattson had toward the purest elements of the Anglican spirit, since part of that is its desire toward the vocation of unity. In an era of ordinariates, Roman Catholics will do well to observe how a new injection of Anglican culture into their midst will serve to heal and make whole again a body broken for too long.

In speaking of ordinariates today, canon lawyers refer to “extra-territorial” sees or “non-territorial particular churches,” which serve as instruments for service to the people of God that have, for purposes of identification, no visible boundaries but a clear governance structure that is necessarily flexible to meet extraordinary circumstances. One reason for the recent Anglicanorum Coetibus, the apostolic constitution of Pope Benedict XVI establishing personal ordinariates for those Anglicans entering a new relation with the Roman Catholic Church, is to supply a flexible response to legalistic questions. Both communions will do well to study whether the ecclesiological principles articulated in the constitution will be in service to the great challenge of ecumenism in our time, particularly as it conforms or departs from the legacy of visionaries like Fr.Wattson.

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Ecclesiology, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Theology

A Statement of the Catholic-Jewish Commission

The Biblical Tradition that gives unique dignity to the human person must not be understood in terms of domination but in terms of respect and solidarity. This requires of us a sense of a “human ecology” in which our responsibility for the eco-system is bound up with and reflective of our obligations to one another and in particular “a special generosity towards the poor, towards women and children, strangers, the sick, the weak and the needy” (Papal Address at the Synagogue of Rome, 17 January 2010, sect. 7).

The ethical aspect of human intervention in the natural order lies in the limitation on the power of science and its claim to absoluteness, and in the expression of human solidarity and moral responsibility towards all. To that end the bilateral commission strongly urges that all scientific innovation and development work in close consultation with religious ethical guidance. Similarly States and international bodies should engage in close consultation with religious ethical leadership in order to ensure that progress be a blessing rather than a curse. A genuine environmental ethic is a key condition for world peace and harmony.

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Inter-Faith Relations, Judaism, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

Albert Mohler: How Will They Hear Without a Preacher?

England, of course, is the nation that once gave us preachers the likes of Charles Simeon, Charles Spurgeon, and Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Now, with the rare and blessed exception of some faithful evangelical churches, preaching has fallen on desperate times.

Some observers of British life now estimate that in any given week Muslim attendance at mosques outnumbers Christian attendance at churches. That means that there are probably now in Britain more people who listen to imams than to preachers.

This raises an interesting question: Is the marginalization of biblical preaching in so many churches a cause or a result of the nation’s retreat from Christianity? In truth, it must be both cause and effect. In any event, there is no hope for a recovery of biblical Christianity without a preceding recovery of biblical preaching. That means preaching that is expository, textual, evangelistic, and doctrinal. In other words, preaching that will take a lot longer than ten minutes and will not masquerade as a form of entertainment.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Church History, England / UK, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture

AIG Took Four Tries on Filing as Fed Asked to Withhold Data

According to e-mails released this month, AIG was asked to limit what the public knew about the Maiden Lane transactions. The payments have been called a “backdoor bailout” by lawmakers because banks, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Societe Generale SA, were reimbursed at 100 cents on the dollar for mortgage-linked securities that had declined in value.

“This has been terribly mishandled,” said James D. Cox, a professor of corporate and securities law at Duke University School of Law. “There’s this pattern that emerges that the New York Fed, for a variety of reasons including not causing nervousness about who was an AIG counterparty, covered up its rather heavy-handed approach to the bailout.”

Absolutely sickening–read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Federal Reserve, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

Jesse James DeConto–The people's interest: A new battle against usury

Walking down Trade Street in downtown Charlotte, North Carolina, Melinda Graham spied the Bank of America football stadium a few blocks away. “That’s all my money, right there,” said Graham, one of hundreds who marched on B of A and Wachovia one day last October to demand a 10 percent cap on credit-card interest rates.

A few minutes later, Graham noticed a pair of brown leather stilettos on a sharply dressed young woman. “Look at her shoes,” she urged her 21-year-old daughter. Then she looked at me, who had just asked her about her credit-card debt: “I’m a shoe fanatic,” she admitted.

Graham can no longer afford such luxuries. She started cutting her spending after her debt topped $8,000, which is about average for the nearly half of all Americans who carry a credit -card balance. She used to go to the cinema once a week or rent half a dozen movies to watch over the weekend, but not these days. “I can’t do the things I like doing, like getting away on the weekend,” she said. “I buy only the necessities.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Parish Ministry, Personal Finance, Stewardship, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

To some, sermonising is a sin, but Christians still value the preacher

Sermons, history shows, can be among the most revolutionary forms of human speech. From John Calvin to Billy Graham, preaching has had the power to topple princes, to set nation against nation, to inspire campaigners to change the world and impel people to begin life anew.

In many churches this most vibrant of moments has withered to little more than 20 minutes of tired droning that serves only to pad out the gap between hymns and lunch.

Yet some ember still seems to burn in Britain’s 3.6 million regular churchgoers, for almost all of them feel a sense of expectation for the Sunday sermon, according to researchers at Durham University.

Fully 96.6 per cent of those surveyed “look forward” to the sermon, with 60 per cent saying it gave them a sense of God’s love.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture

If Your Kids Are Awake, They’re Probably Online

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Children, Science & Technology