Daily Archives: November 20, 2012

(Politico) Tax Loopholes alone can't solve fiscal cliff

…the biggest loopholes in the U.S. Tax Code ”” generally referred to as tax expenditures ”” aren’t just the tricks of the trade for millionaires with offshore bank accounts. For the vast majority of Americans, they’re just how things work: You don’t pay taxes on your health insurance or Medicare benefits; you contribute tax-free to your 401(k); and your mortgage interest pushes down your tax bill each year.

And even if you dump the biggest of the set, these tax perks don’t even come close to closing the deficit. At best, the top 10 would pull in an extra $834 billion a year, according to Joint Committee on Taxation figures. Considering the hole lawmakers are trying to fill is several trillion dollars large, it’s clear they wouldn’t even come close.

Here are the 10 biggest tax loopholes ”” and the reasons why most of them will survive the fiscal cliff….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Budget, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Health & Medicine, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Personal Finance, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, Taxes, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government, US Presidential Election 2012

(Christianity Today) The Cutting Edge of Marketplace Ministries

[When Charles] Proudfit… [became a Christian] he was eager to “apply my new faith to every area of my life, including my work.” But when he looked to his church for guidance, he was stymied.

“The local church doesn’t deal much with everyday realities for the working people in the pews,” he laments. So, “more out of exasperation than inspiration,” Proudfit founded the Cincinnati-based marketplace ministry At Work on Purpose (AWOP).

That AWOP formed independently of the church is common, says Princeton University scholar David W. Miller. Author of God at Work: The History and Promise of the Faith at Work Movement, Miller notes that most marketplace ministries “have formed outside the authority, involvement, or impetus of the church.” What is uncommon is AWOP’s holistic approach to integrating faith and work among its 5,000-plus members in the Cincinnati metro area. It’s moving past a narrow focus on workplace evangelism to include ethics, social responsibility, and citywide engagement””a model that more marketplace ministries are embracing across the nation.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Adult Education, Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Ministry of the Laity, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Flashback: Bishop Tom Wright on Women Bishops

His valedictory speech thanks to Ruth Gledhill

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

A Vision for Christian Theology

Christian theology is more immediately a practical than a speculative discipline, and such speculation as it harbors stands ultimately in the service of right worship, right confession of Christ, and right living. Right practice demands, of course, critical and constructive reflection, and the best Christian theology takes place in the interplay between reflection and practice. That is why honor is traditionally given to those practical thinkers and preachers who are designated “Fathers of the Church.” Most of them were bishops who, in the early centuries of Christianity, supervised the teaching of catechumens, delivered homilies in the liturgical assembly, oversaw the spiritual and moral life of their communities, gathered in council when needed to clarify and determine the faith, and took charge of the mission to the world as evangelistic opportunities arose. A figure of comparable stature and range in the ecumenical twentieth century was Lesslie Newbigin (1909-1998).

–Geoffrey Wainwright, Lesslie Newbigin: A Theological Life (Oxford: Oxford University Press: 2000), p. v

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church History, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Anglican Ink) Church of Eng. will not make any "premature" statement or judgment re:South Carolina

This post is ‘Sticky’ and will remain at the head of the page, the first of six sticky posts. Please scroll down to below the CofE General Synod Post to find new posts
(Please first take the time to read the transcript there).

Bishop [Christopher] Hill said that “on Saturday, a Special Diocesan Convention endorsed the South Carolina withdrawal from the Episcopal Church. The Bishop has stated that their position would be to remain within the Anglican Communion as an extra-provincial Diocese. The Episcopal Church on the other hand maintains that General Convention consent is necessary for any withdrawal. So the legal and indeed theological and ecclesiological position is extremely complicated. And it is absolutely not certain.”

The bishop concluded “it has therefore not been possible to consider the consequences for our relationships at this immediate stage. And, in my view, any statement just at this point would be premature.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Pastoral Theology, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils, Theology

Solzhenitsyn's One Day: The book that shook the USSR 50 years ago this month

In November 1962, one story shook the Soviet Union.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn described a day in the life of a prison camp inmate, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov.

The character was fictional. But there were millions like him – innocent citizens who, like Solzhenitsyn himself, had been sent to the Gulag in Joseph Stalin’s wave of terror.

Censorship and fear had prevented the truth about the camps from being published, but this story made it into print. The USSR would never be the same again….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Books, Europe, History, Russia

NY Times Letters Respond to David Brooks on the Family in the Age of Possibility

Here is one:

David Brooks says the problem with society in this “age of possibility” is that people “go through adulthood perpetually trying to keep their options open.”

But certainly it is possible to view this as an improvement over centuries of more “traditional” values, like denying the humanity of homosexuals; the subjugation and oppression of women; and institutionalized discrimination against pretty much every non-Anglo-Saxon ethnic group.

The various values and commitments to choose from are no less valid or moral for not being “traditional” (whatever that means). The two-parent family and “commitments to family, God, craft and country” might be lifestyle choices that work for some people, who are still free to pursue some or all of those ideals.

The difference now is that others won’t be forced into a life they either don’t want or can’t have, and they won’t be made to feel ashamed about whatever life they choose to live. This is progress.

Read them all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Globalization, History, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Sociology

David Brooks–Is The Age of Possibility, Making the Two Parent Family one of Many Choices, Good?

At some point over the past generation, people around the world entered what you might call the age of possibility. They became intolerant of any arrangement that might close off their personal options.

The transformation has been liberating, and it’s leading to some pretty astounding changes. For example, for centuries, most human societies forcefully guided people into two-parent families. Today that sort of family is increasingly seen as just one option among many….

My view is that the age of possibility is based on a misconception. People are not better off when they are given maximum personal freedom to do what they want. They’re better off when they are enshrouded in commitments that transcend personal choice ”” commitments to family, God, craft and country.

The surest way people bind themselves is through the family….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Children, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Globalization, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Sociology

(Telegraph) Church warned over women bishops

MPs, who must approve any Synod decision before it receives Royal Assent, warned that a failure to approve the proposal could undermine the Church of England’s position as the established Church. Chris Bryant, the Labour MP and a former Anglican priest, said the legislation would face a “rough ride” in Parliament if there were any further concessions to traditionalists. “If the legislation leans too far towards the traditionalist that won’t please the Commons and the legislation would have trouble,” he said.
“There are quite a few of us who think that the way this is leaning is entrenching forever a religious apartheid within the Church of England.”
He added that a rejection would “undoubtedly undermine” support for aspects of establishment, including bishops in the Lords and the role of Parliament approving Church laws.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Women

France stripped of prized 'AAA' credit rating by Moody's

[Moody’s] said France’s long-term economic growth had been hit by its inflexible labour market and low levels of innovation eroding its competitiveness and industrial base.

Moody’s also flagged up the country’s exposure to the continuing eurozone crisis.

It warned the “predictability” of France’s resilence of further shocks in the eurozone was diminishing while the country’s exposure to the highly indebted countries such as Spain and Greece was disproportionately high.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Foreign Relations, France, Politics in General, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

(NY Times) The College of the Future Could Be Far More Open

Teaching Introduction to Sociology is almost second nature to Mitchell Duneier, a professor at Princeton: he has taught it 30 times, and a textbook he co-wrote is in its eighth edition. But last summer, as he transformed the class into a free online course, he had to grapple with some brand-new questions: Where should he focus his gaze while a camera recorded the lectures? How could the 40,000 students who enrolled online share their ideas? And how would he know what they were learning?

In many ways, the arc of Professor Duneier’s evolution, from professor in a lecture hall to online instructor of tens of thousands, reflects a larger movement, one with the potential to transform higher education. Already, a handful of companies are offering elite college-level instruction ”” once available to only a select few, on campus, at great cost ”” free, to anyone with an Internet connection.

Moreover, these massive open online courses, or MOOCs, harness the power of their huge enrollments to teach in new ways, applying crowd-sourcing technology to discussion forums and grading and enabling professors to use online lectures and reserve on-campus class time for interaction with students.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Education, Globalization, Science & Technology

(BBC Magazine) Marijuana legalisation in the US: Five burning questions

This month, two US states voted to legalise, regulate and tax marijuana. From advertising and marketing to drugged-driving enforcement, we ask what’s ahead.

The 6 November votes in Colorado and Washington left a lot of marijuana users happy and a lot of police officers nervous. And they set the two states up for a confrontation with the federal government, as marijuana is still illegal under federal law.

Marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug in the US. Legalisation advocates say the recent votes mark the beginning of the end of the drug’s prohibition.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, State Government

(Journal-Sentinel) Atheist group likely to get $67,000 in Univerity of Wisconsin student fees

An atheist group at the University of Wisconsin-Madison seems on track to receive nearly $70,000 in student fees for staffing and programming next year, in what appears to be a first for the university and student atheist groups nationally.

The Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics, or AHA as it’s called, said it will provide support services for students struggling with doubts about their faiths and offer a safe place where they can discuss religious issues without fear of recrimination.

“Religious groups have been receiving this type of funding for years,” said Chris Calvey, president of the organization, which helped stage a three-day Freethought Festival that drew hundreds of nonbelievers and skeptics from around the country to Madison this year.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Atheism, Education, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Secularism, Young Adults

What Is the Biggest Change Evangelical Seminaries Need to Make Right Now?

I hope the question got your attention, it certainly did that for me. Dan Kimball, Cheryl Sanders, and Winfield Bevins all have some thoughts in response–read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Edmund of East Anglia

O God of ineffable mercy, who didst give grace and fortitude to blessed Edmund the king to triumph over the enemy of his people by nobly dying for thy Name: Bestow on us thy servants, we beseech thee, the shield of faith, wherewith we may withstand the assaults of our ancient enemy; through Jesus Christ our Redeemer, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

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