Daily Archives: January 28, 2010

LA Times–Proposition 8 trial hears testimony that gay marriage would undermine marriage

The head of a think tank on marriage and family testified at the Proposition 8 federal trial Tuesday that same-sex marriage would weaken marriage and possibly lead to fewer heterosexual marriages, more divorces and “more public consideration of polygamy.”

But under cross-examination, David Blankenhorn, founder and president of the Institute for American Values, acknowledged that he wrote in a book in 2007 that the U.S. would be “more American on the day we permit same-sex marriage than we were on the day before.”

Blankenhorn was called as an expert witness by lawyers defending Proposition 8 against a constitutional challenge by two same-sex couples. He is an author and researcher who is not associated with any university. He earned a master’s degree in history in England, where he studied the history of labor unions.

Blankenhorn testified that he later worked as a community activist in low-income neighborhoods in Massachusetts and Virginia, where he became interested in the effect of fatherless families on children.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Sexuality

Response to the Obama State of the Union (II): E.J. Dionne

Obama pledged to spend money to fix the economy now while pushing for longer-term efforts to cut the deficit. He continued to strike a populist tone in calling for tougher rules on banks and for rolling back a Supreme Court decision vastly expanding the influence of corporations in electoral politics. “I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests,” he declared, “or worse, by foreign entities.”

At the same time, Obama sought to grapple with public unhappiness over the economy, a particularly strong sentiment among working-class voters, who have most felt the lash of hard times. It was clear that if Obama did nothing else, he would identify himself with the word “jobs” and shout his determination to bring them back.

It was also obvious that he realizes his administration lost two critical battles last year: to define his stimulus plan and his health-care proposal. Polls show that Republicans’ negative claims have stuck with voters, while the administration’s arguments for the merits of both plans have not.

Obama made the case for his ideas again, but he also challenged Republicans to do more than criticize.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama

Response to the Obama State of the Union (I): Michael Gerson

* Middle Class Relief. These are the type of proposals that work for politicians in normal economic times. In bad economic times, the middle class (and others) do not want symbolism and sympathy. They want economic growth and jobs.

* Economic Growth and Jobs. Tonight the president had one main task: to make a credible case that his policies will help reduce unemployment. For the most part, he failed. His proposal to cut the capital gains tax for small business investment seems positive. His other ideas — taking money from some bankers and giving it to other bankers and a temporary hiring tax credit — are a caricature of job-creation policy. For the most part, Obama defended a continuation and expansion of the stimulus package, which promises to bring prosperity on high-speed trains. Compare Obama’s speech to John Kennedy’s State of the Union in 1963, which called for permanent tax cuts that would allow America to move toward full employment. Some Democratic presidents have actually understood how the economy works.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama

Archbishop Benjamin A. Kwashi: 'In Jos We Are Coming Face to Face in Confrontation with Satan'

It should be noted that in Jos we are coming face to face in confrontation with Satan and the powers of hell, and only God can save us. There are, however, many Muslims who totally disagree with violence as a means of settling issues, and of course it is not in accordance with the gospel to use violence to settle issues either. What seems to be a recurring decimal is that over time, those who have in the past used violence to settle political issues, economic issues, social matters, intertribal disagreements, or any issue for that matter, now continue to use that same path of violence and cover it up with religion. We must pray against the powers of hell. We must also pray for our state government, our Houses of Assembly at state and federal levels and our law enforcement agents, that they may choose the path of truth and justice, and deal with crime by its proper name, so that no-one, no matter how high or low, no matter of what faith or creed, should be exempt from facing the law.

The national leadership should be lifted up to God, that they may rise beyond a concern for political success and seek to do good and right in all things for the benefit of all people. This is a most urgent prayer request, because Nigeria as a nation has a large and ever-increasing army of leaderless, lawless, unemployable, unemployed, demoralized, and near hopeless youth. This, to my prophetic mind, is the big security issue which the governments at local, state and federal levels are not taking seriously. For example, every crisis in Nigeria in the last ten years has been executed by this generation of young people. With each passing year, they perfect their skills, and when they run out of a supply of money””or when they become bored with any situation””then any opportunity for action gives them satisfaction. This army has no religion, but can choose to go under the name of religion to achieve its motives. They are uneducated, and so their values are totally different, as are their ways of handling weapons or choosing how issues are settled. Please pray for us.

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Nigeria, Other Faiths, Violence

Zenit: Stories of Success for the Roman Catholic Church in England

Q: The local Church [in England] has five archdioceses and 17 dioceses. Catholics number just over 5 million, or 8.9% of the population. [Could you] reflect on the present challenges for the Catholic Church in England.

Archbishop Nichols: The research, which was carried out recently, reflects a more composite community and registers a numerical increase of which we weren’t fully aware.

Something else which catches the eye at this moment is that the life of faith is much more intense in the larger cities than in the rural areas of the country, where the numbers are falling and the priests are growing old and there are serious difficulties.

I also think that this research showed that in regard to the rest of the population, Catholics are much more committed to the cause of social justice. And this is encouraging for us, because it is a concrete expression of the social teaching of the Church and because is shows that beyond the noted difficulties we also have some stories of success to tell.

Read the whole interview.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Archbishop Nichols praises papal decree for encouraging Catholic-Anglican dialogue

In an interview with Vatican Radio in Rome, where the archbishop is with other English prelates for their ad limina visit, Archbishop Nichols said, “The reaction to this document is, in a certain sense, measured. There was a strong reaction at first, which was inflated by the media. Now we are in a phase of evaluation, reflection and prayer.”

In order for there to be a “complete assessment of the Pope’s initiative,” the archbishop said, “one must consider the important announcement of the start of the third phase of ARCIC talks, the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission. In my opinion, the two are related.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, - Anglican: Latest News, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, England / UK, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

NPR–Blog Tips For Pope: Give Us This Day Thy Daily Post

The call to blog took a lot of people by surprise. After all, the 82-year-old from Bavaria is better known for his conservative doctrine and revival of the Latin Mass than for his computer savvy. At first, the Rev. James Martin was startled as well. Martin is the author of The Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything and blogs each day for the Catholic magazine America. Then Martin thought, surely Jesus would blog if he were on the Earth today.

“He didn’t sit around and wait for people to come to him,” Martin observes. “He went out and met people by the Sea of Galilee who were fishing. He went to tax collectors’ booths. He went into synagogues. He went all over the place. And so we need to, figuratively speaking, go out to the ends of the Earth ”” which includes the blogosphere.”

The pope has not announced his own blog. But if he does, he might be wise to listen to the experts.

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Globalization, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Parents stealing kids' identity, ruining their credit

Somewhere in the halls of Sahuarita Middle School in Tucson walks a boy who already is a deadbeat debtor.

He isn’t old enough to qualify for credit. But at the house his family was evicted from recently, someone used his name and Social Security number to rack up a $950 unpaid bill with Tucson Electric Power.

The boy’s mother — a financially troubled woman with a string of criminal convictions — says she doesn’t know how the bill ended up in her son’s name.

Ugh–read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Science & Technology, Theology

Chinese central banker Zhu Min warns of new Asian crisis

Mr Zhu noted that investors are increasingly borrowing the cheap US dollar, and investing the borrowed funds in emerging markets, where interest rates are higher, and therefore generating a better return than saving in the dollars.

This phenomenon called carry trade in the US dollar is a “massive issue today,” said Mr Zhu.

“It’s bigger than the Japanese yen carry trade 12 years ago,” he said.

However, if the United States were to tighten its lax monetary policy, making borrowing more costly, funds could then flow out just as suddenly from emerging markets, back into the US market.

This could cause a collapse in emerging markets’ currencies, and spark a repeat of the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, China, Credit Markets, Economy, Federal Reserve, The U.S. Government, The United States Currency (Dollar etc)

Caregiving strains families of veterans with severe injuries

[Leslie] Kammerdiener is among thousands of unpaid caregivers ”” parents, spouses, siblings and war buddies ”” helping veterans injured in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars get through each day, says Barbara Cohoon, deputy director of government relations for the non-profit National Military Family Association. She says the caregivers are a vulnerable group, often under-recognized, and in need of help to navigate the military’s medical system. Cohoon says not all caregivers receive military benefits, even though many have quit jobs, moved out of their homes and drained their savings to care for their loved ones.

“Nobody’s got a handle on numbers, but 7,500 is the number bandied about,” says Cohoon, whose organization provides counseling and helps families negotiate the health system.

The range of injuries caregivers attend to spans from gashes and fractures that will heal, to comas, amputations, burns, paralysis, nerve damage and brain injuries so severe that cognitive function lingers at the toddler level or below.

Read it all and watch the video of Bob Woodruff and his wife Lee also.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Health & Medicine, Iraq War, Marriage & Family, Military / Armed Forces, Psychology, War in Afghanistan

Washington Post: Obama's State of the Union address takes a harder tone

One year had taken him from a self-professed unifier to a historically divisive president; from the man selected to solve the country’s problems to the person often disparaged as their cause. He squinted against the lights and stared hard at the audience for his first State of the Union address, looking a little grayer, a little older than when he assessed the country in the same venue last February. A circus of cameras and power brokers stirred around him, yet he stood alone at a single microphone, quieting the crowd with a series of somber nods.

It had been, Obama told the audience, “one of the most difficult years in our history” — and it had been one of his most difficult years, too.

The president had plenty of reasons to be frustrated Wednesday night, and he channeled all of them during his 71 minutes at the podium. The poker player so often lauded for his evenness was instead pleading and persistent, frank and angry. His words as much as his body language suggested a shift, that this was the time not only to address the populist aggravation but to make it his own. He pressed his forefinger against his thumb and made jabs at the air to accentuate his points. He told the crowd that he “hated” the bank bailout, that he wanted the government to match the public’s “decency,” that he was tired of “the numbing weight of our politics.”

“How long should we wait?” he asked. “How long should America put its future on hold?”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama

South Carolina getting millions in federal money to replace crumbling school

Politicians, including Obama, had been highlighting the dilapidated Dillon County school for more than a year by the time of Obama’s February 2009 speech. He and several other presidential candidates visited the school during the run-up to the 2008 election. And Obama first brought national media attention to the students’ plight in August 2007, when he winced as a high-pitched train whistle interrupted lessons during his visit.

All but $4 million of the federal money the county is receiving is a loan, which the area will pay back using revenue from a 1-cent sales tax levied in 2007, Rogers said. Some of the money will be used to refurbish existing facilities and build a new early childhood development center. But about $25 million will go toward building a new J.V. Martin Junior High School.

The school is in a rural swath along Interstate 95 in the state’s northeastern corner known as the Corridor of Shame, after a 2005 documentary about conditions in schools there. The school itself is a hodgepodge of buildings; the original part, a former church, dates to 1896, and the latest section was added in 1955. The auditorium, built in 1917, was condemned in 2008 by the state fire marshal.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Education

RNS: In Cleveland Landmarking Battle Between City, Church Heats Up

Rebuffing the concerns of church leaders over the fate of shuttered church buildings, the city’s Landmarks Commission is recommending that six more Catholic churches be designated as historical city landmarks.

The designation, which would give the buildings some protection against demolition or structural changes, is opposed by the Diocese of Cleveland, which is in the midst of closing some 50 parishes.

The City Council would need to adopt legislation to implement the Commission’s recommendations, and in a letter sent to the commission and council members, the diocese called the proposals “extremely offensive.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Church/State Matters, City Government, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

14 Anglican churches could close in British Columbia

The Anglican Church of Canada may close up to 14 churches in British Columbia because of declining attendance.

Bishop James Cowan of the Anglican Diocese of B.C. says its community numbers are dwindling because churchgoers are aging and no new members are taking their place.

“We are a church saying a crisis could come if we don’t act. It is painful.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Parish Ministry

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High; and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.

–Psalm 50:14-15

Posted in Uncategorized