Daily Archives: January 21, 2011

A Path Is Sought for States to Escape Debt Burdens

Policy makers are working behind the scenes to come up with a way to let states declare bankruptcy and get out from under crushing debts, including the pensions they have promised to retired public workers.

Unlike cities, the states are barred from seeking protection in federal bankruptcy court. Any effort to change that status would have to clear high constitutional hurdles because the states are considered sovereign.

But proponents say some states are so burdened that the only feasible way out may be bankruptcy, giving Illinois, for example, the opportunity to do what General Motors did with the federal government’s aid.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, Politics in General, State Government, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government

Francis Rocca: Pope Benedict Beatifies His Star Predecessor

When Pope Benedict XVI declares Pope John Paul II “blessed” on May 1, bestowing on his predecessor the Catholic Church’s highest honor short of sainthood, millions will watch from St. Peter’s Square, on television and on the Internet. John Paul’s beatification, which was officially announced last week, will be an occasion for recalling his eventful reign, and it will inevitably inspire comparisons with the man who now sits in his place. In many eyes, those comparisons will not prove favorable to Benedict.

The current pope is low-key, as Americans discovered during his 2008 visit. For all his charm, he lacks the gregariousness, physical presence and gift for the dramatic gesture with which the former actor John Paul could win over crowds.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, Europe, Other Churches, Poland, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

(CEN) Andrew Carey–A broad church acts differently than the Church of England

The Church of England’s apparent pride in its comprehensiveness in contrast to the ecclesiological narrowness of Roman Catholicism is now emerging as fantasy.

The Ordinariate is showing the Roman Catholic Church offering compromises, fudges and political fixes to Anglican traditionalists. Whereas the Church which has always taken pride in the image of itself as a via media and a place where everyone could fit in had nothing to offer the same traditionalists. As a result a number of bishops, clergy and laity have joined the Ordinariate or are still considering Pope Benedict’s offer.

And while the Roman Catholic Church’s secrecy, which bordered on contempt for Anglicanism, is to be criticised, it is the Church of England time and again which is showing itself to have no vision for the possibility of ecclesiological change. Bishops have even harshly ruled out the use of Church of England buildings for Ordinariate congregations, even under sharing arrangements. This looks more like a political strategy to dissuade laypeople from joining the Ordinariate than a decision about ecumenical principles.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

(Living Church) North Dakota Episcopal Bishop Proposes Becoming Cathedral Dean

The Bishop of North Dakota has proposed putting the cathedra back in cathedral, asking his diocese to consider approving him as the next dean of Gethsemane Cathedral, Fargo.

In the Rt. Rev. Michael G. Smith’s proposal, which appeared on his weblog Jan. 14 and on the diocese’s weblog Jan. 17, the bishop would devote two-thirds of his time to being dean and rector of the cathedral and one-third to being bishop. He envisions a staff of a full-time administrator, a full-time secretary, a quarter-time minister for pastoral care at the cathedral, and a diocesan ministry team (three canon missioners and the bishop’s executive assistant).

“My hope is for the Diocese of North Dakota to become one church with 21 mission outposts and emerging fresh expressions throughout our area,” Smith told The Living Church. “The cathedral could become the center and headquarters for this mission enterprise. My sense is that the future will depend less on our financial resources and more on the creativity and commitment of our members as we become communities of disciples serving the Lord Jesus Christ in our several communities.

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

David Leonhardt–The Deficit We Want

We have come to believe a story about the deficit that is largely not true.

It’s a comforting story, to be sure. It holds the promise of a painless solution, because it suggests that the country’s huge looming deficits are not really our fault. Instead, they seem to stem from weak-willed politicians, wasteful government programs that do not benefit us and tax avoidance by people we have never met.

In truth, the coming deficits are a result, above all, of the fact that most Americans are scheduled to receive far more in Medicare benefits than they have paid in Medicare taxes. Conservative and liberal economists agree on this point. After Medicare on the list of big, growing budget items come Social Security and the military.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, Budget, Economy, Health & Medicine, The U.S. Government

(WSJ) Boutros Boutros-Ghali–Egypt vs. Extremism

As a Christian and an Egyptian, I was heartbroken by the New Year’s Eve terrorist attack on the Coptic Church of Alexandria that killed 21 of my countrymen. Whether this heinous act was carried out by Egyptians or by terrorist groups from outside the country, the intention was surely the same: to sow discord between Muslims and Christians in a country long known for its religious tolerance.

The attack seems to fall within a larger pattern of violence against Christians elsewhere in the Middle East. Indeed, extremist groups that target Christians in Iraq explicitly stated their intention to bring their war against Christians to Egypt.

But while the recent attack led to an outpouring of anger among Copts, Egypt””unlike other countries in the region””has been remarkably immune to the scourge of sectarianism.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Coptic Church, Egypt, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Violence

A West End Winnipeg church is converting to an apartment complex

A large West End church will soon be home to a 24-unit apartment complex that will ensure its survival.

St. Matthew’s Anglican Church on Maryland Street, which can seat more than 1,000 people, measures Sunday service attendance in the dozens.

For years, its congregation has been praying to turn the church into a multi-use building that would include a housing component. It appears those prayers have been answered.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Parish Ministry

(Liverpool Echo) Church of England plea to make church services less baffling for non-churchgoers

The Rev Dr Tim Stratford, from Kirkby, said a group of clergy from deprived parishes in the Liverpool Diocese had discussed their misgivings about some of the language in the baptismal service.

He said the tension between understandability and historic theological references was “as sharp as ever” in rites such as baptism involving large numbers of people including parents and godparents who are “unchurched”.

One of the passages highlighted by the group was the Prayer over Water, during the baptismal service, which speaks of the children of Israel being led from slavery in Egypt to freedom in the Promised Land.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Baptism, Church of England (CoE), Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Sacramental Theology, Theology

Boost in pickup truck sales hints of economic rebound

In a sign of economic recovery, sales of large pickup trucks and cargo vans ”” the types of vehicles used by construction companies and small businesses ”” are at their highest level in more than two years.

The economy has improved to the point where small-business owner Mark Dalessi of Sunwest Air Conditioning in Costa Mesa felt comfortable enough to spend nearly $50,000 on two new Chevrolet Silverado trucks.

For much of the last two years, Dalessi said, he “cut back on all unnecessary expenses.” If he had a problem with one of his nine trucks, “I would Band-Aid it.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy

(Weekly Standard) Blasphemy in Pakistan

While most of those accused of blasphemy in Pakistan are Muslims, non-Muslim religious minorities suffer disproportionately: Though 5 percent of the population, they are half of those accused, and the testimony of one Muslim is sufficient to convict a non-Muslim. They also suffer increasing attacks by extremists. On August 1, 2009, after a Christian was accused of burning a Koran, a mob connected to the Taliban-linked Sipah-e-Sahaba attacked Christians in Korian and Gojra: They indiscriminately killed seven Christians, six of whom (including two children) were burned alive. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan reported that police knew of the intended attack but did nothing to prevent it. And while the government has so far not executed those convicted of blasphemy, dozens of accused people have been assassinated by fanatics, even when their cases ended in acquittal.

Two of the five blasphemy laws are specifically aimed at the 3-million-member Ahmadi community, founded in 1889 by Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in Qadian, now in India. Most Muslims reject Ghulam Ahmad’s teachings and believe that, contrary to Islam, he claimed to be a prophet. Although Ahmadis consider themselves Muslims, they may be imprisoned for three years if they call themselves Muslims or their meeting places mosques. They are singled out for special vilification in Pakistan’s constitution and, to receive a Pakistani passport, a Muslim must declare “I consider Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Quadiani to be an imposter Nabi [prophet] and also consider his followers whether belonging to the Lahori or Quadiani group, to be NON-MUSLIMS.” On May 28, 2010, gunmen attacked two Ahmadi houses of worship and killed 93 people attending Friday prayers.

The atmosphere stoked by the laws also contributes to violence between Sunni and Shia, as extremists castigate the others as blasphemers.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Law & Legal Issues, Pakistan, Religion & Culture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Agnes

Almighty and everlasting God, who dost choose those whom the world deemeth powerless to put the powerful to shame: Grant us so to cherish the memory of thy youthful martyr Agnes, that we may share her pure and steadfast faith in thee; 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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God, who art the God of peace, mercifully grant that, as much as lieth in us, we may live at peace with all men; and if our outward peace be broken, yet do thou preserve peace in our hearts; through him who is the Prince of peace, Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

And a great storm of wind arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care if we perish?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” And they were filled with awe, and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?”

–Mark 4:37-41

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Canadian Archbishop Hiltz reflects on upcoming meeting of Anglican primates

The 38 primates, representing Anglicans in 164 countries, will be asked to share their thoughts on two questions: What do you think is the most pressing challenge or issue facing the Anglican Communion at this time? What do you think is the most pressing challenge or issue facing your own province?

Rather than seeing this process as an attempt to sidestep the issue of sexuality, which has deeply divided Anglicans, Archbishop Hiltz sees it was a way forward. “If there’s any hope of some sense of renewed relationships with one another, it’s through conversations like these,” he said.

Reports that some primates with more conservative theological views are planning to boycott the meeting “does nothing to model for the church what it means to try and live with difference,” he added. “To simply say, ”˜I refuse to come’ is anything but exemplary of the office and ministry to which we are called.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Primates, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York John Sentamu

Canada's Archbishop Hiltz asks for prayer for the Primates’ Meeting

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Primates, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York John Sentamu