Daily Archives: March 24, 2011

(CNA) Vatican envoy to UN decries attacks on Catholic beliefs regarding human sexuality

A Vatican representative to the United Nations spoke out Tuesday against “attacks” on freedom of conscience and religion directed against Catholics and others who hold traditional beliefs about sexual morality and human nature.

Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva, spoke out in a March 22 meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council, calling attention to what he described as a “disturbing trend” in debates over social life and human rights.

“People are being attacked for taking positions that do not support sexual behavior between people of the same sex,” Archbishop Tomasi told the council. “When they express their moral beliefs or beliefs about human nature, which may also be expressions of religious convictions, or state opinions about scientific claims, they are stigmatized, and worse ”“ they are vilified, and prosecuted.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(RNS) N.Y. Rabbi Tapped to Lead Reform Jews

A New York rabbi with a reputation for innovation has been tapped to lead the Union for Reform Judaism, the umbrella group for the country’s Reform synagogues, starting in 2012.

Rabbi Richard Jacobs has headed Westchester Reform Temple since 1991 and recently completed construction of the nation’s largest “green synagogue” to house its 1,200 families. The pulpit is Jacobs’ second since his ordination in 1982.

Read it all.

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

(Time) Daniel Bell RIP

He was a longtime social democrat who melded his belief in a mixed economy and political pluralism with a cultural conservatism that saw both the affluence of capitalism and the ’60s counterculture as dangers to society’s “moral temper.”

His skeptical temperament made him leery of both the claims of self-defined elites and the supposed promise of modernism.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Books, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Parish Ministry

New Problems at Japanese Plant Subdue Optimism

The Japanese electricians who bravely strung wires this week to all six reactor buildings at a stricken nuclear power plant succeeded despite waves of heat and blasts of radioactive steam.

The restoration of electricity at the plant, the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, stirred hopes that the crisis was ebbing. But nuclear engineers say some of the most difficult and dangerous tasks are still ahead ”” and time is not necessarily on the side of the repair teams.

The tasks include manually draining hundreds of gallons of radioactive water and venting radioactive gas from the pumps and piping of the emergency cooling systems, which are located diagonally underneath the overheated reactor vessels. The urgency of halting the spread of radioactive contamination from the site was underlined on Wednesday by the health warning that infants should not drink tap water ”” even in Tokyo, 140 miles southwest of the stricken plant ”” which raised alarms about extensive contamination.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Japan, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc., Science & Technology

Floyd Norris: R.I.P., New Home Sales

The new-home sales numbers for February came out…[yesterday], and they are horrible.

The government estimates that 19,000 new single-family homes were sold during the month. That is the lowest figure for any month since the figures began to be compiled in 1963. At a seasonally adjusted annual rate, that works out to an annual pace of 250,000. That, too, is the lowest ever.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market

(Daily Independent) Clerics, laity protest torching of church in Uromi

Clergy and laity of the Esan Diocese, Anglican Communion at the weekend embarked on a procession in Uromi, over the burning of St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Uromi, Esan North East Local Government Area of Edo State by suspected arsonists.

The Anglicans, who were dressed in black, marched through the ever busy Ubiaja Road from Eguare Primary School to Angle 90 before returning to the burnt church.

Read it all (and it includes a picture which was not in the report posted yesterday).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria

The 13th century spire of St Giles Church in Desborough lights up the night sky

The beautiful 13th century spire of St Giles Church in Desborough has been lit up for all to see.

The church has invested in new floodlighting to show off its pride and joy and the congregation say it has totally changed the town’s night skyline.

Church council member Bill Featherstone said: “Ours is the oldest Anglican and Methodist partnership in the country, over 40-years-old, and the symbol of that partnership is the church steeple. So the new floodlighting scheme is very appropriate.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Giles Fraser–is the KJV of the Bible simply a Symbol for those Yearning for an Uncomfortable Myth?

Thus I find it hard to resist the anxiety that one of the things being celebrated in this 400th year is a construction of Britishness of the sort beloved by American tourists and those who find modern Britain just too difficult or too diverse. Which is why the KJB can share the feel of other fantasy constructions like Midsomer – a place recently described by its executive producer as “the last bastion of Englishness” because of its all-white cast.

The irony of all this is that the Bible is, in fact, one of the most powerful forces for multiculturalism that the world has ever known. Those who worship the one God need nothing else in common in order to recognise each other as brothers and sisters. In Christ there is neither rich nor poor, Greek nor Jew, black nor white. Which is why the idea that we might use the Bible as a way of harking back to some lost world of simple monocultural Englishness is such a complete nonsense. It really ought to go without saying: God is not an Englishman.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, History, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(SF Chronicle) Dave Eggers–Teacher layoffs – a destructive annual event

There is no child psychologist who will tell you that children thrive amid chaos and uncertainty. Children need stability, regularity, continuity. And yet every year, we shake up their lives at will. We fire the newest teachers, increase class sizes and play musical chairs with teachers all over the district. Schools struggle to plan, to build, and each school’s knowledge base is thrown to the wind.

Bita Nazarian, principal at James Lick Middle School in San Francisco’s Noe Valley, remembers what happened last year. In the middle of the year, she felt she had a crack team of educators, both veteran and rookie, at her school. James Lick was humming with possibility and esprit de corps. But then the March 15 pink slips came around. Fourteen of her best young teachers were given notice, and morale went through the floor. For the rest of the school year and through the summer, these teachers had to keep one eye on the classroom and one eye on job possibilities elsewhere. The entire school, especially students, felt this acute instability until August, when most were hired back. But by then the damage was done….

How can we hope to attract and keep talent in this profession when, at every step, we make it so difficult, so insecure, so unvalued?

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, City Government, Economy, Education, Politics in General, State Government

(New Yorker) Seymour Hersh on the Horrible "Kill Team" Photographs

Why photograph atrocities? And why pass them around to buddies back home or fellow soldiers in other units? How could the soldiers’ sense of what is unacceptable be so lost? No outsider can have a complete answer to such a question. As someone who has been writing about war crimes since My Lai, though, I have come to have a personal belief: these soldiers had come to accept the killing of civilians””recklessly, as payback, or just at random””as a facet of modern unconventional warfare. In other words, killing itself, whether in a firefight with the Taliban or in sport with innocent bystanders in a strange land with a strange language and strange customs, has become ordinary. In long, unsuccessful wars, in which the enemy””the people trying to kill you””do not wear uniforms and are seldom seen, soldiers can lose their bearings, moral and otherwise. The consequences of that lost bearing can be hideous. This is part of the toll wars take on the young people we send to fight them for us. The G.I.s in Afghanistan were responsible for their actions, of course. But it must be said that, in some cases, surely, as in Vietnam, the soldiers can also be victims.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Defense, National Security, Military, Psychology, Theodicy, Theology

(BBC) Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

A study using census data from nine countries shows that religion there is set for extinction, say researchers.

The study found a steady rise in those claiming no religious affiliation.

The team’s mathematical model attempts to account for the interplay between the number of religious respondents and the social motives behind being one.

The result, reported at the American Physical Society meeting in Dallas, US, indicates that religion will all but die out altogether in those countries.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, Austria, Canada, England / UK, Europe, Finland, Ireland, Religion & Culture, Switzerland, The Netherlands

How Much Technology Is Too Much?

Beck Ag is a small agricultural marketing firm that helps companies get good word of mouth among farmers. Clients often ask the Omaha-based firm to set the farmers up with video conferences, chat groups and Web-based meetings. But John Finegan, founder and owner, offers a surprising response: Nah.

“I try to talk clients out of it,” he said. “Farmers are usually out in the field, or riding in a tractor, and when they’re home they don’t want to spend all their time glued to a screen. They like to talk on the phone.” So Beck Ag focuses on hooking the farmers up via conference calls. And given that the company increased its revenue 30 percent last year, it’s hard to argue that the firm is missing something.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Psychology, Science & Technology

(NY Times Science Times) Do You Have Free Will? Yes, It’s the Only Choice

This behavior in the lab, the researchers noted, squares with studies in recent decades showing an increase in the number of college students who admit to cheating. During this same period, other studies have shown a weakening in the popular belief in free will (although it’s still widely held).

“Doubting one’s free will may undermine the sense of self as agent,” Dr. Vohs and Dr. Schooler concluded. “Or, perhaps, denying free will simply provides the ultimate excuse to behave as one likes.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Philosophy, Science & Technology, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Oscar Romero

Almighty God, who didst call thy servant Oscar Romero to be a voice for the voiceless poor, and to give his life as a seed of freedom and a sign of hope: Grant that, inspired by his sacrifice and the example of the martyrs of El Salvador, we may without fear or favor witness to thy Word who abideth, thy Word who is Life, even Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Spirit, be praise and glory now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --El Salvador, Central America, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Thou, from whom to be turned is to fall, to whom to be turned is to rise, and in whom to stand is to abide for ever: Grant us in all our duties thy help, in all our perplexities thy guidance, in all our dangers thy protection, and in all our sorrows thy peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–St. Augustine (354-430)

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