Daily Archives: August 7, 2010

From the Do Not Take Yourself Too seriously department–Pastor decides to live with muffed sign

From satirical site Lark News:

After spending $2,000 to upgrade his church’s sign, and fighting the board for the money, pastor Chad Thomas was chagrined to see the word “church” spelled incorrectly.

“My secretary was gone that day and I’m not much of a speller ”” it’s my fault,” he says. “I signed off on the final copy.”

Read the whole piece.

Posted in * General Interest, Humor / Trivia

The Secret Quilliam Memo to the UK government on Preventing Terrorism

It is a fascinating read with a lot of focus on “Islamism.”

Update: Brian Whitaker thinks it is wide of the mark.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

BBC Thought for the Day–Giles Fraser is Concerned about what has happened to Weddings

I have a suggestion for an area of public life where cuts in spending are in urgent need and would, I believe, be widely welcomed: weddings. Over the last several years the cost of the average wedding has ballooned to about £20,000. And as a recent survey showed: with the expectation of ever more expensive presents, the need for new clothes, hotel bills and the like, the cost of simply attending a wedding is now well over £500.

But it isn’t just about the money. For the problem with the modern wedding is that it’s too often a glitzy stage-set overly concerned with the shoes, the flowers, the napkin rings and performing to the cameras. I’m delighted for Chelsea Clinton and her new husband Mark. But judging by some press reports, the most important thing about the wedding was her two Vera Wang dresses. And yes, I blame the media here, not the happy couple. For the pervasive influence of the media on the look and feel of weddings – not least those weddings that are featured in celebrity magazines – has encouraged an atmosphere of narcissism and self-promotion to work its way into the very fabric of the modern wedding celebration….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, England / UK, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Personal Finance, Psychology, Religion & Culture

NPR–Lackluster Private Hiring Reflects Economy's Struggles

The Labor Department numbers released Friday also showed that the private sector hired only 31,000 workers in June, revised down from 83,000. May’s numbers were raised slightly to show 51,000 net new jobs, up from 33,000.

“We’ve definitely seen a one, two month ”” in some cases three month ”” drop in the economic data,” Brian Wesbury, chief economist at First Trust in Chicago, told NPR.

Wesbury said that while the numbers are disappointing, he doesn’t think the nation is heading toward a double-dip recession. “There are other pieces [of data] that have begun to turn,” he said.

Standard & Poor’s chief economist David Wyss agreed. “I think we’re seeing a half-speed recovery,” he told NPR.

Read it all.

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

RNS–Religious Groups Press for CIA Torture Probe

Twenty religious organizations are calling for Congress and President Obama to ensure a fair and thorough investigation into allegations of forced human experimentation by the CIA on detainees after 9/11.

In June, the group Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) released “Experiments in Torture” which detailed health professionals’ involvement in CIA interrogation programs.

The report alleged that the CIA used forced human experimentation for several purposes, including calibrating “the level of pain experienced … ostensibly to keep it from crossing the administration’s legal threshold of what it claimed constituted torture.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, The U.S. Government, Theology

A Living Church Article on the Bishop Bennison Decision

“The sexual abuse exception to the statute of limitations, if improperly applied, can wrongfully label a Respondent a sexual abuser,” eight bishops of the court wrote in their unanimous ruling. A ninth member of the court, the Rt. Rev. Wayne P. Wright, Bishop of Delaware, recused himself for personal reasons.

“Title IV courts must guard against allowing that exception to be used without proof of actual sexual abuse,” the ruling added. “This is especially true under circumstances where the exception is invoked not so much to deal with sexual abuse but, rather, as an effort to use events in the distant past when the Respondent was a priest to remove a bishop during current times of strife within the diocese. To allow Title IV and the sexual abuse exception to the statute of limitations to be used in this manner diminishes the monumental efforts of the Church to address, punish and remove incidents of actual clergy sexual abuse.”

Pabarue said in a conference call Thursday that he was disappointed the review court considered his client guilty of conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy, but he was thankful for its ultimate decision.

Bishop Bennison joined his attorney in discussing the case.

“I’m very gratified by the decision of the court. I’ve always believed that the charges were without merit,” he said.

Read it all.

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

Diocese of Springfield Episcopalians to vote for new bishop

[Springfield Bishop Peter] Beckwith, disappointed by [Katharine] Jefferts Schori’s election, threatened to seek alternative oversight for the Springfield Diocese ”” possibly from a bishop in Africa, as other dioceses had done ”” rather than submit to her authority. He wrote in a pastoral letter that the Episcopal Church was “in meltdown,” and called the moment “the lowest ebb of our beloved but beleaguered Church since perhaps the Civil War if not the American Revolution.”

At the same time, some liberals in the diocese complained about Beckwith’s pastoral leadership and threatened to defect themselves from his authority to a more friendly bishop in another diocese.

In the end, no one in Springfield decamped for foreign shores, but in 2008, some conservatives in other parts of the country left the Episcopal Church and founded their own province, called the Anglican Church in North America.

“Not only our diocese but the whole Episcopal Church has been rocky and unsettling,” Holder said. “The diocese needs someone who can be a reconciler and a healer; someone who will be open to hearing the views of all people.”

Chuck Evans, moderator of the 50-member Concerned Laity of the Springfield Diocese, said the church in Springfield “is pretty fractured at this point.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils

Battle Looms Over Huge Costs of Public Pensions

There’s a class war coming to the world of government pensions.

The haves are retirees who were once state or municipal workers. Their seemingly guaranteed and ever-escalating monthly pension benefits are breaking budgets nationwide.

The have-nots are taxpayers who don’t have generous pensions. Their 401(k)s or individual retirement accounts have taken a real beating in recent years and are not guaranteed. And soon, many of those people will be paying higher taxes or getting fewer state services as their states put more money aside to cover those pension checks.

At stake is at least $1 trillion. That’s trillion, with a “t,” as in titanic and terrifying.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, Credit Markets, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Pensions, Personal Finance, Politics in General, State Government, Stock Market, Taxes

Persecuted Muslim Sect Uses Brochure Campaign to Push for Peace

Qasim Rashid squinted through his sunglasses and pointed toward the Kamikaze ride and the Curly Fries stand, shimmering under the August sun at the Wisconsin State Fair. “Team of two,” he said to several of the eight young men gathered around him. “That way.”

After the rest of the volunteers had departed in pairs, each one carrying a bundle of exactly 210 brochures, Mr. Rashid and his partners, Maanaan Sabir and Ryan Archut, headed down the midway past the Fun Slide and the World’s Smallest Horse. There, at one compass point in the middle of Middle America, they went about attesting that there were Muslims for peace.

It said so, in those exact words, right next to the image of a dove, on the cover of the pamphlets they had come to distribute. Inside the flier, a headline announced “Love For All ”” Hatred For None,” and a slash mark cut through the word “Terrorism.”

“Sir, can I offer you a free ”˜Muslims for Peace’ brochure?” Mr. Rashid, 28, a law school student at the University of Richmond, asked the first passer-by.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Violence

Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky Interviewed by the NY Times Magazine

Newsweek just published a list, “The 50 Most Influential Rabbis in America,” and placed you at No. 1. As a Hasidic rabbi and a leader of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, do you think you can rank rabbis or any other religious leaders as if they were athletes?
I am of the opinion that you can’t rank human beings. Every person has something to contribute to the welfare of the next human being. No two people think alike or look alike, and everyone has something that another person does not have. Who’s to say who is higher and who’s lower? In terms of the essence of human beings, I don’t feel it’s proper to rank them because we don’t really know what their mission in life is.

What’s bothersome about the best-rabbi list is that it seems to exemplify a culture in which religious leaders of all stripes are fixated on power and politics, rather than philosophical questions.
Politics and religion are not soluble. They don’t mix. I learned from the rebbe, my teacher, my mentor. The rebbe in his tenure received Bobby Kennedy and many other politicians. He gave them all the time they needed and discussed whatever they needed to discuss. But he never chose, never gave any indication of who he favored.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Judaism, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Philadelphia Inquirer: Episcopal Church reverses order, reinstates Pennsylvania bishop

Although [Charles] Bennison badly mishandled his brother’s prolonged sexual abuse of a teenager in his California parish during the 1970s, the appeals court concluded, the church’s statute of limitations on such wrongdoing had expired after 10 years.

“We find that [Bennison] committed conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy,” the eight-member panel of bishops wrote. But “because the statute of limitations has run out . . . we have no choice under the canons of the church but to reverse the judgment of the trial court that [he] is guilty.”

Bennison, 66, described himself as “very gratified” in a teleconference call from Michigan, where he is vacationing. He plans to return to his duties as bishop Aug. 16.

“I hope I am a changed person,” he said, adding that his immediate goal was to listen to the men and women who have led the diocese since his suspension in October 2007. He said he would likely devote more attention to the spiritual affairs of the diocese than to its finances or administration.

Read it all.

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

A Prayer for the Feast Day of John Mason Neale

Grant unto us, O God, that in all time of our testing we may know thy presence and obey thy will; that, following the example of thy servant John Mason Neale, we may with integrity and courage accomplish what thou givest us to do, and endure what thou givest us to bear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

On the holy mount stands the city he founded; the LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwelling places of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God.

–Psalm 87:1-3

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Jobs Report Shows Private Sector Still Wary of Hiring

Earlier this week, a crucial index of manufacturing showed that growth had slipped slightly in July, chain stores reported anemic increases in sales and unemployment claims rose above the level usual for this stage of a recovery. On the more positive side, auto sales increased 5.1 percent in July compared with a year earlier, although from a very low base.

For now, companies appear nervous about expanding their payrolls. “Businesses just don’t want to hire,” said Allen Sinai, chief global economist at Decision Economics. “Workers are too costly and it’s very easy to substitute technology for labor.”

He added that with corporate earnings rising partly on the back of cost-cutting, employers are reluctant to give up profits. “So while corporate earnings were spectacular,” Mr. Sinai said, “the job market just stinks.”

Read it all.

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

Chris Blackhurst (The Tablet)–in the City, Greed is still ”˜good’

One episode has always stuck in my mind ”“ which illustrates the mentality of the City. I once travelled to Zug in Switzerland, to interview a metals trader who had been at the centre of a suspected £150 million fraud. As ever, the companies concerned had preferred not to press criminal charges (they don’t because the burden of proof is higher and they don’t want any negative publicity falling on them). But there had been a civil case and the judge’s findings had been pretty conclusive and highly critical. The metal concerned was aluminium. Instead of finding a dealer full of remorse for what he’d done, I met a person who expressed bafflement ”“ he could not understand why I’d gone all that way and why I was so concerned about events that had occurred some years previously.

“Why don’t you ask me about copper?” he said. “Make a note of where the copper price is six months from now.” Mostly for theatrical effect and to please him, I produced a diary and wrote down “copper” in six months’ time. Exactly six months to the day, copper was reported to have risen to an all-time high ”“ on the back of rumoured buying from my interviewee and his associates.

That’s what the City is like. One of the abiding terms in the market is “eat what you kill” ”“ you hear it trotted out regularly as a justification for the bonus system. It’s a “me, me” culture in which everyone is out for themselves.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Credit Markets, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stock Market, The Banking System/Sector, Theology