Daily Archives: August 2, 2010

Stephen Prothero–The Muslim veil: Europe vs. the USA

On the one hand, the free exercise clause (“Congress shall make no law … prohibiting the free exercise” of religion) seems to support Mattson’s view that public school teachers should be free to express their religious identities at work. On the other hand, the establishment clause (“Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion”) seems to argue against any sort of religious dress for public school teachers, on the grounds that impressionable students might read such garb as an indication that their school is pro-Catholic (if their teacher wears a habit), pro-Sikh (if their teacher wears a turban), or pro-Muslim (if their teacher wears a hijab).

I believe that the Constitution requires public schools to allow teachers in upper grades (where students are generally less impressionable and less deferential to authority, and typically cycle through various teachers each day) to express their religion in dress, as long as they maintain in their teaching the religious neutrality required by the Constitution. However, I believe that the Constitution requires public schools to deny this same freedom to teachers in lower grades because here, students are generally more impressionable and more deferential to authority, and often have only one teacher in a given school day.

My position might seem convoluted, but it is no more so than many U.S. Supreme Court rulings on religion, which are forever trying to balance the demands of the establishment clause for religious neutrality with the demands of the free exercise clause for religious liberty. My position is also in keeping with the views of many ordinary Americans, who continue to differentiate themselves from Europeans when it comes to religious tolerance.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Europe, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Women

USA Today: Homeownership rate continues to slide

Millions of houses on the verge of foreclosure threaten to send homeownership to its lowest level in 50 years, according to new industry estimates.

Fresh projections say the rate could plummet to about 62% as early as 2012 and almost certainly by the end of the decade. Homeownership rates haven’t been that low since they hit 61.9% in 1960.

The share of households that own their homes has been sliding since the housing bubble burst in 2006. The rate fell again in the second quarter of this year to 66.9% ”” the lowest since 1999 ”” from a peak of 69.4% in 2004, the Census Bureau says.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Personal Finance, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

David Clough; New law places huge burdens on small businesses

To make matters worse, leaders in Congress also slipped in a new reporting requirement to help pay for this health care law that will require all businesses to now file tax Form 1099 on every business-to-business transition of $600 or more, including buying normal supplies.

This has nothing to do with health care and everything to do with taxing small businesses and increasing their paperwork burden.

I hardly call this a reform that any small-business advocate should support.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues

Post-Gazette: Episcopal leaders taking steps to address sex abuse by clergy

…victim advocates say that church law still allows offenders in ministry.

“The Episcopalians, like most denominations, have a long way to go,” said David Clohessy, executive director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “It’s alarming that the denomination hasn’t even committed to a ‘one-strike’ policy on paper.”

But Bishop Kenneth Price of Pittsburgh believes that the policies dioceses are required to enact create a de facto one-strike rule that keeps offenders out.

“Over the years this has become a much more public concern. The House of Bishops is very concerned for the protection of alleged victims … and the canons are very clear on what to do,” said Bishop Price, who is also secretary of the House of Bishops.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10214/1077004-455.stm#ixzz0vS3iD2jy

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Children, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, TEC Bishops, Theology

25%: The share of Americans with a credit score of less than 600

As of April, 25% of Americans had fallen into the least-creditworthy category, garnering a rating of less than 600 from FICO, the main arbiter of consumer credit in the U.S. That compares to only 15% before the recession, according to data compiled by Deutsche Bank.

The main upshot is that, given the disappearance of subprime lending, one in four Americans won’t be able to borrow money to make a major purchase in the foreseeable future.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Personal Finance, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Patrick Burrows on Mainline and Evangelical Ministry to Youth

Yes, evangelicals do have more retention of youth than mainline churches. But it is unfair to say that this is because evangelicals care more about keeping them. As someone who grew up as an evangelical and who is now in a mainline denomination, I see a different way of analyzing this trend. Rather than evangelicals caring more, they engage in the business of scaring more (sorry for the pun, it just worked well.)

Mainline denominations are uninterested in telling youth that they are going to burn in Hell if they don’t commit to Christianity and regularly come to church. Evangelicals, on the other hand, do. Mainline denominations are uninterested in guilting their members into attending; evangelicals see no problem with this. It’s a matter of philosophy. Evangelicals are consequentialists when it comes to youth formation”“the end justifies the means. Mainline denominations are typically deontologists”“if the means are not right, the action is wrong, even if good comes from it….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Evangelicals, Lutheran, Methodist, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Presbyterian, United Church of Christ, Youth Ministry

Notable and Quotable

The most sophisticated people I know–inside they are all children.

–Jim Henson

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Psychology

Time Magazine Cover Story–Afghan Women and the Return of the Taliban

As the war in Afghanistan enters its ninth year, the need for an exit strategy weighs on the minds of U.S. policymakers. Such an outcome, it is assumed, would involve reconciliation with the Taliban. But Afghan women fear that in the quest for a quick peace, their progress may be sidelined. “Women’s rights must not be the sacrifice by which peace is achieved,” says parliamentarian Fawzia Koofi.

Yet that may be where negotiations are heading. The Taliban will be advocating a version of an Afghan state in line with their own conservative views, particularly on the issue of women’s rights. Already there is a growing acceptance that some concessions to the Taliban are inevitable if there is to be genuine reconciliation. “You have to be realistic,” says a diplomat in Kabul. “We are not going to be sending troops and spending money forever. There will have to be a compromise, and sacrifices will have to be made.”

For Afghanistan’s women, an early withdrawal of international forces could be disastrous.

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2007238,00.html#ixzz0vRrVD1LS

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Afghanistan, Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, War in Afghanistan, Women

Washington Post on the Economy–Growth slows with 2.4 percent rate in second quarter

Personal consumption rose at an annual rate of only 1.6 percent in the second quarter, and consumer spending appears to have softened as the quarter progressed.

“The problem is it looks like the consumer was really weakening in June, so you’re starting the third quarter in a position of weakness,” said David Shulman, senior economist at the UCLA Anderson Forecast. “The components of this report are ugly.”

Meanwhile, a number of factors that boosted economic growth starting last summer are about to run their course.

The second-quarter GDP number, soft though it was, received a one-time boost from businesses building up their inventories (contributing 1.05 percentage points of growth) and federal government spending (0.7 percentage points), both of which are likely to fade. Growth was also supported by a burst of residential investment (adding 0.6 percentage points) — caused by home builders’ rushing to finish projects to take advantage of a home-buyer tax credit — that probably will turn negative in future quarters.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, House of Representatives, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, Stock Market, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Tom Wright on C.S. Lewis: Reflections on a Master Apologist After 60 Years

I once found myself working closely, in a cathedral fundraising campaign, with a local millionaire. He was a self-made man. When I met him he was in his 60s, at the top of his game as a businessman, and was chairing our Board of Trustees. To me, coming from the academic world, he was a nightmare to work with.

He never thought in (what seemed to me) straight lines; he would leap from one conversation to another; he would suddenly break into a discussion and ask what seemed a totally unrelated question. But after a while I learned to say to myself: Well, it must work, or he wouldn’t be where he is. And that was right. We raised the money. We probably wouldn’t have done it if I’d been running the Trust my own way.

I have something of the same feeling on re-reading C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity. I owe Lewis a great debt. In my late teens and early twenties I read everything of his I could get my hands on, and read some of his paperbacks and essays several times over. There are sentences, and some whole passages, I know pretty much by heart.

Millions around the world have been introduced to, and nurtured within, the Christian faith through his work where their own preachers and teachers were not giving them what they needed. That was certainly true of me.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Apologetics, Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Theology

Evidence Grows of Problem of Clergy Burnout

The findings have surfaced with ominous regularity over the last few years, and with little notice: Members of the clergy now suffer from obesity, hypertension and depression at rates higher than most Americans. In the last decade, their use of antidepressants has risen, while their life expectancy has fallen. Many would change jobs if they could.

Public health experts who have led the studies caution that there is no simple explanation of why so many members of a profession once associated with rosy-cheeked longevity have become so unhealthy and unhappy.

But while research continues, a growing number of health care experts and religious leaders have settled on one simple remedy that has long been a touchy subject with many clerics: taking more time off.

“We had a pastor in our study group who hadn’t taken a vacation in 18 years,” said Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell, an assistant professor of health research at Duke University who directs one of the studies. “These people tend to be driven by a sense of a duty to God to answer every call for help from anybody, and they are virtually called upon all the time, 24/7.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Samuel David Ferguson

This feast day is as of now provisional pending one more General Convention vote–KSH

Almighty God, we bless thee for moving thy servant Samuel Ferguson to minister in Liberia, expanding the missionary vision of thy Church in education and ministry. Stir up in us a zeal for thy mission and a yearning for thy holy Word; through Jesus Christ, who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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

A Prayer to begin the Day

Into thy hands, O Lord, we commend ourselves this day. Let thy presence be with us to its close. Strengthen us to remember that in whatsoever good work we do we are serving thee. Give us a diligent and watchful spirit, that we may seek in all things to know thy will, and knowing it, gladly to perform it, to the honour and glory of thy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.

–John 1:14

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Casper priest now Episcopal bishop

One minute, he’s a parish priest.

But as a dozen bishops placed their hands on the shoulders of a kneeling John Smylie, he became the new head of the Episcopal Church in Wyoming.

The national church’s presiding bishop, the Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, conducted the two-hour consecration service attended by several hundred members of the Wyoming diocese at the Casper Events Center on Saturday.

“Therefore, Father, make John a bishop in your church,” Jefferts Schori prayed during the laying-on of hands. “Pour out upon him the power of your princely spirit, whom you bestowed upon your beloved son Jesus Christ, with whom he endowed the apostles, and by whom your church is built up in every place, to the glory and unceasing praise of your name.”

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