Daily Archives: January 24, 2010

Sunday (London) Times Leader: Barack Obama's banking plan could split the West

Scott Brown has a lot to answer for. His stunning Senate victory for the Republicans in Massachusetts sent the White House into a spin. President Obama promptly decided on the populist gesture of targeting Wall Street with vague proposals to outlaw banks’ risky activities and limit their size. Though seemingly hastily wheeled out, the ideas were first floated a few months ago by Paul Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, a man widely regarded as the best US central banker of the modern era. As a result they have some credibility, though they are far from being a panacea.

Many believe the banks have brought this on their own heads. The return of big bonuses so soon after a crisis of their own making, for which ordinary people will be paying for years, showed crass insensitivity and greed. America’s banks rushed to pay off their obligations to taxpayers under the Tarp (troubled asset relief programme) precisely so that they could get back on the bonus gravy train. The behaviour of the banks, however, is no excuse for flawed policy. Nobody yet knows the detail of Mr Obama’s plans, probably not even the president. But from what we know so far, they suffer from two serious shortcomings.

The first is that they would not have stopped the current crisis….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, England / UK, Federal Reserve, Globalization, House of Representatives, Law & Legal Issues, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, Stock Market, The 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout Plan, 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

Scott Benhase becomes 10th bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia

[Scott] Benhase replaces the outgoing Rt. Rev. Henry I. Louttit, who is retiring after serving 15 years as bishop of the diocese.

The Diocese of Georgia is one of 116 dioceses that comprise the 2 million-member Episcopal Church.

The denomination traces its Georgia roots to the founding of the colony and the congregation of Christ Church in 1733.

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Posted in Uncategorized

(London) Times: Ethics and values are vital to financial rethink, report says

The economic crisis is also a crisis of ethics and values and must lead to a “rethink” of the moral framework around finance, according to a report to be released in Davos.

Most of more than 130,000 Facebook users in ten countries polled by Georgetown University in the US, believe that companies should be as responsible to employees and clients as to their shareholders. Klaus Schwab, the founder of the forum, said that religion and faith communities were vital to an essential debate on reform of the “architecture” of international finance.

The forum has responded to the crisis by expanding its dialogue with faith communities beyond its focus on Islam and the West to look at education, health, climate change and business ethics. In a series of essays by religious leaders for the report, Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said: “Politics left up to managers and economics left up to brokers add up to a recipe for social and environmental chaos.”

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Stock Market, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Theology

Bishop Macpherson Writes His Fellow Bishops Concerning recent Episcopal Elections

From here:

Dear Colleagues:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I trust this finds each of you well as we begin our shared journey into the new year, and in these days following the Epiphany. This is being written after much prayer and reflection, and is sent as an expression of my personal concern. Please know this is not an attempt to speak on behalf of my companion Communion Partner Bishops, nor any of those who signed the Anaheim Statement at General Convention 2009. I speak for myself.

This week we began receiving a flurry of “consent forms,” and I have found this to rest heavy on my heart, due to the fact that this present process is impacted by the integrity of the Anaheim Statement. As many will recall, this statement was made to express with “the same honesty and clarity” of the House, our position with respect to the life of the Church and the wider Anglican Communion. In the statement, we shared in making a commitment of reaffirmation with respect to our place within the Communion and the preservation of these relationships; to the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ as this Church has received them; our commitment to the three moratoria requested of us by the Instruments of Communion; the process that has lead to the recent release of the Anglican Communion Covenant with our hope of working towards its implementation; and to “continue in the apostles teaching and fellowship.”

A reading of the Anaheim Statement will provide a fuller understanding of the breadth and depth of that which we presented before the House of Bishops on July 16, 2009, and then made witness to by virtue of our signatures. [A copy of the Anaheim Statement including the names is attached in two different formats.]

Why am I raising this before you this day? Sadly, there has been action taken of late with respect to some episcopal elections, that in turn are an affront to what has been expressed through the Anaheim Statement. I trust each of you will review the statement as you prayerfully make your decision on the consents before you. This having been said, please know that I cannot and will not consent to the elections before us that are in contradiction to that which we have affirmed, and in the words of Jude, I appeal “to you to contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” [Jude 3]

Faithfully in the Light of Christ,

–(The Rt. Rev.) Bruce MacPherson is Bishop of Western Louisiana

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

Episcopal Diocese of Kentucky Permits Private Blessings for Same-Sex Couples

Another bishop of the Episcopal Church has agreed to pastoral blessings for same-sex couples, citing General Convention’s votes as a foundation for such blessings.

The Rt. Rev. Edwin F. “Ted” Gulick, Bishop of Kentucky, wrote that his statement reflects the “present pastoral practice that has been the policy of our diocese for at least seven years.”

The bishop alluded to resolutions B012 and C056 without citing them specifically.

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

Chinese Christians are the focus of same-sex marriage case

Scores of evangelical Christians gathered this week for their regular Wednesday night prayer service at the River of Life Christian Church’s sprawling complex in Santa Clara, closing their eyes and opening their palms skyward as they rocked back and forth to soaring hymns.

The 10-acre lot just off the Bayshore Freeway where they prayed is the home base of one of the largest Chinese Christian churches in North America. River of Life has more than 2,400 local members and 10,000 more worldwide — up from 70 in 1995, said its pastor, Tong Liu. Waves of immigrants from Taiwan, Hong Kong and mainland China have filled its pews, while transforming cities like Santa Clara and Cupertino.

The increase in conservative evangelical churches in Chinese immigrant communities has had reverberations well beyond the liberal confines of Silicon Valley and the Bay Area. And no political issue has transfixed this group’s attention like same-sex marriage. It is no coincidence that Cupertino, where census estimates show that one person in four is Chinese (up from one person in 30 three decades ago), was also the site of one of the biggest Bay Area rallies supporting Proposition 8, the ballot measure that banned same-sex marriage in 2008.

But this month the little-noticed but burgeoning world of evangelical Chinese Christianity in the Bay Area has become the backdrop for crucial arguments in the federal trial in San Francisco challenging the constitutionality of the ban on gay marriage.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, America/U.S.A., Asia, China, Evangelicals, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

In Ohio Marriage not what it once was; area counties see decline in matrimony

In Muskingum County in 2009, 629 couples tied the knot — far fewer than in the 1990s. In 1990, 759 couples received marriage licenses.

The county’s numbers follow a national trend. In the 1990s, the rate of marriages was nine per 1,000 residents. In recent years, it has been around seven, according to data from the Ohio Department of Health.

Muskingum County’s population was 85,087 in 2008, an increase of 3,019 since 1990.

Perry and Morgan counties have seen similar trends. In 2009, 204 couples got married in Perry County, compared to 249 in 1990.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family

A NY Times Profile of the Implosion of Peter Brant

Never a figure of national renown, Mr. [Peter] Brant has for years loomed large in that slender niche of American culture where vast wealth meets good taste and winter tans. In Savile Row suits and with plenty of alpha-male style, he spent the last decade quietly expanding his newsprint manufacturing empire, borrowing hundreds of millions of dollars and gobbling up mills until his company, White Birch, was the second-largest player in North America.

By 2008, he seemed, like our economy, to be a spectacularly efficient money-making machine ”” a billionaire with a vast art collection and his very own polo team. His personal life appeared just as charmed. In 1995, the former Victoria’s Secret model Stephanie Seymour became his second wife, and the couple and their four children shuttled to homes in Greenwich, Conn., Sagaponack, N.Y., and Palm Beach, Fla. It all looked pretty glamorous.

It looks different today.

There is no telling which is now costing Mr. Brant more ”” his business or his marriage. But that is only because his business is privately held, whereas his marriage is exploding in a way that could hardly be more public. “Seymour-Brant Divorce Mayhem,” read a headline in June in The New York Post.

So what we have here is a portrait of love and leverage gone wrong, a reversal of fortune that ”” like so many stories of our economic cratering ”” would have been hard to imagine a little more than a year ago.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Arizona Religious Leaders call for immigration reform

“Arizona is ground zero for our nation’s broken immigration policies,” [Methodist Bishop Minerva] Carcaño said. “At our borders and in our congregations, schools, workplaces and service programs, we witness the human consequences of our inadequate, outdated system.”

Bishop Gerald Kicanas, who heads the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson, outlined eight principles for immigration reform, among them supporting programs that reduce poverty in developing nations so people won’t have to leave, creating a process for undocumented immigrants in this country to earn legal status and citizenship, and reducing the detention of immigrants for non-violent crimes.

A recent Zogby poll suggested that religious leaders are often at odds with their members over the issue of immigration reform. Commissioned by the Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank in Washington, D.C., that favors less immigration, the poll said 64 percent of Catholics and Protestants favor cracking down on illegal immigrants, compared with 23 percent of Catholics and 24 percent of Protestants who support a legalization program for undocumented immigrants.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Methodist, Other Churches, Politics in General, Roman Catholic, State Government, TEC Bishops

Missions to Haiti provide eye-opening exercises in true faith: An interview with Linda F. Stevens

How did you get involved with Haiti?

I first went to Haiti 12 years ago with my friend, Anne Fairbanks, a Skidmore professor who founded the Haiti mission at our church in Troy 25 years ago. I took over the job from Anne in 2005 after I retired. Anne died last year at 85, but I’m so grateful she introduced me to Haiti. I’d never been to a Third World country when Anne dragged me along to Haiti in 1998 and it was an eye-opener for me. I fell in love with the people in Haiti at the church we sponsored, particularly the teachers, who worked so hard for so little money. Since then, I’ve made seven trips to Haiti.”

How does your church support your partner parish in Haiti?

Our members have been very generous to Haiti over the years and we send about $5,000 a year in donations. We’ve purchased school supplies, musical instruments and raised salaries for the teachers. We’ve helped improve the quality of the school in many ways, including expanding it to K-12 and a student body of 350 boys and girls. When I first visited, the fourth- and fifth-graders were barely reading. This year, every single one of the students in 12th grade passed the national exam. Every day at noon, volunteer ladies from the church make beans and rice for lunch. For many of the kids, it’s the only food they’ll get all day. They love sardines on it, which didn’t really appeal to me, but I started bringing cans of sardines on every visit. Every student gets a sardine on the top of their beans and rice and it’s a huge treat for them.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Caribbean, Episcopal Church (TEC), Haiti, Missions, Parish Ministry

Haiti’s Aftershocks Felt at a School in New York

Last week’s earthquake has devastated Haiti, and prompted a massive relief effort. In a smaller but almost equally intense way, the disaster has pervaded every part of the school day for the 510 students ”” 80 percent of them Haitian ”” at SS. Joachim and Anne, the Roman Catholic elementary school in Queens Village, Queens, a hub of New York’s Haitian community.

They pray. They scrounge up donations. The quake informs class discussions about politics, about helping the poor, about the afterlife. And when the children are not talking about it, their teachers suspect, they are thinking about it.

As classmates played with cubes on Wednesday, learning to add, Michael Constant, 6, squirmed in his seat. His mother had just left for Haiti that morning to bury his father.

As 250,000 Haitian-Americans in the New York area mourn, children bear their own burdens. Many feel as much at home in Haiti as in New York. They struggle to picture the houses where they spent summers now in rubble, grandparents and cousins dead, missing, homeless. For others, Haiti exists in tales parents tell ”” a place they long to visit and now wonder if they will ever see.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Caribbean, Children, Education, Haiti

Notable and Quotable (II)

They constantly try to escape
From the darkness outside and within
By dreaming of systems so perfect that no one will need to be good.

–T.S. Eliot, The Rock (1934), as quoted by Paul McHugh at this week’s mere Anglicanism Conference

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Poetry & Literature

Church Times: Church of England General Synod to debate the ACNA

The motion is “not about interfering in the polity of other Anglican provinces”, Ms [Lorna] Ashworth says in her background paper. She questions whether the use of the canons for solving property disputes or deposing bishops and clergy in both the Episcopal Church in the United States and the Anglican Church of Canada has “in every regard been proper or in accordance with natural justice”.

It is “not acceptable” that those who have not left either of those Churches for another jurisdiction should be “deposed without canonical process because of what they might do, or that they should be formally advised that they have abandoned their ministry when they have done nothing of the kind”, Ms Ashworth suggests.

Of the 83-year-old Dr Packer, she says: “It is ironic as well as hurtful that a man who, as a young priest, was a doughty defender of the inheritance and doctrine of the Church of England against its detractors should be presumed to have abandoned the ordained ministry.”

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

Nigeria: Patani Church Worried Over Country's Corruption Rating

Yenagoa ”” The recent corruption rating of the nation by Transparency International is generating concern among the First Synod of the Diocese of Western Izon, Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Patani, Delta State.

As a result, the synod has urged compatriots and the government to tackle the anti-corruption war seriously.

This was contained in a communiqué issued by the Diocesan Bishop, Edafe Emamezi, and Secretary, Church Enoya, at the end of its synod at Patani, Delta State.

The church was reacting to the nation’s credibility rating published by Transparency International, which brought down Nigeria from its 121st position to 130th.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria, Ethics / Moral Theology, Nigeria, Politics in General, Theology