Daily Archives: May 14, 2010

Gabrielle Birkner:Fertility Treatment Gets More Complicated

What does a Jewish child need most from a mother? Forget about the chicken soup””it’s all about the eggs, say a growing number of prominent rabbis. Several recent rabbinic rulings on fertility treatment dictate that a child conceived in vitro is Jewish only if the egg came from a Jewish woman.

The issue is most pressing in Israel, in part because tight restrictions on egg donation have long compelled infertile women to procure eggs abroad, where most donors are not Jewish. But decisions in Israel favoring the genetic mother over the gestational one are also likely to increase the already high demand for Jewish eggs in the U.S., and could call into question the religious status of thousands of children born to Jewish women around the world.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Children, Health & Medicine, Judaism, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Other Faiths, Science & Technology

Friday Mental Health Break (II): Karl Jenkins conducts Palladio

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Music

Caroline Baum–European Leaders Dozed During TARP Class

When U.S. authorities faced financial panic in 2008, their first response was to pump liquidity into the system. It was access to credit, not the quality of credit, that was the issue, they thought.

It turned out they were wrong. U.S. banks were facing a full-fledged solvency crisis. They owned assets that weren’t worth the paper their financial statements were printed on. Congress appropriated $700 billion to recapitalize the banks.

Fast forward 19 months and travel east across the Atlantic where Europe’s leaders confronted a home-grown sovereign debt crisis, a rout in financial markets and a loss of confidence in the euro. Their solution? Lend more money to already indebted countries.

Europe’s leaders must have been snoozing in the back row when the teacher conducted the TARP review class. (TARP stands for Troubled Asset Relief Program.) You can’t recapitalize a sovereign nation by issuing more debt. In the same way that more lending couldn’t enhance U.S. banks’ capital adequacy, “extending more credit to (European) nations that can’t service their accumulated debt won’t make them more creditworthy,” says Carl Weinberg, chief economist at High Frequency Economics in Valhalla, New York.

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

Anglican Church of Canada conducts major online qual study

The Anglican Church of Canada has been using online qualitative research to find out how it can remain relevant to Anglicans over the next decade.

The church set up a website where Anglicans could submit their responses to two questions they had been asked by the organisation: “Where is your church now and where do you want the Anglican Church of Canada to be in 2019?” More than 1,000 responses were received via video, audio recordings, emails, faxes and phone messages.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces

Western Catholic Reporter–Families evolve into a mosaic of patterns

Prof. Adrian Thatcher, who teaches applied theology at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, said while he found the tone of many empirical studies on family outcomes to be “polemical, alarmist and conservative,” the results should not be dismissed because of that tone.

The empirical data shows that it is far better for children to have married parents, he said. Two-parent families have better outcomes for children from better physical and emotional health, to less likelihood of poverty to the lower likelihood that that child will eventually divorce.

What the churches have been teaching for centuries about marriage being good for children, parents, spouses and society can now be empirically verified, he said.

Thatcher, the author of several books including Theology and Families, said an exploration of Jesus’ teaching, however, shows he placed the kingdom of heaven above kin.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Canada, Children, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture

ACI–Asking The Wrong Question: New Zealand and The Anglican Covenant

In the past the Archbishop of Canterbury has acknowledged indirectly that he has this authority. When he wrote the Primates in December 2006 concerning the upcoming meeting in Dar es Salaam, Archbishop Williams advised them that: “I have decided not to withhold an invitation to Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori as the elected Primate of the Episcopal Church to attend the forthcoming meeting. I believe it is important that she be given a chance both to hear and to speak and to discuss face to face the problems we are confronting together.” He indicated in this letter that this was his decision based on open questions about TEC’s response to the Windsor Report. Those questions have now been conclusively answered by TEC, and a different decision is now required if the Communion is to survive.

Separately, when Ian Douglas was consecrated bishop he was disqualified from membership in the ACC (and its standing committee) since that would give TEC two bishops among its three members, which is not permitted under the ACC constitution. As The Church of England Newspaper reports, both TEC and Douglas take the position that he can be elected in June to the episcopal seat of the retiring Catharine Roskam (who continues to serve under ACC rules until just before the next meeting) and thereby remain on the ACC standing committee. But this result would violate ACC rules, and this position entails in any event the recognition that his current clerical seat has been relinquished by his consecration to the episcopacy. In other words, his seat on the ACC standing committee is already vacant, and he cannot resume that seat if he is elected to Roskam’s seat, which would not take effect until the next ACC meeting in any event under ACC rules (Resolution 4:28). Under the ACC bylaws (Article 7) the standing committee is now required to appoint a clerical member to fill the seat on the standing committee formerly held by Douglas.

Indeed, there is a precisely analogous situation in Canada to that of Douglas and TEC. Stephen Andrews, like Douglas, went to ACC-14 in Jamaica as a clergy member for his first meeting. After ACC-14, Andrews was consecrated bishop by the Anglican Church of Canada. Canada understands that Andrews ceased to be a member of the ACC upon his consecration and therefore that he has now been replaced by his clerical alternate. Indeed, Andrews was elected bishop before ACC-14, but his consecration delayed until after the meeting in Jamaica (we are told) precisely because Canada understood the ACC implications of his consecration. If TEC is permitted to circumvent the ACC rules to keep Douglas on the ACC and its standing committee, especially after the decision to disqualify Uganda’s chosen ACC representative at Jamaica, any remaining trust in the ACC will be lost forever.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Covenant, Anglican Provinces, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Instruments of Unity, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, Theology, Windsor Report / Process

Friday Mental Health Break (I): David After Dentist

This is one of those minor Internet classics which you may not have seen; if not it really is a lot of fun–KSH.

Posted in * General Interest, Humor / Trivia

BBC–Italy to have married teacher as first woman priest in Old Catholic Church

A married teacher is poised to become Italy’s first woman priest when she is ordained later this month in an Anglican church close to the Vatican.

Maria Longhitano, a member of the breakaway Old Catholic Church, says she hopes her ordination will break down “prejudice” in the Roman Church.

The event may energise the debate among Roman Catholics about the role of women, a BBC correspondent says.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, - Anglican: Latest News, Europe, Italy, Other Churches, Roman Catholic

John Allen–An ”˜Affirmative Orthodoxy’ tour de force in Portugal

Ever the academic, Benedict’s speeches to leaders in culture, science and the arts are always among the most personal and carefully considered during his foreign trips. In his address…the pope made three basic points:

”¢ The best of modernity lies in a broad humanistic “wisdom,” expressed in values such as universality and fraternity. That wisdom rests on a three-legged historical stool formed by Christianity, the Enlightenment and secular thought. Trying to suppress Christianity makes the stool wobbly, so the church’s defense of objective truth is a matter of saying “yes” to those values rather than “no” to rival ideas.
”¢ Dialogue among different cultures and philosophical systems is a “priority in the world, from which the church does not intend to withdraw.” In fact, Benedict quoted Pope Paul VI to the effect that “the church must enter into dialogue with the world in which it finds itself.”
”¢ The Second Vatican Council (1962-65) “welcomed and recreated the best of the longings of modernity,” thereby generating “an authentic Catholic renewal.”

Read the whole article.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Portugal, Roman Catholic

FT–Portugal unveils ”˜crisis tax’ to cut deficit

Portugal has been seen as one of the European Union members most vulnerable to an attack by the markets after Greece.

The austerity drive is designed to reduce the Portuguese budget deficit from 9.4 per cent of gross domestic product in 2009 to 7 per cent this year and 4.6 per cent in 2011. Portugal had initially targeted deficits of 8.3 per cent of GDP this year and 6.6 per cent in 2011. As part of the cuts, politicians and public sector managers will see their salaries fall five per cent.

The tax rises, which are being called a“crisis tax”, include a 2.5 percentage point increase in corporate tax to 27.5 per cent on annual profits above €2m, a 1 percentage point increase in value added tax to 21 per cent and increases of up to 1.5 percentage points in income tax.

Asked why he had broken a pledge not to increase taxes, Mr [José] Sócrates said: “The world has changed, and how, in the past two weeks.”

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

ENS–in Arizona, Episcopalians assess implications of immigration law

The Rev. Canon Carmen B. Guerrero remembers living with the fear of her mother, a third-generation Mexican American, “who would never go close to the border because she was afraid of getting deported, although she had been born here.”

For Guerrero, canon for peace and justice in the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona, the state’s tough anti-illegal immigration law feels a bit like déjà vu.

Guerrero described suffering of her parishioners because of the immigration debacle.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, State Government

Pope Speaks out on Same Sex Marriage and Abortion

Meeting Catholic charity workers at the shrine, the Pope called for “defence of life” and “indissoluble marriage between a man and a woman” in response to what he described as the dangerous threats of gay marriage and abortion. He offered his thanks to those who helped people “wounded by the drama of abortion”.

His words will be studied in Britain where Catholics prepare for their own visit by the Pope in September. In the pre-election television debates, David Cameron said he disagreed with the Pope’s teaching on homosexuality. The Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg indicated he agreed with Mr Cameron.

The Pope’s condemnation of gay marriage was itself condemned by secularists and gay rights campaigners. Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, accused Benedict of trying to interfere with the country’s democratic will. “If the President of Portugal approves the law on gay marriage ”“ and there is every indication that she will ”“ it will represent a slap in the face for the Pope’s authority.”

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

Susan Passi-Klaus: Preventing church volunteer burnout

Too often, church volunteers burn out while in the trenches of servanthood.

In churches where there is always a ministry to tend, a committee to lead, a class to teach or an event to chair, it is hard to find people willing to step up to the plate. When you find them, it is even harder on the church to lose them, especially if they are doing a good job.

“Brent,” who asked that he not be identified, has been a member of his church for more than 10 years. He has spent seven of those helping with the youth, ushering every Sunday, serving on the worship and finance committees, and pitching in with special programs and activities. Eventually, his church time took a toll on his work and family time.

“I looked up, and my work and family life had begun to suffer. I knew I had to let something go,” he said. Brent prayed long and hard about cutting back on his church obligations, especially working with youth.

“It was hard,” he said. “They had shared a lot with me on their mission trips and at other activities through the church.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Methodist, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Theology

Talk of the Nation–Modesty And Faith Connected In Many Religions

In recent weeks, skirmishes in the cultural conflict over the clothes worn by some Muslim women erupted in Belgium’s parliament, in an Italian court and at a traffic stop in France. The burqa and the niqab cover a woman’s body almost completely, but there are also disputes over less comprehensive coverings, including the head scarf.

While the issue of the moment is about Muslim dress, Islam is hardly the only religion that connects modesty to faith. Mormons wear special garments. Amish women adopt plain clothes and cover their heads – men, too. Some Jews and Christians either encourage or require modest appearance, and many faiths have rules about hair – again both male and female.

Is this tradition or scripture? What kinds of problems do these practices present in a largely secular world?

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Islam, Judaism, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

60 minutes–Strategic Default: Walking Away from Mortgages

Despite some indications that the economy is recovering, the housing market remains a disaster area. Currently, about seven million homeowners are behind on their mortgages and that number is only getting worse.

Banks, with the help of the government, are offering some relief to homeowners who’ve lost jobs and just can’t meet their payments.

But there’s a growing number who can pay but are simply walking away from houses that are now worth as little as half of what they paid for them.

It’s called “strategic default.” People have done the math and decided making those monthly payments is just throwing money away, leaving the mortgage holders – the banks – as zookeepers of an ever-growing parade of white elephants.

In the past year it is estimated that at least a million Americans who can afford to stay in their homes simply walked away.

Read it all or watch the video .

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Personal Finance, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Theology