Daily Archives: April 6, 2010

Living Church–Springfield: Conservative but Unpredictable

In searching for its 11th bishop, the Diocese of Springfield describes itself as “more conservative than liberal” philosophically and theologically, “although several parishes likely would describe themselves as more liberal.”

A survey included in the diocesan profile [PDF] reinforces that description, but with some unpredictable results.

The Rt. Rev. Peter H. Beckwith was the diocese’s 10th bishop from 1992 until February 2010. In addition to his diocesan duties, Bishop Beckwith served as vice president of the American Anglican Council and as chairman of the AAC Bishops Network.

The diocese’s election committee says 846 people completed the survey. That number “constitutes 40.61% of the diocese’s average Sunday attendance of 2,083 taken from the 2008 parochial reports.”

Read it all.

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

RNS–Churches Wrestle with Drop in Donations

The number of churches that reported a drop in giving due to the sour economy rose nearly 10 percent last year, according to new survey.

In 2009, 38 percent of churches reported a decline in giving, versus29 percent in 2008.

Megachurches — those with 2,000 members are more — were hit hardest, with 47 percent reporting a decrease in giving last year, up from 23 percent in 2008.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

George Pitcher–The Irish Church just doesn't get it ”“ Pope Benedict now needs to act decisively

Just been on Irish radio with the estimable Clifford Longley to talk about the weekend’s child-abuse developments. Clifford takes a pop at Dr Rowan Williams for apparently acting as another church leader scoring points at the expense of the Roman Catholic Church with his “lost all credibility” comments. I pursue the “they just don’t get it” line, saying that outrage directed at the media and the Archbishop of Canterbury makes the Catholic Church in Ireland look arrogantly dismissive of this terrible crisis.

But it’s two Irish phone-in guests from the pews, as it were, who provide a microcosm of the severity of this issue. John and Frank go hammer-and-tongs on the issue, one of them invoking a terrible history by placing the child-abuse crisis in the context of Spanish Roman Catholics siding with General Franco in Spain, the other accusing him of “losing his religion” and suggesting that 99 per cent of Irish priests are innocent (I’d put that percentage higher actually).

In truth, I probably stoke the fire by saying that Cardinal Sean Brady, Primate of All Ireland, should have resigned….

Read it all

Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ireland, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, Theology

William McGurn: The Pope and the New York Times

A few years later, when the CDF assumed authority over all abuse cases, Cardinal Ratzinger implemented changes that allowed for direct administrative action instead of trials that often took years. Roughly 60% of priests accused of sexual abuse were handled this way. The man who is now pope reopened cases that had been closed; did more than anyone to process cases and hold abusers accountable; and became the first pope to meet with victims. Isn’t the more reasonable interpretation of all these events that Cardinal Ratzinger’s experience with cases like Murphy’s helped lead him to promote reforms that gave the church more effective tools for handling priestly abuse?

That’s not to say that the press should be shy, even about Pope Benedict XVI’s decisions as archbishop and cardinal. The Murphy case raises hard questions: why it took the archbishops of Milwaukee nearly two decades to suspend Murphy from his ministry; why innocent people whose lives had been shattered by men they are supposed to view as icons of Christ found so little justice; how bishops should deal with an accused clergyman when criminal investigations are inconclusive; how to balance the demands of justice with the Catholic imperative that sins can be forgiven. Oh, yes, maybe some context, and a bit of journalistic skepticism about the narrative of a plaintiffs attorney making millions off these cases.

That’s still a story worth pursuing.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Media, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Duke Barely Beats Butler to Win the NCAA Basketball Tournament

It’s a game we’ll talk about until we’re done talking about basketball. We’ll remember the sustained drama, as 70,930 fans shared the same tension-drenched air for more than two exhausting hours. We’ll marvel at the fact that the largest lead of the night was six points. And that it was a one-possession game for 31 of the 40 minutes. And that both teams attacked each other with a beautiful savagery.

“It was the toughest game we played all year,” Duke’s Jon Scheyer said. “I can’t imagine what those guys are feeling like. They gave everything they had, just like we did.”

We’ll talk about a different Duke team than Krzyzewski’s three other champions at Duke — less glamorous, more gritty. This team Krzyzewski never once called great all year — until the postgame locker room, when they had the championship nets to prove it.

But even more than the winners, we’ll talk about the losers. Because it was Butler that elevated this story to something unique, something special. It was Butler that lived up to a moment far beyond the reach of most schools of its ilk — a 4,200-student university right here in Indianapolis, with scant tradition, a modest budget and mid-major conference affiliation.

It was quite a game–read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Sports

Morning Quiz: Key facts about the Church of England

(Note: one recent figure for the 2007 population of England was 51,092,000).

1. ______ (number) people take part in a Church of England service each month…..

2. ______ (number) participate in a Church of England service on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve

3. ______ (percentage) of the people in England regard themselves as belonging to the Church of England

Read the rest but only after you guess.

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

NPR–Apple's iPad: The End Of The Internet As We Know It?

The obsession of the tech-savvy this weekend was the release of Apple’s iPad. The tablet computer, which looks like an oversized iPod Touch, is being hailed by many as a revolutionary device. But there are some critics who say it’s a sign that the Internet revolution could be coming to an end.

On its Web site, Apple boasts that the iPad makes you “feel like you are actually holding the Web right in the palm of your hand.”

Paul Sweeting, an analyst with GigaOM, sees it differently. “With the iPad,” he says, “you have the anti-Internet in your hands.”

Read or listen to it all.

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

Lord Richard Harries: Marginalised maybe, but we aren’t persecuted

Does all this amount to persecution or marginalisation? Here the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, is right to remind us that in far too many countries in the world today Christians really are harassed and killed for their faith. Whatever is happening in this country we need to keep it in perspective. I have not been conscious of any anti-Christian feeling towards myself. However, I was shocked recently by the story of one eminent citizen, a serious, if liberal, Christian, who publicly defended an act of Christian witness and who told me that they had experienced the most extraordinary scorn and hostility from colleagues. So it is clearly around.

The contrast between the United States and this country could not be sharper when it comes to the public declaration of religious faith. The mention of God seems mandatory for any American politician who wishes to be elected. In this country, as Tony Blair remarked when he retired as Prime Minister, he did not mention his personal faith when in office because people would have thought him “a nutter”. A more healthy state of affairs would be one in which people could speak naturally about their faith if they have one, without implying that those without it are morally lacking or defective in some way, and without this arousing suspicion and hostility.

A lot, of course, depends on the tone of voice. The word “Christian” can be said in such a way as to imply superiority. The other unfortunate implication of this labelling can be its divisiveness. For if I am “a Christian”, there are others who are not. They are not “one of us”.

Read the whole piece.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

Coastal Observer (Pawleys Island, S.C.): All Saints groups reach accord on land dispute

A legal dispute over the All Saints church property that wound through the courts for almost a decade ended last week with an agreement between the leaders of the two congregations that claimed ownership of the historic parish.

Members of All Saints Waccamaw Parish voted in 2004 to leave the Episcopal Church in the U.S. and join the Anglican Mission in the Americas, which is headquartered on the church grounds. A group of parishioners reorganized the Episcopal parish, and brought suit to reclaim the church property on Kings River Road.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Departing Parishes

Luigi Zingales: The Menace of Strategic Default by Home Mortgage Holders

Today, the matter is far from theoretical for the 15.2 million American households holding mortgages that exceed the value of their homes. It will help determine how many of them choose to “default strategically”””that is, walk away from their mortgages even when they can afford them, because they’ve determined that it’s no longer worth it to keep paying. And that, in turn, will help determine the future health of the American housing market””and thus of the U.S. economy.

Many people think that we don’t have to worry about widespread strategic defaults. When I discussed the problem with a board member of one of the top four American banks, he categorically denied its existence: “The idea that people would walk away from their homes when they can still afford to pay the mortgage is unfounded.” A study from the Federal Reserve of Boston seems to confirm his skepticism. Evaluating Massachusetts homeowners during the 1990”“91 recession, it found that only 6.4 percent of “underwater” borrowers””that is, those burdened with mortgages that exceeded the value of their homes””ended up in foreclosure. And not all of those households were defaulting strategically; many, presumably, were actually unable to pay their mortgages.

Unfortunately, such evidence may not tell us much about the likelihood of strategic default today. During the 1990”“91 recession in Massachusetts, home prices fell just 22.7 percent from peak to trough, and most borrowers had made 20 percent down payments””so few owed much more than their houses were worth. Even people who had bought at the peak owed, on average, just 3 percent more than the value of the house. Over the last few years, by contrast, home prices have fallen by 40 to 50 percent in several areas, and many borrowers had put very little or nothing down when they bought their houses….

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Personal Finance, The Banking System/Sector, Theology

The Charlie Rose Show on reports of abuse by Catholic priests with John Allen

Now, in both of those cases (of abuse by priests, one in Wisconsin, one in Germany), what both the Vatican and local church officials have said is that the future Pope, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, was not intimately aware of the details of the case. He was not involved in the nitty-gritty of decision making.

That may well be true. I’ve written two biographies of this man. I can tell you from my own experience that that this is a guy who lives the life of the mind. He’s not a micromanager and has always sort of tended to leave it to others to make the trains run on times.

So if you mean, do I accept the version of events that the future Pope didn’t know the details, I’m willing to accept that. However, I’m not sure that really solves the problem, because both of these cases ultimately did happen on his watch. The buck stopped at his desk, and so I think ultimately he has to take responsibility for them.

Read (or watch) it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Theology

SF Chronicle: National Debt seen heading for crisis level

With ferocious speed, the financial crisis, recession and efforts to combat the recession have swung the U.S. debt from worrisome to ruinous, promising to handcuff the administration. Lost amid last month’s passage of the new health care law, the Congressional Budget Office issued a report showing that within this decade, President Obama’s own budget sends the U.S. government to a potential tipping point where the debt reaches 90 percent of gross domestic product.

Economists Carmen Reinhart of the University of Maryland and Kenneth Rogoff of Harvard University have recently shown that a 90 percent debt-to-GDP ratio usually touches off a crisis.

This year, the debt will reach 63 percent of GDP, a ratio that has ignited crises in smaller wealthy nations. Fiscal crises gripped Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Ireland when their debts were below where the United States is shortly headed.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

From the Morning Bible Readings

Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good as long as you live so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

–Psalm 103:1-5

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Another Prayer for the Easter Season

We give thee thanks, O heavenly Father, who hast delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of thy Son; grant, we pray thee, that as by his death he has recalled us to life, so by his presence abiding in us he may raise us to joys eternal; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

An infographic from GE on HealthCare

This is quite something (please note the link to the whole report).

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