Daily Archives: December 3, 2012

Is it Moral for Law Schools to keep taking tuition if they can’t place their graduates in jobs?

I’m applying to law school. I’m sure there are many schools that could provide me with a decent education; I’m less confident that a degree from some institutions will get me a job. In fact, some schools, while charging outrageously high tuition, place fewer than half of their recent graduates in long-term, full-time legal positions. Is it moral for schools like these to keep enrolling students and collecting tuition dollars knowing that their product is a risky (or outright bad) investment?

Read it all from “The Ethicist”.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Law & Legal Issues, Personal Finance, Theology

(IBD) President Obama's Proposed Tax Rates Would Exceed Clinton-Era Rates

….President Obama’s call for a return to Clinton-era tax rates is misleading: If the Bush upper-income tax cuts go away, tax rates will exceed those in place at the end of the 1990s.

The top effective federal marginal tax rate on work income would rise to roughly 44.6% from 37.9% in 2012.

That’s higher than under President Clinton because of a 0.9-percentage-point Medicare payroll tax hike for upper-income households, which passed with Obama-Care and takes effect in January.

Tax rates on long-term capital gains also will be higher than when Clinton left office if Bush tax cuts expire as ObamaCare’s new 3.8% Medicare tax on investment gains takes effect. Up to now, only wage and salary income has been subject to Medicare taxes.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, House of Representatives, Medicare, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, Social Security, Taxes, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government, Theology

(Wash. Post Op-Ed) Fred Hiatt–Paying for charitable giving

At first blush, it seems to make policy sense, too. The rich fabric of America’s civic life, from Boy Scouts to community orchestras to soup kitchens, is the envy of the world. Its diversity reflects in part how much it depends on private givers with diverse interests and motives, and not just on the government. Their giving is encouraged by the charitable deduction, enacted in 1917, just four years after the income tax itself. The deduction lets people feel they are beating the system even as they practice virtue.

But there’s a question of fairness that complicates the issue. Overwhelmingly, the deduction benefits the wealthy ”” and the rest of the country has to make up the gap.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Budget, Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Economy, House of Representatives, Medicare, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, Social Security, Taxes, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

(Christian Century) Fusing justice and holiness–An Interview with Minneapolis pastor Dennis Sanders

What excites you most about ministry these days? What’s been the hardest thing?

It’s hard to face the reality that what used to work doesn’t work anymore. First Church shares the classic mainline story: it was a large congregation in the 1950s and ’60s, and it lost members from the ’70s onward. Now it is a far smaller congregation trying to figure out how to do ministry in this day and age.

Over the last year, several members of our congregation worked to get our archives digitized. Looking at all the old church bulletins from the 1950s, you realize that there were hundreds of people taking part in Sunday school””hundreds. When you have only a handful of folks in Sunday school these days, it can be really easy to think you’re a failure.

I have to keep reminding myself that the past is the past, and we have to learn how to be church now.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, Disciples of Christ, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry

(Wash. Post) U-Va. sociology professor: Parenting in red, blue and purple America

One of the abiding fissures in American life exposed by presidential election was religion. Exit polls indicated that about 60 percent of Americans who regularly attend church voted for Mitt Romney, and about 60 percent of Americans who rarely or never attend religious services voted for President Obama. This religious divide would have been even sharper were it not for the fact that many churchgoing blacks and Latinos pulled the lever for Obama.

Differences over family-related matters, from same-sex marriage to abortion, drove religious divide in voting. Secular progressives were attracted to Obama’s strong support for same-sex marriage and abortion rights, just as religious conservatives were repelled by his positions on these issues.

Given the importance of family-related issues in the presidential race, it is no surprise that the cultural divides so evident in the political arena also extend to the family arena, according to an important new report from the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia. The Culture of American Families project, by sociologist Carl Desportes Bowman, reveals that American parents are divided into four cultural camps….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(NPR) Pencils Down? French Plan Would End Homework

[Emmanuel] Davidenkoff says the Socialist government doesn’t seem to understand the concerns of the working and middle class and in the name of equality, got it all wrong.

“Mostly, wealthy people don’t want homework because when the kids are at home, they make sports or dance or music. They go to the museums, to the theater. So they have this access to culture, which is very important,” he says. “In poor families, they don’t have that, so the only link they have with culture and school is homework.”

Elisabeth Zeboulon sits in her office over the playground. Today, she’s the principal at a private, bilingual school in Paris, but she spent most of her career in French public schools. Zeboulon says the centralized French education system doesn’t leave much room for trying different teaching methods….

Read or listen to it all (audio highly recommended).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Children, Economy, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance, Poverty, Theology

The Episcopal Diocese of Washington D.C. Marriage Guidelines and Liturgy

Check out all the links noting especially this one.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Parishes, Theology

The Bishop of Washington D.C. Writes about the New Revision of Marriage Guidelines

As clergy we are caught in the gap between our vow to abide by the Doctrine, Discipline and Worship of the Episcopal Church and our commitment to care for our people and to discern the workings of the Holy Spirit in our time. I am among those of our Church who believe that the Spirit is leading us to embrace full marriage equality for all people, recognizing that the Constitution of our Church has yet to reach that conclusion. The actions of General Convention clearly permit us to act on our convictions, with full provision, as is always the case with marriage, for those who choose not to preside at ceremonies for same-sex couples.

The diocesan guidelines for same-sex marriage strive for parity where parity is possible. In other words, for those congregations that feel called to offer their sanctuaries and pastoral services for same-sex couples, I ask that your marriage policies match those for heterosexual couples. And while it is within your authority as priests to make decisions regarding worship, I do ask that you engage the lay leaders of the congregation, to hear their views and concerns.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

Dan Burke–Why Don't Roman Catholics Read the Bible?

Knowing you need to read the Bible and actually doing it are often two very different things. We are, as Catholics, a biblical people, after all. The Bible is the Word of God. Mass is grounded in scripture. Many of our prayers have biblical roots.

So what’s the problem? Why do Catholics seem to have a reputation for not spending any time with the Bible, for not knowing it, and maybe for not even caring?

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Books, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Bishop Alan Wilson–Church & State: Another fine mess?

The parliamentary reaction to this week’s synod vote tells a powerful tale. Wearing his Garrick Club tie, the Second Church Estates Commissioner answered questions from MP’s, all of whom expressed amazement and moral repugnance about the official and institutionalised sexism of the Established Church. (note to overseas readers ”” The Garrick Club is an exclusive Gentleman’s club in the West End).

The Garrick Club Tie Gaffe (if such it was) underlined an important aspect of the problem: the Church claims to be far more than a private organisation like a golf club, masonic lodge, or Gentleman’s London hang-out. It claims to be good news for everyone, and the fury of our legislators when they see it acting as though it were a private club, disconnected from society, was unmistakable….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Church/State Matters, CoE Bishops, Law & Legal Issues, Women

A Profile of Albano Berberi, a blind Gordon College student who plays classical music on the violin

Although blind, [Albano] Berberi has played a musical instrument longer than he can remember. When his family still lived in Albania, 6-month-old Berberi began playing the keyboard. It wasn’t Mozart, but his father told him he played the notes sequentially. At 18 months, he reproduced the music demonstration tape that came with the keyboard.

When he was a year old, the family moved to Greece, where he continued playing keyboard until his kindergarten teacher decided to introduced him to another instrument. They first tried the recorder during a trip to a music conservatory. But he found it “rather boring,” and the two continued their tour of the facility in search of an instrument to pique his interest. A musician taking a break from rehearsals handed the young boy his violin. The instrument, built for an adult not a 5-year-old, hardly nestled under his chin. But it proved a perfect fit.

“It can be the sweetest thing or angry,” Berberi said. “It’s just a very expressive instrument.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Education, Health & Medicine, Music, Theology, Young Adults

A Prayer for the (Provisional) Feast Day of Francis Xavier

Loving God, who didst call Francis Xavier to lead many in India and Japan to know Jesus Christ as their Redeemer: Bring us to the new life of glory promised to all who follow in the Way; through the same Jesus Christ, who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Lord Jesus Christ, who at thy first coming didst warn us to prepare for the day when thou shalt come to be our judge: Mercifully grant that being awake from the sleep of sin, we may always be watching and intent upon the work thou hast given us to do; who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

–Psalm 1

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

The Archbishop of Canterbury's Advent letter to Anglican Primates

Despite many questions about how our decisions about doctrine and mutual responsibility are made in the Communion, and some challenges to the various ”˜Instruments of Communion’, the truth is that our Communion has never been the sort of Church that looks for one central authority. This doesn’t mean that we are not concerned with truth or holiness or consistency. It simply acknowledges that all forms of human power and discipline can become corrupted, and that in the Church we have to have several points of reference for the organising of our common life so that none of them can go without challenge or critique from the others. Our hope is that in this exchange we discover a more credible and lasting convergence than we should have if someone or some group alone imposed decisions ”“ and that the fellowship that emerges is more clearly marked by Christlikeness, by that reverence for one another that the Spirit creates in believers.

Another way of saying this is that (to use the language of a great Anglican theologian of the early twentieth century, J.N. Figgis) we are a ”˜community of communities’.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Rowan Williams, Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury