Daily Archives: August 28, 2010

Religion and Ethics Newsweekly–Hurricane Katrina's Five-Year Anniversary in New Orleans

KIM LAWTON, correspondent: About 20 minutes outside New Orleans, worshippers gather at First Baptist Church in Chalmette, the largest city in St. Bernard Parish. It’s a pretty typical Southern Baptist Sunday morning service.

REV JOHN DEE JEFFRIES (Preaching at First Baptist Church, Chalmette, Louisiana): Lord, what’s going on? Lord, why?

LAWTON: But that belies the incredible journey this congregation has made since Hurricane Katrina. More than half of the churches in St. Bernard Parish still haven’t come back, and most of them probably never will. First Baptist is not only back, but reinventing itself to help a community still struggling to recover.

Read it all

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Baptists, Hurricane Katrina, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Religion & Culture

Struggling Cities Shut Firehouses in Budget Crisis

Fire departments around the nation are cutting jobs, closing firehouses and increasingly resorting to “rolling brownouts” in which they shut different fire companies on different days as the economic downturn forces many cities and towns to make deep cuts that are slowing their responses to fires and other emergencies.

Philadelphia began rolling brownouts this month, joining cities from Baltimore to Sacramento that now shut some units every day. San Jose, Calif., laid off 49 firefighters last month. And Lawrence, Mass., north of Boston, has laid off firefighters and shut down half of its six firehouses, forcing the city to rely on help from neighboring departments each time a fire goes to a second alarm.

Fire chiefs and union officials alike say it is the first time they have seen such deep cuts in so many parts of the country. “I’ve never seen it so widespread,” said Harold A. Schaitberger, the general president of the International Association of Fire Fighters.

Read it all from the front page of yesterday’s NY Times.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, City Government, Economy, Politics in General, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Vacation Travel Recovers, but Frugality Is Focus

Vacations have become a luxury for many Americans trying to make ends meet in this economic downturn, but there are signs that people are slowly, even timidly, on the move again.

Families who postponed trips last year are making modest vacation plans, travel agents say. And business owners or executives who felt it was insensitive to travel as they cut costs and laid off workers are again making plans to get away, leisure industry experts added.

Stacy H. Small, president of Elite Travel International, said at least half of her clients who were business owners cut back last year. “I had a lot of clients say ”˜I just don’t feel right,’ ” she said. This year, nearly all have returned.

Read it all

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Personal Finance, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Travel

AP–Imam behind NYC mosque faces divisions over center

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf has long worked to bridge divisions, be they fissures between interfaith husbands and wives or political chasms separating the United States and the Muslim world.

The 61-year-old clergyman is now in the midst of a polarizing political, religious and cultural debate over plans for a multistory Islamic center that will feature a mosque, health club and theater about two blocks north of ground zero. He is one of the leaders of the Park51 project, but has largely been absent from the national debate over the implications of building a Muslim house of worship so close to where terrorists killed more than 2,700 people.

Though Rauf has said the center, which could cost more than $100 million, would serve as a space for interfaith dialogue, moderate Muslim practice and peaceful prayer, critics say it will create a base for radical, anti-American Islam. Some critics have also asked where the funding for the center might originate and whether it may come from sources linked to Muslim extremists.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, City Government, Islam, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

A Terrific NBC Video Report on the Transformation of New Orleans' Schools

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

As far as I am concerned, Tulane University President Scott Cowen is a national hero–someone needs to give the man a medal–KSH.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, City Government, Education, Hurricane Katrina, Politics in General

Facebook alternative Diaspora eyes launch date

An open alternative to Facebook will be launched on 15 September, the developers of the project have said.

Diaspora describes itself as a “privacy-aware, personally-controlled” social network.

The open-source project made headlines earlier this year when Facebook was forced to simplify its privacy settings, after they were criticised for being overly complex and confusing.

The project, developed by four US students, raised $200,000 (£140,000).

Read it all

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy

Jake Dell (Living Church)–Tabletop Pastoral Care

Christ Church uses remarkably simple equipment to take prayer to the people in southeast Schenectady, New York.

I arrived at the church at 9 a.m. with Torre Bissell and we set up a 4-by-4 folding table with five chairs.

“Put it here,” Torre said, pointing to the crack in the sidewalk that must have been the property line. “That way no one can say we’re on the sidewalk. And point chairs this way, facing out. That way people don’t feel trapped.”

And that was it. A laminated sign reading “Prayer Table” flapped from the front. Torre pulled out a pen and paper and jotted down my name and his and the day’s date. Then he pulled out a bag of wooden crosses and laid out a few along with a thin paperback English Standard Version New Testament.

Read it all

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

CAPA Apologizes to the Church of Uganda for Financial Scandal

(Via email):

(Church of Uganda) In a 27th August letter to Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi, Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, the Most Rev. Ian Earnest, Chairman of CAPA (Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa), apologized for “embarrassing” the Church of Uganda when CAPA received a $25,000 grant from Trinity Grants (USA) for the All Africa Bishops Conference taking place in Uganda. (Letter is attached.)

In 2003, the Church of Uganda broke communion with the Episcopal Church (TEC) over their unbiblical theology and immoral actions that violated historic and Biblical Anglicanism and tore the fabric of the Communion at its deepest level. At the same time, the Church of Uganda resolved to not receive any funds from TEC.

The 2nd All Africa Bishops Conference was hosted by the Church of Uganda, but the programme and speakers were chosen by CAPA. The Church of Uganda received no outside funding for its role in hosting the 400 Bishops and other participants in the week-long conference. All funds were raised locally within Uganda.

Archbishop Henry thanked Archbishop Ian for acknowledging the awkward position CAPA had put the Church of Uganda in and appreciated his humility and generous spirit in writing.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Church of Uganda

Suzanne Gill (Fort Worth Star Telegram)–Episcopal Confusion

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth was formed in 1982 by an organizing convention of clergy and lay delegates. The diocese then voted to affiliate with the General Convention of the Episcopal Church. General Convention does not establish dioceses; rather, dioceses join the General Convention voluntarily.

Diocesan conventions in 2007 and 2008 voted by 80 percent to withdraw from the General Convention. As an unincorporated association, the diocese simply exercised its right to withdraw. Nothing in the constitution or canons of TEC says a diocese may not leave. The litigation against us is an attempt to deny this legal right.

Read it all.

(Please note that the letter to which Ms Gill is responding may be found here [starts at the bottom of the page and continues on the following page at the top]).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

Nancy Gibbs (Time Magazine)–Sit. Stay. Trust. Learn.

My friends who grew up with dogs tell me how when they were teenagers and trusted no one in the world, they could tell their dog all their secrets. It was the one friend who would not gossip or betray, could be solemn or silly or silent as needed, could provide in the middle of the night the soft, unbegrudging comfort and peace that adolescence conspires to disrupt. An age that is all about growth and risk needs some anchors and weights, a model of steadfastness when all else is in flux. Sometimes I think Twist’s abiding devotion keeps my girls on a benevolent leash, one that hangs quietly at their side as they trot along but occasionally yanks them back to safety and solid ground.

We’ve weighed so many decisions so carefully in raising our daughters–what school to send them to and what church to attend, whether to let them drop soccer or piano at the risk of teaching them irresponsibility, when to give them cell phones and with what precautions. But when it comes to what really shapes their character and binds our family, I never would have thought we would owe so much to its smallest member.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Animals, Children, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Theology

Bloomberg–Recession Babies Wane as U.S. Births Decline for Second Year

The number of women giving birth in the U.S. declined for the second year in a row as more women delayed motherhood during the worst recession since the 1930s.

The number of births dropped 2.6 percent to 4.14 million in 2009, even as the U.S. population rose slightly, according to the annual report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. The national birthrate declined to 13.5 for every 1,000 people, from 14.3 in 2007, when the collapse of subprime loans led to falling home prices and the loss of more than 8 million jobs.

Read it all

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Children, Economy, Marriage & Family, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Rodney Clapp (Christian Century): Hard of listening

Is hearing or the failure to hear a matter of responsibility and culpability, or is it not? Maybe another family story will help sort this out. Eight years ago, I suffered an ear infection that led to a puncturing of the eardrum. A doctor wanted to test how much damage had been done, so I was ushered into a sound-proof booth and administered a number of tests. When we were finished, I asked the technician about the results. She replied that, for a 45-year-old man, my hearing was slightly above average.

“Well, isn’t that interesting,” I said. “Now I have medico-scientific proof that my wife and daughter are wrong. They think I’m getting hard of hearing.” The technician didn’t miss a beat. “There is a difference between hearing and listening,” she said.

So there you have it: there is a distinction between hearing and listening. We may have functioning hearing organs and still fail to listen to what others are saying. Put differently, hearing is a matter of physical endowment, but listening is a skill at which we can work to become better, more adept.

Read it all.

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

Notable and Quotable

“Vainly does the preacher utter the Word of God exteriorly unless he listens to it interiorly.”

–Saint Augustine, Sermon 179, I

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Augustine of Hippo

O Lord God, who art the light of the minds that know thee, the life of the souls that love thee, and the strength of the hearts that serve thee: Help us, following the example of thy servant Augustine of Hippo, so to know thee that we may truly love thee, and so to love thee that we may fully serve thee, whom to serve is perfect freedom; through 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, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Some boast of chariots, and some of horses; but we boast of the name of the LORD our God. They will collapse and fall; but we shall rise and stand upright. Give victory to the king, O LORD; answer us when we call.

–Psalm 20:7-9

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture