Daily Archives: May 17, 2010

Stephen Prothero: Faith on the court does, in fact, matter

Where have all the Protestants gone? Apparently not to law school. If Elena Kagan, who is Jewish, is confirmed to replace John Paul Stevens, who is Protestant, America’s highest court will have six Catholics, three Jews and zero Protestants. This would be a historic development ”” a coup nearly as momentous as the 2009 inauguration of America’s first black president, but far less widely understood.

When the Supreme Court first convened in 1790 (with six judges as opposed to the current nine) it was an all-Protestant club, with four Episcopalians, a Unitarian and a Presbyterian. During the 19th century, Protestants worked through churches and voluntary associations to make America Protestant. They did this by identifying Catholics as the enemy, scapegoating the pope as the Antichrist and U.S. Catholics as his minions overseas. If, as historian Richard Hofstadter has argued, anti-Catholicism was “the pornography of the Puritan,” it was the Victorian’s fantasy, too.

Protestants still account for about 55% of the 111th Congress, but a recent flurry of Catholic and Jewish appointments has turned them into a minority of one on the Supreme Court. Should Kagan be confirmed, the nation’s highest court would be a Protestant-free zone for the first time since John Jay, the nation’s first chief justice (and an Episcopalian), banged his gavel in 1790.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., History, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

Meredith Whitney– The Small Business Credit Crunch

Herein lies the challenge: Small businesses, half of the private sector (and the most important part as far as jobs are concerned), have been heavily impacted by this credit crisis. Small businesses created 64% of new jobs over the past 15 years, but they have cut five million jobs since the onset of this credit crisis. Large businesses, by comparison, have shed three million jobs in the past two years.

Small businesses continue to struggle to gain access to credit and cannot hire in this environment. Thus, the full weight of job creation falls upon large businesses. It would take large businesses rehiring 100% of the three million workers laid off over the past two years to make a substantial change in jobless numbers. Given the productivity gains enjoyed recently, it is improbable that anything near this will occur.

Unless real focus is afforded to re-engaging small businesses in this country, we will have a tragic and dangerous unemployment level for an extended period of time. Small businesses fund themselves exactly the way consumers do, with credit cards and home equity lines. Over the past two years, more than $1.5 trillion in credit-card lines have been cut, and those cuts are increasing by the day….

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, City Government, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, House of Representatives, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, State Government, The Banking System/Sector, The U.S. Government

WSJ–Joblessness Hits the Pulpit

When Tim Ryan was called to an urgent meeting last year to discuss his duties as children’s minister at West Shore Evangelical Free Church, he knew something was amiss.

“This is really hard. I don’t know how I can do this,” said executive pastor John Nesbitt, who helps lead the 2,500 attendee megachurch in Mechanicsburg, Pa.

The church, part of the Evangelical Free Church of America, had been growing rapidly but giving was down and well below projections as the recession weighed on members. So Mr. Ryan was losing his job, as was another pastor.

While the economy appears to be recovering from the worst downturn in generations, more clergy are facing unemployment as churches continue to struggle with drops in donations. In 2009, the government counted about 5,000 clergy looking for jobs, up from 3,000 in 2007 and 2,000 in 2005.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Bishop Mark Lawrence's Sermon from Yesterday on the Ascension of Jesus

Listen to it all (It begins with the reading of the gospel) [It is an MP3 file]. It occurred on the occasion of the Bishop’s confirmation visit yesterday to Saint Paul’s in Summerville, South Carolina.

Here is a quote to whet your appetite:

“What is astonishing to me I suppose is that we in the church make so little of the Ascension of our Lord.”

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Ascension, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, TEC Bishops, TEC Parishes

The Economist: Work in the digital age

It was not the Christmas present that Julie Babikan had been hoping for. In December 2008, soon after buying a house, she was abruptly fired from her job as a graphic designer at an accounting firm in Chicago. “I had no clue that my position was about to be eliminated,” she recalls. Desperate to find work as the economy tipped into chaos, Ms Babikan scoured job ads to no avail. Eventually she decided to advertise for work on a service called Elance, which allows freelancers to bid for corporate piecework. She has since built up a healthy stream of online projects and reckons she will soon be earning more than she did in her previous job.

Like Ms Babikan, millions of workers are embracing freelancing as an alternative to full-time employment or because they cannot find salaried jobs. According to IDC, a market-research firm, there were around 12m full-time, home-based freelancers and independent contractors in America alone at the end of last year and there will be 14m by 2015. Experts reckon this number will keep rising for several reasons, including a sluggish jobs market and workers’ growing desire for the flexibility to be able to look after parents or children.

Technology is also driving the trend. Over the past few years a host of fast-growing firms such as Elance, oDesk and LiveOps have begun to take advantage of “the cloud”””tech-speak for the combination of ubiquitous fast internet connections and cheap, plentiful web-based computing power””to deliver sophisticated software that makes it easier to monitor and manage remote workers. Maynard Webb, the boss of LiveOps, which runs virtual call centres with an army of over 20,000 home workers in America, says the company’s revenue exceeded $125m in 2009. He is confidently expecting a sixth year of double-digit growth this year.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Science & Technology

Der Spiegel interviews European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet

SPIEGEL: So, what was in danger? Just the banks? The euro? The European Union?

Trichet: We are now experiencing severe tensions, which are coming after the events of 2007-2008. At that time, private institutions and markets were about to collapse completely. That triggered a very bold and comprehensive financial support by governments. And now we see the signature of some governments put into question. This is a problem for almost all industrialized countries. In the G-7, the major economies have a yearly deficit of around 10 percent of gross domesitc product (GDP). In the euro area as a whole it averages 7 percent of GDP. In this situation with extremely elevated deficits across the globe, the markets have singled out a weak link: Greece. Also taking into account the fact that its statistics were incorrect at one time, market pressure was concentrated there and a drastic adjustment program was necessary.

SPIEGEL: Apparently it was not only Greece that came under attack. Portugal was next …

Trichet: In the market, there is always a danger of contagion — like the contagion we saw among the private institutions in 2008. And it can occur quickly. Sometimes it is a question of half days. This is an issue for the industrialized world as a whole….

Read it all

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Credit Markets, Economy, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Germany, Greece, Portugal, Spain, The Banking System/Sector

Ruth Gledhill–For the sake of God, Anglican Church must put aside its differences

Many of the thousands of young people who never go to church in the UK but who are nominally baptised Anglicans cannot remember a time when sodomy was a criminal offence.

These are the people that Church leaders should be trying to attract. In a world facing the well-documented consequences of consumer and materialist greed the Church’s spiritual message is potentially of benefit to millions. If the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives can do it in Britain, surely the liberals and conservatives in the Christian world can form some sort of coalition to bring new leadership to the Anglican morass. They must put their differences behind them, for the sake of God, themselves and the common good.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Global South Churches & Primates, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles, Theology

A Singapore Article about the Los Angeles Consecrations

“We rejoice as we enter a whole new era into the 21st century, rethinking, relooking and reforming who we are as Christian people in the world,” said Canon Randy Kimmler, missioner for vocations in the Los Angeles diocese. “This is like a big first step for us so we rejoice in this.”

Many in the 77 million-member communion, however, are grieving. Bishops, mainly from the Global South, say Glasspool’s ordination shows that U.S. Episcopalians are continuing to go against Scripture and defy the wishes of the wider body.

The Anglican Communion had called for gracious restraint in regards to the ordination of partnered gays and the blessing of same-sex unions.

Dr. Peter Jensen, the Archbishop of Sydney, said many Anglican provinces have given up on The Episcopal Church ”“ the U.S. arm of Anglicanism ”“ and regard themselves as “out of communion” with them, according to the Church of England newspaper.

“They renew the call for repentance but can see that, failing something like the Great Awakening, it will not occur,” he said.

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Latest News, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles

GetReligion Looks at the Baltimore Sun's Coverage of the Los Angeles Episcopal Consecrations

Is any other point of view offered on this issue? Of course not. That would be too complicated.

Does the story even mention any other doctrinal issues facing the Anglican Communion, issues that have been given some ink in ”” to cite one prime setting ”” The New York Times? No, that would be too complicated.

The point of the story, after all, is that this woman should not be defined by her sexuality. That is a great and appropriate journalistic goal. So, what is her stance on other crucial issues, doctrinal issues, that are causing cracks in the Anglican Communion? How would she describe her Christology, her view of the Virgin Birth, the historical reality of the Resurrection, the question of whether salvation can only be found through belief in Jesus, the nature of biblical authority? Issues of gender and liturgy? Or is her sexuality all that matters?

Has she written or said anything on these issues? What about during the selection process in Los Angeles? Are there critics in Maryland or California ”” or in other parts of the world, like England ”” who have studied her life and work and might be able to offer insights, as part of a journalistic process in which the views of both sides are quoted accurately and with empathy?

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles

The Episcopal News Service Article on the Los Angeles Consecrations

Check it out.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles

About 1,700 to witness ordination of Andrew Waldo as Episcopal bishop of Upper S.C.

Growing up the son of an Episcopal priest in Montgomery, Ala., at the height of the civil rights movement, Waldo witnessed a tragically divided society from both sides.

“I saw how some people lived radically differently from the way I lived. I saw the anger and violence directed at other people and knew this was not what God wanted for this world,” he told The Greenville News.

Years later, after rejecting the faith of his father and living through “an unwanted, soul-crushing separation and divorce,” he found solace in contemplative prayer and 16th century music….

As Waldo, 56, takes over leadership of a diocese of 62 congregations stretching from Columbia to the Upstate, he will be drawing on the spirit of reconciliation, self-sacrifice and mutual respect he developed during those formative years.

Those traits may help him guide the Upstate’s 26,000 Episcopalians through a continuing controversy over homosexuality that already has caused one parish in Aiken County to leave the diocese, and some families to leave the denomination.

Read the whole article from the Greenville News.

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

Fortune: What backlash? Facebook is growing like mad

Some tech pundits think Facebook is in trouble, but the data tells a different story: growth hasn’t slowed a bit.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Facebook has a backlash on its hands. Many news outlets are reporting it, after all. Tech pundit Leo Laporte and Engadget co-founder Peter Rojas killed their profiles. U.S. Senators have sent the company a letter and so have a group of European Union data advisors. And in a flashy poker metaphor, blogger Jason Calcanis accused founder Mark Zuckerberg of overplaying his hand.

The data tells a different story: Facebook has had a net gain of 10 million active users since it announced a series of new features at f8, the company’s April 21st developer conference. A few high profile tech bloggers may have quit the site, but not many other people have. The number of deactivations, according to a Facebook spokesperson, is about the same as it’s been all along.

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy

Robert Shiller–Fear of a Double Dip Could Cause One

The risk of a double-dip recession hasn’t abated, even after news of the huge European bailout in response to the Greek debt crisis.

World markets soared initially on the announcement of the nearly $1 trillion rescue plan, and then declined. But as the economist John Maynard Keynes cautioned long ago, such market reactions are basically a “beauty contest” ”” with investors trying to predict the short-term reaction that other investors think still other investors will have.

In other words, don’t view these beauty contests as a heartfelt response to a fundamental change in the economy.

In fact, there is still a real risk of a double-dip recession, though it can’t be quantified by the statistical models that economists use for forecasts. Instead, the danger stems from the weakness and vulnerability of confidence ”” whose decline could bring markets down, further stress balance sheets and cause cuts in consumption, investment and local government expenditures.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Europe, Globalization, Personal Finance, Psychology, Stock Market, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Iran agrees to exchange of nuclear material

In what could be a stunning breakthrough in the years-long diplomatic deadlock over Iran’s nuclear program, Tehran has agreed to send the bulk of its nuclear material to Turkey as part of an exchange meant to ease international concerns about the Islamic Republic’s aims and provide fuel for an ailing medical reactor, the spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry told state television Monday morning.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told state television that a letter describing the deal would be sent to the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency within a week.

“After a final agreement is signed between Iran and the Vienna group, our fuel will be shipped to Turkey under the supervision of Iran and the IAEA,” he told journalists on the sidelines of a conference of developing nations. “Then we will dispatch 1,200 kilograms [2,640 pounds] of 3.5% enriched uranium to Turkey to be exchanged for 120 kilograms [264 pounds] of 20% enriched uranium from the Vienna group.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Iran, Middle East

Irish Evangelicals oppose appointment of Partnered Lesbian Bishop

As members of the Church of Ireland we wish to express sorrow that Mary Glasspool, a person who is living in a same-sex relationship, is to be consecrated as one of two new assistant bishops in Los Angeles on May 15.

The elevation to senior church leadership of a person whose lifestyle is contrary to the will of God revealed in Scripture is both wrong and disappointing.

The decision to elect and confirm Mary Glasspool to the position of suffragan bishop is a clear rejection of the many pleas for gracious restraint made from within the Anglican Communion, not least by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Windsor Report and the most recent Primates’ Meeting. The Episcopal Church (TEC) has taken this provocative step despite knowing the division and difficulties created by Gene Robinson’s consecration in 2003. This shows a deliberate disregard for other members of the Anglican family and suggests that TEC does not greatly value unity within Anglicanism and indeed throughout the universal Church.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Ireland, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles