Daily Archives: June 1, 2010

William McGurn–Gallup's pro-life America: When will our media reflect America on abortion?

During the health-care summit earlier this year, Vice President Joe Biden was roundly mocked for saying, “I don’t know what the American people think.” He was, however, showing a refreshing modesty. Especially when compared with those who believe the American people don’t know what they think””or cannot possibly mean what they say when they tell us what they do think.

Gallup provoked some of this reaction when it released new data early last month on American attitudes toward abortion. Asked to rate various behaviors and social policies (e.g., embryonic stem-cell research, adultery, the death penalty) as either “morally wrong” or “morally acceptable,” 50% called abortion wrong, as against only 38% who said it was acceptable. Even more contentious was the finding, for the second year in a row, that slightly more Americans consider themselves “pro-life” than “pro-choice” (47% to 45%).

The response to this data has been illuminating. Some blame the shift toward pro-life self-identification on abstinence-only education. Others imply that Americans really can’t mean what they say, pointing to other data showing majorities in favor of keeping abortion legal.

Perhaps the most original explanation appeared in Slate. There a writer opined that because President Obama has “softened” the Democratic language on abortion, more Americans now feel free to call themselves pro-life. Yes, let the word go forward: Some Democrats feel that the same Barack Obama who opposed an Illinois state ban on partial-birth abortion and later declared the issue above his pay grade has apparently given them permission to call themselves pro-life.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Life Ethics, Media, Religion & Culture

USA Today–Military families feel disconnect on Memorial Day

It was a common phrase uttered across the nation over the weekend: “Happy Memorial Day.” Yet it sounds odd to Cindy Wiley of Dunwoody, Ga. Her 24-year-old son, Patrick, a Marine, is on his first tour of duty in the war in Afghanistan.

“I never really know what to say when someone says ‘Happy Memorial Day,’ ” she said. “Bless their hearts, they just don’t know. I didn’t know a couple years ago. ”¦ Before he joined the Marines, I was one of those civilians who was just oblivious to what our guys go through.”

As the United States continues to fight wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Memorial Day Monday was a somber time of remembrance for many and a day to pray for troops in harm’s way. Yet some military families and veterans worry that there’s a growing cultural divide between families who sacrifice and serve and those who don’t.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Children, Iraq War, Marriage & Family, Military / Armed Forces, Terrorism, War in Afghanistan

Tony Clavier on Archbishop Rowan William's Pentecost Letter

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Pentecost letter, which may be read in it’s entirety on the ACNS website or at Titus 1.9 should be read not simply to extract the actions “proposed” against Provinces which defy the moratoria.

The letter is a pained, even anguished reflection from an “elder brother” to a family, a family whose identity and behavior is sharply at odds with its calling and profession. The Archbishop magnifies our common identity in terms of the mission of the Church, brought to life on the Day of Pentecost. It is no accident that Pentecost is immediately followed by the Feast of the Holy and Undivided Trinity, the source and pattern of unity in community and community in unity.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury

Dan Gilgoff on a recent King’s College, Cambridge, Chapel Sermon by Vivienne Faull

[She] called for Christians to begin proclaiming their religious convictions amid an increasingly secular culture, beginning at the workplace:

In some places to be a Christian by day is to be regarded as a dinosaur ”“ dangerous and clumsy, deeply stupid, a thing of the past. To avoid that label, and therefore professional stagnation, discipleship might well be limited to quiet though generous gestures in the dark rather than public witness to Christian faith.

In other work contexts there is a veneer of acceptance, but in modern professional culture Christianity is not particularly respectable and Christians are assumed to have a conservative moral outlook which flies in the face of diversity and polarity and self expression. Professions require putting our own preferences aside.

In the U.S., you’d expect such lines to be followed by a call to speak out against gay marriage or against the government’s attack on religion in the public square….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Theology

Texas Faith: What should Washington do about offshore drilling?

….here’s this week’s question:

If you were advising Congress and the White House, what would you recommend they do about offshore drilling? Cut it off and sharply cut back on environmental risks? Or continue it so that we can be less dependent upon foreign oil until alternative energies are easily accessible?

Read all the responses.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, The U.S. Government, Theology

Graham Bolton to embark on psalm singing marathon

Music plays an important part in the life of Graham Bolton whether it be singing in the choir at St Anne’s Church in Tottington, boosting the bass section at Bury Choral Society or enjoying a trip to the opera.

But next month will see him take on a musical challenge that is very close to his heart to raise money for Bury Hospice and for the charity Salve, which helps street children in Uganda.

Graham, aged 58, had planned to sing a psalm at Canterbury on behalf of a member of the congregation at St Anne’s where he has been a regular for nearly 20 years and in the choir for 10 years. His wife, Susan, is a church warden.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Liturgy, Music, Worship, Ministry of the Laity, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care

Strike Said to Kill a Top Al Qaeda Leader

The operational leader for Al Qaeda in Afghanistan was killed in an American missile strike in Pakistan’s tribal areas in the last two weeks, according to a statement the group issued late Monday that American officials believe is correct.

The militant leader, Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, an Egyptian, was a top financial chief for Al Qaeda as well as one of the group’s founders, and was considered by American intelligence officials to be the organization’s No. 3 leader, behind Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, another Egyptian.

“His death will only be a severe curse by his life upon the infidels,” Al Qaeda said in a statement issued to jihadist Web sites and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors statements by jihadists.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Pakistan, Terrorism

Israel Holds Hundreds Seized During Raid on Flotilla

A day after Israeli commandoes raided an aid flotilla seeking to breach the blockade of Gaza, Israel held hundreds of activists seized aboard the convoy on Tuesday as news reports said activists may be planning a fresh attempt to ferry supplies to the Hamas-run enclave.

At the same time, the Israeli military said troops clashed with two militants who infiltrated from Gaza, killing them both. While such occurrences are almost routine along the volatile border between Israel and Gaza, the incident underscored the tensions seizing the region after Monday’s confrontation at sea, which strained relations between Israel and the United States just as American-sponsored proximity talks involving Palestinians and Israelis were getting under way.

The developments in Israel and Gaza came hours after the United Nations Security Council condemned “acts” leading to the loss of life in Israel’s operation in international waters on Monday that claimed the lives of nine civilians, many of them Turks. After hours of late-night negotiations, the Security Council urged an impartial inquiry ”” a call echoed in a separate forum by Russia and the European Union on Tuesday at a meeting of senior officials in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don.

Read it all.

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

Pope Names Team to Investigate Abuse in Ireland

In one of his most concrete actions since a sexual abuse scandal began sweeping the Roman Catholic Church in Europe, Pope Benedict XVI on Monday appointed a high-profile team of prelates, including the archbishop of New York, to investigate Irish dioceses and seminaries.

The pope had announced that he would open the investigation in a strong letter to Irish Catholics in March. In the letter he expressed “shame and remorse” for “sinful and criminal” acts committed by members of the clergy, following two scathing Irish government reports documenting widespread abuse in church-run schools and the Dublin archdiocese.

Although the pope has spoken out against abuse in recent weeks and accepted the resignation of five Irish bishops for their failure to address child sexual abuse, Monday’s announcement seemed aimed at showing that the Vatican is committed to combating the crisis with actions as well as words. The pope’s March letter had been criticized by some as calling more for spiritual renewal than offering direct action against abusers and the bishops on whose watch abuse happened.

Read it all.

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

Owners Stop Paying Mortgages, and Stop Fretting

For Alex Pemberton and Susan Reboyras, foreclosure is becoming a way of life ”” something they did not want but are in no hurry to get out of.

Foreclosure has allowed them to stabilize the family business. Go to Outback occasionally for a steak. Take their gas-guzzling airboat out for the weekend. Visit the Hard Rock Casino.

“Instead of the house dragging us down, it’s become a life raft,” said Mr. Pemberton, who stopped paying the mortgage on their house here last summer. “It’s really been a blessing.”

A growing number of the people whose homes are in foreclosure are refusing to slink away in shame. They are fashioning a sort of homemade mortgage modification, one that brings their payments all the way down to zero. They use the money they save to get back on their feet or just get by.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Personal Finance, Theology

FT–China property risk is worse than in US

The problems in China’s housing market are more severe than those in the US before the financial crisis because they combine a potential bubble with the risk of social discontent, according to an adviser to the Chinese central bank.

Li Daokui, a professor at Tsinghua University and a member of the Chinese central bank’s monetary policy committee, said recent government measures to cool the property market needed to be part of a long-term push to bring high housing prices under control.

He added that there were still signs that the economy was overheating and recommended modest increases in interest rates and the level of the currency.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market

Blacks in Memphis Lose Decades of Economic Gains

Not so long ago, Memphis, a city where a majority of the residents are black, was a symbol of a South where racial history no longer tightly constrained the choices of a rising black working and middle class. Now this city epitomizes something more grim: How rising unemployment and growing foreclosures in the recession have combined to destroy black wealth and income and erase two decades of slow progress.

The median income of black homeowners in Memphis rose steadily until five or six years ago. Now it has receded to a level below that of 1990 ”” and roughly half that of white Memphis homeowners, according to an analysis conducted by Queens College Sociology Department for The New York Times.

Black middle-class neighborhoods are hollowed out, with prices plummeting and homes standing vacant in places like Orange Mound, White Haven and Cordova. As job losses mount ”” black unemployment here, mirroring national trends, has risen to 16.9 percent from 9 percent two years ago; it stands at 5.3 percent for whites ”” many blacks speak of draining savings and retirement accounts in an effort to hold onto their homes. The overall local foreclosure rate is roughly twice the national average.

The repercussions will be long-lasting, in Memphis and nationwide. The most acute economic divide in America remains the steadily widening gap between the wealth of black and white families, according to a recent study by the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University. For every dollar of wealth owned by a white family, a black or Latino family owns just 16 cents, according to a recent Federal Reserve study.

A long but important article–take the time to read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, City Government, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

From the Morning Scripture Readings

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

–Matthew 13:44

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Father in heaven, by whose grace the virgin mother of thine incarnate Son was blessed in bearing him, but still more blessed in keeping thy word: Grant us who honor the exaltation of her lowliness to follow the example of her devotion to thy will; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer

Another Holy Trinity Prayer

Keep us, O Lord, from the vain strife of words, and grant us a constant profession of our faith. Preserve us in the way of truth, so that we may ever hold fast that which we professed when we were baptized into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, and may give glory to thee, our Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier, now and for evermore.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology, Theology: Scripture