Daily Archives: December 31, 2012

Sperm donor forced to pay child support to same-sex couple despite first giving up parental rights

A sperm donor has been ordered to pay child support for the biological daughter he fathered to a lesbian couple who found him via Craigslist.

Angela Bauer, 40, and partner Jennifer Schreiner, 34, placed an ad on the site three years ago for a donor which was answered by William Marotta.

‘We are foster and adoptive parents and now we desire to share a pregnancy and birth together,’ Bauer wrote in the online posting.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Children, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance, Science & Technology, Sexuality, Theology

(The Economist) The rich world's economy–The gift that goes on giving

The holiday season is a time for expansive thoughts, and not just about waistlines. It allows people time to step back from the daily grind and think about how they could do things differently. Has lack of imagination blinded them to simple solutions? With a little effort, could they make 2013 a lot better?

For the rich world’s governments, the answer is yes. We offer three ways to improve confidence and increase growth in what otherwise looks like being a pretty bleak year. Regular readers will not be astonished to hear that all three involve trade liberalisation. This is, indeed, a theme we have returned to with some frequency since this newspaper was set up in 1843 to oppose Britain’s protectionist Corn Laws. But the gains to be had from sluggish rich countries opening their borders to each other’s goods and services look enticing. The world is less integrated than most people realise. And trade also offers a chance for liberal democracies to re-establish their credentials as the world’s guides towards prosperity.

According to the IMF, in 2013 America’s economy may grow by around 2%, Japan’s and Britain’s by 1% or so, and the euro zone’s will be lucky to grow at all. Policymakers in each of these economies could do plenty of things to improve this dour prognosis, but most involve unappealing choices. A further monetary boost may help add zip to the recovery, but risks producing asset bubbles. More fiscal expansion could help growth but could weigh governments down with extra debt.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, Caribbean, England / UK, Europe, Globalization, Japan

James Carroll: Jesus and the promise of Christmas

But Jesus was not a mere victim of this violence. Acting in his Jewish tradition, he confronted it, rejected it and proposed a new way to think of it. His followers knew at the outset, and ever after, that they failed to live up to the standard he set, but that very knowledge shows that the myth of what Crossan calls the normalcy of violence is broken.

Humans have an inbuilt tendency to find the solution of violence in yet more violence, with the result that it spirals on forever. The victory of coercive force is inevitably the cause of the next outbreak of coercive force.

Jesus proposed that the answer to violence is not more violence, but is forgiveness and righteousness – or, as we would put it, peace and justice. For 2,000 years, this program has been able to be dismissed as piety’s dream.

But something new is afoot. Since 1945, the normalcy of violence is armed with weapons that will surely render the human species extinct unless a different way of thinking of violence is found.

That is the promise of Christmas.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Violence

Tom Wright on Christmas–What is this Word?

Out of the thousand things which follow directly from this reading of John, I choose three as particularly urgent.

First, John’s view of the incarnation, of the Word becoming flesh, strikes at the very root of that liberal denial which characterised mainstream theology thirty years ago and whose long-term effects are with us still. I grew up hearing lectures and sermons which declared that the idea of God becoming human was a category mistake. No human being could actually be divine; Jesus must therefore have been simply a human being, albeit no doubt (the wonderful patronizing pat on the head of the headmaster to the little boy) a very brilliant one. Phew; that’s all right then; he points to God but he isn’t actually God. And a generation later, but growing straight out of that school of thought, I have had a clergyman writing to me this week to say that the church doesn’t know anything for certain, so what’s all the fuss about? Remove the enfleshed and speaking Word from the centre of your theology, and gradually the whole thing will unravel until all you’re left with is the theological equivalent of the grin on the Cheshire Cat, a relativism whose only moral principle is that there are no moral principles; no words of judgment because nothing is really wrong except saying that things are wrong, no words of mercy because, if you’re all right as you are, you don’t need mercy, merely ”˜affirmation’.

That’s where we are right now; and John’s Christmas message issues a sharp and timely reminder to re-learn the difference between mercy and affirmation, between a Jesus who both embodies and speaks God’s word of judgment and grace and a home-made Jesus (a Da Vinci Code Jesus, if you like) who gives us good advice about discovering who we really are. No wonder John’s gospel has been so unfashionable in many circles. There is a fashion in some quarters for speaking about a ”˜theology of incarnation’ and meaning that our task is to discern what God is doing in the world and do it with him. But that is only half the truth, and the wrong half to start with. John’s theology of the incarnation is about God’s word coming as light into darkness, as a hammer that breaks the rock into pieces, as the fresh word of judgment and mercy. You might as well say that an incarnational missiology is all about discovering what God is saying No to today, and finding out how to say it with him. That was the lesson Barth and Bonhoeffer had to teach in Germany in the 1930s, and it’s all too relevant as today’s world becomes simultaneously, and at the same points, more liberal and more totalitarian. This Christmas, let’s get real, let’s get Johannine, and let’s listen again to the strange words spoken by the Word made flesh.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Kendall Harmon–The Light Shines in the Darkness at Christmas

I believe the hardest job in America today is that of being a Roman Catholic parish priest.

Perhaps the most challenging single job this year is that of Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The spiritual leader of 500,000 people in one of the most heavily Roman Catholic regions in the United States, Hughes, according to the New York Times, had to put together a diocese “in exile.” The task was to reorganize the Archdiocese, including a charitable network and 104 parochial schools, inBaton Rouge. Can you imagine?

“I never thought the Lord was going to ask me to take this on at 72,” said the Archbishop. Indeed.
And here is where faith in the child in the manger comes in. Looking out at all the flooding, devastation, looting and loss, the reporter asked Alfred Hughes whether he still had hope.

He declared: “Absolutely. Absolutely. That is the root of our faith.”

“The most important thing is to not doubt God’s presence and God’s saving and transforming grace,” he continued. “I’m convinced that God is going to purify us through this.”

What a bracing affirmation in the midst of so many who are tempted to soften Christmas into a Hallmark Card these days. “In the bleak midwinter,” Christine Rossetti reminds us, “frosty wind made moan, earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone.”

Talk about bleak ”” how about New Orleans after Katrina? Yet the good Archbishop says “I am convinced.” If there can be light in the bleakness of Bethlehem, in the miry initial despair of New Orleans after such a fury of nature, there can ALWAYS be hope. For the light shines in the darkness at Christmas, and the darkness has not and never will overcome it.

–The Rev. Canon Dr. Kendall S. Harmon from 2005

Posted in * By Kendall, * Christian Life / Church Life, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Theology

(The Hill) Lawmakers have no bill, no deal and New Year's Eve on the cliff

Senate leaders are racing against the clock to reach a “fiscal cliff” deal the House and Senate can approve on New Year’s Eve.

Leaders in the upper chamber narrowed their differences Sunday as Republicans agreed to drop a demand to curb cost-of-living increases to entitlement benefits, while Democrats showed flexibility on taxes.

Yet after months of talks on ways to avoid the fiscal cliff of tax hikes and spending cuts at the end of 2012, House and Senate lawmakers find themselves approaching the new year without a bill to present to their members.
Significant differences remain over two key parts of a deal ”” the automatic spending cuts known as the sequester and the estate tax.

Read it all.

Update: a BBC article is there.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to at KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, 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

(NPR) Virtually Anyone Can See The Dead Sea Scrolls Now

This week, an ancient and largely inaccessible treasure was opened to everyone. Now, anyone with access to a computer can look at the oldest Bible known to humankind.

Thousands of high-resolution images of the Dead Sea Scrolls were posted online this week in a partnership between Google and the Israel Antiquities Authority. The online archive, dating back to the first century B.C., includes portions of the Ten Commandments and the Book of Genesis.

“Most of these fragments are not on display anywhere,” says Risa Levitt Kohn, a professor of Hebrew Bible and Judaism at San Diego State University.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Blogging & the Internet, Education, History, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(FT) Gavyn Davies–Another year in thrall to the central bankers

Understanding the developing attitude of the central banks, and the effects of their actions, obviously remains central for investors in all financial assets. The “big picture” for global financial assets, involving very low government bond yields and a gradual shift of risk appetite into credit and equities, is unlikely to change until one of two events takes place.

The first would be a decision by the central bankers themselves that the era of unlimited quantitative easing must end, either because of the risk of inflation and asset price bubbles, or because of concerns about fiscal dominance over the monetary authorities. The second would be a realisation by the markets that further action by the central bankers is irrelevant because they have run out of effective ammunition. Either of these events would probably remove the central prop from the equity bull market which began in March, 2009, but neither seems very likely in 2013.

There is certainly no sign that the central bankers themselves will call a halt to the extension of their balance sheets.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010, America/U.S.A., Asia, China, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Federal Reserve, Globalization, Japan, Politics in General, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government, The United States Currency (Dollar etc)

Washington Redskins defeat Dallas Cowboys to win NFC East title and earn a spot in the playoffs

A midseason turnaround that no one saw coming culminated Sunday night for the Washington Redskins with a 28-18 victory over the Dallas Cowboys that gave them an improbable NFC East title and a spot in the playoffs for the first time since 2007.

Quarterback Robert Griffin III wasn’t at his dazzling best in the win at FedEx Field. But the Redskins used the bullish running of another reliable rookie, tailback Alfred Morris, and leaned heavily on their defense to churn out a workmanlike triumph over Dallas.

The Redskins improved to 10-6 and ended the regular season on a seven-game winning streak. They seized their first division crown since the 1999 season and, as the NFC’s fourth seed for the postseason, will host the fifth-seeded Seattle Seahawks in a first-round playoff game next Sunday at 4:30 p.m.

Congratulations to the Redskins. Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Sports

A Prayer for the Provisional Feast day of Samuel Ajayi Crowther

Almighty God, who didst rescue Samuel Ajayi Crowther from slavery, sent him to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ to his people in Nigeria, and made him the first bishop from the people of West Africa: Grant that those who follow in his steps may reap what he has sown and find abundant help for the harvest; through him who took upon himself the form of a slave that we might be free, the same Jesus Christ; who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of Nigeria, Missions, Spirituality/Prayer

Another Prayer for Christmas to Begin the Day

Almighty God, as we keep the festival of the divine humility of thy Son Jesus Christ, we beseech thee to bestow upon us such love and charity as were his, to whom it was more blessed to give than to receive, and who came not to be ministered unto but to minister; that in his name we may consecrate ourselves to the service of all who are in need; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Scripture readings

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.

–Psalm 46: 1-2, a very good Psalm to end the year with; here is the Message version of this passage extended by one verse:

God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need him.
We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom,
courageous in seastorm and earthquake,
Before the rush and roar of oceans,
the tremors that shift mountains.
Jacob-wrestling God fights for us,
God-of-Angel-Armies protects us.

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(AP) Bomb kills 2 at Egyptian Coptic church in Libya’s 3rd-largest city, Misrata

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry says an explosion at an Egyptian Coptic church in Libya’s third largest city, Misrata, has killed two people and wounded two others.

The statement by the Foreign Ministry says Sunday’s explosion killed two Egyptian citizens working at the church in preparation for traditional New Year’s Eve mass.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Coptic Church, Egypt, Libya, Middle East, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Violence

(Sunday Telegraph) Study says Muslim Council has 'more of a voice' than the Archbishop of Canterbury

The decline of the Anglican Church as the country’s main religious voice is confirmed by findings from the Henry Jackson Society.
The study, which monitored statements by religious groups and media coverage of religion over the past decade, also found that the Roman Catholic Church had a more prominent role in public debate about religious issues than the Church of England.
Catholics focused heavily on pro-life issues and personal morality. Statements made by the C of E, in contrast, were more likely to be about overseas aid, foreign policy and poverty.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --Rowan Williams, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Notable and Quotable

The example set by Samuel is one of patient trust in the Lord, growing in knowledge and love of God year by year, so that we find favour with the Lord and learn to serve him in holiness and in love of the Christian family to which we are called to belong in faith. At whatever age we come to Christ, we begin like little children, in need of education about the way of life that is appropriate for us, and the values of the kingdom which Jesus has proclaimed. Repentance leads the way to faith, and a share in the holiness of those whom God has called to be saints, transforming the conflicts of this world into a new order of society in which “compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience“ take the place of division and recrimination, as we learn mutual forbearance and forgiveness. When we come to see how much God loves us, and all of his Creation, we have no choice but to be reconciled to one another, and to love one another. It is in this way that we discover the true quality of the peace which Jesus bequeathed to his Church at the last supper, far more profound than an absence of noise or conflict, uniting God’s people in joyful common service of the Lord and of one another.

–The Rev Stephen Trott in the Church of England Newspaper, December 23/30 2012 edition, page 15

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Theology, Theology: Scripture