Daily Archives: January 27, 2010

CSM: Why some Americans mix Christianity, Eastern religions

Because she attends Catholic mass every Sunday and observes all the religious holidays of her faith, Angela Bowman may well exemplify the Latin root of the word “religion,” which is “to bind.”

But the Chicagoan also meditates several times each day and practices yoga every other week. She knows Catholicism, Hinduism, and Buddhism have contradictory elements but is unfazed by her multiple observances because, to her, “it’s all pretty much the same thing.”

“The biggest part of praying is opening yourself up to a connection with God, and I perceive clearing your mind in meditation as another form of receptivity,” says the 30-something textbook editor. Although she is a devoted Roman Catholic, she says she doesn’t “believe it’s the one true path and anything else is flirting with the devil.”

Ms. Bowman’s attitude tracks with those in a study released last month, which found that large numbers of America’s faithful do not neatly conform to the expectations or beliefs of their prescribed religions, but instead freely borrow principles of Eastern religions or endorse common supernatural beliefs.

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Buddhism, Hinduism, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Jessica Brown in the SMH: The Nanny state can't save us from ourselves

This month Manly Council erected a surfboard-shaped sign at its most famous beach to instruct board-riders how to behave in the surf. Two years ago the council installed a $26,000 safety fence at the notorious ”jump rock”, where the young and young-at-heart plunge into the ocean below. This year it pledged to have rangers patrol the area, intent on catching thrill-seekers in the act. But their efforts haven’t stopped the kids from jumping, and the fence has simply turned out to be an expensive ratepayer-funded diving platform.

That parents, teachers, doctors, priests, and other assorted experts claim to know best about the potential risks and dangers we face – both individually and as a community – is nothing new. But the expectation that government should legislate to protect us from these risks and dangers is.

This poses some fundamental questions about citizens’ relationship with government. Protecting our physical security – for example from threats of war, violence and other types of crime – is at the core of what governments do. But how far does the definition of security extend?

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, Defense, National Security, Military, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General

John Hussman: A Blueprint for Financial Reform

1) Immediately vest the FDIC (or other regulator that has a strict consumer-protection mandate) with the authority to take receivership / conservatorship of distressed bank and non-bank financial institutions, including bank holding companies, in the event of insolvency….

2) Require a significant portion of the capital of bank and non-bank financial institutions to be in the form of convertible debt (contingent capital).

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Economy, Federal Reserve, House of Representatives, Law & Legal Issues, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, Stock Market, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

Washington Post: Rise in teenage pregnancy rate spurs new debate on arresting it

The pregnancy rate among teenage girls in the United States has jumped for the first time in more than a decade, raising alarm that the long campaign to reduce motherhood among adolescents is faltering, according to a report released Tuesday.

The pregnancy rate among 15-to-19-year-olds increased 3 percent between 2005 and 2006 — the first jump since 1990, according to an analysis of the most recent data collected by the federal government and the nation’s leading reproductive-health think tank.

Teen pregnancy has long been one of the most pressing social issues and has triggered intense political debate over sex education, particularly whether the federal government should fund programs that encourage abstinence until marriage or focus on birth control.

“The decline in teen pregnancy has stopped — and in fact has turned around,” said Lawrence Finer, director of domestic research for the Guttmacher Institute, the nonprofit, nonpartisan research group in New York that conducted the analysis. “These data are certainly cause for concern.”

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology

Chicago Consultation: God's Call and Our Response, Essays in regard to one L.A. Episcopal Election

Read it all (30 page pdf).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention, Instruments of Unity, Lambeth 2008, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

Archbishop Rowan Williams: Address celebrating the Mary Ward 400 Jubilee

In an age of complexity and crisis when the identity of Christendom seems to be under threat, an age when the flames seem to be burning fast and the landmarks are no longer stable, how very tempting it is to take refuge in the complicated, to build with greater and greater elaboration the walls of self-defence: and how very difficult it is to be simple. The Church of Mary Ward’s day didn’t really know what to do with her. It preferred the complications of what people already understood about discipleship and the religious life and particularly the religious life for women. But Mary Ward raised up in the Church of her day a sign of eucharistic simplicity: verity, sincerity, transparency.

In a time of crisis and uncertainty what we need is simple transparency to the contemporary Jesus. Transparency: it reminds me of the one piece of actual connection between Mary Ward and the archbishopric of Canterbury (in case you were wondering). The archbishop of the day had made some quite pointed remarks about how dangerous a woman she was. (There was indeed you might say, a level of ecumenical consensus about what a problem she was in her time!) But being the holy person she was, she was not going to be intimidated by an archbishop of Canterbury any more than by a pope. She decided she would visit Lambeth Palace with some of her sisters. She did so, and the Archbishop was out. But she left her mark. She scratched her name on a windowpane. Whatever else that story says, it says something about holiness and simplicity; about the saints as those whose names are simply scratched on a windowpane against the overwhelming light of the living Jesus. We cannot look at them and read their names without seeing that light. And that light comes to us through the saints, illuminating those names, those faces, those histories.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury

What a Theologian-Pope Tells Theology (Parts 1 and 2)

Last year, in the homily of the Mass celebrated in the presence of members of the International Theological Commission, the Pope explained that a true theologian is not one who attempts to measure the mystery of God with his own intelligence, but one who is conscious of his own limitations. On that occasion the Pope indicated humility as the way to arrive at truth, voicing a word of caution about expert theologians who behave like the ancient scribes. Do you think the Pope is referring to a marked tendency in our days?

Archbishop Forte: I believe this is an essential point that distinguishes Christian theology from any form of gnosis. The essential difference is that in theology everything stems from hearing, hence, from auditus Verbi, whereas in gnosis everything is the intellectual self-production of the individual. This is the real reason why the only authentically Christian heresy is gnosis: the pretension of a self-redemption of man who does not need the intervention of the Other, of [One] on High, that is, the intervention of God. A theology that is based, as is its nature, on Revelation, cannot but be first of all listening, hence humilitas: an attitude of profound willingness and docility before God’s action, who enters history in a surprising way and at the same time confirms it in its dignity, opening it to the novum adveniens of his promise.

It is a topic that Ratzinger, as theologian, has stressed repeatedly, and which comes from his knowledge of Augustine, who is the genius of the intellectus fidei lived in listening, in the use of intelligence at the service of Franciscan-listening that predominates in Joseph Ratzinger’s theological formation, which in his teaching as Pope reappears in his intense call to humilitas and to auditus. I would add that this topic is very important today in a society that has known the inebriation of reason and, hence, the gnostic temptation in the different faces of modern ideology, and that today, in the uneasiness of post-modernity, if it does not open itself to listening and to humilitas runs the risk of the great temptation of nihilism, that is, of meaninglessness.

Read it all and Part 2 is there

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, Theology

Nominees for Eighth Episcopal Bishop of Kentucky announced

The search and nomination process for the diocese’s eighth bishop began more than a year ago after Bishop Ted Gulick announced in October 2008 his retirement plans. Between Sept. 15 and Dec. 1, the 21-member committee screened 78 applicants from 27 states and the District of Columbia. After choosing the final group of 10 candidates, the committee then visited and had multiple interviews in their home dioceses as well as commissioned background checks and conducted additional reference interviews and intensive interviews with the candidates in Louisville.

The nominees will visit the diocese May 13-16 for what is known as “walkabouts,” a series of three forums held in various locations in the diocese to give the clergy and laity who will be participating in the special electing convention an opportunity to meet and question all of the candidates to be presented for election. The election will be held on June 5 at Christ Church Cathedral in Louisville.

The consecration of the eighth bishop of Kentucky is expected to take place on Sept. 25 at the Galt House in Louisville.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils

University of South Carolina makes history, beats No. 1 Kentucky in Basketball

The college basketball world, and possibly even the President of the United States, was atuned to the new No. 1 team in the nation.

The story line got turned over, however, by No. 2: Devan Downey.

In an incredible performance, Downey led South Carolina to its first victory against a top-ranked team.

South Carolina stunned Kentucky 68-62 before a frenzied crowd and behind its diminutive star.

What a great picture–read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina

The Hockey Dream that Lasted Only Eleven Seconds

The omega to the college hockey season came Saturday night when Travis Roy entered Metcalf Hall, on the second floor of George Sherman Union on Commonwealth Avenue, and sat beneath the huge flags of the schools of Boston University to exchange banter with his teammates. It was a week short of six months since the Terriers had raised the 1995 NCAA championship banner at Walter Brown Arena.

The banner marks the spot of tragedy now. It was a week short of six months since four players – Roy, Dan Ronan, Michel Laroque and Scott King – had walked out of their brownstone dormitory that overlooks Fenway Park and gone to the rink to play their first college hockey game. Three walked back, empty after an 8-5 victory.

It was a week short of six months since Roy had accomplished the goal he stated to Lee and Brenda Roy when he was a tow-headed 14-year-old in Maine: to be a Division I hockey player. His career lasted 11 seconds.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Sports

From the Do Not Take yourself Too Seriously Department: Prank goes awry when coach hits blindfolded

Watch the whole video.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Humor / Trivia, Sports

Stakes are high as government plans exit from mortgage markets

Obama’s economic team could have raised the limits on how much mortgage securities Fannie and Freddie can buy, allowing those firms to replace the Fed’s purchasing program. But Barr said the administration thinks the mortgage business will stand on its own without such special assistance, similar to the way the nation’s biggest banks weaned themselves off federal bailout funds by raising private capital.

“The basic goal is to implement a gradual process where the government’s role in the economy goes down,” Barr said. “It has to be consistent with the basic goal of stability, but it is appropriate.”

Administration and Fed officials expressed confidence that rates will rise only modestly — perhaps a quarter of a percentage point. They attribute their optimism to the lengthy notice they have given the market. The markets already should have anticipated the government’s exit by adjusting interest rates higher. Yet mortgage rates have been falling slightly the past few weeks.

The optimism at the White House and the Fed, however, is not shared across the government. A few senior policymakers at the central bank view the economic recovery as still too fragile, suggesting that purchases perhaps should expand further. These dissenters also warn that mortgage rates could shoot up, perhaps to 6 percent or higher, because private investors buying securities would demand a greater rate of return than the Fed. To reach it, lenders may have to raise rates for consumers.

“Presumably, there is pent-up demand from the private sector, but the question is: At what rate are they going to be interested?” said Eric S. Rosengren, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, who has indicated that he supports expanding the Fed’s mortgage securities purchase program.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Credit Markets, Economy, Federal Reserve, Housing/Real Estate Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Lydia, Dorcas & Phoebe

Filled with thy Holy Spirit, gracious God, thine earliest disciples served thee with the gifts each had been given: Lydia in business and stewardship, Dorcas in a life of charity and Phoebe as a deacon who served many. Inspire us today to build up thy Church with our gifts in hospitality, charity and bold witness to the Gospel of Christ; who livest and reignest with thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer

Church of England loses £40m in US property investment

The Church of England has lost £40m after a New York apartment complex deal it had invested in turned sour.

In June 2007, when the property market was at its peak and the credit crunch was yet to arrive, the Church made investments in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, two Manhattan housing estates situated along the New York’s East River. But the projects incurred huge debts and collapsed when the US property bubble burst next year.

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market

Dominic Lawson: Who are we to decide that a dependent life is a pointless life?

One of the reasons why there seems such a public willingness to accept Mrs Inglis’s actions as not only justifiable, but actually heroic, is that it is widely assumed that a dependent life is a pointless life. In the vast majority of cases, that is not the view of those in such a vulnerable position. The Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability in Putney, south-west London, is perhaps the world’s leading centre in this field. One of its senior consultants told me that he has carried out psychological tests measuring self-assessed happiness among his severely disabled patients (most often the victims of traffic accidents): “Where zero is the middle of the happiness-unhappiness scale, minus five the most depressed and plus five the most euphoric, most of my patients indicate ”“ when they are able to ”“ that they are between plus three and plus four.”

The able-bodied seem to find this hard to believe. This lack of empathy masquerading as the opposite can be very dangerous. The wholesale extermination of the handicapped which took place in Germany in the late 1930s is often seen as a purely Nazi phenomenon. Yet that policy could not have been enacted if the German people had not already indicated their acceptance of the idea of “lives unworthy of life”. For example, even before this became official policy, the propagandistic film Ich Klage an! (I accuse!) had been a great hit at the German box office: it described how a court is persuaded to acquit a doctor who had administered a fatal injection to a woman with multiple sclerosis. The jury is persuaded by the doctor asking them: “Would you, if you were a cripple, want to vegetate forever?”

Fortunately, the jury at Mrs Inglis’s trial at the Old Bailey last week were not convinced that such arguments should be a mother’s licence to kill.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology