Monthly Archives: December 2010

(Globe and Mail) The appeal of Orthodoxy to young, secular-born Jews

As Canadian youth continue their march toward secularism, with the majority of religious communities aging and shrinking, a small but steady trickle of secular Jewish youth have been heading in the opposite direction.

In what one scholar says is a movement of “tens of thousands of people” worldwide in the past two decades, Jewish youth raised in secular homes have been adopting Jewish Orthodoxy, one of the more demanding religious practices.

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

Anne Hendershott: Catholic Hospitals vs. the Bishops

Many theologians, like Prof. Nicholas Healy of St. John’s University in New York, write that theologians comprise “an alternative magisterium” to the teaching authority of the bishops. And in cases like the one at St. Joseph’s, the alternative magisterium often trumps the true Magisterium of the church. Catholic colleges and hospital administrators now “shop” for theologians who will support their decisions.

Bishop Olmsted has refused to allow this to continue. In his letter responding to Mr. Dean, the bishop wrote: “You have only provided opinions of ethicists that agree with your own opinion and disagree with mine.”

Concluding that “there can be no tie so to speak in this debate,” Bishop Olmsted said, “it is my duty as the chief shepherd in the diocese to interpret whether the actions at St. Joseph’s meet the criteria of fulfilling the parameters of the moral law as seen in the Ethical and Religious Directives.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

Pastor retires after 22 years at Ventura, California, Episcopal Church

After 22 years at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Ventura, Pastor Jerome Kahler is hanging up his collar and looking to start a new life of gardening and furniture-making.

“I’ve got major garden work I never had enough time for, to raise vegetables and flowers,” said Kahler, 66, adding that he and wife Beth also plan to travel. He said he also likes to make Shaker-style chairs from kits and plans to do that as a hobby.

Kahler first came to St. Paul’s after the previous pastor, Robert E. Henry, was accused of child molestation and suddenly resigned. “It was a hell of a way to begin,” Kahler said. “There was the betrayal of the congregation, the betrayal of the sacred trust and betrayal of the clergy. This was the 1980s, and the issue of clergy misconduct was making the news.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, TEC Parishes

(Natchez Democrat) Churches to reflect as year passes

Churches all over the Miss-Lou will be having their annual watch night services this evening to help kick off the New Year by looking back on the previous year, and looking ahead for what’s to come.

“We take the time to reflect over the year,” Zion Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church Pastor the Rev. Birdon Mitchell said. “It is a very spiritual atmosphere.”

Mitchell said the service at his church will include songs and a testimonial time where anyone who wants to speak can share.

“Any person who would like to speak and reflect over things that happened that the Lord brought them through over the year or what their desires and aspirations are can do so,” he said.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care

Church Times: Canon Andrew White defiant in face of violence

Christians in Iraq face a sombre and fearful Christmas, as the prospects for 2011 look, at best, uncertain.

“There’s been great fear, and there’s been a lot of anxiety,” Canon Andrew White, Chaplain of St George’s, Baghdad, told the BBC at the weekend. “We lost many of our families who have disappeared or been killed.” Some 500 of the formerly 4000-strong congregation were no longer present, he said.

The string of attacks on Christian targets this year, culminating in the siege in October of a cathedral in Baghdad in which more than 50 people were killed…, prompted the Iraqi government to erect concrete walls around churches and increase security in other ways. Despite the introduction of these new precau­tions, most churches in Iraq have decided not to risk the lives of members of the congregation, and have cancelled Christmas services and celebrations.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Latest News, Iraq, Middle East

Peter Schiff: Home Prices Are Still Too High

From my perspective, homes are still overvalued not just because of these long-term price trends, but from a sober analysis of the current economy. The country is overly indebted, savings-depleted and underemployed. Without government guarantees no private lenders would be active in the mortgage market, and without ridiculously low interest rates from the Federal Reserve any available credit would cost home buyers much more. These are not conditions that inspire confidence for a recovery in prices.

In trying to maintain artificial prices, government policies are keeping new buyers from entering the market, exposing taxpayers to untold trillions in liabilities and delaying a real recovery. We should recognize this reality and not pin our hopes on a return to price normalcy that never was that normal to begin with.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, House of Representatives, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Office of the President, Personal Finance, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, The 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration Plan, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government

(Living Church) Christopher Wright–Lausanne 2010: Jesus Walked Among Us

One of those responsible for leading the younger leaders movement within Lausanne, Michael Oh, wrote this afterward:

During the reception for younger leaders, where we had close to 1,000 in attendance, I mentioned that many had been asking about the future of Lausanne and the future of the global Church. So I asked the young people gathered there to look around the room and into each other’s eyes. And I said to them, “Welcome to the future.”

Jesus showed up with a message. My job at the congress, which nobody envied but everybody was keen to encourage, was to chair the Statement Working Group.

We were tasked to listen for the voice of the Lord coming through the deluge of voices in all the plenaries and groups, and a deluge it was. It was like trying to catch Niagara Falls in a bucket. We hope to release the full Cape Town Commitment, Parts 1 and 2, in January 2011.

But what struck me towards the end was how often we had heard two themes coming through again and again ”” the same voice, saying the same things: “Make disciples” (don’t just count decisions to believe in me) and “Love one another” (and stop chopping up my body among you with your brands and labels, your ignorance and arrogance). And I thought to myself: “Two thousand years ago an Ethiopian met Jesus and brought him to the top end of Africa, through the scroll of Isaiah interpreted by Philip. How wonderful that two thousand years later our Lord is meeting us at the bottom end of Africa and giving us the same fundamental message.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Evangelicals, Evangelism and Church Growth, Globalization, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, South Africa, Theology

(USA Today) Medicare to swell with Baby Boomer onslaught

Baby Boomers are about to create a record population explosion in the nation’s health care program for seniors.

Starting on Saturday, Baby Boomers begin turning 65 and qualifying for Medicare ”” one every eight seconds. A record 2.8 million will qualify in 2011, rising to 4.2 million a year by 2030, projections show.

In all, the government expects 76 million Boomers will age on to Medicare. Even factoring in deaths over that period, the program will grow from 47 million today to 80 million in 2030.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, Budget, Economy, Health & Medicine, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

(Guardian) Faith groups will not fill gaps left by spending cuts, warns Anglican bishop

A senior Church of England bishop has warned that faith groups will not step in to fill the gap left by state spending cuts, saying it would be “completely irresponsible” to leave the care of the vulnerable in the hands of “amateurs”.

The bishop of Leicester, Tim Stevens, who has spoken forcefully about David Cameron’s proposals for a “big society”, said that although faith groups were ready and willing to play a greater part in community life, their enthusiasm and engagement should not mean the government rolled back on its responsibilities to the needy.

The warning follows fears expressed by a leading charity figure this week, David Robinson of Community Links, who said massive public spending cuts threatened to undermine the big society project.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

A Prayer for the Provisional Feast day of Samuel Ajayi Crowther

Almighty God, who didst rescue Samuel Ajayi Crowther from slavery, sent him to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ to his people in Nigeria, and made him the first bishop from the people of West Africa: Grant that those who follow in his steps may reap what he has sown and find abundant help for the harvest; through him who took upon himself the form of a slave that we might be free, the same Jesus Christ; who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of Nigeria, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O merciful Jesus, who when thou tookest upon thee to deliver man, didst not abhor the Virgin’s womb: Vouchsafe evermore to dwell in the hearts of us thy servants. Inspire us with thy purity; strengthen us with thy might; guide us into thy truth; that we may conquer every adverse power, and be wholly devoted to thy service and conformed to thy will, to the glory of God the Father.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.

–Psalm 46:1-3; somehow oh-so-appropriate at the end of the year–KSH

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NPR) Lone-Wolf Plots Alter Anti-Terrorism Strategy In U.S.

The three [year-end 2010] plots had two things in common: They were launched by lone-wolf attackers, and the FBI was in the middle of them. Experts say to expect more undercover cases in 2011, because the agency has clearly decided that the best way to battle the growing threat of homegrown terrorism in this country is to confront the suspects directly.

“I believe that we have something in this country that you don’t see characterized in TV shows,” says Philip Mudd, a former counterterrorism official with both the CIA and the FBI, who is now a research fellow at the New America Foundation.

“It is not cells or clusters of individuals that are like-minded … it is clusters of kids who are talking about extremism,” he says. “I think this exists across the country. Kids are talking about what they don’t like in Palestine or Iraq or Afghanistan, and within those clusters occasionally you’re going to have a couple who say, ‘All my friends, all our friends are talking, why don’t we do something about it?’ ”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Terrorism

Families Bear Brunt of Deployment Strains

Life changed for Shawn Eisch with a phone call last January. His youngest brother, Brian, a soldier and single father, had just received orders to deploy from Fort Drum, N.Y., to Afghanistan and was mulling who might take his two boys for a year. Shawn volunteered.

So began a season of adjustments as the boys came to live in their uncle’s home here. Joey, the 8-year-old, got into fistfights at his new school. His 12-year-old brother, Isaac, rebelled against their uncle’s rules. And Shawn’s three children quietly resented sharing a bedroom, the family computer and, most of all, their parents’ attention with their younger cousins.

The once comfortable Eisch farmhouse suddenly felt crowded.

“It was a lot more traumatic than I ever pictured it, for them,” Shawn, 44, said. “And it was for me, too.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Children, Iraq War, Marriage & Family, Military / Armed Forces, War in Afghanistan

(NY Times) New Look for Mecca: Gargantuan and Gaudy

It is an architectural absurdity. Just south of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, the Muslim world’s holiest site, a kitsch rendition of London’s Big Ben is nearing completion. Called the Royal Mecca Clock Tower, it will be one of the tallest buildings in the world, the centerpiece of a complex that is housing a gargantuan shopping mall, an 800-room hotel and a prayer hall for several thousand people. Its muscular form, an unabashed knockoff of the original, blown up to a grotesque scale, will be decorated with Arabic inscriptions and topped by a crescent-shape spire in what feels like a cynical nod to Islam’s architectural past. To make room for it, the Saudi government bulldozed an 18th-century Ottoman fortress and the hill it stood on.

The tower is just one of many construction projects in the very center of Mecca, from train lines to numerous luxury high-rises and hotels and a huge expansion of the Grand Mosque. The historic core of Mecca is being reshaped in ways that many here find appalling, sparking unusually heated criticism of the authoritarian Saudi government.

“It is the commercialization of the house of God,” said Sami Angawi, a Saudi architect who founded a research center that studies urban planning issues surrounding the hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca, and has been one of the development’s most vocal critics. “The closer to the mosque, the more expensive the apartments. In the most expensive towers, you can pay millions” for a 25-year leasing agreement, he said. “If you can see the mosque, you pay triple.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Art, Islam, Middle East, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Saudi Arabia