Daily Archives: July 1, 2011

Italy Approves an Austerity Package which Punts Hard Choices into Future

“They put off until later difficult decisions to make,” said Francesco Daveri, an economist at the University of Parma. “But correcting pensions in 2020, in politics that’s like saying who knows when that’ll happen.”

Some analysts said that the government, reeling from recent losses in local elections and referendums, had little political freedom to propose bold, but unpopular measures.

But others said that by putting off the bulk of the austerity measures, the government’s actions were less credible. “This is not the right signal,” said Tito Michele Boeri, a professor of economics at Bocconi University in Milan.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010, Economy, Europe, Politics in General, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Health care costs vary widely, study shows

For a pelvic CT scan, they found that within one town in the Southwest, a person could pay as little as $230 for the procedure, or as a much as $1,800. For a brain MRI in a town in the Northeast, a person could pay $1,540 ”” or $3,500.

“It was eye-opening,” said Howard McClure, CEO of Change:healthcare.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Health & Medicine

(RNS) Can a Creedless Religion Make It Another 50 Years?

A recent Sunday service at the First Unitarian Church of Baltimore ended with an apology.

Laurel Mendes explained that religious doctrine had been duly scrubbed from the hymns in the congregation’s Sunday program.

But Mendes, a neo-pagan lay member who led the service, feared that a reference to God in “Once to Every Soul and Nation” might still upset the humanists in the pews.

Read it all.

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

Despite Fears, Owning Home Retains Allure, Poll Shows

Half of those surveyed say the market’s continuing downward spiral has affected their long-term plans. One in five people say the crisis has prevented them from moving to another city or taking a different job. Nearly one-quarter of homeowners say their home is now worth less than what they owe on their mortgage, a condition known as being underwater. Families in this predicament are much more prone to foreclosure if they suffer job losses or other setbacks.

Over all, people are bleaker about the economic outlook than those surveyed in October. While most still think the current downturn is temporary, those saying it is permanent rose to 39 percent, up from 28 percent.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Psychology, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government

Happy Canada Day

As someone privileged to live in Canada for two years, let me take a moment to wish a happy Canada Day to all our friends north of the border–KSH.

Posted in * By Kendall, * International News & Commentary, Canada

(CEN) Say ”˜no’ to Sharia law, say bishops

Church leaders in the US and UK have called upon their governments to take a stand against Sharia law,

On June 9 the former Bishop of Rochester urged the government to support legislation outlawing the use of Sharia law in Britain when it conflicts with English law, while an American bishop has written to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton voicing his dismay over NATO negotiations with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Bishop-elect Julian Dobbs of the Anglican Church in North America, and founder of the Church and Islam Project, told Mrs. Clinton that too many people were willing to ignore the implications of Sharia law and believe that Islam is a religion of peace.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

U.S. shifts to closer contact with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood

The United States will resume limited contacts with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton confirmed on Thursday, saying it was in Washington’s interests to deal with parties committed to non-violent politics. While Clinton portrayed the administration’s decision as a continuation of an earlier policy, it reflects a subtle shift in that U.S. officials will be able to deal directly with officials of the Islamist movement who are not members of parliament.

The move, first reported by Reuters on Wednesday, is likely to upset Israel and its U.S. supporters who have deep misgivings about the Brotherhood, a group founded in 1928 that seeks to promote its conservative vision of Islam in society.

Read it all.

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

(Church Times) Service won’t win points at C of E schools

Governors who draw up ad­missions policies for the 2111 Church of England voluntary aided schools are to be told that where there are quotas for children from church families, places should be allocated only on attendance at church.

Giving extra points to parents who undertake extra duties, such as church-cleaning or bell-ringing, could discriminate against families where both parents work outside the home, new advice on admissions from the Board of Education says.

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

C of E investment policy on alcohol to bear down on irresponsible drinks retailers

A new ethical investment policy on alcohol has been adopted by the Church of England investing bodies following advice from the Church’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG).

Together, the Church Commissioners, the Church of England Pensions Board and the CBF Church of England Funds hold assets of more than £8 billion.

The EIAG – concerned about the continuing negative health and social consequences of the misuse of alcohol – recommended continued restrictions on investment in companies involved in the production and sale of alcoholic drinks.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Stock Market, Theology

(Living Church) Making Disciples with Depth and Breadth

How can the Christian Church, and more specifically Anglican churches, best make disciples in the 21st century through catechesis? That topic was the subject of the second Ancient Wisdom””Anglican Futures conference June 16-18 at Trinity School for Ministry.

“We need much more depth and breadth in the way we think of making disciples,” Philip Harrold, associate professor of Church history at Trinity, told The Living Church. “We need to rediscover ancient ways of reading Scriptures from the Fathers and the Reformers, and also the revivalists. We need to recover new ways of being the body of Christ formed around that Scripture.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Seminary / Theological Education, Soteriology, Theology

(NY Times) Beneath Connecticut’s Image of Affluence, Deep Fiscal Pain

Despite already passing the largest package of tax increases in state history, legislators must return to Hartford on Thursday after an agreement with the state employee unions imploded. But the unbalanced budget is hardly the only problem. Connecticut, despite its affluent image and past successes, is facing a startling series of economic and fiscal challenges that it now has no option but to confront.

“No state had more resources and did less with them over the past 20 years,” said William E. Curry Jr., a former Democratic candidate for governor who now writes about state and national politics. “Yeah, we wiped out in finance and real estate, but the real problem was our own poor choices.

“We tried to import jobs you must grow yourself. We tried to save cities with ballparks and convention centers. We borrowed like shopaholics, shortchanged pension funds and barely showed up for collective bargaining.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Politics in General, State Government, Taxes, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

10 things the CNN Belief Blog learned in its first year

1. Every big news story has a faith angle….

2. Atheists are the most fervent commenters on matters religious….

3. People are still intensely curious about the Bible, its meaning and its origins….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Media, Religion & Culture

(WSJ) Fergus Bordewich–The Novel That Changed America

“Uncle Tom’s Cabin” was abolitionist propaganda, but it was also a brilliant novel that intertwined the stories of a host of memorable characters: the long-suffering slave Uncle Tom, the sadistic overseer Simon Legree, the defiant fugitive George Harris, the antic slave girl Topsy, the conscience-stricken slave owner Augustine St. Clare, and a teeming cast of abolitionists, Southerners and African-Americans. By presenting an array of emotive story lines””e.g., the bonding of Uncle Tom with St. Clare’s saintly daughter Eva, Tom’s fatal persecution at a Louisiana plantation, and the dramatic flight of the Harris family to freedom in the North””the author Harriet Beecher Stowe rendered American slavery as a soul-destroying system of grinding injustice and, for the first time in American literature, depicted slaves as complex, heroic and emotionally nuanced individuals.

The novel shocked Americans North and South not just with its heart-rending portrayal of slavery’s cruelty but with its attention to such subversive themes as interracial sex, cross-racial friendship and black rage. “Wherever it goes, prejudice is disarmed, opposition is removed, and the hearts of all are touched with a new and strange feeling, to which they before were strangers,” declared an editorialist in Washington’s National Era newspaper.

In the first year after its release in 1852, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” sold 310,000 copies in the United States, triple the number of its nearest rivals; it sold one million copies in Britain alone.

Read it all (especially appropriate in light of the previous blog entry–KSH).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Books, History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

A Prayer for the Provisional Feast Day of Harriet Beecher Stowe

Gracious God, we offer thanks for the witness of Harriett Beecher Stowe, whose fiction inspired thousands with compassion for the shame and sufferings of enslaved peoples, and who enriched her writings with the cadences of The Book of Common Prayer. Help us, like her, to strive for thy justice, that our eyes may see the glory of thy Son, Jesus Christ, when he comes to reign with thee and the Holy Spirit in reconciliation and peace, one God, now and always. Amen.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Church History, History, Poetry & Literature, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Almighty and eternal God, who art able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think: Give us grace to believe that the things which are impossible with men are possible with thee; save us from all doubt of thy goodness and questioning of thy love; and help us to trust in thy wisdom and mercy, that we may be calm and unafraid; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–James M. Todd

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