Daily Archives: November 9, 2010

(Christian Century) R. Stephen Warner reviews the new book "American Grace"

[Robert] Putnam introduced an influential distinction between “bridging” social capital, which is produced by civic-minded associations, including most mainline Protestant churches, and “bonding” social capital, which is produced by ethnic clubs and, he argued, conservative Protestant churches. If an organization, whatever its ostensible purposes, functions socially to promote solidarity among its members and build a moat around them, no real benefit accrues to the store of social capital in the wider society. By contrast, an association that produces bridging social capital motivates its members to contribute their selves, their time and their substance to the needs of the society. The worry in Bowling Alone was that it was precisely the churches that produce the most bridging capital that were on the decline and the bonding ones that were flourishing.

American Grace tackles this issue head on. Joined by fellow political scientist David Campbell and funded by the Temple­ton Foundation, Putnam collected new data (by way of the Faith Matters survey) and marshaled existing data from other surveys to analyze how, over time, religion has both united and divided us. As the most religiously active advanced society in the world and also one of the most religiously diverse, the U.S. would seem to be prime ground for deep and chronic social conflict. Hence the talk of religion-based “culture wars” and a “God gap” between the political parties. Yet the preponderance of evidence indicates that Americans get along fairly well in spite of having many different religions, including the growing number who subscribe to “no religion.”

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

Billy Graham, at 92, is 'amazed'

It…[was] be a quiet celebration [this past weekend] in Montreat as Billy Graham gather[ed] with family to mark his 92nd birthday.

His health fragile, but his mind alert, the Charlotte-born evangelist still has a to-do list: He’s working on another book, “Nearing Home,” about aging, and he hopes to preach one last time.

“He still has the sermon on his heart,” said spokeswoman Melany Ethridge.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, Evangelicals, Other Churches

Huffington Post launching 'Divorce' section

The Huffington Post, the popular news and opinion website, is launching a “Divorce” section Monday offering dating and parenting tips, financial and legal advice and more for people whose marriages have ended.

The Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington said the new section is “aimed at providing insight, resources, community, and some comic relief to those impacted by divorce.

“Part practical resource, part lively community, HuffPost Divorce will tackle the subject from many angles, with intelligence and empathy,” said Huffington, who is divorced from former US congressman Michael Huffington.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Media, Psychology, Theology

Driscoll Middle School Trick Football Play

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Sports

Some judges chastise banks over foreclosure paperwork

A year ago, Long Island Judge Jeffrey Spinner concluded that a mortgage company’s paperwork in a foreclosure case was so flawed and its behavior in negotiations with the borrower so “repugnant” that he erased the family’s $292,500 debt and gave the house back for free.

The judgment in favor of the homeowner, Diane Yano-Horoski, which is being appealed, has alarmed the nation’s biggest lenders, who say it could establish a dramatic new legal precedent and roil the nation’s foreclosure system.

It is not the only case that has big banks worried. Spinner and some of colleagues in the New York City area estimate they are dismissing 20 to 50 percent of foreclosure cases on the basis of sloppy or fraudulent paperwork filed by lenders.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Law & Legal Issues, Personal Finance, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Theology

Nicholas Kristof–Our Banana Republic

Robert H. Frank of Cornell University, Adam Seth Levine of Vanderbilt University, and Oege Dijk of the European University Institute recently wrote a fascinating paper suggesting that inequality leads to more financial distress. They looked at census data for the 50 states and the 100 most populous counties in America, and found that places where inequality increased the most also endured the greatest surges in bankruptcies.

Here’s their explanation: When inequality rises, the richest rake in their winnings and buy even bigger mansions and fancier cars. Those a notch below then try to catch up, and end up depleting their savings or taking on more debt, making a financial crisis more likely.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Economy, Personal Finance

Daily Mail: Church of England 'is like failing coffee chain' says Ebbsfleet Bishop

A bishop who is converting to Rome has likened the Church of England to a ”˜coffee chain going out of business’.

The Right Reverend Andrew Burnham, Bishop of Ebbsfleet, said there were signs the Church was losing a sense of where it came from.

He said: ”˜If Costa Coffee, every time you went to a branch, did something different and you didn’t know what the product was, they would go out of business.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

U.S. works to find footing in Yemen terror fight

The threat from al-Qaeda terrorists in Yemen is growing, but the U.S. military has few quick options to respond to the increasing danger, analysts say.

Yemen’s president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, is reluctant to be viewed as being dependent on the United States, fearful that it will strengthen his critics, according to analysts.

“Ali Abdullah Saleh has made it clear on several occasions that he does not want any form of intervention or occupation,” said Bob Sharp, a professor at the Pentagon-funded Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies. “He is managing huge problems in the country.”

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

U.S.-born cleric calls for death to Americans

The U.S.-born Islamic cleric Anwar al-Awlaki made what looks to be his most threatening message yet: calling on Muslims to kill Americans at will, because it is “either us or them.”

The video posted on extremist websites Monday may be Awlaki’s attempt to capitalize on his recent notoriety. Awlaki, who the United States believes is in Yemen, is accused by Yemen of playing a role in the sending of bombs through the mail in packages addressed to Chicago.

“I would think he would see his growing prominence as something he should exploit,” said Robert Grenier, the former director of the CIA’s counterterrorism center.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, Blogging & the Internet, Defense, National Security, Military, Terrorism, Yemen

Bishop of Lichfield responds to the resignation of his assistant bishop

Responding to today’s announcement, the Rt Revd Jonathan Gledhill, Bishop of Lichfield, said: “I am very sorry to hear that Bishop Andrew Burnham is leaving us. As our local ”˜flying bishop’ we have worked together well and he has always been frank and courteous. We have agreed on most things and I have received much from him. He has had a huge territory to cover from the South West of England to the North West midlands and has looked after his churches well. I wish him well as he transfers to the Roman Catholic Church. We have increasingly good relationships with Catholics here so our loss will be their gain.”

In words designed to reassure those traditionalist congregations who had petitioned for alternative episcopal oversight, he added: “The Archbishop of Canterbury is moving immediately to appoint fresh ”˜flying bishops’ and there will be no gap in pastoral care for those churches in our Diocese who have looked to the Bishop of Ebbsfleet. I am going to arrange a meeting in January for all who are anxious about the possibility of women bishops and wish to ask my colleagues and me about the future.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

Martin A. Sullivan–Fiscal Crisis, Part 2: Catastrophe

Last week we talked about the first stage of the U.S. fiscal crisis: the slow erosion of long-term growth because of mounting government debt. This phenomenon arises from a straightforward application of conventional supply-side economics. Government borrowing absorbs private saving that would otherwise be used for capital formation. The diminished capital stock reduces productivity, growth, and competitiveness.

This week we look at stage two: a rapid economic meltdown precipitated by an untamable accumulation of government debt. Stage two is much more difficult to understand than stage one. Government debt in distress is not something that gets much attention from economists who study developed countries. It’s not something they were taught when they went to economics school. So as the possibility of a crisis has become more real, they are trying out a lot of new ideas.

One nice thing about this otherwise gloomy state of affairs is that politics has not yet infected the economics. The research that you see is not by economists who are pushing a partisan agenda, but by people who are genuinely concerned that the economy may be running itself off a cliff.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, 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, Taxes, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

RNS–Muslim Advocacy Group Sues over Oklahoma Shariah Ban

A Muslim advocacy group filed suit Thursday (Nov. 4) in Oklahoma, saying a just-passed amendment forbidding judicial use of Islamic law is unconstitutional.

The suit, filed by the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, seeks a federal district court’s order to prevent board of elections officials from enacting the constitutional amendment. Seventy percent of Oklahoma voters Tuesday approved State Question 755, which bans the use of Shariah law in state courts.

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

A Christianity Today Editorial–Burned by the Qur'an Burning

How did the pastor of a church of 30 to 50 congregants, someone who was already known locally as a publicity-hungry crank, become so “relevant” and “culture-shaping” that President Obama, General Petraeus, and nearly every Christian leader imaginable felt the need to weigh in?

Mostly because Jones took advantage of an impoverished media environment that values outrage and eyeballs above all else. Publications that have not been able to con-vince their online readers to pay for articles must instead find as many people as possible to read them for free. The more eyeballs, the more ad impressions, the more revenue. Pageviews have become the metric most synonymous with success in our media landscape.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Thou who sittest on the throne, making all things new: Renew our faith, and hope, and love. Renew our wills, that we may serve thee more gladly and watchfully than ever; renew our delight in thy Word and thy worship; renew our joy in thee; renew our longing that all may know thee; renew our desires and labours to serve others; that so we may walk in the light of thy love and in the power of thy Spirit, now and for evermore.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who is seated on the throne, saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!” And from the throne came a voice crying, “Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great.” Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty thunderpeals, crying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready….

Revelation 19:4-7

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture