Daily Archives: December 2, 2010

Howard Jacobson–Hanukkah, Rekindled

The cruel truth is that Hanukkah is a seasonal festival of light in search of a pretext and as such is doomed to be forever the poor relation of Christmas. No comparable grandeur in the singing, no comparable grandeur in the giving, no comparable grandeur in the commemoration (no matter how solemn and significant the events we are remembering), in which even the candles are small and burn out pretty much the minute you light them.

In countries that turn snowy in December, Christmas has been brilliantly marketed. We see the baby Jesus shivering in his wintry crib, admire the twinkling lights in the Norwegian pines, and go out on to the snow on the new toboggan Santa brought us. It’s of a piece.

Compared to this, no matter how conscientiously we go on reinventing Hanukkah for the electronic age, exchanging animated Hanukkah messages by e-mail and sending one another links to Hanukkah YouTube videos, those Hasmoneans ”” who sound too hot for this time of the year ”” don’t have a chance of engaging our imaginations.

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Judaism, Other Faiths

A Profile of One Anglican Parish in Baghdad

Inside St. George’s – Baghdad from FRRME on Vimeo.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Iraq, Middle East, Parish Ministry

In Ottawa Christ Church Cathedral gets its promised land

Nicholas Sparks donated land in 1832 for Ottawa’s first Anglican church thinking it would help sell his new subdivision. Almost 180 years later, Christ Church Cathedral plans to develop the hilltop parcel he granted.

The green-themed project features two towers — a condominium building and an office building that are 15 to 17 storeys tall — as well as townhouses. It doesn’t touch the cathedral itself and preserves two church heritage buildings; Roper House and Lauder Hall.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Parish Ministry

(USA Today) Philadelphia targets underage smoking

Nick Maiale of Big Nick’s Cold Cuts in Philadelphia does not sell cigarettes to anyone under age 18. Not that he doesn’t get asked.

“I get them every day,” he says of teenagers trying to buy cigarettes despite the law against selling to minors. “I have to card twice a day.” Only once, he says, has the deli been fined for selling to a kid. “My wife got caught” by a teen who looked older, Maiale says. “I could’ve killed her.”

But Philadelphia is an easy place for kids to buy cigarettes illegally. When undercover shoppers for the city’s health department ”” local high school students posing as customers ”” try to buy cigarettes in one of the city’s 4,300 tobacco retailers, they succeed at least 25% of the time.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, City Government, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Teens / Youth

(Detroit Free Press) Richard Gajdowski: AIDs, HIV rate high among poorest Americans

What does the U.S. have in common with Ethiopia and Angola? Here’s the disturbing answer: The rate of HIV infection among the poorest Americans has reached the same epidemic levels as that of the two impoverished countries.

This shocking new statistic comes from a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which stated that HIV was detected in 2.4% of adults living at or below the federal poverty line. That’s twice the rate of the general U.S. population and about equal to the HIV prevalence rate among Ethiopians and Angolans.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Poverty

Inside North Korea, ”˜Business as Usual’

While North Korea’s state-run media continued to rage over the military exercises being held off the North’s coastline, saying the four days of drills that ended Wednesday afternoon had brought the Korean Peninsula to “the brink of war,” much of daily life in the secretive North appeared remarkably normal, or at least what passes for normal.

Accounts from the North reaching Seoul suggested that residents of Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, had been calmly discussing last week’s artillery duel with South Korea, foreigners living in the city were worrying about an escalation in tensions with the South and the nation’s leader was celebrated for his legendary contributions to “the brilliant tradition of Korean dancing art.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Economy, North Korea

(Clarion-Ledger) Segregated services: Hands still not joined on Sundays

Mary E. Gilbert often drove right by the large, intimidating church buildings in her community, never stopping to go inside because she feared she would not be accepted or welcomed.

God would invite her in, if He was there, but would the all-white congregation be as hospitable? The thought kept her away.

The 26-year-old Jackson State University student recently shared her feelings with a diverse congregation at Central United Methodist Church.

Sunday Morning Segregation: How much has changed since the days of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was the latest topic of The Medgar Evers/Ella Baker Civil Rights Lecture Series.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Methodist, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

Mort Zuckerman–The deficits we face are a dagger pointing at the heart of the American economy

The global prosperity of much of the 20th century would seem to belie the pessimists, but I don’t think there is much doubt the moral authority of the West has dramatically declined in the face of the financial crisis. It has revealed deep fault lines within Western economies that have spread to the global economy.

The majority of Western governments are running fiscal deficits of 10 percent or more relative to GDP, but it is increasingly clear that there will be no quick fixes, that big government and fiscal deficits will not bring us back to the status quo ante. Indeed, the tidal wave of red ink has meant that the leverage-led or debt-led growth model is dead.

Developed countries will be forced to deal with their debt on every level, from the personal to the corporate to the sovereign. Being able to borrow may have made people feel richer, but having to repay the debt is certainly making them feel poorer, particularly since the unfunded liabilities that many governments face from aging populations will have to be paid for by a shrinking band of workers.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Budget, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Federal Reserve, Globalization, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, Social Security, Taxes, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government, The United States Currency (Dollar etc)

FT: European banks took big slice of Fed aid

Foreign banks were among the biggest beneficiaries of the $3,300bn in emergency credit provided by the Federal Reserve during the crisis, according to new data on the extraordinary efforts of the US authorities to save the global financial system.

The revelation of the scale of overseas lenders’ borrowing underlines the global nature of the turmoil and the crucial role of the Fed as the lender of last resort for the world’s banking sector.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Economy, Europe, Federal Reserve, The 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout Plan, The Banking System/Sector, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package, The U.S. Government

John Sentamu marks 5 years as Archbishop of York

It is important to share in both in the good times and bad times. The Bible says “laugh with those that laugh and cry with those that cry”. Well, there have been both celebrations and struggles over the last 5 years.

On Ash Wednesday I went out and met shoppers in York city centre and heard about the many challenges individuals were facing and said prayers with them. I visited Redcar to meet the workers at Corus who were facing redundancy because of the mothballing of the local steelworks. When Alan Johnston was kidnapped in Palestine and we prayed for his release ”“ and then when he was freed – it was a time of such joy.

And then when Madeleine McCann was abducted from her bedroom and Claudia Lawrence went missing on her way to work ”“ such terrible sadness and pain. I pray for the families that one day Madeleine and Claudia will be returned safely to us.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE)

(BBC) Wikileaks: Russia branded 'mafia state' in cables

In one cable from January 2010, Spanish prosecutor Jose “Pepe” Grinda Gonzales claimed that in Russia, Belarus and Chechnya “one cannot differentiate between the activities of the Government and OC (organised crime) groups”.

Judge Grinda led a long investigation into Russian organised crime in Spain, leading to more than 60 arrests.

A cable from the US embassy in Madrid talks about the “unanswered question” of the extent to which Mr Putin is implicated in the mafia and whether he controls its actions.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Blogging & the Internet, Europe, Foreign Relations, Russia

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Channing Moore Williams

Almighty and everlasting God, we thank thee for thy Servant Channing, whom thou didst call to preach the Gospel to the peoples of Asia. Raise up, we beseech thee, in this and every land heralds and evangelists of thy kingdom, that thy Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Saviour Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Lord, who hast taught us in thy holy Word that the night is far spent and the day is at hand: Awaken us from all sloth and slumber, that we may live as sons of light and of the day, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation; for his sake who died for us and rose again, even our Lord Jesus Christ.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

And Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are accounted worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they cannot die any more, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living; for all live to him.” And some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” For they no longer dared to ask him any question.

–Luke 20:34-40

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Diplomats Noted Canadian Mistrust Toward U.S.

In a confidential diplomatic cable sent back to the State Department, the American Embassy warned of increasing mistrust of the United States by its northern neighbor, with which it shares some $500 billion in annual trade, the world’s longest unsecured border and a joint military mission in Afghanistan.

“The degree of comfort with which Canadian broadcast entities, including those financed by Canadian tax dollars, twist current events to feed longstanding negative images of the U.S. ”” and the extent to which the Canadian public seems willing to indulge in the feast ”” is noteworthy as an indication of the kind of insidious negative popular stereotyping we are increasingly up against in Canada,” the cable said.

A trove of diplomatic cables, obtained by WikiLeaks and made available to a number of publications, disclose a perception by American diplomats that Canadians “always carry a chip on their shoulder” in part because of a feeling that their country “is condemned to always play ”˜Robin’ to the U.S. ”˜Batman.’ ”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Blogging & the Internet, Canada, Foreign Relations, Globalization