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Daily Archives: December 19, 2011
A half-dozen religious leaders this morning delivered a letter to Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley’s office asking him in the spirit of the Christmas season to support the repeal of the state’s immigration law — the Beason-Hammon Act.
“We are writing to let you know that we are praying for you as you consider the multitude of problems caused by the Beason-Hammon Act,” the letter states. “In this time when we celebrate the greatest of gifts, we pray that you will show great political courage and leadership and support the repeal of this unfortunate legislation that has brought such heartache to our State.”
(Letter to Gov. Bentley)
The letter is signed by: Henry N. Parsley Jr., bishop of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Alabama; The Most Rev. Robert J. Baker, of the Catholic Diocese in Birmingham; The Most Rev. Thomas J. Rodi, archbishop of Mobile; William H. Willimon, bishop of the Birmingham area of the United Methodist Church….
The Rev. Marc Robertson compared his congregation’s temporary move to Independent Presbyterian Church to a long visit with grandma.
“Since we don’t have a bed to sleep in, we’re staying at grandma’s for now,” said Robertson, rector at Christ Church Savannah.
Sunday marked the church’s first of many worship services to come at Independent Presbyterian at Bull and Liberty Streets following the the Anglican congregation’s ouster from historic property on Johnson Square.
What this means is that there are Christians who already occupy Wall Street every day in their occupations as businessmen and women, bankers and investors, traders and executives, secretaries and receptionists, janitors and security guards. The church’s responsibility to these “occupiers” is to provide them with the moral and spiritual formation necessary to be faithful followers of Christ every day in their productive service to others.
A group of business and ministry leaders in the UK articulated this in a recent letter to The Times of London, in which they observed, “Many Christians today work within mainstream business, attempting to be ‘salt and light’. Others run organizations . . . that are committed to using business and finance to bring social benefits, raise living standards and create jobs.” Through these kinds of efforts such business leaders “are part of the broader effort of the Church to reform capitalism by going to the root of the problem: the human heart.”
Christians therefore must occupy the world in their occupations, doing all their work as Christians, whatever it is, “whether in word or deed,” as the Apostle Paul instructs, “in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col. 3:17 NIV). In this way the church finds its most significant and transformative cultural engagement through its affirmation of the daily work of Christians who already occupy Wall Street (and all streets).
Church foreclosures are at an all-time high. Since 2008 more than 200 churches and other religious organizations have faced foreclosure, according to real estate services firm CoStar Group. In the decade before 2008, church foreclosures were rare, averaging less than 10 per year.
Tim Trainor, a spokesman for CoStar, said 2011 is so far the worst yet, including the “highest dollar volume” ever in the second quarter of 2011, when 20 properties totaling more than $27 million went into foreclosure.
These foreclosures are likely just the tip of the iceberg. No one really knows how many churches not officially in foreclosure are on the brink. Take, for example, The Church at South Las Vegas. The church started in 2001 by Pastor Benny Perez now has more than 4,000 in regular Sunday morning attendance. But the church also has a $53,000 per month mortgage payment, and it can’t sell any of its real estate because that real estate is now worth at least $5 million less than what the church paid for it.
…the principle I have just tried to set out for you, of giving ourselves to and for others, is not just about religion. There’s been a lot of talk about building the Big Society this year, and unfortunately the very phrase has become something of a political football, and been prejudiced too by the need to make such cuts. The fact remains, though, that 2012 has to be the year when we start to work together for the common good, or stay stuck in the gloom. Anything that is going to happen for good is likely to be bottom-up not top-down.
If we are going to do that we are going to need to engage together, and in three ways. To make them easy to remember, all three things begin with P. We are going to need to get our hands dirty and share in growing new provision for our communities. Christ came into the same regular world that you and I live in, and got stuck in. Whether it is care for the isolated and vulnerable, places for young people to hang out safely, transport for rural places, lunch clubs or language classes, there are a whole raft of practical bits of provision that we need to hang onto and if necessary recreate together. We have a great tradition of community action together ”“ and the churches have by and large played their part well ”“ but did you know that nationally 60% of men born in 1946 were members of local organisations when they were in their 30s, but by 1970 that figure had dropped to just 8%? 2012 is surely the year to reverse that trend….Together we can get things done.
KATE OLSON: Mt. Desert Island, off the coast of Maine, widely known as the home to the spectacular Acadia National Park. Here, at St. Andrew by the Lake Episcopal Church, a community of spiritual seekers gathered recently to hear about the Christian practice of contemplation from Martin Laird.
MARTIN LAIRD: (Speaking at St. Andrew) To navigate this ancient way of prayer is to “put out into the deep,” as Luke says, let down our nets for our catch. Paradoxically, we discover that it is we ourselves who are caught and held in this net”¦
OLSON: This is the central insight and discovery in the practice of contemplation, Laird says that the God we are seeking has already sought and found us. We simply are not aware of this union.
The families of soldiers from Yorkshire killed in action or seriously injured in Afghanistan joined The Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu at a special service of remembrance and thanksgiving at Bishopthorpe Palace in York…[this past Friday].
The service, which was held in the chapel at Bishopthorpe Palace, was attended by over 50 parents and partners, brothers and sisters, Visiting and Welfare Officers from across the York Diocese.
The Archbishop said: “We should not forget our brave servicemen and women, who put their lives on the line on a daily basis. We have the best and bravest troops in the world and it is important that they know how highly they are thought of by this nation.”
Kim Jong Il, the dictator who used fear and isolation to maintain power in North Korea and his nuclear weapons to menace his neighbors and threaten the U.S., has died, North Korean state television reported early Monday.
His death opens a new and potentially dangerous period of transition and instability for North Korea and northeast Asia. Mr. Kim in September 2010 tapped the youngest of his three sons, Kim Jong Eun, to succeed him, and North Korean state television on Monday said the younger Mr. Kim will lead the country.
But the smart money was wrong. Havel was the only real choice considered when the new Czech Republic needed a president in January 1993. And Havel’s entire career and philosophy, like Orwell’s, were dedicated to navigating ideological minefields under the extreme duress of personal participation and suffering. This skill, it turns out, had some relevance in the post-Gorbachev world too. Like Orwell’s, Havel’s words and zesty one-liners can be (and have been) quoted selectively to make him sound conservative, liberal, and otherwise, and his bedrock belief in the transformative power of “calling things by their proper names” virtually ensured that some of his freewheeling opinions would set off alarm bells among those who see the shadow of socialism in such phrases as “civil society” and “new politics.”
“I once said that I considered myself a socialist,” Havel wrote in Summer Meditations. “I merely wanted to suggest that my heart was, as they say, slightly left of center.” The words could have come directly out of Orwell’s mouth: “In sentiment I am definitely ‘left,'” he wrote in 1940, “but I believe that a writer can only remain honest if he keeps free of party labels.”
Havel went on to discuss the futility of those who would pin an ideological tag to his lapel. “All my adult life, I was branded by officials as ‘an exponent of the right’ who wanted to bring capitalism back to our country,” he wrote. “Today — at a ripe old age — I am suspected by some of being left-wing, if not of harboring out-and-out socialist tendencies. What, then, is my real position? First and foremost, I have never espoused any ideology, dogma, or doctrine — left-wing, right-wing, or any other closed, ready-made system of presuppositions about the world. On the contrary, I have tried to think independently, using my own powers of reason, and I have always vigorously resisted attempts to pigeonhole me.”
Both as a dissident and as a national leader, Mr. [Vaclav] Havel impressed the West as one of the most important political thinkers in Central Europe. He rejected the notion, posited by reform-minded Communist leaders like Mikhail S. Gorbachev in the Soviet Union and Alexander Dubcek in Czechoslovakia, that Communist rule could be made more humane.
His star status and personal interests drew world leaders to Prague, from the Dalai Lama, with whom Mr. Havel meditated for hours, to President Bill Clinton, who, during a state visit in 1994, joined a saxophone jam session at Mr. Havel’s favorite jazz club.
Even after Mr. Havel retired in 2003, leaders sought him out, including President Obama. At their meeting in March 2009, Mr. Havel warned of the perils of limitless hope being projected onto a leader. Disappointment, he noted, could boil over into anger and resentment. Mr. Obama replied that he was becoming acutely aware of the possibility.
O God, who didst promise that thy glory should be revealed, and that all flesh should see it together: Stir up our hearts, we beseech thee, to prepare the way of thine only begotten Son; and pour out upon us thy loving kindness, that we who are afflicted by reason of our sins may be refreshed by the coming of our Saviour, and may behold his glory; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth one God, world without end.