Daily Archives: July 19, 2011

New Senate “Gang of Six” Debt Plan Emerges

According to a copy of the plan, obtained by POLITICO, the group would impose a two-step legislative process that would make $500 billion worth of cuts immediately followed by a second bill to create a “fast-track process” that would propose a comprehensive bill aimed at dramatically restructuring tax and spending programs. The plan calls for changes to Social Security to move on a separate track, and establishes an elaborate procedure for considering the measures on the floor.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Credit Markets, Economy, Medicare, Politics in General, Senate, Social Security, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

(Follow on from the preceding post) British Police Given Guidelines for Handling Pagan Rituals

Paganism, a centuries-old faith, has just been officially established as a religion in England. Dating back to pre-Christian times, followers worship the land, animals, spirits and ancient gods and it’s been growing in popularity in recent years.

Its estimated that around 250,000 Brits now claim to be Pagans.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Wicca / paganism

ABC Nightline: Pagan Policeman

Watch it all (a UK based report).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Wicca / paganism

True to Episcopal Church’s Past, Bishops Split on Same Sex Weddings

The Episcopal Church, which has been strained by gay-rights issues since the election of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire eight years ago, is now divided over how to respond to the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York.

As a result, gay and lesbian Episcopalians will be allowed on Sunday to get married by priests in Brooklyn and Queens, but not in the Bronx or Manhattan or on Staten Island; in Syracuse but not in Albany.

That is because the church has not taken a firm position nationally on same-sex marriage, leaving local bishops with wide latitude to decide what priests may do when the law takes effect in New York State. In the state, with six Episcopal dioceses, the bishops are split: two have given the green light for priests to officiate at same-sex marriages, one has said absolutely not, two are undecided and one has staked out a middle ground, allowing priests to bless, but not officiate at, weddings of gay men and lesbians.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops

(Via Thought for the Day) Giles Fraser of Saint Paul's Cathedral on the Hacking Scandal

The current crisis at News International and deep within the British establishment is much more than the presenting issue of phone hacking. I almost want to say that it’s become a theological issue in so far as it’s become a properly basic question about who gets to wield judgment within our society.

Last Friday the Times headline referred to Rupert Murdoch’s apology as constituting a Day of Atonement. But those who know the Jewish calendar will know that Rosh Hashanah, the Day of Judgment, comes before Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. In other words, judgment comes first, then atonement. And so it is that those media titans who have wielded so much judgment in our society are now to present themselves to the scrutiny of the House of Commons later on today. Those who have judged others will now themselves be subject to judgment.

Read it all or you may find the audio there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Media, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

Texas Study Raises Questions about School Discipline

The study linked these disciplinary actions to lower rates of graduation and higher rates of later criminal activity and found that minority students were more likely than whites to face the more severe punishments.

“In the last 20 to 25 years, there have been dramatic increases in the number of suspensions and expulsions,” said Michael Thompson, who headed the study as director of the Justice Center at the Council of State Governments, a nonpartisan group. “This quantifies how you’re in the minority if you have not been removed from the classroom at least once. This is not just being sent to the principal’s office, and it’s not after-school detention or weekend detention or extra homework. This is in the student’s record.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Children, City Government, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology, State Government, Teens / Youth, Theology

(USA Today) 'Instant churches' convert public schools to worship spaces

There’s no tally of how many churches, synagogues and mosques convert public school spaces into prayer places for the nominal cost of permits and promises to make no permanent changes in the school setting. What’s clear is that there has been a steady rise in numbers as congregations find schools are available, affordable and accessible to families they want to reach.

Critics, including some courts, are concerned that these arrangements are an unconstitutional entanglement of church and state. They say these bargain permits effectively subsidize religious congregations who would have to pay steeply higher prices on the open market. They also note that the practice appears to favor Christian groups, which worship on Sundays ”” when school spaces are most often available.

Caught in the middle: churches such as Forest Hills, which spent $3,000 for a permit to use P.S. 144 from February through June and just renewed for July and August. For September and beyond, however, nothing is certain.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Church/State Matters, Education, Law & Legal Issues, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(AP) Obesity biggest threat for boomers

Baby boomers say their biggest health fear is cancer. Given their waistlines, heart disease and diabetes should be atop that list, too.

Boomers are more obese than other generations, a new poll finds, setting them up for unhealthy senior years.

And for all the talk of “60 is the new 50” and active aging, even those who aren’t obese need to do more to stay fit, according to the Associated Press-LifeGoes Strong.com poll.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Health & Medicine, Middle Age, Psychology

Game Fixing Rattles Soccer Around the World

International soccer authorities and law enforcement officials are struggling to combat rampant game fixing by what they describe as sprawling networks of organized crime, a problem that has plagued the sport for decades but appears to have intensified recently.

Game-fixing scandals are engulfing men’s professional leagues around the world, from Turkey, whose top officials are meeting this week to determine whether the coming season will have to be delayed pending an investigation, to South Korea, where dozens of players have been indicted over the past several weeks. Authorities attribute the apparent burst of fixing cases to sophisticated criminal operations based in Singapore, Malaysia and elsewhere in Southeast Asia.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, Gambling, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Sports, Theology

Ross Douthat on the Budget Debate–The Republican's Misstep

It’s not that Republicans needed to tug their forelock and go along with whatever grand bargain the White House whipped up. But to win the endgame, they needed something they were willing to concede, something they could tout in public as an example of meeting the Democrats partway.

Their inability to make even symbolic concessions has turned a winning hand into a losing one. A majority of Americans want to close the deficit primarily with spending cuts ”” which is to say, they’re primed to side with conservatives in the debt-ceiling debate. But in trying to turn that “primarily” into a “completely,” the right has squandered this advantage….

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, House of Representatives, Medicare, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, Social Security, Taxes, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government, The United States Currency (Dollar etc)

Local Paper Editorial on the Debt Talks–This is not a poker game

In February, President Obama submitted his budget. The CBO reported that it would steeply boost the national debt.

In April, the president released a revised deficit-reduction plan so short on detail that the CBO deemed it too vague to evaluate.

Also in April, the Senate unanimously rejected the president’s February budget. Since then, the Democratic leadership in the Senate and the White House have put forward no clear budget approach….

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Budget, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, House of Representatives, Medicare, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, Social Security, Taxes, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government, The United States Currency (Dollar etc), Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

Father John Flynn–Pressured to Die: Euthanasia Push Continues

England is also the scene of a vigorous dispute over euthanasia. In June the BBC broadcast a documentary made by author Terry Pratchett. He suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and has been campaigning for a change in the law regarding assisted suicide….

The program comes at a time when a privately sponsored commission — the Commission on Assisted Dying — is holding an inquiry into assisted suicide.
It is headed by a former lord chancellor, Lord Falconer. Funding comes from Terry Pratchett and businessman Bernard Lewis, the Guardian newspaper reported last Nov. 30.
Critics have pointed out that it is hardly likely to be impartial, given Pratchett’s involvement as an active campaigner in favor of assisted suicide….

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

Sarah Pulliam Bailey: How Christians Warmed to Harry Potter

“Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling, a member of the Church of Scotland that has Presbyterian roots, initially avoided talking explicitly about her faith. “To me, the religious parallels have always been obvious,” Ms. Rowling said in 2007. “But I never wanted to talk too openly about it, because I thought it might show people who just wanted the story where we were going.”

Ms. Rowling is hardly the first author to face misunderstanding from a religious audience. Before C.S. Lewis became well known as a Christian, he noted that most British reviewers missed the underlying theology in his science fiction “Space” trilogy. Christian writer Madeleine L’Engle was criticized by some for the magic elements in “A Wrinkle in Time.” On the other hand, J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” appeared to escape similar scrutiny despite his characters’ use of magic.

Since the seventh Potter book came out in 2007, Ms. Rowling””who acknowledged the influence of Tolkien and Lewis on her work””has drawn more explicit religious parallels. She suggested that the two Bible verses found on tombstones in the final book almost epitomized the whole series: “And the last enemy that shall be defeated is death” and “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Books, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Macrina the Elder

Merciful God, who didst call thy servant Macrina to reveal in her life and her teaching the riches of thy grace and truth: Mercifully grant that we, following her example, may seek after thy wisdom and live according to her way; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

We give thee humble and hearty thanks, O most merciful Father, for all thy goodness and loving-kindness to us and to all men, for the blessings of this life and for the promise of everlasting happiness. And as we are bound, we especially thank thee for the mercies which we have received: for health and strength and the manifold enjoyments of our daily life; for the opportunities of learning, for the knowledge of thy will, for the means of serving thee in thy Church, and for the love thou hast revealed to us in thy Son, our Saviour; to whom with thee and the Holy Spirit be praise and glory for ever and ever.

–B. F. Westcott (1825-1901)

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