Daily Archives: February 24, 2010

Roger Cohen–The Narcissus Society

Where Oedipus once tormented us, it is now Narcissus. Pathologies linked to authority and domination have ceded to the limitless angst of self-contemplation. The old question ”” “What am I allowed to do?” ”” has given way to the equally scary “What am I capable of doing?” Alain Ehrenberg, a French author and psychologist, speaks of the “privatization of human existence.”

Community ”” a stable job, shared national experience, extended family, labor unions ”” has vanished or eroded. In its place have come a frenzied individualism, solipsistic screen-gazing, the disembodied pleasures of social networking and the à-la-carte life as defined by 600 TV channels and a gazillion blogs. Feelings of anxiety and inadequacy grow in the lonely chamber of self-absorption and projection.

These trends are common to all globalized modern democracies, ranging from those that prize individualism, like the United States, to those, like France, where social solidarity is a paramount value. Ehrenberg’s new book, “La Société du Malaise” (“The Malaise Society”) is full of insights into the impact of narcissistic neurosis.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A.

NPR–Does The Patriot Act Violate Free Speech?

Here is an exchange in 2007 between Judge Sidney Thomas and Justice Department lawyer Douglas Letter:

“If they file, for example, an amicus brief here, that would be a criminal act?”

“Yes, because Congress wants these organizations to be radioactive.”

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that as applied in this case, the law is unconstitutional.

In the Supreme Court on Tuesday, lawyer David Cole, representing Fertig and the Humanitarian Law Project, will tell the justices that the government’s “radioactive” argument flies in the face of the Constitution.
“The interest in stopping even pure speech, furthering no illegal ends, simply because you don’t like an organization because you decided to make an organization ‘radioactive,’ is impermissible under our First Amendment,” Cole said.

Juan Zarate, who served as President George W. Bush’s deputy national security adviser for counterterrorism, counters that argument this way:

“I don’t think anybody would say that we should allow somebody to go meet with Osama bin Laden or Mullah Omar to help provide them with some PR training to make their case more effectively.”

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Law & Legal Issues, Terrorism

WSJ Front Page–Lending Falls at Epic Pace

U.S. banks posted last year their sharpest decline in lending since 1942, suggesting that the industry’s continued slide is making it harder for the economy to recover.

While top-tier banks are recovering at a faster clip, the rest of the industry is still suffering, according to a quarterly report from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Banks fighting for survival, especially those plagued by losses on commercial real estate, are less willing to extend loans, siphoning credit from businesses and consumers.

Besides registering their biggest full-year decline in total loans outstanding in 67 years, U.S. banks set a number of grim milestones. According to the FDIC, the number of U.S. banks at risk of failing hit a 16-year high at 702. More than 5% of all loans were at least three months past due, the highest level recorded in the 26 years the data have been collected. And the problems are expected to last through 2010.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Notable and Quotable

Lately in the Prayers of the People you may have heard us praying for Paul and Cheryl Minor of All Saints, Belmont. They are the Reverends Mr. and Mrs. Paul and Cheryl Minor, the Co-Rectors of All Saints Episcopal Church in Belmont, Massachusetts. We are praying for this couple and their church as we begin to create a Resolution #3 relationship with them and All Saints. Resolution #3 was one of the resolutions passed at our Diocesan Special Convention back in October of last year. That resolution encouraged us to form pastoral relationships with parishes and dioceses, both domestic and foreign to aid and support them as God forms a new Global Anglicanism. Many are paying a high price to defend and proclaim the orthodox faith, the Good News of Salvation bought for us by the Blood of Jesus Christ. Just as some are dying for their faith in parts of the world, Paul and Cheryl are paying a high price to proclaim Jesus as Savior and Lord. Paul has just been restored to active sacramental ministry after being inhibited for two years by Bishop Shaw of the Diocese of Massachusetts. The power of the church has always been built on the blood, the hardships of the martyrs. I pray the hardships the Minor’s are enduring may inspire you in your own faith and growth.

Arthur Jenkins

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

Southern Baptists Called to Repent, Grip Reality of 'Lostness'

Southern Baptists need to repent of their pride, boasting and disunity and return to God and His vision.

That was the sobering call Dr. Ronnie Floyd made Monday as he presented a highly anticipated report charting out a new course for the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.

“We (task force) have been gripped by the reality of the lost condition of our world and about our condition as a denomination, but through this journey we have also been set on fire by the call of God to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Floyd, chairman of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force, stated in a progress report. “Surely Southern Baptists can agree that we need a new and compelling vision for the future.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Baptists, Evangelism and Church Growth, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Soteriology, Theology

Diocesan statistics for the Episcopal Diocese of West Virginia

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s figures, West Virginia has grown in population from 1,808,344 in 2000 to 1,819,777 in 2009. This represents a population growth of approximately 0.6%.

According to Episcopal Church statistics, the Diocese of West Virginia went from Average Sunday Attendance (or ASA) of 4,304 in 1998 to 3,279 in 2008. This represents an ASA decline of about 24% over this ten year period.

A pictorial chart of some West Virginia diocesan statistics may be found here.

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

Clayton Imoo–2010 Winter Olympics Video Blog #14: Taking you Inside the Catholic Hospitality Centre

Check it out.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Canada, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Roman Catholic, Sports, Youth Ministry

CNS–Cardinal George: Catholics, Mormons must defend religious freedom together

Catholics and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints must continue to stand together as a “vital bulwark” against those in American society who want to “reduce religion to a purely private reality,” the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops told a historic gathering at Brigham Young University in Provo.

Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago spoke Feb. 23 on “Catholics and Latter-day Saints: Partners in the Defense of Religious Freedom” as part of the Mormon school’s forum series. He was the first cardinal to speak at the university.

Cardinal George praised the Mormons for their work with Catholics to protect the conscience rights of health care providers and institutions that do not want to participate in abortion or assisted suicide and to defend marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Mormons, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

RNS–In India Books Pulled for Image of Smoking, Drinking Jesus

Authorities in India’s majority-Christian Meghalaya state have confiscated all copies of a text book that contains a picture of Jesus holding a can of beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other.

The controversial picture was discovered in a cursive writing book that was being used at a private school in the capital city of Shillong. It depicted the picture of Jesus on the page for the letter “I,” to represent “Idol.”

State education minister Ampareen Lyngdoh condemned the illustration.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Books, Christology, Education, Religion & Culture, Theology

Kansas City considers closing 31 of 61 schools

In the pantheon of unpopular moves by school superintendents, perhaps none rivals what John Covington wants to do.

Faced with declining enrollment and a $50 million budget shortfall, the Kansas City, Mo., schools chief wants the school board to close as many as 31 of the city’s 61 schools and lay off one-fourth of its employees ”” including 285 teachers.

Covington wants it done by the time school starts in fall. A vote could come in March.

“The bottom line is the quality of education we’re offering children in Kansas City is not good enough,” he says. “One reason it’s not good enough is that we’ve tried to spread our resources over far too many schools.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, City Government, Economy, Education, Politics in General, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Washington Post–Muslims turning to home schooling in increasing numbers

On a chilly afternoon in western Loudoun County, a group of children used tweezers to extract rodent bones from a regurgitated owl pellet. A boy built a Lego launcher. A girl practiced her penmanship. On the wall, placards read, “I fast in Ramadan,” “I pay zakat” and “I will go on hajj.”

Welcome to Priscilla Martinez’s home — and her children’s school, where Martinez is teacher, principal and guidance counselor, and where the credo “Allah created everything” is taught alongside math, grammar and science.

Martinez and her six children, ages 2 to 12, are part of a growing number of Muslims who home-school. In the Washington area, Martinez says, she has seen the number of home-schoolers explode in the past five years.

Although three-quarters of the nation’s estimated 2 million home-schoolers identify themselves as Christian, the number of Muslims is expanding “relatively quickly,” compared with other groups, said Brian Ray, president of the National Home Education Research Institute.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Children, Islam, Marriage & Family, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

David Brooks–Sinking Into the Mire with Health reform

On Monday, the White House made another compromise. On the surface, it seems mundane. The imposition of the excise tax will be delayed until 2018, and the threshold at which the tax kicks in will be raised. In reality, the delay turns the tax into another Washington gimmick. Lord, give me virtue, but not yet.

The odds are high that the excise tax will never actually happen. There is no reason to think that the Congress of 2018 will be any braver than the Congress of today. It will probably get around the pay-go rules or whatever else might apply and it’ll postpone the tax again. The excise tax will turn into another “doc fix.” This is a mythical provision in which doctors are always about to get their reimbursements cut. But somehow they never do because the cuts are always pushed back, year after year.

So we’ve sunk another level in our tawdry tale. The White House, to its enormous credit, has tried to think about the long term. But it has been dragged ever lower into the mire by Congressional special interests that are parochial in the extreme.

This bill may be deficit-neutral on paper. But it has just become a fiscal time bomb. The revenue will never come. Compromises have to be made to keep it (barely) alive. But responsibility ebbs. Politics wins.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Health & Medicine, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate

(Times) Leader–The law should be changed to allow churches to hold civil partnership ceremonies

The Church of England has so far resisted change, arguing that if some religious groups are allowed to hold civil partnerships then the pressure on the C of E to follow suit will become intolerable. It is a feeble argument. No one is arguing that any church should be forced to conduct a civil partnership. But willing churches should not be precluded from doing so.

Benjamin Disraeli believed the Church of England to be “a part of our liberties, a part of our national character”. If it has any hope of continuing in that role, the Church ”” and the Government ”” must recognise that our liberties today should include the right of homosexuals to register the most important promise of their lives in a church.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Church/State Matters, CoE Bishops, England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

The 161st Diocesan Council Address of the Episcopal Bishop of Texas

In 2010, I will also be putting together a special task force to review the issues that may arise from General Convention in 2012 and to create a strategy with a means of leading into the following Convention as opposed to reacting to it.

Such a strategy will help us navigate what is already a turbulent time, with a steady course. This will help us to live within a relationship of mutual affection for both the structures of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. Moreover, we must discover how we in the Diocese of Texas are going to move through these next few years together for the sake of the Gospel, Christ, all of God’s people, for justice and for peace, and for the mission of the Church. Let me be clear, we have got to learn to live together, how we discern the outward and visible signs of that life together, and the daily living out of Church, as our common work ”“ not only the work of your bishop.

We will be tempted by cynicism to say this work can’t be done; but the scripture reminds us of God’s desire to gather us all under his wing. We will be tempted by our ego to say we cannot work with the enemy; but the scripture tells us go with a friend to our brother and sister and be reconciled one to another before offering a sacrifice at the Lord’s Table.We will be tempted to say I have tried to speak but they will not hear, but we must be reminded of Christ’s model of listening first to the other. We will be tempted by our fear to say it’s just better if we don’t talk about it at all; but we know “to you all our hearts are open, all desires known, and no secrets are hid.”

Read it all.

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

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Matthias

O Almighty God, who into the place of Judas didst choose thy faithful servant Matthias to be of the number of the Twelve: Grant that thy Church, being delivered from false apostles, may always be ordered and guided by faithful and true pastors; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

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