Daily Archives: June 24, 2011

Peter Falk RIP

…like that of his contemporary Telly Savalas of “Kojak” fame, Mr. Falk’s prime-time popularity was founded on a single role.

A lieutenant in the Los Angeles Police Department, Columbo was a comic variation on the traditional fictional detective. With the keen mind of Sherlock Holmes and Philip Marlowe, he was cast in the mold of neither ”” not a gentleman scholar, and not a tough guy. He was instead a mass of quirks and peculiarities, a seemingly distracted figure in a rumpled raincoat, perpetually patting his pockets for a light for his signature stogie.

He drove a battered Peugeot, was unfailingly polite, was sometimes accompanied by a basset hound named Dog, and was constantly referring to the wisdom of his wife (who was never seen on screen) and a variety of relatives and acquaintances who were identified in Homeric-epithet-like shorthand ”” an uncle who played the bagpipes with the Shriners, say, or a nephew majoring in dermatology at U.C.L.A. ”” and who were called to mind by the circumstances of the crime at hand.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Movies & Television

Irena Sargsya–Should Islamists have a role in the Arab Spring?

Recent developments in the Middle East and North Africa have produced an unprecedented opening for change that will not last. The international community has both the opportunity and the responsibility to facilitate transformation in the countries that seek democratization. This historic moment ”” the Arab Spring ”” is no time for inaction.

If history is any guide, the use of Islam in the political arena might not be a sign that countries such as Egypt or Tunisia are adopting more extremist agendas, but that their governments are incapable of fulfilling the promises they made to their people.

The Obama administration, the U.S. Congress, and indeed, the international community should remain focused on each country in transition, recalibrate old policies toward the region, and take concrete, meaningful actions to support democratization now.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Foreign Relations, Islam, Middle East, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Zenit) An Interview with Giovanni Mottini–Saving the Africa of the Future

ZENIT: What was addressed in this last meeting in Rome?

Mottini: In today’s round table we wished to talk about a world that is increasingly present in the reality of the African continent.

Because at this time Africa continues to be “terra incognita” in many ways — a new America where everyone is going.

The market’s economic or commercial interest in Africa must not be demonized or criminalized. However, we wish to make a contribution that will reinforce especially the dimension of humanization, which is necessary in the market. Hence, to make it understood that the first capital is the human one.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anthropology, Education, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Globe and Mail) A Montreal synagogue feels the sting of a neighbourhood’s animosity

One day this month, members of an ultra-orthodox Jewish congregation in Montreal threw open the doors of their small synagogue to invite neighbours in for a rare glimpse behind the curtain of their normally insular community.

Amid the aging prayer books and cramped quarters, congregants had a plan: Overcome suspicions and gain support for a minor expansion at the back of their building.
On Monday morning, however, the congregation had a rude awakening. Despite the outreach effort, neighbours rejected the synagogue’s expansion plan in a referendum ”“ a setback not only for the Gate David congregation, but for the uneasy relationship between Montreal’s expanding Hasidic community and its secular neighbours.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Canada, Religion & Culture

Washington Post Editorial–Oil Election Politics

(The above title is from the Ipad edition this morning–KSH).

What’s the emergency, you ask? The White House says that military operations in Libya have disrupted supply. But Libya’s oil has been shut in for months now, and oil prices are down from their highs this year. So on Thursday Obama administration spokesman Jay Carney argued that oil demand is likely to rise over the summer. In other words: It’s vacation season, and the White House is worried about high prices through the summer driving months.

Therein, perhaps, is a political emergency, at least in the White House view: President Obama’s reelection prospects will be harmed if national discontent over high gasoline prices continues….

Whatever the rationale, it is a bad idea.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Asia, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Europe, Globalization, Middle East, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama

Methodist Church Jury Votes to Suspend Minister for Same Sex Marriage Ceremony:

A jury of United Methodist Church ministers voted 9-4 Thursday to suspend Reverend Amy DeLong for 20 days, effective July 1st.

DeLong is from Osceola, in western Wisconsin. The church trial was held in Kaukauna.

Wednesday the same jury found Rev. DeLong guilty of performing a same-sex holy union ceremony — a violation of the church’s Book of Discipline — after three hours of deliberations.

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Methodist, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology

(RNS) Evangelicals See Declining Influence in U.S.

Are U.S. evangelicals losing their influence on America?

A new poll released Wednesday (June 22) from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life seems to say just that, with the vast majority””82 percent””of U.S. evangelical leaders saying their influence on the country is declining.

At the same time, their counterparts in Africa, Asia and Latin America are far more optimistic.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Evangelicals, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

A Church Times Article previewing the upcoming C of E General Synod

When the General Synod… [meets] at the University of York on 8-12 July, it…[will] be the first residential meeting of the Synod since it had been re-elected last November, the Secretary General, William Fittall, said at a press briefing on Monday.

To give members a chance to get to know each other, there would be more time than usual for group meetings and reflection, and, so far as he could see, little would prove con­ten­tious in the agenda. Speaking from his ex­peri­ence of 20 Synod meetings so far, he said that he had learned that it was impossible to pre­dict just how a group of sessions might turn out.

Next year would be different, he said, when the Synod would be “grappling with some of the most significant legislation for 20 years”….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE)

(WSJ) U.S. Says Gadhafi Might Flee Tripoli

New U.S. intelligence shows Col. Moammar Gadhafi is “seriously considering” fleeing Tripoli for a more secure location outside the capital, according to U.S. officials, raising the prospect that the Libyan leader’s hold on power is increasingly fragile.

The intelligence depicts a Libyan leader who “doesn’t feel safe anymore” in Tripoli because of stepped-up strikes by North Atlantic Treaty Organization aircraft and by battlefield gains by rebel forces, according to a senior U.S. national-security official briefed on the recent reports that the intelligence community has shared with the White House and other agencies….

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Libya, Middle East

Further on the Rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Columbus, Georgia resigns

Joe Smith, Trinity’s senior warden since January, said a recent assessment of the congregation, involving an outside consultant, looked at the strengths and weaknesses of the church. About 40 people were interviewed, he said. They included current and former members, and of varying ages. One component Trinity looked at was membership.

“The demographic most people are interested in is the 20-40 year olds with children. … and not just that group but (recruiting) new members across the board,” he said.

A result was that [Rich] Martindale resigned.

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

(FT) John Reid–England's salt risks draining into cyberspace

The government urgently needs to recruit an elite cadre of innovators able to lead a workforce with a different, entrepreneurial ethos ”“ including hackers ”“ as solvers of puzzles. Rather than developing security measures in bunkers or silos, we should be bold and emulate the “small world clusters” that brought together the world’s best health laboratories to defeat the Sars epidemic in weeks, not years. The US now admits to a “human capital crisis in cybersecurity,” with estimates that up to 30,000 cybersecurity professionals are needed against the 1,000 it has. The answer could lie in online self-managing collaborative ventures of the kind that created the free open-source pc operating system, Linux. That is the future of cybersecurity, open networks collaborating against mutual threats.

Critically, innovation must not fall victim to budget constraints in the current climate of austerity. The US chairman of the joint chiefs of staff has described the economic crisis and recession as the greatest challenge to national security. In the US, cybersecurity co-ordinator Howard Schmidt forms strategic links with economic policy through the office of management and budget in the White House. The UK National Security Council appears to distance itself from economic matters, regardless of the security risks in a sluggish recovery. Britain needs to learn from the US and ask whether enough cyberspending is allocated to education, research and development. Strategies have to evolve fast. It is not yet too late.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Blogging & the Internet, Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Politics in General, Science & Technology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist

Almighty God, by whose providence thy servant John the Baptist was wonderfully born, and sent to prepare the way of thy Son our Savior by preaching repentance: Make us so to follow his doctrine and holy life, that we may truly repent according to his preaching; and after his example constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth’s sake; through the same thy Son 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, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Keep us, O Lord, from the vain strife of words, and grant us a constant profession of our faith. Preserve us in the way of truth, so that we may ever hold fast that which we professed when we were baptized into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, and may give glory to thee, our Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier, now and for evermore.

–Hilary of Poitiers

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren.” And he said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” He said, “I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you three times deny that you know me.”

–Luke 22:31-34

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Anglican Vicar Receives Top Religious Freedom Award

The affectionately named “Vicar of Baghdad”, Canon Andrew White, has been named as this year’s recipient of the prestigious International First Freedom Award for his extraordinary commitment to peace-keeping and religious freedom in Iraq.

Past winners include former British Prime Minister Tony Blair in 1999 for his efforts in the Northern Ireland peace process; former Czech President Václav Havel for his role in Charter 77 and the Velvet Revolution; as well as three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee Father Elias Chacour, founder of Israel’s Mar Elias Educational Institutions.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Iraq, Middle East, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry