Daily Archives: February 10, 2011

(RNS) Biggest Obstacle for Catholic Nuns Lies at Home

Communities of nuns and sisters in the U.S. are weathering a season of demographic decline with far-reaching consequences for the country’s vast network of Catholic schools, hospitals and social services.

But as Catholic leaders try to convince more young women like Graus to dedicate their lives to the church, recent surveys suggest that a big obstacle may lie surprisingly close to home.

More than half of the women who professed final vows to join a religious order in 2010 said a parent or family member had discouraged their religious calling, according to a survey conducted by Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Children, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Spirituality/Prayer, Women

(Der Spiegel) A Billionaire's Mission to Create a Better World

Billionaire Nicolas Berggruen, the owner of Germany’s Karstadt chain of department stores, makes do without a home and has no personal attachments. Now he seems to have found his great mission. He wants to make democracy work, and to create a better world….

….Berggruen wants to help democracy to stop getting in its own way.

“That’s the principle,” he says, and orders another double espresso. He believes that he has found the magic formula for significant reforms: a strong council of the wise. The right timing is also critical, he says. “You always have to show up when there’s a crisis.” Unfortunatey, says Berggruen, societies are only open to change when they are almost finished.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Europe, Germany, Globalization, Politics in General

(Reuters) California mulls aggressive audits of city finances

California’s controller said on Wednesday he has received more than four dozen tips about suspect financial practices by local governments and will ask the state legislature for power to open up cities’ books.

A group of California lawmakers has unveiled a package of bills to help State Controller John Chiang uncover financial abuses by local governments, seizing upon a scandal involving a city official pulling in nearly $800,000 a year in pay, and he is calling for its prompt review.

“This will allow me to go in and check to see if the books are as they state,” Chiang told Reuters in a phone interview.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, City Government, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, State Government, Theology

(USA Today) Yong Suh–The 'Watson' Supercomputer could transform medicine

What [Jeopardy] viewers might not realize when they watch the quiz show’s first man vs. machine competition is that they might be catching a glimpse of technology that could radically transform health care delivery within the next decade. The company that revolutionized the personal computer industry in the 20th century has the potential to do the same for health care in the 21st century.

Performing well on Jeopardy and diagnosing sick patients have similar prerequisites: a broad fund of knowledge, ability to process subtlety and ambiguity in natural language, efficient time management, and probabilistic assessment of different possibilities. Like Jeopardy clues, a patient’s symptoms, medical history, physical exam findings and laboratory results present clues that must be synthesized into a differential diagnosis. While computer systems to assist clinical decision-making have existed for decades, adoption of legacy systems has been hindered by rigid algorithms that require translation of natural language into machine language and heavy reliance on user input.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine, Science & Technology

(BBC) Church of England Baptism service language to be simplified

The Church of England is to simplify the language for baptism ceremonies.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, admitted to a sense of “eyes glazing over” during some services.

The General Synod, the Church’s national assembly, voted to back a Liverpool Diocese motion calling for more accessible text to be available.

Dr Tim Stratford, from Kirkby, Merseyside, said it was not a request for “christenings without Christianity”.

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

Angela Tilby on the Debate about the words in the Baptismal Service

…while the Church debates baptism here in Britain, far away in a Kabul jail a solitary Afghan prisoner is living out its implications. Said Musa is under threat of execution because he was attracted to the Christian faith nine years ago. He was baptised by someone pouring a jug of water over his head and saying some words from the Bible, and from then on he became a marked man. Like the first Christians he is now paying the bitter price of his decision.

Of course it is unlikely that children baptized here will find themselves in prison for being Christians, but I don’t think you can take the hint of sacrifice out of baptism any more than you can protect a new born baby from the tears and torments of growing up. St Paul said, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ were baptized into his death?” That is a shocking thing to say, and it’s fine not to want this ceremony for yourself or your children, that’s a choice for everyone to make.

Read it all.

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

A BBC Radio Four Today Programme debating the words in the Church of England Baptismal Service

Herewith the BBC blurb:

The Church of England is considering whether to scrap some of the more archaic language used in the baptism service, following a drop in baptisms in recent years.
Moira Astin, the vicar of St James in Berkshire, and Father David Houlding, an Anglo-Catholic member of the General Synod, debate whether the ceremony needs improving.

Listen to it all (about 5 1/4 minutes).

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

Thomas Friedman–Up With Egypt

The Tahrir Square uprising “has nothing to do with left or right,” said Dina Shehata, a researcher at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies. “It is about young people rebelling against a regime that has stifled all channels for their upward mobility. They want to shape their own destiny, and they want social justice” from a system in which a few people have gotten fantastically rich, in giant villas, and everyone else has stagnated. Any ideological group that tries to hijack these young people today will lose.

One of the best insights into what is happening here is provided by a 2009 book called “Generation in Waiting,” edited by Navtej Dhillon and Tarik Yousef, which examined how young people are coming of age in eight Arab countries. It contends that the great game that is unfolding in the Arab world today is not related to political Islam but is a “generational game” in which more than 100 million young Arabs are pressing against stifling economic and political structures that have stripped all their freedoms and given them in return one of the poorest education systems in the world, highest unemployment rates and biggest income gaps. China deprives its people of political rights, but at least it gives them a rising standard of living. Egypt deprived its people of political rights and gave them a declining standard of living.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Economy, Egypt, Middle East, Politics in General, Young Adults

(RNS) Consumer Protection Chief Seeks Allies in Faith Leaders

The architect of the Obama administration’s new consumer protection bureau met with faith-based groups Tuesday (Feb. 8) in a bid to shape the agency’s work as a moral crusade.

“The most recent financial crisis caused many to question the moral underpinnings of our financial dealings with each other,” Elizabeth Warren, a former Harvard University law professor who was appointed last year to start the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Judaism, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, The Banking System/Sector, The U.S. Government, Theology

Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops Pastoral Letter to Young People on Chastity

Read it all (an 8 page pdf).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Canada, Ethics / Moral Theology, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology, Young Adults

(AP) Higher food prices ahead after corn reserves sink

Americans should brace for higher food prices this year now that demand for corn has pushed U.S. supplies to their lowest point in 15 years.

Higher projected orders from the ethanol industry sent corn futures soaring Wednesday, as corn supplies became the latest commodity to plummet. Low levels of wheat, coffee, soybeans and other food staples have already sent prices surging on the global market.

As those reserves decline, U.S. food companies are warning of retail price increases.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Personal Finance

A Lovely Portrait of the First Black Helicopter Pilot in the Coast Guard

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Military / Armed Forces, Women

Theo Hobson (Spectator) Mark Sisk and the crisis of the Anglican Communion

Before meeting the Episcopal bishop of New York I nose around the massive cathedral. On a wall, between two side chapels, is a brass plaque, inscribed in copper-plate with some august words of sacred scripture: When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands, blah blah blah, We declare these truths to be self-evident, and so on. Maybe the Declaration of Independence should be more prominently displayed, for this Church has recently got in touch with its revolutionary side. In a sense the whole crisis in the Anglican Communion originates in its awkward propensity for democracy (bishops are elected).

Mark Sisk doesn’t look like a revolutionary. He looks like an older thinner Bill Bryson: round specs, light beard and genial smile. He has no lordly airs: my pompometer stirs not. His hobby, appropriately for a follower of Jesus, is carpentry: he has built himself a house in the Catskills. He is seen as an old-fashioned liberal, a pragmatist….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, Theology

(Journal-Constitution) Atlanta Episcopal bishop plans to step aside in 2012

The Rt. Rev. J. Neil Alexander, who has served as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta for about a decade, announced Wednesday he will step aside to return to the classroom.

Alexander, 57, will join Emory University’s Candler School of Theology in the fall of 2012 as a professor in the practice of liturgy and director of Candler’s Anglican Studies program.

“I suppose I’ve always been a teacher at heart,” said Alexander. “I love the classroom, the interchange of ideas, and the joy of watching students grow and mature as thinkers and scholars. The life of a teacher is a wonderful life and I look forward to getting back to it.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Lord our God, who hast bidden the light to shine out of darkness, and hast again awakened us to praise thee for thy goodness and to ask for thy grace: Accept now in thy endless mercy the sacrifice of our worship and thanksgiving, and grant unto us all such requests as may be acceptable to thy holy will. Make us to be children of the light and of the day, and heirs of thy everlasting kingdom; that redeemed in soul and body, and steadfast in faith, we may ever praise thy holy and wonderful name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–From the Eastern Orthodox Church

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