Daily Archives: July 20, 2010

Need a Mortgage? Don’t Get Pregnant

Expectant parents shopping for a home are not the only ones concerned about the date of the baby’s arrival.

Mortgage lenders are taking a harder look at prospective borrowers whose income has temporarily fallen while they are on leave, including new parents at home taking care of a baby. Even if a parent plans on returning to work within weeks, some lenders are balking at approving the loans.

“If you are not back at work, it’s a huge problem,” said Rick Cason, owner of Integrity Mortgage, a mortgage firm in Orlando, Fla. “Banks only deal in guaranteed income these days. It makes sense, but the guidelines are sometimes actually harsher than they need to be.”

Back in the slapdash days of easy credit, lenders were more likely to overlook the fact that a parent was out on maternity or paternity leave. But now that lenders have become more conservative, they are requiring new parents to jump through more hoops to prove their income will be enough to cover the mortgage.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Personal Finance, The Banking System/Sector

ENI: Archbishop of Canterbury to deliver keynote speech to Lutherans

Lutherans from around the world are converging on the German city of Stuttgart for the 11th Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation, where on July 22 Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will deliver the keynote address.

Williams, the spiritual leader of the 78-million-strong Anglican Communion, may offer advice in his keynote address on how to deal with the issue of clergy who are in same-sex relationships, as this issue has left his communion verging on a schism and has triggered fierce debate among Lutherans.

The Geneva-based LWF comprises 140 member churches in 79 countries, representing more than 70 million Christians, and it is expecting an estimated 1000 people, including 418 delegates from Lutheran churches, to participate in the Stuttgart assembly.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Archbishop of Canterbury, Lutheran, Other Churches

Martin Wolf: The grasshoppers and the ants ”“ a modern fable

Everybody in the west knows the fable of the grasshopper and the ant. The grasshopper is lazy and sings away the summer, while the ant piles up stores for the winter. When the cold weather comes, the grasshopper begs the ant for food. The ant refuses and the grasshopper starves. The moral of this story? Idleness brings want.

Yet life is more complex than in Aesop’s fable. Today, the ants are Germans, Chinese and Japanese, while the grasshoppers are American, British, Greek, Irish and Spanish. Ants produce enticing goods grasshoppers want to buy. The latter ask whether the former want something in return. “No,” reply the ants. “You do not have anything we want, except, maybe, a spot by the sea. We will lend you the money. That way, you enjoy our goods and we accumulate stores.”

Ants and grasshoppers are happy. Being frugal and cautious, the ants deposit their surplus earnings in supposedly safe banks, which relend to grasshoppers. The latter, in turn, no longer need to make goods, since ants supply them so cheaply. But ants do not sell them houses, shopping malls or offices. So grasshoppers make these, instead. They even ask ants to come and do the work. Grasshoppers find that with all the money flowing in, the price of land rises. So they borrow more, build more and spend more.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, China, Economy, England / UK, Europe, Globalization, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

An Outspoken Man in a Secretive Trade

Hugh Hendry has a big mouth, as Hugh Hendry will tell you.

With a sharp wit and a sharper tongue, Mr. Hendry, a plain-spoken Scot, has positioned himself as the public contrarian thinker of this city’s very private hedge fund community.

The euro? It’s finished, Mr. Hendry proclaims.

China? Headed for a fall.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Economy, Globalization, Stock Market

USA Today: Faith in Social Security tanking

Battered by high unemployment and record home foreclosures, most Americans seem to have lost faith in another fundamental part of their personal finances: Social Security.

A USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds that a majority of retirees say they expect their current benefits to be cut, a dramatic increase in the number who hold that view. And a record six of 10 non-retirees predict Social Security won’t be able to pay them benefits when they stop working.

Skepticism is highest among the youngest workers: Three-fourths of those 18 to 34 don’t expect to get a Social Security check when they retire.

The public’s views are more dire than the calculations of Social Security’s trustees. Last year, they projected the system would begin running in the red in 2016, as the Baby Boom generation retired, and the trust fund would be exhausted in 2037.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Personal Finance, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Psychology, Senate, Social Security, The U.S. Government

New Statesman Interview: Rowan Williams

Can we make sense of morality without a religious notion of a transcendent or supernatural being?

I think that, to make sense of unconditional rights or claims, we need to be clear that there is such a thing as universal human nature and that it has some intrinsic dignity or worth. To try and ground this independently of the idea of a transcendent source of value seems to me not finally feasible. People do, of course, make such claims, and do so in good faith, but I don’t see how you can define a universally shared, equal, independent-of-local-culture-and-habit conception of human flourishing without something more than a pragmatic or immanent basis.

In other words, I think morality ultimately needs a notion of the sacred – and for the Christian that means understanding all human beings without exception as the objects of an equal, unswerving, unconditional love.

What are the consequences of pushing religion to the margins of the public sphere?

If religion is pushed into private spaces, as increasingly it tends to be by our public discourse, we lose one of the most emotionally and imaginatively resourceful ways of seeing human behaviour; we lose something of the sense that certain acts may be good independently of whether they are sensible or successful in the world’s terms. I suppose you could say that we lose the “contemplative” dimension to ethics, the belief that some things are worth ­admiring in themselves.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Theology

Birmingham based Anglican youth worker Helen Tomblin is a tough guy

Birmingham youth leader Helen Tomblin has jumped out of planes, abseiled down buildings and tackled white water rafting but she thinks she may have bitten off more than she can chew with her latest challenge ”“ the Tough Guy.

Superfit Helen is aiming to complete the notorious course near Wolverhampton when Tough Guy holds its summer event, known as the Nettle Warrior, later this month.

And the 36-year-old from Stirchley is training flat out to ensure she is up to the grade for the gruelling run and assault course which attracts competitors from around the world.

Helen, who is the Bishop’s advisor for youth mission for the Anglican church in Birmingham, says she believes this may be her toughest challenge yet.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Parish Ministry, Youth Ministry

Archbishop Rowan Williams to get Freedom of Swansea Honour

The Archbishop of Canterbury is to receive the highest honour his home city of Swansea can bestow, the Freedom of the City.

Dr Rowan Williams will be following in the footsteps of people such as former US President Jimmy Carter, footballer John Charles and military organisations including HMS Scott and The Royal Welsh Regiment (Royal Welch Fusiliers) when he receives the award at a special ceremony later this month.

Swansea Council agreed earlier this year to bestow the Freedom of the City to Dr Williams, who has been leader of the Anglican Communion since 2003.

The Council said Dr Williams has a long association with Swansea and remains a great supporter of the area.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury

(Retired) Bishop Tom Butler: Principle versus Compromise

….even a retired bishop like myself, having no vote in the proceedings, can see that we’re now at a critical time in the Church’s development. For the core principles of the traditions within the Church of England seemed to have reached a near unbreachable gulf over the issues of the provisions for those opposed to women bishops. And there’s a further development, for some, the need for holding the church together in unity, whatever the compromises which must be made to do so, has itself become a firm principle, disturbing those who believe that unity at any price can’t trump other deeply held principles.

The truth is that compromise can be both an evasion of duty where a clear obligation is avoided for the sake of some secondary advantage, or at the other extreme, compromise in the Church may be an attempt to discover God’s will where two seemingly core principles dictate different courses of action which seem to be incompatible. It’s because of this possibility that the Church has spent so many years trying to come to a common mind over women bishops.

But the debate isn’t purely between principle and compromise, for the General Synod had before it and accepted draft legislation which already showed significant compromise to both sides. Whatever the final outcome the Church won’t be forcing priests or congregations to accept the ministry of women bishops without the further provision of a bishop whose ministry they would welcome.

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

Seabury-Western Theological Seminary offers a Course on Faith and Ethics at Life's End

Herewith the blurb about it.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

Amazon Says E-Book Sales Outpace Hardcovers

Amazon.com Inc. said it reached a milestone, selling more e-books than hardbacks over the past three months.

But publishers said it is still too early to gauge for the entire industry whether the growth of e-books is cannibalizing sales of paperback books, a huge and crucial market.

In a statement Monday, Amazon’s chief executive, Jeff Bezos, also countered the perception that sales of the company’s Kindle e-reading device had suffered due to competition from other devices, such as Apple Inc.’s iPad.

He said the growth rate of Kindle device sales had “reached a tipping point,” having tripled since the company lowered its price to $189 from $259 last month, following a similar move by competitor Barnes & Noble Inc. to cut the price on its Nook e-reader.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Blogging & the Internet, Books, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Science & Technology

Becky Coerper from South Carolina takes on a New Ministry in a Parish in Central New York

You can find the announcement here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, TEC Parishes

Nigerian Anglican Primate Wants State of Emergency in South-East

The Primate of All Nigeria in Anglican Community, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh has called on the Federal Government to recognise that the insecurity in South East is beyond the capacity of the state government by declaring state of emergency.

[The Rt.] Rev. Okoh gave the indication yesterday while addressing newsmen on the state of the nation at the Episcopal house, Abuja. He enjoined church leaders and communities to put up proposals for the resolution of insecurity in South East adding that the self inflicted wound will take Nigerians ten solid years to recover from the shock.

The clergy frowned at the apparent breakdown of law and order in Aba as criminals virtually shut down social and economic activities in the area through violence, brigandage and kidnapping in quest for money. He emphasized that after forty years of civil war, Nigerians are yet to tow the path of good leadership while corruption and constant crisis have ruined the country.

“We are baffled that forty years after the horrors of the civil war, which we are yet to recover from, we have set out another war against ourselves. “If the wave of wanton destruction in Aba is not eradicated, the communities will be completely ruined. There are no good roads, markets are in the decline and banks are forced to suspend operations due to incessant robberies.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria, Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Politics in General

A Plug for the 2011 Renewal Conference at Kanuga

Go here and on page 3 you can find a blurb about THIS YEAR’s conference where South Carolina Bishop Mark Lawrence was the speaker. Doesn’t that sound worthwhile? How about considering attending next year’s conference? You can find information about it there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Adult Education, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Spirituality/Prayer

A Washington Post Special Investigation: A hidden world, growing beyond control

The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.

These are some of the findings of a two-year investigation by The Washington Post that discovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight. After nine years of unprecedented spending and growth, the result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine….

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Foreign Relations, History, Iraq War, Law & Legal Issues, The U.S. Government, War in Afghanistan