Daily Archives: November 29, 2011
Listen to it all if you so desire.
We are grateful that Bishop Lawrence’s Kafkaesque ordeal is now over. We are troubled that General Convention’s sweeping revisions to church canon made this sideshow possible. We pray that this test of the church’s comprehensiveness will inspire further discussion at General Convention next summer about the wisdom of reckless canonical revision.
Europe’s worsening sovereign debt crisis has spread beyond its banks and the spillover now threatens businesses on the Continent and around the world.
From global airlines and shipping giants to small manufacturers, all kinds of companies are feeling the strain as European banks pull back on lending in an effort to hoard capital and shore up their balance sheets.
The result is a credit squeeze for companies from Berlin to Beijing, edging the world economy toward another slump.
One thing above all stood out from Rowan Williams’s evidence yesterday evening to the Parliamentary committee looking at proposals to reform the House of Lords, and that is that the Church of England is very keen to maintain its peculiar historic privilege of having bishops in the legislature. Indeed, he and the church he leads see it as a vital part of their wider role in British society.
The present situation might be seen as anomalous, he conceded (albeit “a constructive anomaly”). There were no ecclesiastical representatives deputed from Scotland (where the Presbyterian church also has official status) or from Wales or Northern Ireland, where there are no established churches. In a multi-faith society the absence of automatic representation for other religions might also be seen as problematic. Williams wouldn’t object were some mechanism found for incorporating Jewish, Muslim or Hindu leaders, though he foresaw problems in identifying such leaders. But he didn’t seem to think of this as much as a priority, in any case, since the religious voice was so well represented already by himself and by his fellow Anglican prelates.
It’s at times like these that you realise the centrality of its legal establishment to the Church of England’s sense of itself.
Social critics revile lotteries as state-sponsored regressive taxation because people buy lottery tickets disproportionately to their incomes–it’s a tax on the poor, in other words. The NASPL disputes that characterization, but research by economist Melissa Kearney at the University of Maryland shows that when state lotteries are introduced, they suck up 2.5% of household expenditures that would otherwise go to food, rent and things like children; the spending level reaches 3.1% when instant games enter the picture. But Kearney is not a lotto scold; she now sees lotteries as perfectly rational outlays, subject to the controls that would be imposed on vices like alcohol. “For the majority of lottery players, they are getting a bit of entertainment or consumption value,” she says. “Simply the fact that it isn’t a positive return doesn’t mean it’s an irrational choice….”
For the cash-constrained, says Kearney, “there is not another asset available to them to be life-changing. They have some chance that they are going to win a million bucks. So it becomes not a terrible proposition.”
Harvard scientists have built a new type of flexible robot that is limber enough to wiggle and worm through tight spaces.
It’s the latest prototype in the growing field of soft-bodied robots. Researchers are increasingly drawing inspiration from nature to create machines that are more bendable and versatile than those made of metal.
The Harvard team, led by chemist George M. Whitesides, borrowed from squids, starfish and other animals without hard skeletons to fashion a small, four-legged rubber robot that calls to mind the clay animation character Gumby.
That Americans are becoming more fond of the separation of church and state is a good thing. After all, our Founding Fathers set out to create a society that had such a separation, and they believed, rightly, that religion and politics shouldn’t mix. (“In God We Trust” was only added to our currency during the Civil War era.) That desire has never fully played out in American politics, and there’s every reason to believe it won’t truly play out in our lifetimes. But at current rates of growing interest in the separation of church and state, the religious right will have an increasingly hard time being viewed as more than a vocal minority by the rest of the country.
We should welcome such a change. The more that religion can be pushed off into the realm of private practice and out of the public square, the better for public discourse, as we can dispense with the God talk and move on to reality-based discussions about what we want and how we can get it. The Millennials have the right idea when it comes to dismissing the belief that religion somehow improves politics. Now we just have to wait for the religious right to finish with their temper tantrum over this, and then we can move on to the future.
To sum up the current anomalies, as presented in this post:
1. The Episcopal Church (USA) currently defines marriage, both canonically and in its rubrics, as the “physical and spiritual union of a man and a woman.”
2. There is no current measure proposed in the governing bodies of the Episcopal Church (USA) which would alter or amend its definition of “marriage” so as to incorporate therein the joining in “marriage” of two persons of the same sex.
3. Notwithstanding the Episcopal Church (USA)’s Book of Common Prayer and its associated Canons, certain clergy (including diocesan bishops) have performed, or have allowed to take place within their Diocese, rites of “holy matrimony” for same-sex marriages within the Episcopal Church’s liturgy.
4. The resulting spectacle of lawlessness is undermining the Church from within.
“State budgets are certainly improving; however, growth is weak, and there is not enough money for all the bills coming in,” said NASBO Executive Director Scott Pattison. “State officials will still be cutting some programs, and increases in funding for any program except for health care will be rare.”
The report says that Medicaid, the combined federal-state health program for the poor and the disabled, will place the biggest budgetary burden on states. Because of increasing caseloads, declining federal help and spiraling health-care costs, state Medicaid spending is growing much faster than state revenue, crowding out funding for other priorities.
Germany is the only country in Europe that can act to save the eurozone and the wider European Union from “a crisis of apocalyptic proportions”, the Polish foreign minister warned on Monday in a passionate call for more drastic action to prevent the collapse of the European monetary union.
The extraordinary appeal by Radoslaw Sikorski, delivered in the shadow of the Brandenburg Gate in the German capital, came as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development called on European leaders to provide “credible and large enough firepower” to halt the sell-off in the eurozone sovereign debt market, or risk a severe recession.
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O great and glorious God, holy and immortal, who searches out the policies of nations and tries the hearts of men: Come, we pray thee, in judgment, upon the nations of the world; come and bring to destruction all that is contrary to thy holy will for mankind, and cause the counsels of the wicked to perish. Come, O Lord, into our hearts, and root out from them that thou seest, and we cannot see, to be unlike the Spirit of thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Hear this word that the LORD has spoken against you, O people of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up out of the land of Egypt: “You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities. “Do two walk together, unless they have made an appointment? Does a lion roar in the forest, when he has no prey? Does a young lion cry out from his den, if he has taken nothing? Does a bird fall in a snare on the earth, when there is no trap for it? Does a snare spring up from the ground, when it has taken nothing? Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid? Does evil befall a city, unless the LORD has done it? Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets. The lion has roared; who will not fear? The Lord GOD has spoken; who can but prophesy?”