Daily Archives: August 1, 2010

David Stockman: Four Deformations of the Apocalypse

More specifically, the new policy doctrines have caused four great deformations of the national economy, and modern Republicans have turned a blind eye to each one.

The first of these started when the Nixon administration defaulted on American obligations under the 1944 Bretton Woods agreement to balance our accounts with the world. Now, since we have lived beyond our means as a nation for nearly 40 years, our cumulative current-account deficit ”” the combined shortfall on our trade in goods, services and income ”” has reached nearly $8 trillion. That’s borrowed prosperity on an epic scale….

The second unhappy change in the American economy has been the extraordinary growth of our public debt. In 1970 it was just 40 percent of gross domestic product, or about $425 billion. When it reaches $18 trillion, it will be 40 times greater than in 1970. This debt explosion has resulted not from big spending by the Democrats, but instead the Republican Party’s embrace, about three decades ago, of the insidious doctrine that deficits don’t matter if they result from tax cuts.

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, Senate, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

Thomas Friedman: The Great (Double) Game

The trove of WikiLeaks about the faltering U.S. war effort in Afghanistan has provoked many reactions, but for me it contains one clear message. It’s actually an old piece of advice your parents may have given you before you went off to college: “If you are in a poker game and you don’t know who the sucker is, it’s probably you.”

In the case of the Great Game of Central Asia, that’s us.

Best I can tell from the WikiLeaks documents and other sources, we are paying Pakistan’s Army and intelligence service to be two-faced. Otherwise, they would be just one-faced and 100 percent against us. The same could probably be said of Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai. But then everyone out there is wearing a mask ”” or two.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, Foreign Relations, Pakistan, War in Afghanistan

Targeted Killing Is New U.S. Focus in Afghanistan

When President Obama announced his new war plan for Afghanistan last year, the centerpiece of the strategy ”” and a big part of the rationale for sending 30,000 additional troops ”” was to safeguard the Afghan people, provide them with a competent government and win their allegiance.

Eight months later, that counterinsurgency strategy has shown little success, as demonstrated by the flagging military and civilian operations in Marja and Kandahar and the spread of Taliban influence in other areas of the country.

Instead, what has turned out to work well is an approach American officials have talked much less about: counterterrorism, military-speak for the targeted killings of insurgents from Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, War in Afghanistan

Archbishop Vincent Nichols interview: A chance to see faith as a resource to be rediscovered

Listening to David Cameron’s first speech on the steps of Downing Street, Archbishop Vincent Nichols says he nearly fell off his chair at the Prime Minister’s pledge to work for “the common good”.

His surprise was down to the fact that only a few weeks earlier, Catholic bishops had published a document offering election advice to churchgoers called “Choosing the Common Good”.

Sitting comfortably now in a shaded garden off the main road in Lourdes, the leader of the Church in England and Wales admits to being encouraged at the echoes of Catholic teaching emerging in the language of the new Coalition Government.

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

Local Paper Faith and Values Section–Charleston's crowded churchyards, where Generations rest

Charleston, centuries old, has a disproportionate amount of sacred ground compared with other places in America. Its burial sites are so numerous that many have been lost to nature and neglect.

The dead are laid to rest in historic cemeteries such as Magnolia, in cemeteries run by burial societies that operate today on a shoestring and in unmarked graves throughout the Lowcountry. But it’s the churchyards, with their generations at rest, that most vividly remind people of the ways in which the past is populated by religious and political leaders, laborers, soldiers, mothers and fathers, and children taken too soon. At an old Lowcountry church, where parking lots fill and worshippers gather, one can grasp the link between past and present — the continuity of history.

Fifty years ago, the majority of burials still took place in churchyards, said Johnny Stuhr of Stuhr Funeral Homes. Today, most churchyards, especially those on the Charleston peninsula, are out of space, and one can find a resting place there only if the congregation has installed a columbarium to hold the ashes of the deceased.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Saint John's Nottingham: Richard Bauckham Talks About the Aforementioned Book

Posted in Uncategorized

Ben Witherington reviews Richard Bauckham's Jesus and the EyewitnessesTe

There are books that are interesting, there are books that are important and then there are seminal studies that serve as road markers for the field, pointing the way forward. Richard Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses is in the latter category, to be sure….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Books, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Notable and Quotable

Most biblical scholars consider that Gospel material was for decades transmitted by anonymous persons, in an uncontrolled way, before it reached written form. In a concerted attack on this assumption, Bauckham says that in the Gospels we have materials based on the eye-witness testimony of named individuals, transmitted in their names.

He starts from the importance for ancient historians of eyewitness testimony, as the proper foundation for their work. In a fresh examination of material from Papias, he demonstrates Papias’s focus on eye-witness testimony at a time when the Gospel eyewitnesses were dying out ”” drawing out the likeness to present-day interest in oral history.

Bauckham suggests that the presence of named persons in the Gospels often marks that individual as the source, and even guarantor, of that piece of the tradition. The names of the Twelve are preserved, he argues, because they were the official eyewitnesses and guarantors of the core of the Gospel tradition.

–John Nolland in a Church Times review of Richard Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as eyewitness testimony (Eerdmans, 2006)

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Scripture Readings

The point is this: he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work.

–2 Corinthians 9:6-8

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer of Saint Augustine for Spiritual Strength in the Battle

O God, our Father, we are exceedingly frail, and indisposed to every virtuous and gallant undertaking: Strengthen our weakness, we beseech thee, that we may do valiantly in this spiritual war; help us against our own negligence and cowardice, and defend us from the treachery of our unfaithful hearts; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

Fifteen Church of England Bishops write a Letter to the Clergy

Neither the Report of the Revision Committee nor the legislation itself shows a proper understanding of our reservations, however carefully these have been presented through the consultation process and in the College and House of bishops. It remains a deep disappointment to us that the Church at large did not engage with the excellent Rochester Report and paid scant attention to the Consecrated Women report sponsored by Forward in Faith.

We must now accept that a majority of the members of the Church of England believe it is right to proceed with the ordination of women as bishops, and that a significant percentage of those in authority will not encourage or embrace with enthusiasm the traditional integrity or vocations within it. Nor is it their intention or desire to create a structure which genuinely allows the possibility of a flourishing mission beyond this generation.

However, the closeness of the vote on the Archbishops’ amendment for co ordinate jurisdiction, concerns though there are about its adequacy, suggest at least a measure of disquiet in the majority about proceeding without a provision acceptable to traditionalists. The Catholic group fought valiantly on the floor of synod and we are grateful for that, and while many in the Church and press are speaking as if the legislation is now passed, final synodical approval is still some way off.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Women

Religion and Ethics Newsweekly: Faith and the Brain

Dr. [ANDREW] NEWBERG: Religion and spirituality do help to lower a person’s feelings of depression, anxiety, gives them some meaning in life, helps them to cope with things, and that’s going to have a potentially very beneficial effect.

[LUCKY ] SEVERSON: But Newberg has made another discovery, a controversial one, that our belief system, how we view God, can make a huge difference in how it affects our well being. If we believe in a loving God it can have a positive effect, even prolong our lives. But believing in a judgmental, authoritarian God can produce fear, anger, and stress, and that’s not healthy.

Dr. NEWBERG: When it ultimately turns towards hatred, and whether it’s people who believe in abortion versus those who don’t, whether it’s just one religion versus another, when you hear rhetoric which is hateful, filled with anger, that turns on the different parts of the brain that are involved in our stress response and our anger response.

Read or watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology