Daily Archives: September 27, 2010

Tom Krattenmaker (USA Today)–Get to know a Muslim, rather than hate one

A strong work ethic, devotion to God and family, conservative views on abortion and sexuality ”” on these scores and more, the newcomers would appear to be right in stride with the traditional-values folk in Anytown, USA.

In view of the Christian gospel followed by most of the established residents, you might assume they’d extend a hand of hospitality. You certainly wouldn’t expect them to resist the newcomers’ worship centers, would you? Or squander an opportunity to enlist potential allies in the fight against the country’s inexorable drift toward coarseness and secularism?

These perfectly logical thoughts might run through your mind until you learned that the newcomers in question often have Middle Eastern-sounding names, wear beards or head scarves, and take their spiritual cues from the Quran. And then you’d know that the situation was bound to play out on a whole different frequency. At flashpoints from Temecula, Calif., to Gainesville, Fla., to New York, N.Y., and all along the low road in between, mongers of fear and haters of the “other” are sounding the alarm about Islam with a new level of intensity. To hear it from conservative spokesman Newt Gingrich and those of a similar persuasion, the Muslims between our shores are bent on taking over the country and imposing their “un-American” values.

Read it all.

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

WSJ–U.S. Probes Karzai's Kin

Federal prosecutors in New York have opened a criminal probe of one of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s brothers, raising the stakes in Washington’s sometimes-contentious dealings with the Karzai government.

U.S. officials said Mahmood Karzai has become a focus in a corruption probe handled by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, an office that has a history of charging, extraditing and trying suspects in far-flung parts of the world, including Afghanistan.

ny move to indict Mahmood Karzai, who is a U.S. citizen, carries huge risks for American officials, whose anticorruption efforts have often provoked sharp backlashes from President Karzai.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Afghanistan, Asia, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Office of the President, Pakistan, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The U.S. Government, Theology, War in Afghanistan

RNS: Court puts limits on German church's ability to fire workers

The European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday (Sept. 23) that a church organist’s employment rights were ignored when he was fired by a Catholic church for remarrying outside the church.

The court said German churches have some latitude in firing staff who violate the faith’s moral tenets, but said it must be weighed against the prominence of the job and the worker’s own rights.

The case involved Bernhard Schuth, the longtime organist at St. Lambert parish in Essent, who separated from his wife in 1994 and started a relationship with another woman in 1995.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Europe, Germany, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

Lasting marriages combine commitment, passion: Researchers

Putting the ‘hopeless’ in hopeless romantics, a new study of more than 1,400 spouses concludes that one of the flimsiest foundations for a marriage is, incredibly, love.

It seems a heretical claim to make at a time when two-thirds of the population believes in soulmates ”” those rom-com-anointed pairings viewed as “meant to be.” But researchers find marriages based on that ideal, although happy, are so fragile as to be 1 1/2 times likelier to end in divorce than unions steeped in traditional values ”” think child-bearing, fidelity and interdependence.

“Marriage is about a long-term commitment, thick and thin, kids, money ”” all that stuff,” says study co-author W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia. “But in our day and age, as people have developed more independence, there’s been much more focus on just the emotional dimensions of married life.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Canada, Marriage & Family

Pope Benedict XVI's Letter on 7th World Family Meeting in 2012

Work and celebration are intimately connected in the life of families: they condition choices, influence relations between married couples and between parents and children, affect the relation of families with society and with the Church. Holy Scripture (cf. Genesis 1-2) tells us that the family, work and the feast day are gifts and blessings of God to help us to live a fully human existence. Daily experience attests that the authentic development of the person includes the individual, familial, and communal dimension, activities and functional relationships, as well as openness to hope and to the Good without limits.

In our days, unfortunately, the organization of labor, conceived and realized in function of market competition and maximizing profit, and the concept of feast as an occasion for escape and consumption, contribute to the break-up of the family and the community and to the spreading of an individualistic lifestyle. Thus, it is necessary to promote reflection and efforts at reconciling the demands and the periods of work with those of the family and to recover the true meaning of the feast, especially on Sunday, the weekly Easter, the day of the Lord and the day of man, the day of the family, of the community and of solidarity.

The next World Meeting of Families constitutes a privileged occasion to rethink work and celebration in the perspective of a united family open to life, well integrated into society and the Church, attentive to the quality of the relationships and to the economy of the family unit itself.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, Theology

Proposed Resolutions for the Diocese of Western Massachusetts Diocesan Convention

There are three that I see:

Resolution Supporting Equal Opportunity for All Baptised Christians in Employment of Lay and Clergy Staff.

Resolution Supporting Listening and Dialog on Blessing of Same Sex Marriages in the Diocese of Western Massachusetts.

Resolution Supporting Listening and Dialog on Matters Pertaining to Radical Inclusion of All Persons in the Life of Mission Focused Congregations in the Diocese of Western Massachusetts.

You can find more information on the convention here (on page 4).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils

At 103, a Judge Has One Caveat: No Lengthy Trials

Judge Wesley E. Brown’s mere presence in his courtroom is seen as something of a daily miracle. His diminished frame is nearly lost behind the bench. A tube under his nose feeds him oxygen during hearings. And he warns lawyers preparing for lengthy court battles that he may not live to see the cases to completion, adding the old saying, “At this age, I’m not even buying green bananas.”

At 103, Judge Brown, of the United States District Court here, is old enough to have been unusually old when he enlisted during World War II. He is old enough to have witnessed a former law clerk’s appointment to serve beside him as a district judge ”” and, almost two decades later, the former clerk’s move to senior status. Judge Brown is so old, in fact, that in less than a year, should he survive, he will become the oldest practicing federal judge in the history of the United States.

Upon learning of the remarkable longevity of the man who was likely to sentence him to prison, Randy Hicks, like many defendants, became nervous. He worried whether Judge Brown was of sound enough mind to understand the legal issues of a complex wire fraud case and healthy enough to make it through what turned out to be two years of hearings. “And then,” he said, “I realized that people were probably thinking the same thing 20 years ago.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Aging / the Elderly, Law & Legal Issues

Stanley Hauerwas–Naming God

“God is whoever raised Jesus from the dead, having before raised Israel from Egypt.” This is the hallmark sentence of Robert Jenson’s Systematic Theology. It is an elegantly simple but dauntingly deep sentence, which took Jenson a lifetime of theological reflection to write.

To write such a sentence requires that we discipline our presumption that we know what we are saying when we say the word “God.” For it turns out that we are most likely to take God’s name in vain when we assume we know what we are saying when we say “God.”

Indeed, one of the ironies of the recent spate of books defending atheism is the confidence these “new atheists” seem to have in knowing which God it is they are sure does not exist. They have forgotten that one of the crimes of which Romans accused Christians – a crime whose punishment was often death – was that Christians were atheists.

Read it all.

Posted in Theology

Joseph Bottum (First Things): Holy War Over Ground Zero

Real democracy is messy. It’s got protestors and agitators and banners and manners and morals and financial pressures and gossip and policemen on horses keeping an eye out to make sure it doesn’t turn violent. Oh, yes, it’s also got government, but apart from paying for those policemen, government ought not to be too deeply involved as these things sort themselves out. If what the Muslims want to do is not illegal, than government should have nothing more to say.

That does not mean, however, that everyone else should also have nothing more to say. The attempt to build a large, new mosque and Islamic center anywhere near the site of the World Trade Center is so offensive, so bizarre, and so deliberate that it should be stopped.

And stopped it will be, through the offered mediation of New York’s Archbishop Dolan, or the skittishness of the financial community, or the disturbance of the neighbors, or the anger of the protestors, or the refusal of the building contractors. It will be messy, and it will be sharp. Inspiring and disturbing, with loud shouts on the streets and a few quiet words in the back rooms.

But that’s democracy””it’s how things get done when you accept that government shouldn’t do everything. The churches and the synagogues have long experience with this kind of democratic negotiation. Time for the mosques to learn how to do it, too.

Read it all.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Heavenly Father, who hast called us to thy service in this new day, another gift from your hands: Grant us grace to serve thee faithfully, that both in our hearts and with our lives we may magnify thy holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zeb’edee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be catching men.”

–Luke 5:8-10

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Samuel Wells–Forgiveness and the Justice of God

One feature of American life that has always fascinated me is the degree to which the Supreme Court has become the focal point of its culture. Most Americans seem to believe that the best place to discover right and wrong, to identify good and bad, and to resolve ambiguity, is through legal judgment.

The risk is that the attention given to getting the rules right can distract from the fact that a healthy society is always primarily about relationships and only secondarily about rules. It is only when both of these dimensions are working harmoniously that we might say that we have reached a point that could be called justice.

And this brings me to the story of Naboth’s vineyard from the First Book of Kings (21.1-21). This is a salutary story of what happens when there’s no justice and the powerful get to crush those who stand in their way.

Read it all.

Posted in Theology

Robert D. Kaplan (Washington Post): While the U.S. is distracted, China develops sea power

The greatest geopolitical development that has occurred largely beneath the radar of our Middle East-focused media over the past decade has been the rise of Chinese sea power. This is evinced by President Obama’s meeting Friday about the South China Sea, where China has conducted live-fire drills and made territorial claims against various Southeast Asian countries, and the dispute over the Senkaku Islands between Japan and China in the East China Sea, the site of a recent collision between a Chinese fishing trawler and two Japanese coast guard ships.

Whereas an island nation such as Britain goes to sea as a matter of course, a continental nation with long and contentious land borders, such as China, goes to sea as a luxury. The last time China went to sea in the manner that it is doing was in the early 15th century, when the Ming Dynasty explorer Zheng He sailed his fleets as far as the Horn of Africa. His journeys around the southern Eurasian rim ended when the Ming emperors became distracted by their land campaigns against the Mongols to the north. Despite occasional unrest among the Muslim Uighur Turks in western China, history is not likely to repeat itself. If anything, the forces of Chinese demography and corporate control are extending Chinese power beyond the country’s dry-land frontiers — into Russia, Mongolia and Central Asia….

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, China, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations

CNN Poll: Nearly three-fourths say recession not over

Economic experts may believe the recession is over, but try telling that to the public.

Seventy-four percent of Americans believe the economy is still in a recession, according to a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll. Only 25 percent think the downturn is over.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance, Psychology, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Michael Brendan Dougherty–Defending G.K. Chesterton

[Austin ] Bramwell is looking for an exposition of Christian ideas over and against modern novelties. But Chesterton is rather a publicist and a polemicist on behalf of those ideals. He is not joining some great conversation with Dun Scotus, Aristotle, and Fredrick Nietzche. Rather he is in a constant scrum with Bertrand Russell, Benjamin Kidd, Cecil Rhodes, H.G. Wells, Sidney Webb, Edward Carpenter, W.T. Stead, etc”¦ Notably, only half those names live on and most are dimmer than Chesterton’s. Judged in that company he is sterling. When was the last time you saw an H.G. Wells insight applied to anything? If Chesterton were alive today a similar list would be something like, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Karen Armstrong, Thomas Friedman, Marty Peretz, Stephen Hawking, and Jonathan Chait. If I were going to produce a polemic against Karen Armstrong’s book The History of God ”“ and I dearly would like to ”“ you might be satisfied with a clever review. You wouldn’t chastise me for failing to produce the Summa Theologica. To criticize Chesterton in this regard seems unfair. Besides The Everlasting Man, his books are mostly recycled newspaper material. Next to a considered book of philosophy, Chesterton seems a little smug. Next to a cartoon and letters to the editor and in response to his actual opponents, he’s not only a genius, but a delightful one.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Apologetics, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Theology