Daily Archives: February 6, 2010

CNN–How Obama's favorite theologian shaped his first year in office

[Reinhold] Niebuhr is getting attention again because he has a fan in the Oval Office.

In a widely cited New York Times column, President Obama called Niebuhr his “favorite philosopher.” But how precisely has Niebuhr’s philosophy influenced Obama and his handling of everything from health care reform to fighting terrorists?

The answer may be seen by looking at Obama’s first year in office, several scholars, and a relative of Niebuhr’s, suggest.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Ethics / Moral Theology, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture, Theology

Utah Episcopalians spell out what they want in new bishop

Among other attributes, she or he must have found grace in personal failure, an experience that can make one a better leader, Tendick says. “We’re hoping the applicants have dealt with failure in a way that has helped them to grow and learn.”

One’s response to failure also can be a barometer of humility, which undergirds many of the other attributes Episcopalians are looking for in a leader, he says.

Among those listed are: a love for sharing the story of Jesus Christ and embracing the guidance

of the Holy Spirit; compassion; integrity; communication skills; welcoming of diversity; experience with rural and remote populations; and a willingness to learn about Western and LDS cultures.

Read it all.

Update: According to National Church statistics, the Average Sunday Attendance of the Diocese of Utah has gone from 1,924 in 1998 to 1,612 in 2008, a decline of 16%.

Another update: The U.S. Census calculates that Utah had a population of 2,233,169 in 2000 and as of 2009 now has 2,784,572, a growth of 24.69%.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

A Pictorial Representation of Some Statistics for the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia

Check it out.

Average Sunday Attendance has gone from 7,224 in 1998 to 6,428 in 2008, a decline of some 11%.

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

The Full Text of the Episcopal Bishop of Georgia's Diocesan Convention Address

We have a system of funding the ministry of our diocese that is, in my judgment, broken. It is a system that can, and I stress the word can here, lead to resentment and distrust. We have an “asking” that is graduated based on the size of a parish’s budget. So some allegedly contribute a lower or higher percentage than others based on their respective size. I say “allegedly,” because not every congregation meets its full asking. So, the percentages do not mean that much except to potentially create resentment. I know what clergy do. I have sat in those chairs like you for 26 years. You get the convention report and you know where your parish stands, so you check to see where the other guys are. And if your parish has met its full asking and some other parish has not, you are resentful. It is hard not to be.

And often the larger parishes resent the fact that they contribute a higher percentage than the smaller ones do. And since there are no consequences for not contributing what you are asked, the system is set up to be fundamentally distrustful. A few years ago some leaders of the Diocese improved the formula and it is definitely better now. But that improvement did not fundamentally address the brokenness of the system.

My friends, we must create a system that makes sense and is fair to all. It has to be a system that requires a sacrifice from all of us for the good of the Body. It has to be a system that is not onerous in its percentage. It has to be a system with mutual accountability. It has to be a system that leaves no room for resentment and mistrust.

If we do not address this soon, we will not have the resources to fund diocesan ministries. Ministries we need in order to be a healthy, growing diocese.

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, Stewardship

New Georgia Episcopal bishop sets goals for Episcopalians

Through his half-hour speech at the DeSoto Savannah Hilton, [Bishop Scott] Benhase set ministerial goals and addressed the diocese’s financial struggles.

Revenue in 2010 was expected to decline 4 percent, mostly due to a smaller carry-forward from the previous year, according to a financial report posted on the diocese’s Web site.

The budget showed tithing – described as “pledges”- remained about the same.

“Some of the financial challenges we face are due to the larger economic recession in which this country still suffers,” he said.

But some problems preceded the recession, he said.

“It’s been there much longer. We’ve been drawing on past financial reserves to fund current ministry. This must stop.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Seminary / Theological Education, Stewardship, Theology

After Escaping Jobless Rolls, Trauma May Linger

Antje Newby went back to work in September, but she has still not escaped the burden imposed by nine months of unemployment.

Mrs. Newby and her husband were forced to walk away from their home in suburban Detroit and are now living here in a rented house with their three children. They are bracing for a huge tax bill in the spring because of early withdrawals they made on her 401(k) and taxes they still owe on unemployment benefits. Their credit is in tatters, and their 16-year marriage showed cracks they are still trying to repair.

“We’re not done living through the fallout of all of that,” Mrs. Newby said, four months into her new job as an account director of an advertising agency here.

The wound of unemployment, as her family has learned, is not cauterized so quickly, and lives do not simply go back to the way they were.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Joseph E. Stiglitz on the Economy–Muddling Out of Freefall

The US economy is in a mess ”“ even if growth has resumed, and bankers are once again receiving huge bonuses. More than one out of six Americans who would like a full-time job cannot get one; and 40% of the unemployed have been out of a job for more than six months.

As Europe learned long ago, hardship increases with the length of unemployment, as job skills and prospects deteriorate and savings gets wiped out. The 2.5-3.5 million foreclosures expected this year will exceed those of 2009, and the year began with what is expected to be the first of many large commercial real-estate bankruptcies. Even the Congressional Budget Office is predicting that it will be the middle of the decade before unemployment returns to more normal levels, as America experiences its own version of “Japanese malaise….”

Three things can make a difference: a second stimulus, stemming the tide of housing foreclosures by addressing the roughly 25% of mortgages that are worth more than the value the house, and reshaping our financial system to rein in the banks.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, House of Representatives, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, The 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout Plan, The 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration Plan, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009, The National Deficit, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package, The U.S. Government

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Agrees With Pope

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia is affirming that the Russian Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church stand together on many current social issues.

The Russian Orthodox leader stated this Tuesday while addressing a bishops’ meeting of his Church in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral, Interfax reported.

He observed: “We [together with the Roman Catholic Church] have similar positions on many problems facing Christians in the modern world. They include aggressive secularization, globalization, and the erosion of the traditional moral principles.

“It should be noted that on these issues Pope Benedict XVI has taken a stance close to the Orthodox one.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Ecumenical Relations, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Roman Catholic

Zenit–Cardinal Schönborn: Christianity Offers Dual Citizenship

…the cardinal did not fail to point out that the modern relationship between secularism and Christianity serves a needed purpose for the purification and maturation of Christianity: “Christianity also needs the critical voice of secular Europe, asking hard questions, sometimes nasty questions, questions we should not try to escape or avoid.

“It does Christianity good to listen to the questions of secular society and be challenged to answer them. It wakes the Christians up and challenges them. It questions Christianity’s credibility. And Christianity needs to be questioned.

“It is good for us to be held accountable.”

He explained that the critical questioning of the secular world presses Christianity to become what it is called to be, and helps to purify what is incoherent between its words and deeds. “And why?” he asked. “Because deep down, the secular West longs for an authentic Christianity, and hopes for a Christianity that is credible through its life.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Secularism

BBC–Anti-Semitic attacks against Jews 'rise in the UK'

Attacks on Jews in the UK reached record levels in 2009, according to figures compiled within the community.

The Community Security Trust (CST) said it had recorded 924 incidents over the year, 55% more than the previous high of 598 incidents in 2006.

The organisation, which monitors incidents against Jewish people and organisations, said the rise was linked to last year’s Gaza conflict.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown described the figures as “deeply troubling”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Judaism, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Violence

AP–Denied religious CD, Virginia inmate sues

A Virginia inmate claims in a lawsuit that prison officials violated his right to exercise his religious beliefs when they refused to let him order a sermon on compact disc.

The Rutherford Institute filed the lawsuit Wednesday on behalf of Kyle Mabe, who is challenging a Virginia Department of Corrections directive allowing inmates to receive music CDs but not spoken-word CDs. No hearing has been scheduled yet in U.S. District Court in Norfolk.

Larry Traylor, a spokesman for the prison system, said he was not aware of the lawsuit and that he cannot comment on pending litigation. He was also unable to immediately explain the rationale for the department’s CD policy.

According to the lawsuit, Mabe tried to order a CD with a Christian sermon titled “Life Without a Cross” from Still Waters Ministries of Kentucky while he was an inmate at St. Brides Correctional Center in Chesapeake last September. He says the sermon was not available in written form.

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues, Prison/Prison Ministry, Religion & Culture

BBC–Q&A on the Church of England General Synod

So what is the general synod?

The national assembly of the Church of England – in effect its parliament. Established in 1970, it replaced the Church Assembly and continues a tradition of synodical government dating from medieval times.

Is there anything unusual about it?

It is the only body with powers delegated from parliament to pass so-called “measures” which are incorporated into English law. They have the full force and effect of an act of parliament and can apply to any Church-related matter. The arrangement exists because the Church of England is the “established” or state Church.

How does the process work?

MPs and peers can vote to agree or reject a measure, but cannot amend it. Once agreed by both houses of parliament, it goes for Royal Assent and becomes law.

Read it all.

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

Greek Financial Crisis Proves Test for Euro Zone

What began with worries about the solvency of Greece in the face of high deficits, fake budget figures and low growth has quickly become the most severe test of the 16-nation euro zone in its 11-year history.

Anxieties about the health of the euro, which have spread from Greece to Portugal, Spain and Italy, are not simply a crisis of debts, rating agencies and volatile markets. The issue has at its heart elements of a political crisis, because it goes to the central dilemma of the European Union: the continuing grip of individual states over economic and fiscal policy, which makes it difficult for the union as a whole to exercise the political leadership needed to deal effectively with a crisis.

A policy of muddling through may be comfortable in political terms, but experts warn it can have dire economic consequences. Jean-Paul Fitoussi, professor of economics at the Institute of Political Studies in Paris, said that European leaders had “handled this crisis very badly,” feeding market speculation and greed.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Economy, Europe, Greece, Politics in General

Philip Ashey (AAC)–Rebutting Simon Sarmiento and TEC’s Factual Inaccuracies

(The paper to which this responds is here–KSH).

On February 2, 2010, the American Anglican Council (AAC) released an accounting of how The Episcopal Church (TEC) has spent millions of dollars in over 50 lawsuits, deposed or inhibited 12 bishops and more than 400 other clergy, and violated its own canons numerous times. The Rev. Phil Ashey, AAC Chief Operating Officer and practicing attorney, authored the paper at the request of several members of the Church of England’s General Synod in preparation for their vote regarding the nature of their relationship with the Anglican Church in North America. On February 4, Mr. Simon Sarmiento, member of the Church of England and founder of the blog Thinking Anglicans, published a rebuttal of what he called “factual inaccuracies” in the AAC’s paper. Mr. Sarmiento is not an attorney and admitted to having the help of, among others, The Episcopal Church’s lead lawyer, David Booth Beers, and the Presiding Bishop’s Special Council for property litigation, Mary E. Kostel.

Read it carefully and follow the links.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, ACNA Inaugural Assembly June 2009, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Polity & Canons

The Economist–More evidence that America is experiencing a jobless recovery

Several positive trends continued in January. Firms added 52,000 temporary workers and increased hours, just as they did in December, hinting at growing if cautious optimism. Employment rose in health, education and professional services, and retail employment grew by 42,000 in January, on a seasonally adjusted basis, after declining in December. Manufacturing employment also grew, by 11,000, the first increase since the beginning of recession. Analysts point out that the adjustment of the data is tricky around the holiday season, and actual underlying employment may have grown in January.

But many economists may view this release as more disappointing than the previous month’s figure. The Labour Department published the results of its annual benchmark revision of previous employment data. Through the 12 months to March 2009, the American economy lost 930,000 more jobs than had been previously estimated. It now appears that over 700,000 jobs were lost in each of the first three months of last year, a significantly worse performance than originally thought. Meanwhile, data for the last two months of 2009 were revised to show a larger increase in employment in November, but a larger decline in December, for a net drop of 5,000 jobs relative to previous reports.

And while the employment-population ratio increased slightly from December to January, and off record lows, the problem of the long-term unemployed continues to grow. Just over 41% of all unemployed workers, over 6.3m workers, have been out of work for 27 weeks or more.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--