Daily Archives: February 1, 2010

Tom Krattenmaker–Tim Tebow: Cultural warrior?

Millions of viewers understandably appreciate the Tebow family for standing on faith when faced with a difficult decision, and we can all celebrate the brilliant outcome. But use of the Tebow story in this context raises difficult questions as well: Does it mean that women should always ignore medical advice pointing to the necessity of an abortion? Even if the woman’s life is at stake? How is this message to be received by the many decent women who agonized and made the other choice?

Regarding CBS, is money alone the reason for its accepting an advocacy ad after years and years of refusing such content for Super Bowl telecasts, or is deeper political intrigue in play? What does this Sunday’s pro-life ad portend for future Super Bowls?

As for Tebow, the Super Bowl controversy is playing out at exactly the same time as the mounting criticism of his passing skills and his suitability for the pro game. Given the NFL’s well-known aversion to controversy, is he putting his draft prospects in even greater jeopardy by aligning with Focus on the Family and its anti-abortion stance?

One thing we do know: Tebow has proved like few others the ability to withstand the heat and stay in the kitchen. That ability is being tested like never before. With this pro-life Super Bowl ad, he’s sizzling in the frying pan of sports-celebrity scrutiny and the white-hot fire of culture-war politics.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Life Ethics, Media, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Sports

Women, Men and the New Economics of Marriage

The institution of marriage has undergone significant changes in recent decades as women have outpaced men in education and earnings growth. These unequal gains have been accompanied by gender role reversals in both the spousal characteristics and the economic benefits of marriage.

A larger share of men in 2007, compared with their 1970 counterparts, are married to women whose education and income exceed their own, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of demographic and economic trend data. A larger share of women are married to men with less education and income.

From an economic perspective, these trends have contributed to a gender role reversal in the gains from marriage. In the past, when relatively few wives worked, marriage enhanced the economic status of women more than that of men. In recent decades, however, the economic gains associated with marriage have been greater for men than for women

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Marriage & Family, Men, Women

The Economist Leader: The book of (Steve) Jobs

APPLE is regularly voted the most innovative company in the world, but its inventiveness takes a particular form. Rather than developing entirely new product categories, it excels at taking existing, half-baked ideas and showing the rest of the world how to do them properly. Under its mercurial and visionary boss, Steve Jobs, it has already done this three times. In 1984 Apple launched the Macintosh. It was not the first graphical, mouse-driven computer, but it employed these concepts in a useful product. Then, in 2001, came the iPod. It was not the first digital-music player, but it was simple and elegant, and carried digital music into the mainstream. In 2007 Apple went on to launch the iPhone. It was not the first smart-phone, but Apple succeeded where other handset-makers had failed, making mobile internet access and software downloads a mass-market phenomenon.

As rivals rushed to copy Apple’s approach, the computer, music and telecoms industries were transformed. Now Mr Jobs hopes to pull off the same trick for a fourth time. On January 27th he unveiled his company’s latest product, the iPad””a thin, tablet-shaped device with a ten-inch touch-screen which will go on sale in late March for $499-829….. Years in the making, it has been the subject of hysterical online speculation in recent months, verging at times on religious hysteria: sceptics in the blogosphere jokingly call it the Jesus Tablet.

The enthusiasm of the Apple faithful may be overdone, but Mr Jobs’s record suggests that when he blesses a market, it takes off.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Science & Technology

CNS–Language lessons: New media test Vatican's digital fluency

Pope Benedict XVI recently urged the world’s priests to make better use of new media, but in his own backyard the digital revolution is still seen as a mixed blessing.

The Vatican Web site remains largely a repository of printed texts, displayed on pages designed to look like parchment. And despite more than a decade of discussion about making the site interactive, www.vatican.va continues to provide information in one direction only: from them to you.

Some Vatican agencies have embraced the digital possibilities, notably Vatican Radio, which offers online broadcasts, podcasts and RSS feeds along with photos and print versions of major stories.

Read it all.

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

Thomas Rosica: The Cost of Authentic Prophecy

Jeremiah has often been seen as a figure foreshadowing Christ. Not only does he speak in God’s name and predict the future, but his very life and ministry have prophetic overtones.

Just as Jesus would do after him, Jeremiah foretold the destruction of the Temple, wept over the future ruin of Jerusalem, condemned the conduct of the priests, was misunderstood by his countrymen, and was humiliated and sentenced to death. Yet the prophet’s condemnation of sin and prophecies of misfortune are always linked to a message of hope and the prospects for rebirth, for return from the Babylonian exile.

Christ, too, in order to affirm his victory over death, would first have to endure the cross on Calvary. The prophet Jeremiah’s very life prepares for the acceptance of the bitterness of the cross and the glory of the resurrection.

I thought this a lovely reflection and quoted a section in yesterday’s sermon. Read it all

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

NY Times: Archbishop of Canterbury Challenges Wall Street on Its Home Turf

For three days this week, the 104th archbishop of Canterbury told economists, theologians and others attending a Wall Street conference that the “fat cats” of the world were not necessarily bad people, just victims of a terrible misunderstanding.

The misunderstanding ”” shared by people with lots of money, people with aspirations of having lots of money and those with neither ”” is that money is equated with wealth, he said.

And wealth, said the archbishop, the Most Rev. Rowan D. Williams, leader of world’s 80 million Anglicans ”” including members of the Episcopal Church in the United States ”” is the sum of one’s loving relationships with people. It is not, he said, “the number of naughts on the end of a balance sheet.”

Read the entire article.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, Archbishop of Canterbury, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Personal Finance, Stock Market, The Banking System/Sector, Theology

Central Florida Episcopal Diocese Votes to Resist National Trends

The Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida signaled its intent Saturday to remain a conservative voice within The Episcopal Church, even as the national denomination moves ahead to liberalize its policies toward gays.

The diocese, meeting in its annual convention at The Lakeland Center, approved four resolutions that in one way or another declared its opposition to recent decisions of The Episcopal Church that may lead to [noncelibate] gays being consecrated as bishops and their unions being blessed in church ceremonies. But the mood of the convention was calm, and diocesan leaders seemed eager to turn away from controversies and focus on strategies to strengthen the diocese’s spiritual health.

About 380 clergy and lay delegates representing the diocese’s 88 parishes, including 11 in Polk County, gathered for the convention. There was little of the tension and sharp debate during votes on resolutions that marked the diocese’s conventions between 2004 and last year, mostly because a strongly conservative wing of clergy and lay persons who advocated that the diocese withdraw from The Episcopal Church has left to form independent churches or join a traditionalist Anglican denomination.

Read the whole article.

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

Jason Byasee: The Wired Pastor

You’ve seen them, maybe you’re one of them: pastors who must be in touch at all times. The cell phone is either in use or strapped handily onto the belt, ready to be pulled out at a moment’s notice. It’s best as a Blackberry or Treo, so it can vibrate every ten minutes with news of new messages. And just in case those fail, a beeper should be handy. You can never be too wired.

I can understand why some professions would cause one to need to be accessible 100 percent of the time: firefighters, psychologists with mentally ill patients and…plumbers come to mind. But why pastors? Certainly on large church staffs it’s a venerable practice to have one of the pastors on-call at all times in case of emergency. But I worry when I see wired pastors, ubiquitous as they are at church conventions and gatherings of clergy. I fear they conflate importance with accessibility, as if being incommunicado even briefly will lead to spiritual crisis. Must we be like other professions””doctors or financiers””and have a loop around our ear at all times? Or does pastoral wiring suggest anew the loss of confidence of the clergy vocation?

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Science & Technology, Theology

Claudia Pritchard (The Independent): The collapse of feminism is bad for us all

Natasha Walter spoke with dismay of the young women stigmatised as prudes for recoiling from unwholesome sexual practices. And those of us who campaigned hard for women not to be ranked by appearance or sexual availability, feel only sadness when a clutch of undressed, shrieking drunks staggers down the street in shoes designed to cripple. The Pill has, since the Sixties, brought unprecedented freedoms, but the equality of opportunity to behave badly was not on the gender agenda.

Rather we had in mind the liberation of men and women alike ”“ for defining women primarily by their sexuality is limiting for males too ”“ by a new set of values that would respect and benefit from women’s intellect and achievements. It got off to a good start: there were more female undergraduates, often outperforming their male counterparts. And then it simply fizzled out. Women in Britain were not only largely excluded from the boardroom, the Cabinet, the judiciary, the power lists, those few who made it through the glass ceiling were examined minutely for signs of physical imperfection, often by a press still dominated by male editors.

Even now, barely a week passes without an account of a woman humiliated in the workplace. And yet, there are brilliant women scientists, entrepreneurs, artists in all media, academics who are quietly getting on with their innovative work, probably raising children with the other hand. It’s just that they are invisible and, often, inaudible.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Men, Women

The Latest Issue of the Anglican Digest

Check it out and if you wish to know how to receive it there is clear information about this there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, - Anglican: Commentary, Media, Spirituality/Prayer

Archbishop Rowan Williams' Trinity Institute Lecture on Theology and the Marketplace

It is quite striking that in the gospel parables Jesus more than once uses the world of economics as a framework for his stories ”“ the parable of the talents, the dishonest steward, even, we might say, the little vignette of the lost coin. Like farming, like family relationships, like the tensions of public political life, economic relations have something to say to us about how we see our humanity in the context of God’s action. Money is a metaphor like other things; our money transactions, like our family connections and our farming and fishing labours, bring out features of our human condition that, rightly understood, tell us something of how we might see our relation to God.

The point doesn’t need to be laboured. Monetary exchange is simply one of the things people do. It can be carried out well or badly, honestly or dishonestly, generously or meanly. It is one of those areas of life in which our decisions show who we are, and so it is a proper kind of raw material for stories designed to suggest how encounter with God shows us who we are. All obvious enough, you may think. But we should reflect further on this ”“ because we have become used in our culture to an attitude to economics which more or less turns the parables on their head. In this new framework, economic motivations, relationships, conventions and so on are the fundamental thing and the rest is window-dressing. Instead of economics being one source of metaphor among others for the realities of self-definition and self-discovery, other ways of speaking and understanding are substitutes for economic assessment. The language of customer and provider has wormed its way into practically all areas of our social life, even education and health care. The implication is that the most basic relation between one human being and another or one group and another is that of the carefully calibrated exchange of material resources; the most basic kind of assessment we can make about the actions of another, from the trader to the nurse to the politician, is the evaluation of how much they can increase my liberty to negotiate favourable deals and maximise my resources.

Read it all (Hat tip: Ruth Gledhill).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, Archbishop of Canterbury, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Theology

Essays to Ponder– Faith and the Global Agenda: Values for the Post-Crisis Economy

Check it out (77 page pdf). Note especially the essays by Archbishop Rowan Williams, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, and South African Archbishop Thabo Makgoba.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, - Anglican: Commentary, Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Personal Finance, Presiding Bishop, Stock Market, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Brigid of Kildare

Everliving God, we rejoice today in the fellowship of thy blessed servant Brigid, and we give thee thanks for her life of devoted service. Inspire us with life and light, and give us perseverance to serve thee all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, world without end.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was to go. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked forward to the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Fannie and Freddie seek to Hold Banks Accoutable for Bad Mortgages

It is payback time for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on some mortgages sold to the finance companies by lenders.

Stuck with about $300 billion in loans to borrowers at least 90 days behind on payments, Fannie and Freddie have unleashed armies of auditors and other employees to sift through mortgage files for proof of underwriting flaws. The two mortgage-finance companies are flexing their muscles to force banks to repurchase loans found to contain improper documentation about a borrower’s income or outright lies.

The result: Freddie Mac required lenders to buy back $2.7 billion of loans in the first nine months of 2009, a 125% jump from $1.2 billion a year earlier. Fannie Mae won’t disclose its figure, but trade publication Inside Mortgage Finance said Fannie made $4.3 billion in loan-repurchase requests in the first nine months of 2009.

“Because taxpayers are involved, we’re being very vigilant,” said Maria Brewster, who oversees Fannie’s repurchase team. “No taxpayer should have to pay for a business decision that caused a bad loan to be sold to Fannie Mae.”

Read it all from the weekend Wall Street Journal.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Law & Legal Issues, 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