Daily Archives: April 17, 2012

(CNN Religion Blog) Stephen Prothero–Roman Catholic bishops are speaking against the common good

I will admit that the HHS contraception rule does ask these Catholic clerics to sacrifice something. But what is this sacrifice? Simply to allow the women who work for their organizations to be offered contraceptive coverage by their insurers. To refuse this sacrifice is not to uphold civil society. It is to refuse to participate in it.

Toward the end of their statement, the 15 bishops who signed this statement called on every U.S. Catholic to join in a “great national campaign” on behalf of religious liberty. More specifically, they called for a “Fortnight for Freedom” concluding with the Fourth of July when U.S. dioceses can celebrate both religious liberty and martyrs who have died for the Catholic cause.

As Independence Day approaches, I have a prediction. I predict that rank-and-file American Catholics will ignore this call.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, House of Representatives, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Office of the President, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Senate

(RNS) Man spends 12 months practicing 12 different religions, and finds peace at year’s end

Andrew Bowen sat yoga-style in his armchair, absent-mindedly fingering a set of Muslim prayer beads in his left hand as he talked about 2011 — his year of conversion.

But he’s not Muslim. In fact, the 29-year-old Lumberton resident doesn’t call himself by any of the 12 faiths he practiced for a month at a time last year.

Not Hindu (January). Not Baha’i (February). Not Zoroastrian (March). Not Jewish (April). Not Buddhist (May). Not agnostic (June). Not Mormon (July). Not Muslim (August). Not Sikh (September). Not Wiccan (October). Not Jain (November). And not Catholic (December)….

Read it all.

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

(IBD) Debt Goes From Economic Helium To Recovery Millstone

The current economic recovery is more of an uphill slog than any other since World War II for a simple reason: lots more debt.

Record-high debt levels are giving this recovery no chance to exhale. As soon as the economy climbs one hill, another ascent begins.

Combined U.S. household debt and government debt added up to more than $30 trillion, or 200% of GDP, at the end of 2011.
That’s $155,000 per working-age (18-64) adult. By that measure, debt was 50% higher in real terms at the start of this recovery than in 2001. Compared to the 1991 and 1982 recoveries, debt was, respectively, 88% and 230% higher.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Budget, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, History, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

Mitt Romney, Mormonism, and how he should or should not handle it

Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith has hovered over his 20-year political career like a thick layer of incense at Easter Mass. Negative perceptions of the religion so worried his 2008 presidential team that the dilemma had its own acronym in campaign power point presentations: TMT (That Mormon Thing).

Worries persisted this year as skeptical evangelical Christians flocked to other candidates””any other candidate it seemed ”” causing Romney to avoid all things Mormon in public….

Read it all. Also, Jacques Berlinerblau has further thoughts on this in “How Romney should talk about religion”.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Mormons, Office of the President, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

33 Stunning Photos Of Our Amazing Planet Earth Taken By A Guy In Space

Take a very careful look–Wow.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources, Science & Technology

(NPR's Fresh Air) Interpreting Shariah Law Across The Centuries

Sadakat Kadri is an English barrister, a Muslim by birth and a historian. His first book, The Trial, was an extensive survey of the Western criminal judicial system, detailing more than 4,000 years of courtroom antics.

In his new book, Heaven on Earth, Kadri turns his sights east, to centuries of Shariah law. The first parts of his book describe how early Islamic scholars codified ”” and then modified ”” the code that would govern how people lead their daily lives. Kadri then turns to the modern day, reflecting on the lawmakers who are trying to prohibit Shariah law in a dozen states, as well as his encounters with scholars and imams in India, Pakistan, Syria, Egypt, Turkey and Iran ”” the very people who strictly interpret the religious and moral code of Islam today. And some of those modern interpretations, he says, are much more rigid ”” and much more draconian ”” than the code set forth during the early years of Islamic law.

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Books, History, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(Washington Post) Robert Samuelson–Government cannot Create Happiness

We ought to leave “happiness” to novelists and philosophers ”” and rescue it from the economists and psychologists who think it can be distilled into a “science” and translated into pro-happiness policies. Fat chance. Government can often mitigate sources of unhappiness (starvation, unemployment, disease), but happiness is more than the absence of misery. If we could manufacture happiness, we could repeal the “human condition.”

Somehow this has escaped the social scientists who want to make happiness the goal of government. They argue that economic output (gross domestic product) doesn’t measure everything that’s important in life ”” family, friends or religion, for example. True, but it doesn’t follow that “happiness” can be targeted as an alternative. No matter….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Globalization, Philosophy, Politics in General, Psychology

(SMH) Peter Hartcher–Tipping point from West to rest just passed

For many years now, we’ve heard sombre warnings that the white countries’ easy dominance of the world would be eclipsed by the developing nations.

One day, we were told, the fast-growing economies of the poor countries would be bigger than those of the more sclerotic rich countries.

The Australian Treasury has now calculated this is no longer a looming prospect but that, on a key measure, it has already happened. The Treasury estimates the developing countries’ collective gross domestic product overtook that of the rich world last month.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, America/U.S.A., Asia, Economy, England / UK, Europe, Globalization, History

In Australia, Former premier Lynn Arnold to become Anglican minister

Anglican SA boss and former premier Lynn Arnold has resigned from his post to become an Anglican minister.

The former South Australian Labor leader will announce his resignation as chief executive officer today to undertake full-time theological study.

“My great Uncle Dave, as we called him, became something of a role model … he changed his career to become a (Presbyterian) minister,” Dr Arnold said yesterday.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(RNS) Diana Butler Bass–When religion and spirituality collide

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the leader of the Church of England and the worldwide Anglican Communion, recently announced that he would step down by year’s end. A few days later, the Church of England rejected a Williams-backed unity plan for global Anglicanism, a church fractured by issues of gender and sexual identity. The timing of the resignation and the defeat are probably not coincidental. These events signal Anglicans’ institutional failure.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, - Anglican: Commentary, --Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer

(NY Times Op-Ed) Meg Jay–The Downside of Cohabiting Before Marriage

When researchers ask cohabitors…questions, partners often have different, unspoken ”” even unconscious ”” agendas. Women are more likely to view cohabitation as a step toward marriage, while men are more likely to see it as a way to test a relationship or postpone commitment, and this gender asymmetry is associated with negative interactions and lower levels of commitment even after the relationship progresses to marriage. One thing men and women do agree on, however, is that their standards for a live-in partner are lower than they are for a spouse.

Sliding into cohabitation wouldn’t be a problem if sliding out were as easy. But it isn’t. Too often, young adults enter into what they imagine will be low-cost, low-risk living situations only to find themselves unable to get out months, even years, later. It’s like signing up for a credit card with 0 percent interest. At the end of 12 months when the interest goes up to 23 percent you feel stuck because your balance is too high to pay off. In fact, cohabitation can be exactly like that. In behavioral economics, it’s called consumer lock-in.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Marriage & Family, Men, Psychology, Women, Young Adults

$5 Million Cardboard Cathedral for Christchurch

Around 40 people gathered at the cleared demolition site on the fringe of the city’s red zone cordon to hear the official announcement of the city’s $5 million temporary cardboard cathedral.

The Anglican Church today revealed plans for the “transitional” cathedral designed by a top Japanese “paper architect”.

While debate rages over the decision by the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch to demolish the crippled city centre landmark, work will start on the temporary A-frame building in nearby Latimer Square next week.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anglican Provinces, Australia / NZ, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc., Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Kendall Harmon's Easter II Sermon–The Resurrection is Real, and Calls us To Confidence and Boldness

Listen to it all; it is based on 1 John 1 the opening few verses.

Posted in * By Kendall, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Christianity Today) Q & A: Ross Douthat on Rooting Out Bad Religion

The biggest threat facing America is not a faltering economy or a spate of books by famed atheists. Rather, the country meets new challenges due to the decline of traditional Christianity, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat suggests in Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics (Free Press). Douthat has taken his own personal tour of American Christianity: he was baptized Episcopalian, attended evangelical and Pentecostal churches as a child, and converted to Catholicism at age 17. He argues that prosperity preachers, self-esteem gurus, and politics operating as religion contribute to the contemporary decline of America. CT spoke with Douthat about America’s decline from a vigorous faith, modern heretics, and why we need a revival of traditional Christianity.
What do you mean when you say we’re facing the threat of heresy?

I try to use an ecumenical definition, starting with what I see as the theological common ground shared by my own Catholic Church and many Protestant denominations. Then I look at forms of American religion that are influenced by Christianity, but depart in some significant way from this consensus. It’s a C. S. Lewisian, Mere Christianity definition of orthodoxy or heresy. I’m trying to look at the ways the American religion today departs from theological and moral premises that traditional Protestants and Catholics have in common.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Books, Church History, Evangelicals, History, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Lord God of our fathers, who didst of old deliver thy people from the prison-house of Egypt through the paschal sacrifice: Mercifully grant that we thy new Israel, redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, may be set free from the bondage of evil and serve thee henceforth in the joy and power of the resurrection; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ, who ever liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.

–Frank Colquhoun (1909-1997)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, Spirituality/Prayer