Daily Archives: May 28, 2010

Archbishop of Canterbury imposes first sanctions on Anglican provinces over gay bishops dispute

…[Rowan Williams’] action, taken after years of patiently asking both conservatives and liberals to abide by agreed rules, will affect both sides in the dispute over whether the Bible permits openly homosexual clergy.

It has been triggered by the progressive Episcopal Church of the USA, which ordained its first lesbian bishop, the Rt Rev Mary Glasspool, earlier this month. The Episcopal Church also elected the first openly homosexual bishop in the Communion, the Rt Rev Gene Robinson, in 2003.

But the move will also hit orthodox provinces in the developing world ”“ known as the Global South ”“ that reacted to the liberal innovations in America and Canada by taking conservative American clergy and congregations out of their national churches and giving them roles in Africa and South America. This has triggered bitter legal battles over the fate of church buildings.

The Anglican provinces found to have broken the “moratoria” – on ordaining homosexual clergy; blessing same-sex unions in church; and making “cross-border interventions” – will soon be sent letters telling them about the proposed punishment for straying from the Communion’s agreed positions.

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

An ACNS Release on Archbishop Rowan Williams Pentecost Letter

Notes to editors:

Q. Practically, what does this letter mean for Provinces, national or regional churches who have broken any of the moratoria?

A. Representatives of those Provinces, national or regional churches whose decision-making bodies have gone against the agreed moratoria a) will be asked to step down from formal ecumenical dialogues such as those with Orthodox Churches or the Roman Catholic Church, and b) will no longer have any decision-making powers in the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order that handles questions of church doctrine and authority.

Q. What are the agreements that have been broken?

A. As far back as 2004, the Anglican Communion leadership agreed to three moratoria: 1) No authorisation of blessings services for same-sex unions; 2) No consecrations of bishops living in same-sex relationships; 3) No cross-border interventions (no bishop authorising any ministry within the diocese of another bishop without explicit permission). These have been affirmed repeatedly in subsequent years at the highest levels of the Communion.
Q. Is anyone being asked to leave the Communion?

A. No. By proposing these actions the Archbishop is working to safeguard the common life of the Communion. His proposals come after several churches broke the Communion’s agreed moratoria (their promises to the Communion). Nevertheless the churches concerned remain full members of the Anglican Communion.

Q. Why did the Archbishop decide to issue this letter now?

A. His comments are made at the season of Pentecost when Christians pray for a renewing of the Holy Spirit which is the Spirit of communion and of fellowship. The letter also comes shortly after the Episcopal Church broke one of the moratoria by appointing a bishop in a same-sex relationship.

Read it all also.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Theology

Important–The Archbishop of Canterbury's Pentecost letter to the Anglican Communion

(Please take the time to read it thoroughly before any response–KSH).

Renewal in the Spirit

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Pentecost letter to the Bishops, Clergy and Faithful of the Anglican Communion

1.

”˜They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to talk in other languages as the Spirit enabled them to speak’ (Acts 2.4). At Pentecost, we celebrate the gift God gives us of being able to communicate the Good News of Jesus Christ in the various languages of the whole human world. The Gospel is not the property of any one group, any one culture or history, but is what God intends for the salvation of all who will listen and respond.

St Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit is also what God gives us so that we can call God ”˜Abba, Father’ (Rom. 8.15, Gal. 4.6). The Spirit is given not only so that we can speak to the world about God but so that we can speak to God in the words of his own beloved Son. The Good News we share is not just a story about Jesus but the possibility of living in and through the life of Jesus and praying his prayer to the Father.

And so the Holy Spirit is also the Spirit of ”˜communion’ or fellowship (II Cor. 13.13). The Spirit allows us to recognise each other as part of the Body of Christ because we can hear in each other the voice of Jesus praying to the Father. We know, in the Spirit, that we who are baptised into Jesus Christ share one life; so that all the diversity of gifting and service in the Church can be seen as the work of one Spirit (I Cor. 12.4). In the Holy Eucharist, this unity in and through the self-offering of Jesus is reaffirmed and renewed as we pray for the Spirit to transform both the bread and wine and ”˜ourselves, our souls and bodies’.

When the Church is living by the Spirit, what the world will see is a community of people who joyfully and gratefully hear the prayer of Jesus being offered in each other’s words and lives, and are able to recognise the one Christ working through human diversity. And if the world sees this, the Church is a true sign of hope in a world of bitter conflict and rivalry.
2.

From the very first, as the New Testament makes plain, the Church has experienced division and internal hostilities. From the very first, the Church has had to repent of its failure to live fully in the light and truth of the Spirit. Jesus tells us in St John’s gospel that the Spirit of truth will ”˜prove the world wrong’ in respect of sin and righteousness and judgement (Jn 16.8). But if the Spirit is leading us all further into the truth, the Spirit will convict the Church too of its wrongness and lead it into repentance. And if the Church is a community where we serve each other in the name of Christ, it is a community where we can and should call each other to repentance in the name of Christ and his Spirit ”“ not to make the other feel inferior (because we all need to be called to repentance) but to remind them of the glory of Christ’s gift and the promise that we lose sight of when we fail in our common life as a Church.

Our Anglican fellowship continues to experience painful division, and the events of recent months have not brought us nearer to full reconciliation. There are still things being done that the representative bodies of the Communion have repeatedly pleaded should not be done; and this leads to recrimination, confusion and bitterness all round. It is clear that the official bodies of The Episcopal Church have felt in conscience that they cannot go along with what has been asked of them by others, and the consecration of Canon Mary Glasspool on May 15 has been a clear sign of this. And despite attempts to clarify the situation, activity across provincial boundaries still continues ”“ equally dictated by what people have felt they must in conscience do. Some provinces have within them dioceses that are committed to policies that neither the province as a whole nor the Communion has sanctioned. In several places, not only in North America, Anglicans have not hesitated to involve the law courts in settling disputes, often at great expense and at the cost of the Church’s good name.

All are agreed that the disputes arising around these matters threaten to distract us from our main calling as Christ’s Church. The recent Global South encounter in Singapore articulated a strong and welcome plea for the priority of mission in the Communion; and in my own message to that meeting I prayed for a ”˜new Pentecost’ for all of us. This is a good season of the year to pray earnestly for renewal in the Spirit, so that we may indeed do what God asks of us and let all people know that new and forgiven life in Christ is possible and that created men and women may by the Spirit’s power be given the amazing liberty to call God ”˜Abba, Father!’

It is my own passionate hope that our discussion of the Anglican Covenant in its entirety will help us focus on that priority; the Covenant is nothing if not a tool for mission. I want to stress yet again that the Covenant is not envisaged as an instrument of control. And this is perhaps a good place to clarify that the place given in the final text to the Standing Committee of the Communion introduces no novelty: the Committee is identical to the former Joint Standing Committee, fully answerable in all matters to the ACC and the Primates; nor is there any intention to prevent the Primates in the group from meeting separately. The reference to the Standing Committee reflected widespread unease about leaving certain processes only to the ACC or only to the Primates.

But we are constantly reminded that the priorities of mission are experienced differently in different places, and that trying to communicate the Gospel in the diverse tongues of human beings can itself lead to misunderstandings and failures of communication between Christians. The sobering truth is that often our attempts to share the Gospel effectively in our own setting can create problems for those in other settings.

3.

We are at a point in our common life where broken communications and fragile relationships have created a very mistrustful climate. This is not news. But many have a sense that the current risks are greater than ever. Although attitudes to human sexuality have been the presenting cause, I want to underline the fact that what has precipitated the current problem is not simply this issue but the widespread bewilderment and often hurt in different quarters that we have no way of making decisions together so that we are not compromised or undermined by what others are doing. We have not, in other words, found a way of shaping our consciences and convictions as a worldwide body. We have not fully received the Pentecostal gift of mutual understanding for common mission.

It may be said ”“ quite understandably, in one way ”“ that our societies and their assumptions are so diverse that we shall never be able to do this. Yet we are called to seek for mutual harmony and common purpose, and not to lose heart. If the truth of Christ is indeed ultimately one as we all believe, there should be a path of mutual respect and thankfulness that will hold us in union and help us grow in that truth.

Yet at the moment we face a dilemma. To maintain outward unity at a formal level while we are convinced that the divisions are not only deep but damaging to our local mission is not a good thing. Neither is it a good thing to break away from each other so dramatically that we no longer see Christ in each other and risk trying to create a church of the ”˜perfect’ ”“ people like us. It is significant that there are still very many in The Episcopal Church, bishops, clergy and faithful, who want to be aligned with the Communion’s general commitments and directions, such as those who identify as ”˜Communion Partners’, who disagree strongly with recent decisions, yet want to remain in visible fellowship within TEC so far as they can. And, as has often been pointed out, there are things that Anglicans across the world need and want to do together for the care of God’s poor and vulnerable that can and do go on even when division over doctrine or discipline is sharp.

4.

More and more, Anglicans are aware of living through a time of substantial transition, a time when the structures that have served us need reviewing and refreshing, perhaps radical changing, when the voice and witness in the Communion of Christians from the developing world is more articulate and creative than ever, and when the rapidity of social change in ”˜developed’ nations leaves even some of the most faithful and traditional Christian communities uncertain where to draw the boundaries in controversial matters ”“ not only sexuality but issues of bioethics, for example, or the complexities of morality in the financial world.

A time of transition, by definition, does not allow quick solutions to such questions, and it is a time when, ideally, we need more than ever to stay in conversation. As I have said many times before, whatever happens to our structures, we still need to preserve both working relationships and places for exchange and discussion. New vehicles for conversations across these boundaries are being developed with much energy.

But some decisions cannot be avoided. We began by thinking about Pentecost and the diverse peoples of the earth finding a common voice, recognising that each was speaking a truth recognised by all. However, when some part of that fellowship speaks in ways that others find hard to recognise, and that point in a significantly different direction from what others are saying, we cannot pretend there is no problem.

And when a province through its formal decision-making bodies or its House of Bishops as a body declines to accept requests or advice from the consultative organs of the Communion, it is very hard (as noted in my letter to the Communion last year after the General Convention of TEC) to see how members of that province can be placed in positions where they are required to represent the Communion as a whole. This affects both our ecumenical dialogues, where our partners (as they often say to us) need to know who it is they are talking to, and our internal faith-and-order related groups.

I am therefore proposing that, while these tensions remain unresolved, members of such provinces ”“ provinces that have formally, through their Synod or House of Bishops, adopted policies that breach any of the moratoria requested by the Instruments of Communion and recently reaffirmed by the Standing Committee and the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO) ”“ should not be participants in the ecumenical dialogues in which the Communion is formally engaged. I am further proposing that members of such provinces serving on IASCUFO should for the time being have the status only of consultants rather than full members. This is simply to confirm what the Communion as a whole has come to regard as the acceptable limits of diversity in its practice. It does not alter what has been said earlier by the Primates’ Meeting about the nature of the moratoria: the request for restraint does not necessarily imply that the issues involved are of equal weight but recognises that they are ”˜central factors placing strains on our common life’, in the words of the Primates in 2007. Particular provinces will be contacted about the outworking of this in the near future.

I am aware that other bodies have responsibilities in questions concerned with faith and order, notably the Primates’ Meeting, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Standing Committee. The latter two are governed by constitutional provisions which cannot be overturned by any one person’s decision alone, and there will have to be further consultation as to how they are affected. I shall be inviting the views of all members of the Primates’ Meeting on the handling of these matters with a view to the agenda of the next scheduled meeting in January 2011.

5.

In our dealings with other Christian communions, we do not seek to deny our diversity; but there is an obvious problem in putting forward representatives of the Communion who are consciously at odds with what the Communion has formally requested or stipulated. This does not seem fair to them or to our partners. In our dealings with each other, we need to be clear that conscientious decisions may be taken in good faith, even for what are held to be good theological or missional reasons, and yet have a cost when they move away from what is recognisable and acceptable within the Communion. Thus ”“ to take a very different kind of example ”“ there have been and there are Anglicans who have a strong conscientious objection to infant baptism. Their views deserve attention, respect and careful study, they should be engaged in serious dialogue ”“ but it would be eccentric to place such people in a position where their view was implicitly acknowledged as one of a range of equally acceptable convictions, all of which could be taken as representatively Anglican.

Yet no-one should be celebrating such public recognition of divisions and everyone should be reflecting on how to rebuild relations and to move towards a more coherent Anglican identity (which does not mean an Anglican identity with no diversity, a point once again well made by the statement from the Singapore meeting). Some complain that we are condemned to endless meetings that achieve nothing. I believe that in fact we have too few meetings that allow proper mutual exploration. It may well be that such encounters need to take place in a completely different atmosphere from the official meetings of the Communion’s representative bodies, and this needs some imaginative thought and planning. Much work is already going into making this more possible.

But if we do conclude that some public marks of ”˜distance’, as the Windsor Continuation Group put it, are unavoidable if our Communion bodies are not to be stripped of credibility and effectiveness, the least Christian thing we can do is to think that this absolves us from prayer and care for each other, or continuing efforts to make sense of each other.

We are praying for a new Pentecost for our Communion. That means above all a vast deepening of our capacity to receive the gift of being adopted sons and daughters of the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It means a deepened capacity to speak of Jesus Christ in the language of our context so that we are heard and the Gospel is made compelling and credible. And it also means a deepened capacity to love and nourish each other within Christ’s Body ”“ especially to love and nourish, as well as to challenge, those whom Christ has given us as neighbours with whom we are in deep and painful dispute.

One remarkable symbol of promise for our Communion is the generous gift received by the Diocese of Jerusalem from His Majesty the King of Jordan, who has provided a site on the banks of the Jordan River, at the traditional site of Our Lord’s Baptism, for the construction of an Anglican church. Earlier this year, I had the privilege of blessing the foundation stone of this church and viewing the plans for its design. It will be a worthy witness at this historic site to the Anglican tradition, a sign of real hope for the long-suffering Christians of the region, and something around which the Communion should gather as a focus of common commitment in Christ and his Spirit. I hope that many in the Communion will give generous support to the project.

”˜We have the mind of Christ’ says St Paul (I Cor. 2.16); and, as the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople has recently written, this means that we must have a ”˜kenotic’, a self-emptying approach to each other in the Church. May the Spirit create this in us daily and lead us into that wholeness of truth which is only to be found in the crucified and risen Lord Jesus.

I wish you all God’s richest blessing at this season.

+Rowan Cantuar:
Lambeth Palace
Pentecost 2010

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Instruments of Unity, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles, Theology

Church Times: Women Bishops Issue to Dominate Upcoming C of E General Synod

They were warned that the issue of women bishops would dominate their forthcoming meeting in York; but General Synod members might not have realised the extent to which they would be eating, sleep­ing, and drinking the subject at the beginning of July.

The timetable of the York sessions was published this week. Between 3.45 p.m. on Friday 9 July and 1 p.m. on Tuesday 13 July (and not counting the separate meetings of the Houses of Clergy and of Laity), the Synod members could spend 17 hours in debate on the subject.

The heaviest days will be Saturday and Monday, on each of which the Synod will begin debating the issue at 9.30 a.m. and finish at 6.15 p.m. The last morning is also given over completely to the subject.

The reason for the amount of time given is that the issue has reached the revision stage. The draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure can be amended clause by clause by the whole Synod, and amendments are expected which would reintroduce all the permutations that have been considered (and rejected) in previous debates….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Women

NPR–Website Editors Strive To Rein In Nasty Comments

It’s easy to lose your temper on the Internet. Anyone who reads ”” or writes ”” comments on blogs and news sites knows that the conversation can quickly stray from civil discourse to scathing personal attacks. For years, many websites just let users go at it, and free speech reigned. But now editors are rethinking just how open their sites should be.

Many people who want to participate in online discussions are quickly turned off by the nastiness. Miki Hsu Leavey, a resident of Napa, Calif., wrote a heartfelt, thankful letter to her local paper, The Napa Valley Register, after the health care bill passed. In the letter, she described her own struggle with lupus, her son’s difficulties getting insurance owing to his pre-existing heart condition, and her husband’s liver cancer diagnosis.

“My thank you note was really about the relief I had mentally,” says Leavey.

When Leavey looked at the site the morning her letter was published, she was shocked at many of the comments.

Read or listen to it all and, yes, let it serve as a salutary reminder about the comments here–KSH.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Pastoral Theology, Theology

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori–A lesson from the Gulf oil spill: We are all connected

We know, at least intellectually, that that oil is a limited resource, yet we continue to extract and use it at increasing rates and with apparently decreasing care. The great scandal of this disaster is the one related to all kinds of “commons,” resources held by the whole community. Like tropical forests in Madagascar and Brazil, and the gold and silver deposits of the American West, “commons” have in human history too often been greedily exploited by a few, with the aftermath left for others to deal with, or suffer with.

Yet the reality is that this disaster just may show us as a nation how interconnected we really are. The waste of this oil — both its unusability and the mess it is making — will be visited on all of us, for years and even generations to come. The hydrocarbons in those coastal marshes and at the base of the food chain leading to marketable seafood resources will taint us all, eventually. That oil is already frightening away vacationers who form the economic base for countless coastal communities, whose livelihoods have something to do with the economic health of this nation. The workers in those communities, even when they have employment, are some of the poorest among us. That oil will move beyond the immediate environs of a broken wellhead, spreading around the coasts of Florida and northward along the east coast of the U.S. That oil will foul the coastal marshes that also constitute a major nursery for coastal fauna, again a vital part of the food chain. That oil will further stress and poison the coral reefs of Florida, already much endangered from warming and ocean acidification. Those reefs have historically provided significant storm protection to the coastal communities behind them.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Pastoral Theology, Presiding Bishop, Theology

Robert Benne–Lutherans in Search of a Church

In its August 2009 Churchwide Assembly, the Evangelical Lutheran Church decided formally to leave the Great Tradition of orthodox Christianity for a declining and desiccated liberal Protestantism. The decisions it made””accepting a weak and confused social statement on sexuality, allowing blessings of gay unions, ordaining gays and lesbians in partnered relationships, and requiring Lutherans to respect each other’s “bound conscience” on these issues””crossed the “line in the sand” that separates revisionist Christians from orthodox.

That result was a foregone conclusion for critical observers who had been watching the ELCA carefully since its inception in the late eighties. (Among them, of course, was Richard John Neuhaus, who saw clearly the trajectory yet to unfold.) What had been the promise of a renewed and robust Lutheranism in the merger of the American Lutheran Church and the Lutheran Church in America was aborted before its birth, in 1988….

In the absence of a genuine confessional teaching authority, the ELCA has followed liberal Protestantism in adopting a working theology sharply different from its classical confessions. It has substituted the “Gospel of inclusion” for the classic “Gospel of redemption” that emphasizes repentance, forgiveness, and amendment of life. The former diminishes the importance of the Law as the source of both repentance and guidance for Christians. The god of self-esteem promises everyone acceptance just the way they are.

But the ELCA is far more interested in pressing forward the liberationist themes issuing from feminism, multiculturalism, anti-imperialism, and environmentalism. These themes constitute the non-negotiables in ELCA church life. The ELCA bishops recently participated in a workshop that featured a presentation titled “Power, Privilege, and Difference.” Being therefore educated about their propensities to be oppressive, the worthy bishops resolved to have “observers” at all their meetings to monitor for “PP&D” thinking. One might note that they employed no monitors for confessional theology, perhaps because there was nothing of significance to monitor.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Christology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Lutheran, Other Churches, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology

Jason Whitlock–Bill Maher's bigotry insults common sense, MLK, my mom

My fear is that Bill Maher’s religious-like crusade to wipe out religion is going to wipe out the Bill Maher I’ve grown to enjoy and respect.

His seething intolerance and disrespect for people with religious faith are becoming as offensive as the racial and sexual-orientation bigotry Maher delights in railing against.

Last Friday on his HBO program, “Real Time with Bill Maher,” he engaged his political panel in a 14-minute discussion that focused on his belief that religious people are “deluded.” His panelists, including an author who is an atheist, disagreed with Maher, which served to frustrate him.

Maher’s flippant, dismissive and condescending attitude frustrated me, one of his biggest fans. I know the benefits of faith in a higher power. That Maher does not saddens me. But it does not make me think he’s delusional.

This ran a little while ago in the Kansas City Star but I missed it; our local paper ran it on the op-ed page yesterday. Read it all–KSH.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Media, Movies & Television, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Secularism

Judge Allows Clergy Housing Tax Case to Proceed

In a May 21 ruling, U.S. District Judge William Shubb stated that “plaintiffs have alleged sufficient facts which, if accepted as true, `leave open the possibility’ that … Section 107 goes too far in aiding and subsidizing religion by providing ministers and churches with tangible financial benefits not allowed secular employers and employees.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Personal Finance, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Taxes

AP: NYC bus ads asking 'Leaving Islam?' cause a stir

The questions on the ads aren’t subtle: Leaving Islam? Fatwa on your head? Is your family threatening you?

A conservative activist and the organizations she leads have paid several thousand dollars for the ads to run on at least 30 city buses for a month. The ads point to a website called RefugefromIslam.com, which offers information to those wishing to leave Islam, but some Muslims are calling the ads a smoke screen for an anti-Muslim agenda.

Pamela Geller, who leads an organization called Stop Islamization of America, said the ads were meant to help provide resources for Muslims who are fearful of leaving the faith.

“It’s not offensive to Muslims, it’s religious freedom,” she said. “It’s not targeted at practicing Muslims. It doesn’t say ‘leave,’ it says ‘leaving’ with a question mark.”

Read it all.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

But I trust in thee, O LORD, I say, “Thou art my God.” My times are in thy hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors! 16 Let thy face shine on thy servant; save me in thy steadfast love!

–Psalm 31:14-16

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Still Another Prayer for Pentecost

O Jesus Christ, who art the same yesterday, today and forever: Pour thy Spirit upon the Church that it may preach thee anew to each succeeding generation. Grant that it may interpret the eternal gospel in terms relevant to the life of each new age, and as the fulfillment of the highest hopes and the deepest needs of every nation; so that at all times and in all places men may see in thee their Lord and Saviour.

–George Appleton

Posted in Uncategorized

WSJ–Greece May Yet Have to Restructure Its Finances

While a restructuring may not take place for another year or two, it’s a move that Greece may be unable to avoid, many say, despite assurances to the contrary from officials at the EU and IMF.

Restructuring is essentially a default, under which Greece would renegotiate its debt with bondholders, either lengthening its maturities or reducing the amount it owes, causing bondholders to take a loss.

“At this point, it is very clear that restructuring is the only option,” says Lena Komileva of Tullett Prebon in London.

Josef Ackermann, the chief executive of Deutsche Bank, said earlier this month he thought it “doubtful” that Greece would be able to repay all its borrowings.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010, Credit Markets, Economy, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Greece, Politics in General, The Banking System/Sector

Camilla Cavendish–Useless, jobless men ”“ the social blight of our age

The fear of losing benefits ”” of not being able to scramble back on to the lifeboat if you fall off ”” is a huge disincentive to change your circumstances, let alone report them. One in seven working-age households is dependent on benefits for more than half its income. More than half of all lone parents depend on the State for at least half their income. William Beveridge would be horrified to discover that the safety net he designed has become a trap, creating generations of worklessness and dwindling self-esteem. It is also creating a glut of unemployed, unwanted, unmarriageable men.

These men were overlooked during a decade of prosperity that did nothing to change their lives. At the beginning of that decade, 5.4 million working-age adults were claiming out-of-work benefits. The same number were still claiming just before the recession struck. Almost a fifth of 16 to 24-year-olds were not in education, employment or training in 1997. The number was identical in 2006. These people stayed put in the Welsh valleys, in Liverpool, in Glasgow, while Eastern Europeans travelled a thousand miles to pick up work on construction sites in London. Immigration reduced the opportunities available to white British men whose poor education made them less attractive candidates, while the benefits system undermined their motivation.

The problem affects the whole of society because of the striking correlation between male joblessness and single motherhood, particularly in the old industrial cities.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Economy, England / UK, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Men, Politics in General

Syria accused of arming Hezbollah from secret bases

Hezbollah is running weapons, including surface-to-surface missiles, from secret arms depots in Syria to its bases in Lebanon, according to security sources.

The Times has been shown satellite images of one of the sites, a compound near the town of Adra, northeast of Damascus, where militants have their own living quarters, an arms storage site and a fleet of lorries reportedly used to ferry weapons into Lebanon.

The military hardware is either of Syrian origin or sent from Iran by sea, via Mediterranean ports, or by air, via Damascus airport. The arms are stored at the Hezbollah depot and then trucked into Lebanon.

Read it all.

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