Daily Archives: July 26, 2010

Richard W. Garnett–On religious liberty, what would [Elena] Kagan do?

She did, however, provide, a few clues. In her opening statement, Kagan said that the court “has the responsibility of ensuring that our government never oversteps its proper bounds or violates the rights of individuals,” but “must also recognize the limits on itself and respect the choices made by the American people.” A justice, she said, must be a vigilant “trustee” of the “blessings of liberty,” but also “properly deferential to the decisions of the American people and their elected representatives.”

Among our most cherished “blessings of liberty” is the freedom of religion, our “first freedom.” In the words of James Madison, the “father of the Constitution,” America’s experiment in religious liberty has brought “lustre to our country.”

What, in Kagan’s view, is the role of the court in this experiment? When it comes to questions of religious liberty and church-state relations, does she think a justice should show vigilance or deference?

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

AP: Same Sex Partnered Lutheran pastors to be welcomed to church roster

Seven pastors who work in the San Francisco Bay area and were barred from serving in the nation’s largest Lutheran group because of a policy that required gay clergy to be celibate are being welcomed into the denomination.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America will add six of the pastors to its clergy roster at a service at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in San Francisco on Sunday. Another pastor who was expelled from the church, but was later reinstated, will participate in the service.

The group is among the first gay, bisexual or transgender Lutheran pastors to be reinstated or added to the rolls of the ELCA since the organization voted last year to lift the policy requiring celibacy.

Churches can now hire noncelibate gay clergy who are in committed relationships.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Lutheran, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

Robert J. Samuelson–Why CEOs aren't hiring

So far, history be damned. The contrast between revived profits and stunted job growth is stunning. From late 2007 to late 2009, payroll employment dropped nearly 8.4 million. Since then, the economy has recovered a scant 11 percent of those lost jobs. Companies are doing much better than workers; that defines today’s economy….

“Businesses can’t cost-cut their way to consistent profit growth,” argues Zandi. “Eventually, they need to generate revenue growth that requires investment and hiring.” There are some favorable signs. Companies seem to have stepped up replacement of aging computers; this could create jobs. General Electric says its 2009 research and development budget of $3.3 billion was up 18 percent since 2006, and it is supporting new products, from batteries to solar films.

But it’s unclear whether corporate elites were so traumatized by the crisis that they’ve adopted a bunker mentality. That, as much as uncertainty over Obama administration policies, could be fearsome. What might appeal to individual firms — paring expenses to maximize profits, hoarding cash to protect against a future financial crisis, waiting to hire until sales improve — could, if adopted by most companies, sabotage a stronger recovery. If labor is cowed and capital is overcautious, the economy must suffer.

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Neal Gabler–The best and the brightest redux

When Aauthor David Halberstam wrote his account of what got this nation into Vietnam, he didn’t find that the architects of the war were obtuse or illogical or commie-obsessed or infatuated with American might. Instead, in Halberstam’s now iconic term that became the title of his best-selling book, they were “the best and the brightest’’ ”” a superior governing class that was the product of America’s best families, its most prestigious prep schools and universities, and most august law firms and investment banks. The irony is that these geniuses turned out to be so dangerously wrong that the very term “best and the brightest’’ became a sarcastic euphemism for a hubris that leads to disaster.

One might have thought, then, that the “best and the brightest’’ would have been eternally discredited like the war they promulgated. But Barack Obama has such a strange, almost reverential faith in the very sorts of folks Halberstam flayed that the president threatens to lead his administration and the country down the same hubristic path….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., History, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama

CEN: Vatican in the red for 2009

The Vatican ran a £3.4 million deficit in 2009, [according to] the consolidated financial statements for the Holy See report.

The financial statements for the Vatican, which are independent of the financial statements of the Catholic Church’s various dioceses, religious orders and charitable entities, were presented to the 45th meeting of the Council of Cardinals for the Study of Organisational and Economic Problems of the Holy See.

A statement released after the close of the July 7-9 meeting, chaired by Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, reported that income in 2009 was €250,182,364 (£209,683,000) and expenditures were €254,284,520 (£213,120,000).

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Economy, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, Stewardship

Sweeping the Dust under the Rug: A.S. Haley on the Standing Committee's Latest Activities

It is true that the confirmation of Canon Trisk increased the number of clergy currently on the Committee from one to two, which matched the number of clergy who had previously served. But the reason for the “shortfall” in that category was that one of those prior clergy members had in the meantime been elevated to the episcopate:

The Committee then heard that because Bp Catherine Roskam had ended her term as The Episcopal Church’s bishop representative at the last ACC meeting in Jamaica Bp Ian Douglas’s election by Executive Committee to that position following his consecration had been entirely within its constitutional powers. It did not constitute a fresh appointment and would not extend Bp Douglas’ period of service.

So Bishop Ian Douglas, a previously elected clergy member of the Committee, was replaced by Canon Trisk from South Africa, thereby keeping the clergy number at two. Isn’t that convenient?

Not really: by accepting the charade expressed in the seven words “because Bishop Roskam had ended her term . . .” the Committee also managed to maintain its episcopal members (not counting the five bishops appointed by the Primates’ Meeting) at three. But as explained in this earlier post, and this later one, there is no provision in either the old constitution and bylaws, nor in the new articles, for an elected member’s term to end before the start of the next ACC meeting, which happens in the spring of 2012.

Who told the “Standing Committee” that Bishop Roskam had “ended her term”? No one — because it is not up to Bishop Roskam to end her term, but to the body which appointed her: ECUSA itself (acting through its Executive Council).

Read it all.

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

ENS: Presiding bishop preaches at St. Paul's Cathedral in London

Read it all and please note it also includes a section on the recent ACC Standing Committee meeting and related matters.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Consultative Council, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Presiding Bishop

The Archbishop of Canterbury's keynote address at Lutheran World Federation Assembly

This assembly is today focusing on the gifts and needs of Asia ”“ which means, ironically, that the imagery of bread is less apt and immediate than that of rice. That in itself reminds us that so often we try to give to the other what they do not want or need, what is not familiar or nourishing. Sharing the bread of truth means also attending to the truth of the other’s actual condition. And much of what we European Christians ask forgiveness for is always going to be those moments in our history when we have offered a gift in a way that cannot be received ”“ perhaps because it is bound to alien cultural assumptions, or more seriously because it is associated with practices of oppression and exploitation. In the Body of Christ, sooner or later, we cannot avoid the moment when we make our peace by recognising that we need each other; that we must learn to open our hands for the rice that our Asian neighbour offers.

In contrast to what the secular culture sometime seems to think, this turning to one another in recognition of mistakes and hurts is not a futile indulgence in meaningless collective guilt or an attempt to settle scores. It is rather that we come to see how our history together has often made us less and not more human, and acknowledge that the effects of that are still powerful in our lives now. So we begin to ask one another for nourishment, including the not always easy or welcome nourishment that comes from hearing the truth.

One other crucial focus today is, of course, the act of reconciliation with Christians of the Mennonite/Anabaptist tradition. It is in relation to this tradition that all the ‘historic’ confessional churches have perhaps most to repent, given the commitment of the Mennonite communities to non-violence….

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

David Mills on P.D. James: A High and Appealing Agnosticism

[P.D. James] James is, the profile shows, a thoroughly decent, thoughtful, and very charming person, the sort of person you’d welcome as a neighbor or even as a mentor or model. She’s a poster girl for the kind of urbane, skeptical, unflappable, worldly-wise Englishness beloved of Anglophiles. You can’t help but feel that the world is a better place for having P. D. James in it.

And yet part of that Englishness is a kind of religion whose appeal I don’t understand. It’s partly the agnosticism about the next world ”” I want a bit more definite knowledge than that in exchange for my Sunday mornings ”” but more the loss of the participation in the Divine life of which the promise of life eternal is a part.

Reading the profile after Mass today, it seemed to me that she gave up what is most entrancing about the Christian Faith….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Poetry & Literature, Religion & Culture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of St. James the Apostle

O gracious God, we remember before thee this day thy servant and apostle James, first among the Twelve to suffer martyrdom for the Name of Jesus Christ; and we pray that thou wilt pour out upon the leaders of thy Church that spirit of self-denying service by which alone they may have true authority among thy people; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

When I am afraid, I put my trust in thee. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust without a fear. What can flesh do to me?

–Psalm 56:3,4

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

'Hidden US Afghan war details' revealed by Wikileaks

More than 90,000 secret US military records have been leaked to the media, revealing hidden details of the war in Afghanistan, newspapers report.

The documents are said to include unreported killings of Afghan civilians as well as covert operations by US special forces against Taliban leaders.

UK daily The Guardian and the New York Times say the records were shown to them and to German weekly Der Spiegel by online whistle-blower Wikileaks.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Blogging & the Internet, Defense, National Security, Military, Media, War in Afghanistan

Bloombrg: BP Said Preparing to Replace Hayward With Dudley as Board Seeks Recovery

BP Plc plans to appoint Robert Dudley to succeed Tony Hayward as chief executive officer as the board looks to recover the company’s position in the U.S., two people with knowledge of the matter said.

Dudley, the director of BP’s oil spill response unit, is ready to be announced as the company’s first American chief on July 27 and to take the helm Oct. 1, one of the people said, asking not to be identified because a final decision hasn’t yet been made. The decision was reached in discussions with board members about how best to take BP forward and rebuild its U.S. position, the person said. The BP board meets tomorrow to “rubber stamp” the plan, the second person said.

“The fact he is American should help to keep things a little more straightforward in his dealings with the U.S. administration,” Ted Harper, who helps manage $6.8 billion at Frost Investment Advisors in Houston, said today. He doesn’t hold BP stock. “Dudley’s most important task will continue to be making sure that the well is capped.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --The 2010 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill, America/U.S.A., Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK

White House backed release of Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi

The US government secretly advised Scottish ministers it would be “far preferable” to free the Lockerbie bomber than jail him in Libya.

Correspondence obtained by The Sunday Times reveals the Obama administration considered compassionate release more palatable than locking up Abdel Baset al-Megrahi in a Libyan prison.

The intervention, which has angered US relatives of those who died in the attack, was made by Richard LeBaron, deputy head of the US embassy in London, a week before Megrahi was freed in August last year on grounds that he had terminal cancer.

The document, acquired by a well-placed US source, threatens to undermine US President Barack Obama’s claim last week that all Americans were “surprised, disappointed and angry” to learn of Megrahi’s release.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Foreign Relations, Scotland, Terrorism

The Latest Edition of the Diocese of South Carolina E-Newsletter

You may find it here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC)