Daily Archives: April 8, 2011

David Leonhardt–Generational Divide Colors Debate Over Medicare’s Future

The Republican budget released on Tuesday is a daring one in many ways. Above all, it would replace the current Medicare with a system of private health insurance plans subsidized by the government. Whether you like or loathe that idea, it would undeniably reduce Medicare’s long-term funding gap ”” which is by far the biggest source of looming federal deficits.

Yet there is at least one big way in which the plan isn’t daring at all. It asks for a whole lot of sacrifice from everyone under the age of 55 and little from everyone 55 and over. Representative Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who wrote the plan, calls the budget deficit an “existential threat” to the United States. Then he absolves more than one-third of all adults from responsibility in dealing with that threat.

This decision doesn’t make him unique in Washington. There is nearly a bipartisan consensus that any cuts to Medicare and Social Security should spare the baby boomers and the elderly. And, certainly, retirees or people on the verge of retirement shouldn’t have their benefits changed radically. But the consensus, like Mr. Ryan’s plan, goes too far.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, Budget, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Health & Medicine, House of Representatives, Middle Age, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, Social Security, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government, The United States Currency (Dollar etc), Young Adults

Evan Goldstein–Is Madonna Jewish?

It may seem odd that Madonna, who is not Jewish, is the public face of Kabbalah. It was the Berg family that repackaged an esoteric body of Jewish thought”””the secret life of Judaism,” in Scholem’s words””into a universal self-help theosophy open to Jew and Gentile alike. In the process, the Centre stripped Kabbalah of much of its Jewishness. The website states it plainly: “Kabbalah is not a religion.” Yehuda Berg, though himself a rabbi, has said that he doesn’t consider himself Jewish, and in a cover blurb for his 2002 book, “The Power of Kabbalah,” Madonna underscores this point, writing that Kabbalah has “nothing to do with religious dogma.”

So what does the Kabbalah Centre have to do with classical Jewish mysticism? Not much, according to critics. The great Talmudic scholar Adin Steinsaltz has likened the connection to “the relationship between pornography and love.” Allan Nadler, a professor of Jewish Studies at Drew University, is even less charitable: “The Bergs hijacked an ancient, highly secretive Jewish tradition and popularized it as pseudo-mystical, New Age nonsense.”

Read it all.

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

New Search Technology Is Enhanced With Videos

The line between cyberspace and the physical world is blurring with a new search technology being demonstrated by Autonomy, a British software publisher.

The firm is demonstrating a software-based machine-vision recognition system intended for smartphones and tablet computers that embeds images and videos directly on top of the image of a real object on the user’s display.

Today so-called augmented reality is already widely available on both iPhones and Android phones through software applications like Google Goggles. Hundreds of other apps overlay geographical information on smartphone displays.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Science & Technology

(CEN) No bishop for Tuam

The March 30 meeting of the Church of Ireland Episcopal Electoral College for the United Diocese of Tuam, Killala and Achonry, meeting at Church House in Armagh was unable to appoint a new bishop for the small rural diocese.

Under the constitution of the Church of Ireland, the appointment of a new bishop rests with the House of Bishops. However, the appointment of a successor for Dr Richard Henderson, who stepped down as bishop last year to take up a parochial cure in Cumbria is uncertain.

Read it all.

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

(Church Times) C of E prays for faithful royal marriage

On its website this week, the Church of England posted a prayer (below) for Prince William and Catherine Middleton and other couples preparing to be married, as well as an online video to promote church weddings.
The prayer “can be used in private prayer, in groups or within public worship”, a Church House statement said. The prayer asks that God will “look in favour on William and Catherine and all who are made one in marriage . . . deepen their love and strengthen their wills to keep the promises they will make”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer

William Oddie–How the Ordinariate could influence liturgical developments in Catholicism

Despite the fact that the predominant use among converting Catholics is the language of the novus Ordo, what Shawn Tribe calls “hieratic” (roughly “priestly”) English does have its place in the Anglican patrimony””and let’s face it, we’re mostly talking here about the English of Thomas Cranmer, who although a heretic and apostate was nevertheless a master of the English language, and who formalised a style of liturgical English which is still unsurpassed: we recognise that every time we say the Our Father at Mass””in Cranmer’s translation (with one or two minor adjustments) because, frankly, nothing else was good enough.

But Cranmer wasn’t the only master of liturgical English: arguably greater (and himself a clear influence on Cranmer) was Miles Coverdale, translator of the Book of Common Prayer’s very beautiful psalter, and author (in his days as an Augustinian canon) of a majestic pre-Reformation English translation of the Roman Canon, which was authorised for the first time by Pope John Paul over 4 centuries later for use in traditional language parishes of the Anglican Use jurisdiction in the U.S. (a kind of forerunner of the Ordinariate).

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Liturgy, Music, Worship, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Roman Catholic

Phyllis Strupp–The once and future earth

Jesus teaches that nature’s misfortunes are not the will of God, but the handiwork of the ruler of this world. Birth defects, accidents, and natural disasters arise from an innate disordering of creation that God is in the process of straightening out. In Mark 13:8, Jesus cites earthquakes as labor pains of age to come: “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs.”

This age to come will be when Christ returns and breaks the universe’s bondage to decay, or entropy, as he presides over the “renewal of all things” (Matthew 19:27). The whole universe will share the resurrection on this final Easter morning, when “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” as Isaiah 11:9 reveals.

With a firm foundation of faith in Christ, we have nothing to fear from the earth’s labor pains. Labor pains hurt, but they bring the exhilarating joy of new life, whether in the form of a gurgling baby or a peaceful earth that no longer endures 4,000 earthquakes a day.

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Posted in Theology

(BBC) Nato refuses to apologise for strike on Libya rebels

Nato has refused to apologise for a “friendly fire” attack on rebel tanks in eastern Libya that killed at least four people.

Rear Adm Russ Harding said that, until Thursday’s incident, Nato had not been aware that rebel troops had started to use tanks.

“Our job is to protect civilians,” he told a news conference.

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Africa, Libya

(FT) Crude at $175? Oil traders stress test the future

Oil at $175 a barrel; copper at $12,000 a tonne and corn at $10 a bushel. As commodity prices rally, the world’s largest trading houses have been busy ”˜stress testing’ to be sure their finances can withstand a “super spike”.

The levels are not a forecast ”“ indeed, executives tell me they do not expect such hefty prices ”“ but do signal a “worse case scenario” for which oil, metals and food commodities traders need to prepare.

I sincerely hope not–read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Libya, Middle East

Eric Whitacre's "Sleep" as Sung by over 2000 Virtual Voices in over 50 Countries

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Music

(NPR) Composer Eric Whitacre and his amazing Virtual Choir

American composer Eric Whitacre is a rock star in choral circles. His music is performed by amateur and professional choirs alike, his chiseled good looks have earned him a modeling contract, and, Thursday night, he unveils his Virtual Choir 2.0 on YouTube. It features more than 2,000 singers from around the world, including this reporter.

I’ve been singing in real choirs since I was a kid, so I was intrigued to participate in a virtual one. I recently asked Whitacre how he came up with the concept.

“Well, it all started with this video ”” a young girl named Britlin Losee, who was 17 at the time, posted to YouTube a video of herself singing the soprano part to a piece of mine called ‘Sleep,’ ” Whitacre says.

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Music, Science & Technology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of William Augustus Muhlenberg and Anne Ayers

God of justice and truth, let not thy Church close its eyes to the plight of the poor and neglected, the homeless and destitute, the old and the sick, the lonely and those who have none to care for them. Give us that vision and compassion with which thou didst so richly endow William Augustus Muhlenberg and Anne Ayers, that we may labor tirelessly to heal those who are broken in body or spirit, and to turn their sorrow into joy; through Jesus Christ, who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Give us, O Lord, a steadfast heart, which no unworthy thought can drag downwards; an unconquered heart, which no tribulation can wear out; an upright heart, which no unworthy purpose may tempt aside. Bestow upon us also, O Lord our God, understanding to know thee, diligence to seek thee, wisdom to find thee, and a faithfulness that may finally embrace thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Thomas Aquinas

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” says the LORD. Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: “You have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil doings, says the LORD. Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, says the LORD. “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.

–Jeremiah 23:1-5

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Richard Ackland–Religious Education must not be an exercise in faith

Controversy over religious education in Victorian government schools is hardly new. The debate has raged since the 19th century when the Education Act established that public education should be free, secular and compulsory. A more recent complication is the rise of a multifaith society, along with a decline in religious observance by the slightly more than 60 per cent of Australians who identify as Christian.

While only one in 14 Australians attends church weekly, and one in six monthly, some of the strongest objections to the way religion is taught in school do not come from non-believers. The Religions, Ethics and Education Network Australia has written to the Prime Minister, premiers and education ministers urging a review so that the national curriculum improves on the current flawed model for teaching religion and ethics….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, Education, Religion & Culture, Teens / Youth