Daily Archives: July 22, 2011

(FT) Philip Stephens–Spasm or spiral? The West’s choice

Behind the paralysis in Washington and prevarication in Berlin lies a troubling thought. Political systems in thrall to 24-hour rolling news have lost the capacity to make difficult choices. Globalisation imposes wrenching change and simultaneously saps the ability of governments to adapt. Politicians find it easier to argue about taxing the rich or cutting Medicare and about central bank bond purchases versus default than to confront the consequences for western societies of the profound upheaval in the global economy.

So it is tempting to say all is lost ”“ that a political and economic model built on western primacy is cracking under the strain of the shifting balance of international advantage. The American dream and European welfare state are bending to the competitive winds of globalisation.

Tempting but premature. It is too early to despair. What makes the crises in Washington and Europe so infuriating is the fact that, for all they demand hard decisions, they are susceptible to political solution. The missing ingredient is leadership.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010, Budget, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, France, Germany, Greece, History, House of Representatives, Italy, Office of the President, Politics in General, Portugal, President Barack Obama, Senate, Spain, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government, Theology

(USA Today) Poll: Americans see huge leadership deficit

Americans haven’t been pleased by the political shenanigans they’ve seen in the down-to-the-wire talks over raising the federal debt limit.

Half of those surveyed in a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll say President Obama and Congress are doing a worse job than their predecessors in dealing with problems. Four in 10 call it the worst they’ve seen in their lifetimes. Thirty-four percent say current politicians are doing about as well as their predecessors; 13% say they’re doing better.

At least two-thirds say that congressional Republicans and Democrats are putting their political interests ahead of the country’s good. Just 7% see both sides as negotiating in good faith.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Budget, Economy, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

A Visualization of United States Debt

These numbers get tossed around in the discussions and media coverage of the Washington debates these days as if they are frisbees being tossed or something similarly routine. They are not in any way “routine.” Check out this pictorial attempt to show that truth–KSH.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

(BBC) Churches oppose Westminster Sunday parking fee plan

Churchgoers have protested over plans to introduce parking charges they claim will hit central London congregations.

Conservative-run Westminster Council is proposing to charge motorists to park on Sundays and weekday evenings.

Church members say this will affect thousands of people who attend services and run community activities.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Economy, England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(CEN) Church divisions have hit outreach, Anglican evangelical clergy are told

Speaking to the Anglican Evangelical Junior Clergy Conference, at St Mark’s College, Audley End, last week, the Rev John Richardson said that the ”˜Decade of Evangelism’ died along with Archbishop William Temple in 1944, as the Church turned its attention to revising Canons and liturgy.

The result was an increasingly divided evangelical constituency, said Mr Richardson, who told the 25 junior clergy, ordinands, and others considering ordination that their focus should be: “To seek the conversion of England through the evangelical proclamation of the gospel and the transformation of the Church of England.

“With good leadership, it is possible even for the Church of England to get its priorities right. But the sad truth is that we have generally had bad leadership. And that is why we are here ”” to consider the future leadership of the Church….

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry

(Church Times) Church of England Bishop defend schools in House of Lords Debate

The C of E’s head of schools strategy, Dr Rob Gwynne, has warned of new attempts to undermine church schools. “There is no doubt that there is a calculated attack by secularists on the traditions and practices of Church of England schools currently supported by legislation,” he said this week.

Dr Gwynne was commenting after secularist peers tabled amendments to the Education Bill, at the committee stage in the House of Lords, which sought to end the statutory status of collective worship and religious education in schools without a religious designation.

The amendments were debated on Monday, before being withdrawn by their sponsors, Lady Massey, patron of the National Secular Society (NSS). Lord Avebury, an honorary associate of the NSS, moved an amendment that sought to ban the inclusion of a religious element from assemblies unless governors requested it after consultation with parents.

Read it all.

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

(USA Today Op-Ed) President Obama: Go 'big' on debt deal

For years now, America has been spending more money than we take in. The result is that we have too much debt on our nation’s credit card ”” debt that will ultimately weaken our economy, lead to higher interest rates for all Americans, and leave us unable to invest in things like education, or protect vital programs like Medicare.

Neither party is blameless for the decisions that led to this debt, but both parties have a responsibility to come together and solve the problem. That’s what the American people expect of us. Every day, families are figuring out how to stretch their paychecks a little further, sacrifice what they can’t afford, and budget only for what’s truly important. It’s time for Washington to do the same.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Euro, European Central Bank, 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), Theology

(On the Square Blog) Joe Carter–The Present State of Our Polygamous Future

In an interview on the science in science fiction, novelist William Gibson noted, “[T]he future is already here. It’s just not evenly distributed yet.” What Gibson meant was that the innovations in science fiction could already be found””at least in embryonic form””in our current ideas or technology. Much the same could be said about future social and legal norms concerning the institution of marriage””they are already here, they’re just not evenly distributed yet.

A prime example is the social and legal acceptance of polygamous marriage. The legal bulwark against polygamy was the first to go, dismantled by the Supreme Court ruling Lawrence v. Texas. “Liberty presumes an autonomy of self,” claimed Justice Anthony Kennedy in the majority opinion, “that includes freedom of thought, belief, expression, and certain intimate conduct.”

As Justice Antonin Scalia recognized in the minority opinion, the decision could be used to legalize bigamy and would be a “massive disruption of the current social order.” Last week the New York Times featured a story about a polygamist who is suing the state of Utah to overturn its anti-polygamy law that proves Scalia a prophet….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, History, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

(RNS) What's Behind China's Hard Line Against Catholics?

When China’s state-run Catholic Church ordained a new bishop for the Diocese of Shantou last Thursday (July 14) without the Vatican’s approval, it represented the latest step back from years of progress in a complex relationship.

Yet the main causes for the shift may have little to do with Rome, experts say, and instead lie in momentous geopolitical events in other regions of the globe, and deep social changes within China itself.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, China, Foreign Relations, Globalization, History, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(NYRB) Yasmine El Rashidi–Egypt: The Victorious Islamists

The forty-year-old Virgin Mary Church on Cairo’s al-Wahda Street””the name means unity, or oneness””looks striking these days. Its cream and white façade is unscathed by the dust and smog that otherwise blanket neighboring buildings and the rest of the city, and inside, its walls and floors glisten with newly laid cappuccino-colored marble. The church, its guardians say, has never looked better. “Ever, in its entire history.”

On May 8, this church, in the impoverished Cairo neighborhood of Imbaba, a ten-minute drive from Tahrir Square, was a scene of devastation. It had been ravaged by flames and its insides gutted, smashed, looted, and charred after clashes broke out between Muslims and Christians over the case of a Coptic woman named Abeer Fakhri, an alleged convert to Islam whom ultraconservative Salafis had claimed was being held against her will at the nearby Church of St. Mina, which was also attacked. Fifteen people were killed in the violence and almost two hundred injured.

The attack was one of a series against Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority in the weeks since President Hosni Mubarak stepped down on February 11. Since then, widespread and escalating crime has gripped the country….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Coptic Church, Egypt, History, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Violence

Christian Century Editorial–A time to spend

In short, to revive jobs and the economy, the federal government needs to do the opposite of what families should do in hard times: spend more money.

It’s true that doing this would increase the deficit, and it’s true that budget deficits ultimately need to be faced. But the deficit problem is far less urgent than most elected officials are letting on. In this weak economy with high un­employment, the deficit is a long-term problem, not a short-term one. The immediate issue is unemployment””a problem that calls for spending, not austerity. Along with improving people’s lives, more jobs mean a more robust economy””which will ultimately do more to reduce the deficit than anything else will.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Budget, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, House of Representatives, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Medicare, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture, Senate, Social Security, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government, Theology

Video of Lambeth Holy Land Conference remarks by Archbishops of Canterbury and Westminster

Watch it all (a little over eight minutes).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Archbishop of Canterbury, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Judaism, Middle East, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Mary Magdalen

Almighty God, whose blessed Son restored Mary Magdalene to health of body and mind, and called her to be a witness of his resurrection: Mercifully grant that by thy grace we may be healed of all our infirmities and know thee in the power of his endless life; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God, who, calling Abraham to go forth to a country which thou wouldest show him, didst promise that in him all the families of the earth would be blessed: Fulfill thy promise in us, we pray thee, giving us such faith in thee as thou shalt count unto us for righteousness; that in us and through us thy purpose may be fulfilled; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Church of South India

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

…a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. And there was a woman who had had a flow of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I shall be made well.” And immediately the hemorrhage ceased; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone forth from him, immediately turned about in the crowd, and said, “Who touched my garments?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?'” And he looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had been done to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

–Mark 5:24b-34

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture