Daily Archives: December 28, 2010

George Will–Public pensions' reckoning

A study by Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management calculates the combined underfunding of pensions in all municipalities at $574 billion. States have an estimated $3.3 trillion in unfunded pension liabilities.

Nunes says 10 states will exhaust their pension money by 2020, and all but eight states will by 2030.

States’ troubles are becoming bigger. Hitherto, local governments have acquired infusions of funds from federal budget earmarks, which are now forbidden. Furthermore, states are suffering “ARRA hangover” – withdrawal from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, aka the 2009 stimulus.

There are legal provisions for municipalities to declare bankruptcy. Some have done so. As many as 200 are expected to default on debt next year. There are, however, no bankruptcy provisions for states.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, City Government, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Pensions, Personal Finance, Politics in General, State Government, Taxes, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government

Canadians spend more time online than any other country

Canadians spend more time online than users in any of the countries tracked by measurement company comScore, which also said Canada had the highest penetration of Internet access. About 68 per cent of the Canadian population is online, comScore estimated in April, compared to 62 per cent in France and the United Kingdom, 60 per cent in Germany, 59 per cent in the United States, 57 per cent in Japan, and 36 per cent in Italy.

Canada was the only country in which users logged an average of more than 2,500 minutes online a month, which is almost 42 hours. Israel was second with an average of around 2,300 minutes, while a few other countries were around the 2,000-minute mark.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Canada, Science & Technology

William Willimon on Christmas: From a God We Hardly Knew

It’s tough to be on the receiving end of love, God’s or anybody else’s. It requires that we see our lives not as our possessions, but as gifts. “Nothing is more repugnant to capable, reasonable people than grace,” wrote John Wesley a long time ago.

Among the most familiar Christmas texts is the one in Isaiah: “The Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (7:14) Less familiar is its context: Isaiah has been pleading with King Ahaz to put his trust in God’s promise to Israel rather than in alliances with strong military powers like Syria. “If you will not believe, you shall not be established,” Isaiah warns Ahaz (7:9). Then the prophet tells the fearful king that God is going to give him a baby as a sign. A baby. Isn’t that just like God, Ahaz must have thought. What Ahaz needed, with Assyria breathing down his neck, was a good army, not a baby.

This is often the way God loves us: with gifts we thought we didn’t need, which transform us into people we don’t necessarily want to be. With our advanced degrees, armies, government programs, material comforts and self-fulfillment techniques, we assume that religion is about giving a little, of our power in order to confirm to ourselves that we are indeed as self-sufficient as we claim.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(CNN Belief Blog) Surprised by C.S. Lewis: Why his popularity endures

C.S. Lewis was talking to his lawyer one day when the attorney told him he had to decide where his earnings would go after his death.

Lewis, who had already written “The Chronicles of Narnia” book series, told the lawyer he didn’t need to worry.

“After I’ve been dead five years, no one will read anything I’ve written,” Lewis said.

Lewis was a gifted writer, but he would have been a lousy estate planner. More than 40 years after his death, the former medieval literature professor has become the Elvis Presley of Christian publishing: His legacy is lucrative and still growing, scholars and book editors say.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Apologetics, Books, Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Laity, Parish Ministry, Theology

Tom Wright on the Meanings of Christmas: In the new world there will be no more sea

When the early Christians wrote about Jesus, this was the story they believed themselves to be telling. They didn’t see him as simply a teacher, a moral example, or even as one who saved people from a doomed world. They told his story as the point where the dark forces of chaos converged, in the cynical politics of Herod and Pilate, the bitter fanaticism of the Pharisees, the wild shrieks of diseased souls, the sudden storms on the lake. They invite us to see his death on the analogy of Jonah’s being thrown into the sea, there to be swallowed by the monster called Death. They insist that in this death God has taken upon Himself the full force of the world’s evil. As a sign of that, the final book of the Bible declares that in the new world, now already begun with his resurrection, there will be no more sea.

Saying this precisely does not give Christian theology an easy explanation (“Oh, that’s all right then”) for the continuing presence of evil in the world. On the contrary, it tells a story about Jesus’s own sense of abandonment, and thereby encourages us to embrace the same sense of helpless involvement in the sorrow of the world, as the means by which the world is to be healed. Those who work for justice, reconciliation and peace will know that sense, and perhaps, occasionally, that healing.

This isn’t the kind of answer that the Enlightenment wanted. But maybe, as we launch into the deep waters of another new year, it is the kind of vocation we ought to embrace in place of shallow analysis and shrill reaction.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Christmas, Church of England (CoE), Church Year / Liturgical Seasons

Scott Stephens Lists his Top Ten Books for 2010

Read it all.

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

Karl Barth on Christmas

But the object of divine action in the Incarnation is man. God’s free decision is and remains a gracious decision; God becomes man, the Word becomes flesh. The Incarnation means no apparent reserved, but a real and complete descent of God. God actually became what we are, in order actually to exist with us, actually to exist for us, in thus becoming and being human, not to do what we do-sin; and to do what we fail to do”“God’s, His own, will; and so actually, in our place, in our situation and position to be the new man. It is not in His eternal majesty”“in which He is and remains hidden from us”“but as this new man and therefore the Word in the flesh, that God’s Son is God’s revelation to us and our reconciliation with God. Just for that reason faith cannot look past His humanity, the cradle of Bethlelhem and the cross of Golgotha in order to see Him in His divinity, Faith in the eternal Word of the Father is faith in Jesus of Nazereth or it is not the Christian faith.

–Karl Barth (1886-1968)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Theology

He sunk himself In

The mystery of the humanity of Christ, that He sunk Himself into our flesh, is beyond all human understanding.

–Martin Luther (1483-1546)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Theology

(BBC) In pictures: Christmas Day 2010 around the world

Check it out.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Globalization

9-year-old brings gifts to fellow patients at MUSC Children's Hospital

All 9-year-old Riley Norris of Mount Pleasant wanted for her birthday this year was to bring some happiness to fellow heart patients at MUSC Children’s Hospital.

She got her wish Monday, showing up for her appointment at the pediatric cardiology clinic with a big red Santa Claus bag of toys. She set the bag down by a wall decorated with bright images of fish, sea horses and a stingray.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Children, Health & Medicine

Renaissance Weekend kicking off today expected to bring 1,100 to Charleston

The 30th anniversary of the Charleston-based Renaissance Weekend gets under way today with a guest list that includes some of the nation’s luminaries from the fields of art, law, medicine, politics and science.

The gathering, headquartered at Charleston Place Hotel, is expected to bring 1,100 participants to the city to take part in 500 lectures, seminars, discussions and performances. The event concludes with song at the stroke of the New Year.

Event founder Phil Lader, a city resident and former ambassador to the Court of St. James, said this “granddaddy of ideas festivals” draws a wide range of participants with diverse backgrounds and perspectives.

“It has always been a celebration of the power of ideas and relationships,” Lader said Monday. “Civility is the dominant theme. The discussion traditionally brings more light than heat.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * South Carolina, America/U.S.A., Education, Law & Legal Issues, Philosophy, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

Some Great Christmas Music recommendations from NPR's Tom Manoff

You can listen to it all and listen to his selections.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Music

Pope Benedict XVI offers BBC's Thought For The Day on Christmas Eve

God is always faithful to his promises, but he often surprises us in the way he fulfils them. The child that was born in Bethlehem did indeed bring liberation, but not only for the people of that time and place – he was to be the Saviour of all people throughout the world and throughout history. And it was not a political liberation that he brought, achieved through military means: rather, Christ destroyed death for ever and restored life by means of his shameful death on the Cross. And while he was born in poverty and obscurity, far from the centres of earthly power, he was none other than the Son of God.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, England / UK, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint John

Merciful Lord, we beseech thee to cast thy bright beams of light upon thy Church, that we, being illumined by the teaching of thine apostle and evangelist John, may so walk in the light of thy truth, that we may at length attain to the fullness of life everlasting; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A prayer to begin the Day

Merciful and most loving God, by whose will and bountiful gift Jesus Christ our Lord humbled himself that he might exalt mankind; and became flesh that he might restore in us the most celestial image; and was born of the Virgin that he might uplift the lowly: Grant unto us the inheritance of the meek, perfect us in thy likeness, and bring us at last to rejoice in beholding thy beauty, and with all thy saints to glorify thy grace; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Gallican Sacramentary

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