Daily Archives: March 6, 2010

California Students Protest Education Cuts

The cuts are also being felt in economically depressed areas like Richmond, near San Francisco, where unemployment is 17.6 percent and violent crime and poverty are common.

“Kids come to school hungry; some are homeless,” said Mary Flanagan, 55, a third-grade teacher from Richmond. “How can we deal with problems like that with as many as 38, 40 kids in a class?”

Read it all.

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

Closing of Rest Stops Stirs Anger in Arizona

The people of Arizona kept their upper lips stiff when officials mortgaged off the state’s executive office tower and a “Daily Show” crew rolled into town to chronicle the transaction in mocking tones. They remained calm as lawmakers pondered privatizing death row.

But then the state took away their toilets, and residents began to revolt.

“Why don’t they charge a quarter or something?’” said Connie Lucas, who lives in Pine, Ariz., about a two-and-a-half-hour drive from here. “There was one rest stop between here and Phoenix, and we really needed it.”

Arizona has the largest budget gap in the country when measured as a percentage of its overall budget, and the state Department of Transportation was $100 million in the red last fall when it decided to close 13 of the state’s 18 highway rest stops.

Read it all.

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

A Maternity Ward Nurse in Illinois who Makes Every delivery special

Caught this on the morning run–really heartwarming. Watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Poverty, Women

Report Finds 36 Died Under Assisted Suicide Law in Washington State

At least 36 terminally ill people died last year after taking lethal medication prescribed by doctors under Washington State’s new physician-assisted suicide law, according to a state report released Thursday, the first since the law went into effect a year ago….

Most patients who died under the law in Washington last year had cancer. Prescribing doctors, who must submit forms to the State Department of Health about patients who received the medication, said all who died cited “loss of autonomy” as a reason for seeking it. Most also said they could no longer enjoy life and feared losing “dignity.”

Ten patients said they were concerned about being a burden on their family and friends, 11 cited pain and one said finances were an issue. Critics of the law have said it could prompt disproportionate use by lower-income people. Almost all of those who died in Washington said they had private insurance, Medicare, Medicaid or some combination. None said they had no insurance at all, though coverage was listed as unknown for five people. Most died within 90 minutes of taking the medicine, though at least one person lived for 28 hours. Two woke up after taking the medicine, then died later.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Parish Ministry, Theology

A Jewish Ritual Collides With Mother Nature

Last Saturday morning, as a blizzard sputtered out its last squalls over Passaic, N.J., Chaya Leah Smolen sent her husband and several children off to synagogue. She issued the children a message that might seem to contradict the essence of winter motherhood: do not carry any tissues.

To that admonition, she added others. The children shouldn’t take their toys or candies, the diversions that usually make Sabbath service easier. Later, after the worshipers had returned, there was a serious theological discussion about whether it was permissible to make snowballs.

What Mrs. Smolen experienced has been shared by a religious niche in the Northeast during this epically snowy season. From Washington to New York State, a series of “snowmageddons” have wreaked a particular form of havoc for Orthodox Jews.

The storms have knocked down portions of the ritual boundary known as an eruv in Jewish communities in Silver Spring, Md., Center City Philadelphia, the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Monsey in suburban New York, and Teaneck and Passaic in New Jersey.

Almost literally invisible even to observant Jews, the wire or string of an eruv, connected from pole to pole, allows the outdoors to be considered an extension of the home. Which means, under Judaic law, that one can carry things on the Sabbath, an act that is otherwise forbidden outside the house.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Judaism, Other Faiths

RNS/ENI: Scandals test the credibility of German churches

Germany’s Protestant and Catholic churches may be facing the biggest credibility crisis in decades after an unprecedented bout of scandal-fueled negative media coverage.

Bishop Margot Kassmann, the first woman to lead the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), resigned as leader of German Protestants on Feb. 24 after she was arrested for drunk driving, just four months into office.

In the same week, Catholic bishops met in Freiburg to address allegations of widespread sexual abuse of children by clergy that had surfaced late in January, prompting a possible criminal probe by state officials.

Germany is the birthplace of both the Protestant Reformation and Pope Benedict XVI, and religion plays a key role in German life; indeed, both churches are among the nation’s largest employers.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Germany, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

WSJ Front Page–Outlook Brightens for Jobless

Things are starting to look up for people like Valerie Kinman. In mid-February, Ms. Kinman, 45 years old, got a full-time position at a company that charges people a fee to settle their credit-card balances and other debt, where she does clerical tasks such as data entry and light accounting. For two years, Ms. Kinman, a single mother in Plainfield, Ill., has been getting by on unemployment checks, food stamps and temporary jobs that never lasted more than a few months. “I’m so happy,” she said.

About a year and a half ago, Ms. Kinman was at a food bank set up at a local school, where she and her daughter were collecting free bags filled with items such as laundry detergent, boxed potatoes and pudding. “I don’t care what job it is, call me back and I’ll go to work,” she said at the time.

Today, Ms. Kinman still has almost $6,000 in credit-card debt. For the next few months, she said she would continue to lean on food banks so she could use more of her paycheck to work down her debts. “I have to start living in the real world, but I’m excited.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Another Prayer for Lent

O God, who through thy Son Jesus Christ hast promised help to man according to his faith: Grant us the freedom of the children to taste the food of eternal life, and to share with others what we ourselves receive; through the merits of the same thy Son, our Lord.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Lent, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

The herdsmen fled, and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. And they came to Jesus, and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the man who had had the legion; and they were afraid. And those who had seen it told what had happened to the demoniac and to the swine. And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their neighborhood.

–Mark 5:14-17

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Lenten Message from Bishop Mark Lawrence of South Carolina–Self-Denial: A Delightful Refrain

“Self-denial.” wrote Cardinal John Henry Newman, “is a subject never out of place in Christian teaching.” It is never out of place because it is a way of putting the cross, the pattern of Christ’s sacrifice, at the very center of our daily lives. It is especially appropriate during the forty days of Lent. “If anyone would come after me,” said Jesus, “let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Let him deny himself–this is not just refraining from sin; nor practicing what earlier Christians called mortification, that action through the Holy Spirit of putting to death sin in the Christian’s life (Rom. 8:13; Col. 3:5): though certainly it includes this. Rather it is walking in the way of sacrificial obedience to Christ’s call. This includes at times giving up what one might rightly and legitimately use. As St. Paul writes “‘All things are lawful’ but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful but I will not be enslaved by anything.” (I Cor. 6:12-14; see also I Cor.10:23)

The Ash Wednesday liturgy includes self-denial, along with self-examination, prayer and fasting, as one of the disciplines for the observance of a holy Lent. Yet self-denial is rarely even mentioned these days within the Church. Is it any wonder in this increasingly indulgent society that it is not at the top of most lists or dimensions in Christian discipleship? To be sure this discipline, like the other spiritual disciplines can fall prey to a form of perfectionism which denies the grace and freedom we have in Christ; yet, nevertheless, when employed from grace and through God’s grace there is godly freedom, even delight, in these disciplines, especially the discipline of self-denial.

What is self-denial?Self-denial or the discipline of abstinence is refraining in some degree and for some time from what we generally regard as normal and legitimate desires. While fasting from food or drink can be subsumed under self-denial, it is usually treated as a distinct spiritual discipline. Often, self-denial can include refraining from TV, radio, IPod, Face book, one’s over fascination with news; practicing frugality in spending; simplicity (such as set aside a day to walk or ride the bus, use fewer gadgets); practicing silence (such as going a day or part of a day without speaking, not using the telephone/cell phone during certain hours, or checking emails, etc.); sacrifice (taking the farthest parking place and praying while you walk to the store, the Church or restaurant).

Why practice self-denial? Certainly not to achieve some spiritual one-upmanship, or supposed works-righteousness. There are two helpful reasons for practicing this discipline-one, is a negative movement, akin to mortification; the other a positive movement, and is for cultivation. The “negative” purpose is stated well by Dr. Dallas Willard. “The Christian denies himself in things lawful (or legitimate) because he is aware of his own weakness and liability to sin: he keeps himself from walking on the edge of a precipice.” He therein practices temperance. St. Paul writes, “Everyone that strives for mastery is temperate in all things.” It teaches the soul discipline; thereby we enable ourselves to be better able to stand in the time of testing or temptation. A positive reason for such self-denial, is described well by a Bishop of the Isle of Man, “those who deny themselves will be sure to find their strength increased, their affections raised, and their inward peace continually augmented.” I prefer to say it more simply, it enkindles love. For instance, the lover who makes some sacrifice for his sweetheart, or the parent who gives up some personal time for his son or daughter’s performance at the school concert does not find his love lessened by this self-denial or sacrifice. Quite the contrary, one’s affections are enkindled by such personal sacrifice. So it is with our self-denial for our Lord; it increases our affection for Him.

Self-denial is a discipline that God can use for strengthening your life with him. If you haven’t already embraced some Lenten discipline ask him to guide you in this. What normal or legitimate practice might you refrain from during this season? What divine-human cooperation might He lead you to embrace that his grace might prevail more fully? Many disciples have found that self-denial can be a delightful and godly refrain.

–(The Rt. Rev.) Mark Lawrence Is Bishop of South Carolina

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lent, Pastoral Theology, TEC Bishops, Theology

Anglicans in Perth pull plug on $81m Mirvac Cathedral Square

In a move described as “dreadful” for Perth’s CBD, the Anglican church has withdrawn from the $81 million Cathedral Square project pushed by national property developer Mirvac.

The church’s decision means demolition of its eyesore Law Chambers Building on Hay Street will be shelved indefinitely.

On February 22, the church told Mirvac and Perth City Council it would not proceed with the project – planned for the existing Cathedral Square beside recently-renovated St George’s Cathedral.

The council has been a strong advocate of the project since 1992 after City Vision chair, architect/planner Ken Adam, first proposed it in 1991.

“I’m absolutely distraught,” Mr Adam said when WAtoday.com.au told him of the church’s decision.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Australia / NZ, Religion & Culture

10th Anniversary Celebration for Bishop Ed Little of Northern Indiana this Evening

The Cathedral of St. James will host a Eucharist and reception to honor the Bishop for this special occasion tonight at 7 p.m. Congratulations to him and the diocese.

I found an invitation to the event here.

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

NY Times–Questions for Archbishop Tutu

As an Anglican archbishop who spent decades working to defeat apartheid and is widely considered the moral conscience of South Africa, what do you make of your country’s current president, Jacob Zuma, who is in the headlines again for fathering a child out of wedlock?

I think we are at a bad place in South Africa, and especially when you contrast it with the Mandela era. Many of the things that we dreamt were possible seem to be getting more and more out of reach. We have the most unequal society in the world. We have far too many of our people living in a poverty that is debilitating, inhumane and unacceptable.

But why is Zuma still president? He sets such a poor example ”” a polygamist with three wives who just fathered a 20th child with yet another woman. Why is that tolerated?

It’s not. Two of the major churches have spoken out very strongly. The Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Church have said that he’s undermining his own government’s campaign to deal with the H.I.V. pandemic. That campaign speaks about being loyal to one partner, practicing safe sex and generally using condoms, and he hasn’t done that.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Anglican Provinces, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, South Africa, Theology