Daily Archives: September 4, 2010

Religion and Ethics Newsweekly: the Islamic Center Controversy

[DAISY] KHAN: The extremists have defined the agenda for the global Muslim community, and we wanted to amplify the voices of the ordinary Muslims who are, you know, law-abiding citizens, and it was my way of, like, helping rebuild by building a center that would create a counter-momentum against extremism.

[SALLY] REGENHARD: I want to make it clear that I and my””members of my group do not have anger towards Muslims. But it’s too close, it’s too painful, it’s too soon. I’m still trying to find remains of my son.

[MICHAEL] BURKE: It amounts to an insult. It comes across as intentionally provocative.

[BOB] FAW: Proponent Khan, though, has drawn a line in the sand, arguing that being forced to move the site elsewhere amounts to “surrender.”

KHAN: I think it would be un-American to ask anybody to leave the neighborhood. We’re part of the neighborhood. I don’t think anybody should be driven out of their neighborhood. It’s about acceptance. Muslims are not being accepted as equals in this country yet.

Read or watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, City Government, History, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism

The Economist: How the threats to the internet’s openness can be averted

Three sets of walls are being built. The first is national. China’s “great firewall” already imposes tight controls on internet links with the rest of the world, monitoring traffic and making many sites or services unavailable. Other countries, including Iran, Cuba, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam, have done similar things, and other governments are tightening controls on what people can see and do on the internet.

Second, companies are exerting greater control by building “walled gardens”””an approach that appeared to have died out a decade ago. Facebook has its own closed, internal e-mail system, for example. Google has built a suite of integrated web-based services. Users of Apple’s mobile devices access many internet services through small downloadable software applications, or apps, rather than a web browser. By dictating which apps are allowed on its devices, Apple has become a gatekeeper. As apps spread to other mobile devices, and even cars and televisions, other firms will do so too.

Third, there are concerns that network operators looking for new sources of revenue will strike deals with content providers that will favour those websites prepared to pay up.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General

The Tablet–The Pope, the Church and the visit ”“ what Britons really think

An exclusive poll for The Tablet this week reveals that the Catholic Church in Britain has so far failed to generate interest in the papal visit among the population at large. Two-thirds of respondents neither support nor oppose the visit even though they firmly acknowledge their Christian heritage and believe that religion is a force for good. Nor have the campaigning opponents to the visit won them over. And with thousands of places still not allocated for the three major gatherings in Scotland and England, it would appear the Church has also been unable to excite the vast majority of the British people about the opportunities to see the Pope in person. Despite that, one in 10 of all those interviewed said they would be likely to attend a papal public event.

Conducted for The Tablet between 20 and 26 August by Ipsos MORI, the poll was based on face-to-face interviews with 996 British people over the age of 15. Of these, 117 were Catholics reflecting their proportion of the general population. Perhaps the most surprising finding is the number of people who recognise Pope Benedict from a photograph bearing no clues to his identity. He was correctly named by a sizeable majority of all those polled (65 per cent) who recognised him more readily than the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, identified by only half of the respondents. Curiously, Dr Williams is more readily recognised by Catholics (54 per cent) than by the general public (50 per cent), although surprisingly nearly a quarter of the Catholics polled failed to recognise the Pope.

Read it all.

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

Today's WSJ Front Page: A Chaplain and an Atheist Go to War

They say there are no atheists in foxholes. There’s one on the front lines here, though, and the chaplain isn’t thrilled about it.

Navy Chaplain Terry Moran is steeped in the Bible and believes all of it. His assistant, Religious Programs Specialist 2nd Class Philip Chute, is steeped in the Bible and having none of it.

Together they roam this town in Taliban country, comforting the grunts while crossing swords with each other over everything from the power of angels to the wisdom of standing in clear view of enemy snipers. Lt. Moran, 48 years old, preaches about divine protection while 25-year-old RP2 Chute covers the chaplain’s back and wishes he were more attentive to the dangers of the here and now.

It’s a match made in, well, the Pentagon.

“He trusts God to keep him safe,” says RP2 Chute. “And I’m here just in case that doesn’t work out.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Atheism, Defense, National Security, Military, Military / Armed Forces, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, War in Afghanistan

Thomas Straubhaar (Der Spiegel)–America Has Become Too European

The Obama administration and the Federal Reserve want to fix the United States economy by spending more money. But while that approach might work for Europe, it is risky for the US. The nation would be better off embracing traditional American values like self-reliance and small government.

There’s no question about it: The 20th century was America’s era. The United States rose rapidly from virtually nothing to become the most politically powerful and economically strongest country in the world. But the financial crisis and subsequent recession have now raised doubts about its future. Are we currently witnessing the beginning of the end of the American era?

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Economy, Europe, Federal Reserve, Germany, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout Plan, The 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration Plan, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009, The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto Industry, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

United Church of Christ ex-president, the Rev. John Thomas, admits affair, is divorcing

The former president of the United Church of Christ is divorcing his wife and is now in a committed relationship with a former co-worker at church headquarters, the UCC announced.

The Rev. John H. Thomas was general minister and president for a decade of the mainline Protestant denomination before he resigned at the end of his term in 2009.

Thomas and his wife, Lynda, are divorcing, and “he has formed a relationship with another woman with whom he worked” while he led the Cleveland-based denomination, the UCC said in a statement.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology, United Church of Christ

Gallup–Religion continues to play an Important role in Most People's lives Worldwide

The global median proportion of adults who say religion is an important part of their daily lives is 84%, unchanged from what Gallup has found in other years. In 10 countries and areas, at least 98% say religion is important in their daily lives.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Globalization, Religion & Culture

Presiding Bishop, House of Dep. President, Executive Council member call for Anglican Covenant study

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson and Executive Council member Rosalie Simmonds Ballentine have issued a letter to the church calling for study on the Anglican Covenant.

“We strongly urge every congregation in this Church to engage in discussion of the proposed Covenant at some time in the coming two years,” the letter states.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Adult Education, Anglican Covenant, Episcopal Church (TEC), House of Deputies President, Parish Ministry, Presiding Bishop

NPR–Now We Are Alone: Living On Without Our Sons

My wife, Jan, and I did not celebrate a damn thing this summer. We didn’t take a family vacation or meet up with old friends or invite neighbors to our backyard for a picnic. Instead, we got in the car one morning and drove to the annual national conference of The Compassionate Friends, a support organization for parents who have lost a child.

Or, in our case, children. All of our children….

I caught this one by happenstance yesterday on the way home from the Post Office. Emotionally overpowering, so get prepared before you try to take it in. Read or listen to it all (almost 8 1/3 minutes)–KSH.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

Syria’s Solidarity With Islamists Ends at Home

This country, which had sought to show solidarity with Islamist groups and allow religious figures a greater role in public life, has recently reversed course, moving forcefully to curb the influence of Muslim conservatives in its mosques, public universities and charities.

The government has asked imams for recordings of their Friday sermons and started to strictly monitor religious schools. Members of an influential Muslim women’s group have now been told to scale back activities like preaching or teaching Islamic law. And this summer, more than 1,000 teachers who wear the niqab, or the face veil, were transferred to administrative duties.

The crackdown, which began in 2008 but has gathered steam this summer, is an effort by President Bashar al-Assad to reassert Syria’s traditional secularism in the face of rising threats from radical groups in the region, Syrian officials say.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Islam, Middle East, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Syria

(BBC) Radical Islam is world's greatest threat – Tony Blair

Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has described radical Islam as the greatest threat facing the world today.

He made the remark in a BBC interview marking the publication of his memoirs.

Mr Blair said radical Islamists believed that whatever was done in the name of their cause was justified – including the use of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.

Mr Blair, who led Britain into war in Afghanistan and Iraq, denied that his own policies had fuelled radicalism.

Read it all.

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

Drop in Self-Employment Shows Recovery Eludes Small Business

The number of Americans who were self-employed dropped in August to the lowest level in eight years, showing the economic recovery is not strong enough to nurture new businesses.

There were 8.68 million people working for themselves last month, the fewest since January 2002, according to Labor Department data released today. That’s down 13 percent from a record 9.98 million reached in December 2006, 12 months before the latest recession began.

Self-employment tends to increase during and immediately following economic slumps as tight labor markets prompt recently fired workers to venture out on their own, said Scott Shane, a professor of economics at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. The data this time is testament to the lack of credit and a slump in demand that is choking small businesses, he said.

Read it all.

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

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Paul Jones

Merciful God, who didst send thy beloved Son to preach peace to those who are far off and to those who are near: Raise up in this and every land witnesses, who, after the example of thy servant Paul Jones, will stand firm in proclaiming the Gospel of the Prince of Peace, our Savior Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Spirituality/Prayer, TEC Bishops

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing; thou hast loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness, that my soul may praise thee and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to thee for ever.

–Psalm 30:11,12

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Liz Wolgemuth (US News and WR)–5 Key Lessons in August's Jobs Report

Slow growth will have Washington seeking stimulus. This may be a better-than-expected jobs report, but the job growth is still very small. The economy needs to be adding hundreds of thousands of jobs every month to absorb new people entering the job market and put the unemployed back to work. So lawmakers may be looking for more stimulus. “There is a good chance that the Obama Administration will introduce a set of targeted economic stimulus programs,” [Sung Won] Sohn says. “Payroll tax relief to encourage new hiring for small businesses is a good possibility. State and local governments are laying off employees as revenue falls. Some assistance from Washington could stem job losses here.” Shortly after the release of the August jobs report Friday, President Obama encouraged lawmakers to pass a $55 billion bill that would provide additional loans to small businesses. Housing stimulus may also be coming–along with more unemployment benefit extensions, Sohn says.

Read it all.

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