Daily Archives: June 8, 2010

David Anderson Comments on the Current Crisis

Now the Archbishop of Canterbury is being hammered from both liberal revisionist and orthodox conservative quarters. At the bottom of all this is a lack of previous leadership effort on his part, so that both revisionist and orthodox Anglicans see much of the present Anglican mess as his fault. Scripture says something about letting your yes be yes and your no be no, and really, when you do that, it is so much easier to remember what you said, and to act on what you said.

Dr. Williams has danced around the issues and we can think of only two reasons for that, and whatever the real reason is in a sense doesn’t matter, since the bottom line is, he has no track record of really leading. He favors the Hegelian approach of letting both sides battle it out, and then the result will be a compromise that represents a best way forward. That could be the reason for what looks like no leadership skills.

Alternatively, he could actually have no leadership skills, and an internal inability to stand up and deliver.

Other than satisfying those of us who always want to know why things work out the way they do, it is really a distinction without a difference; no leadership is no leadership.

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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

In Florida Broward schools to lay off 1,305, including 568 teachers

The Broward school district on Monday delivered pink slips to 1,305 teachers, secretaries and maintenance workers as the school district struggles to close a $130 million budget shortfall.

Two days before the school year ends, the district notified 568 teachers and 737 noninstructional employees that they will not have jobs when classes resume in the fall.

“This is the worst possible scenario coming true,” School Board Chairwoman Jennifer Gottlieb said.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, City Government, Economy, Education, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Politics in General, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Philip Jenkins–How serious is the Roman Catholic 'predator priest' problem?

The next time you read an account of an abuse scandal affecting priests, note the time frame in which the acts allegedly occurred. Almost certainly, it will date from long ago, probably 30 years or more. Why is that? Typically, an individual sues a church over abuse that he suffered in his childhood, and in the Catholic context, he might well find written evidence to confirm his charges of misconduct long ago. He is, after all, dealing with an institution that prizes its collective memory and preserves records dating back centuries. The victim can not only find embarrassing information about Father John Doe, but his lawyers also then can force a diocese to disclose ever more information about ancient charges against other priests, which can lead into other jurisdictions. One case thus becomes the basis for a whole network of interlocking investigations. Perhaps it’s good that such older abuse cases are still coming to light, but the long passage of time makes it very unlikely that the charges can be investigated in a fair or reliable way.

Nor does the plaintiff in a civil case have to meet the high standards of a criminal case, of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. He just has to convince a jury that his allegations are more probably true than not. Most civil cases involving priestly abuse go forward on the basis of evidence that would not stand up in a criminal court. Often, dioceses settle dubious cases to avoid expensive legal proceedings, but such closure can be a mixed blessing. Whatever the merits of the particular case, critics take the fact of settling to suggest that the church is paying blood money to conceal its crimes. That’s not just a church problem. Celebrities and corporations face the same problem, that the public does not understand the workings of litigation.

As the resulting Catholic horror stories accumulate, so many media organizations develop a ready-made format for reporting them, a familiar mythology of specifically Catholic malpractice. Saying that does not mean charging any particular news outlet with deliberate religious prejudice: Some go to great lengths to be fair to accused clergy. But when we approach the issue as a specifically Catholic one, we inevitably cast the church as villain, to the exclusion ofother interpretations. The more firmly the public accepts the image of the sinister priest, the harder it becomes to find juries who will disbelieve abuse allegations. The more cases are reported, the more people come forward to publicize their own complaints. Most plaintiffs are reporting genuine victimization, but some are not.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Anglican Journal–Canadian Anglicans commended for contribution to Anglican Communion

Not wanting to avoid the tension that exists within the Anglican Communion, [Kenneth] Kearon stressed the importance that, “mission is damaged when Christians disagree and fight.”

Time on the agenda of General Synod 2010 for dialogue on the Anglican Communion Covenant has been allocated for later in the week, to which Kearon noted, “expresses our common heritage of faith in terms of our mission commitments.”

“We live in a complex world which challenges faith to demonstrate its relevance in transformed lives and changed communities,” he concluded. “In close co-operation with our ecumenical partners, the Anglican Communion has put the mission of God a part of all that we do, and I know that the same mission is at the heart of this Anglican Church of Canada.”

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

NY Times Letters in Response to Michael Chabon: The Many Ways Jews See Themselves

Here is one:

Re “Chosen, but Not Special” (Op-Ed, June 6):

Michael Chabon writes eloquently about his desire for Jews and Israel to shed the idea of exceptionalism. But exceptionalism is intrinsic to almost any group, and it is a fantasy to expect a nation or a religion to shed the idea, however irrational and ridiculous, that somehow it is special.

Rather than view Jewish exceptionalism as an albatross, we should view it as a way to inspire Jews and Israel to do better and to be openly critical of events and actions that fall far short of the ideal.

This ability to be self-critical is, like the belief in exceptionalism, an intrinsic part of Jewish and Israeli culture. It is precisely what is happening right now with the widespread acknowledgment that the raid on the Mavi Marmara was a tragic blunder.

Stuart Rojstaczer
Palo Alto, Calif.

Read them all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Foreign Relations, History, Israel, Judaism, Middle East, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle

Michael Chabon: Chosen, but Not Special

We construct the history of our wisdom only by burying our foolishness in the endnotes. To imagine a Chelm ”” the town inhabited, according to Ashkenazi Jewish folklore, entirely by fools ”” requires a presumption of general wisdom elsewhere, as the proper imagining of Heaven requires an earthly realm of sorrow.

As a Jewish child I was regularly instructed, both subtly and openly, that Jews, the people of Maimonides, Albert Einstein, Jonas Salk and Meyer Lansky, were on the whole smarter, cleverer, more brilliant, more astute than other people. And, duly, I would look around the Passover table, say, at the members of my family, and remark on the presence of a number of highly intelligent, quick-witted, shrewd, well-educated people filled to bursting with information, explanations and opinions on a diverse range of topics. In my tractable and vainglorious eagerness to confirm the People of Einstein theory, my gaze would skip right over ”” God love them ”” any counterexamples present at that year’s Seder.

This is why, to a Jew, it always comes as a shock to encounter stupid Jews. Philip Roth derived a major theme of “Goodbye, Columbus” from the uncanny experience. The shock comes not because we have never encountered any stupid Jews before ”” Jews are stupid in roughly the same proportion as all the world’s people ”” but simply because from an early age we have been trained, implicitly and explicitly, to ignore them. A stupid Jew is like a hole in the pocket of your pants, there every time you put them on, always forgotten until the instant your quarters run clattering across the floor.

It was this endlessly repeated yet never remembered shock of encountering our own stupidity as a people ”” stupidity now enacted by the elite military arm of a nation whose history we have long written, in our accustomed way, by pushing to the endnotes all counterexamples to the myth of seichel ”” that one heard filtering through so much of the initial response among Jews to the raid on the Mavi Marmara.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Foreign Relations, History, Israel, Judaism, Middle East, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle

Still Taking to the Streets to Honor Their Saints

The crowds are thinner, the people older and the routes shorter, but the procession is an important cultural event that reaffirms not just faith, but ties to the old neighborhood and the old country.

“There really has been no Italian immigrant narrative written about Williamsburg,” said Joseph Sciorra, a folklorist who has long studied Italian-American traditions. “They have been invisible. But a lot of the history can be tracked by its religious expression.

“Processions map out networks of affiliations,” he added, “people who are devoted to a saint, or are from the same town. It maps out the connections in the community. As people move out and get replaced by new residents, the route gets truncated.”

Devotees of St. Cono, who hail from Teggiano, Italy, first settled the area in the 1880s, establishing one of the many saint societies that exist to this day. After World War II, another society for St. Cono was formed by more recent immigrants; it sponsored this week’s feast.

St. Cono was born in Teggiano in the late 12th century and ran away to a monastery. He died when he was only 18, but his intercession was credited with saving the town from an earthquake and a siege.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Pat Achbold offers some Thoughts for Anglicans

So there you have it. In 1981 the Anglicans opened the door and by 2010 the slope has become so slippery that now Bishops are sliding.

So I ask my Anglican friends to do us all a favor and to cut to the chase and approve divorced and re-married lesbian Bishops. C’mon, you know you want to. Just do it now so all the so called traditionalists in the Anglican Church can either swim the Tiber or admit that they aren’t really ”˜traditionalists’ after all.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Roman Catholic, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

GetReligion: Katharine Jefferts Schori (quietly) goes Pentecostal

* As always, there are hints that the fight is about more than sex. In the case of this showdown, it is clear that Williams is frantically trying to hold the communion together on a wide range of doctrinal issues, with sex as the issue that, alas, always grabs the headlines. Jefferts Schori, meanwhile, sees this through the lens of Romeaphobia and claims that Canterbury is trying to enforce an anti-Anglican form of creedal orthodoxy, with Williams playing the role of pope.

The irony, of course, is that Williams has already established himself as a progressive on sexuality. Williams knows, however, that there are other doctrinal issues at play that matter far more to traditionalists around the world. What might those issues be?

* So, if this ongoing spirit of Pentecost is leading the Episcopal Church to edit and update centuries of Christian doctrine on sex and marriage, what other doctrines are being affected by these Winds Of Change? That’s the big question.

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Instruments of Unity, Presiding Bishop, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

Medicaid Cut Places States in Budget Bind

Having counted on Washington for money that may not be delivered, at least 30 states will have to close larger-than-anticipated shortfalls in the coming fiscal year unless Congress passes a six-month extension of increased federal spending on Medicaid.

Governors and state lawmakers, already facing some of the toughest budgets since the Great Depression, said the repercussions would extend far beyond health care, forcing them to make deep cuts to education, social services and public safety.

Gov. Edward G. Rendell of Pennsylvania, for instance, penciled $850 million in federal Medicaid assistance into the revenue side of his state’s ledger, reducing its projected shortfall to $1.2 billion. The only way to compensate for the loss, he said in an interview, would be to lay off at least 20,000 government workers, including teachers and police officers, at a time when the state is starting to add jobs.

“It would actually kill everything the stimulus has done,” said Mr. Rendell, a Democrat. “It would be enormously destructive.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, State Government, Taxes, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

The Economist Leader: Israel's siege mentality

The lethal mishandling of Israel’s attack on a ship carrying humanitarian supplies that was trying to break the blockade of Gaza was bound to provoke outrage””and rightly so. The circumstances of the raid are murky and may well remain that way despite an inquiry…But the impression received yet again by the watching world is that Israel resorts to violence too readily. More worryingly for Israel, the episode is accelerating a slide towards its own isolation. Once admired as a plucky David facing down an array of Arab Goliaths, Israel is now seen as the clumsy bully on the block.

Israel’s desire to stop the flotilla reaching Gaza was understandable, given its determination to maintain the blockade. Yet the Israelis also had a responsibility to conduct the operation safely. The campaigners knew that either way they would win. If they had got through, it would have been a triumphant breaching of the blockade. If forcibly stopped, with their cargo of medical equipment and humanitarian aid, they would be portrayed as victims””even if some, as the Israelis contend, brought clubs, knives and poles. As it was, disastrous planning by Israel’s soldiers led to a needless loss of life.

For anyone who cares about Israel, this tragedy should be the starting point for deeper questions””about the blockade, about the Jewish state’s increasing loneliness and the route to peace. A policy of trying to imprison the Palestinians has left their jailer strangely besieged.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Israel, Middle East, The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle

Religion and Ethics Newsweekly: the Obama Cairo Speech Anniversary

RASHAD HUSSAIN (US Special Envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference): Well, the Cairo speech really set out the framework for””it’s a part of the dialogue that the president started as early as Inauguration Day, when he reached out to Muslim communities. On his second day in office, he appointed Senator [George] Mitchell to ensure that we’re doing everything we can to bring a resolution to the conflict in the Middle East, and it’s something that we have been persistent on, it’s something we’ll continue to be persistent on despite recent events. That event, I think you’ll see, will just redouble our efforts, our attempts to secure a peaceful resolution to the Middle East conflict. Of course, the president early on””one of the first interviews he did was with al-Arabiya. Then he traveled shortly after that to Ankara, where he made clear that the United States is not at war with Islam, and then in Cairo, where he really set forth the broad framework of dealing with Muslim communities in a comprehensive way and in a manner which addresses not just the political conflicts, one of which you mentioned, but also creates partnerships in a number of areas of mutual interest. And that’s really stemmed from the president’s belief that people all around the world, whether Muslim or non-Muslim or whether they live in a Muslim country or non-Muslim country, all share the same fundamental aspirations, and that is that they want to have access to education, they want to have the ability to pursue economic opportunity, to have health care, to raise their family in a secure way. And so part of the president’s message in Cairo was that we need to establish partnerships in a number of areas, including education, entrepreneurship, health, science, and technology, to have dialogue at the interfaith level, and we’ve continued to do that in a number of ways, and also while reaching out to the domestic Muslim community. The president sent one of his top advisers, Valerie Jarrett, to speak at the Islamic Society of North America, which is the largest gathering of American Muslims. [White House national security and counterterrorism advisor] John Brennan spoke at the Islamic Center at NYU and recently spoke to outreach to Muslim communities as a part of our national security strategy. We had recently an entrepreneurship summit. So this is really an ongoing dialogue, not an ad hoc approach, where we have a concerted effort to engage Muslim communities at all levels.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Islam, Office of the President, Other Faiths, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture

Faithful Reporting Provides Foundation for Canada General Synod 2010 Sexuality Discernment Process

Discussions on human sexuality have been at the forefront of church deliberations for many years. On the third full day of General Synod 2010, representatives from committees and commissions that have done considerable work in this area, along with Archbishop Fred Hiltz, shared with the members of General Synod an overview of discussions, actions and statements on this topic which have taken place since General Synod 2007.

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

Down under Catholics try new tack in ethics row

Thw Catholic Church has joined the chorus of religious voices opposing the trial of ethics classes in schools.

It has organised a petition arguing that the classes should not be held ”in competition” with scripture because it means religious children miss out on ethics.

This latest protest, which the Baptist and Uniting churches have also joined, takes a different tack to previous objections.

This latest protest, which the Baptist and Uniting churches have also joined, takes a different tack to previous objections.

Whereas the Anglican church has argued children absorb ethics through the school curriculum and do not need the subject to be taught separately, the Catholics say their children should be able to take ethics classes too.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, Education, Religion & Culture

John Hussman on the Economy and the Markets: Extraordinarily Large Band-Aids

I’ll reiterate that from our perspective, the essential difficulty of the market here is not Greece, it is not the Euro, it is not Hungary, and it is really not even the slow pace of job growth in the latest report. The fundamental problem is that we have not, as a global economy, accepted the word “restructuring” into our dialogue. Instead, we have allowed our policy makers to borrow and print extraordinarily large band-aids to temporarily cover an open wound that will not heal until we close the gap. That gap is the difference between the face value of debt securities and the actual cash flows available to service them. The way to close the gap is to restructure the debt. This will require those who made the bad loans to accept the associated losses. By failing to do that, we have failed to address the essential problem faced by the world, which is that we have created more debt than we are able to service.

A few observations. First, I remain convinced that the other shoe to drop is not Greece or Spain or Hungary, but rather a second wave of major credit strains here in the U.S. related to fresh delinquencies from exotic adjustable rate mortgages.

Second, it is a delusion to interpret economic statistics suggesting an economic turnaround over the past year without factoring out the extent to which that has been driven by unsustainable levels of deficit spending.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Consumer/consumer spending, Credit Markets, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance, The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government