Category : Housing/Real Estate Market

(C of E) 39 cathedrals to benefit from First World War Centenary Cathedral Repairs Fund

Thirty-nine grants totalling £14.5 million have today been announced by government for urgent repairs to Church of England and Catholic cathedrals in England. This is the second phase of grants awarded by the First World War Centenary Cathedral Repairs Fund.

Welcoming the announcement Dame Fiona Reynolds, Chair, Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England, said: ‘Cathedrals are the beating hearts of their communities, offering sanctuary, beauty, collective history, and social and economic support to people of every generation. Cathedrals which benefitted from the first phase of this fund have been repaired and refurbished, and staff and volunteers have time and resources to serve their cities and regions with renewed energy. It is fantastic that more cathedrals are now able to benefit from this scheme. England’s cathedrals are a wonderfully diverse group, encompassing not only vast, world-famous medieval buildings such as Durham, Lincoln and Canterbury, but also smaller churches like Wakefield and Leicester which were made cathedrals to serve the growing urban populations of the industrial revolution. These too have become jewels in the centres of their cities and their showcase to the entire nation, as we saw with Leicester Cathedral’s events around the re-interment of Richard III.’

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Theology

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church properties for sale in Augusta, Maine

The proposed sale is expected to force the food and clothing banks, and the essential pantry and warming center, to move. Depending on who or what type of entity puts in a bid to buy the property, the sale could reshape a prominent parcel between the city’s downtown and a large west side residential neighborhood.

Augusta resident Joseph Riddick, senior warden of the church, said the 40-member St. Mark’s congregation, while now able to pay to maintain the buildings, won’t be able to afford to do so long-term. Also, he and the Rev. Rebecca Grant, the church deacon, said the money they’d spend maintaining and heating the aging facilities will be better spent on the church’s focus of helping needy people in the community.

“This is a building. It’s a wonderful building, but our ministry is people,” Riddick said, standing in the high-ceilinged St. Mark’s Church, beneath its rows of elaborate stained-glass windows and among its wooden pews. “We’re transitioning to a facility for our congregation that we can afford. And the money we use to maintain this campus, we’ll take that money and help people, help those in need. St. Mark’s Church continues and our ministries are going to continue, just in a different place.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Episcopal Church (TEC), Housing/Real Estate Market, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Parishes

(Telegraph) [Former chief Rabbi] Jonathan Sacks–We need morality to beat this hurricane of anger

The Prime Minister resigns. There are calls for the Leader of the Opposition to likewise. A petition for a second referendum gathers millions of votes. There is talk of the United Kingdom splitting apart. The Tory succession campaign turns nasty.

This is not politics as usual. I can recall nothing like it in my lifetime. But the hurricane blowing through Britain is not unique to us. In one form or another it is hitting every western democracy including the United States. There is a widespread feeling that politicians have been failing us. The real question is: what kind of leadership do we need to steer us through the storm?

What we are witnessing throughout the West is a new politics of anger. There is anger at the spread of unemployment, leaving whole regions and generations bereft of hope. There is anger at the failure of successive governments to control immigration and to integrate some of the new arrivals.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, England / UK, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Foreign Relations, Housing/Real Estate Market, Immigration, Judaism, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

Nearly 1/3 of US adults, abt 76 mill. people, are “struggling to get by” or “just getting by"

In the United States, nearly one-third of adults, about 76 million people, are either “struggling to get by” or “just getting by,” according to the third annual survey of households by the Federal Reserve Board.

That finding, dismal though it is, represents a mild improvement in general well-being last year, compared with the two years before. The improvement, however, was clearly too little to raise Americans’ spirits: The new survey, which was conducted in late 2015 and released last week, also shows that optimism about the future has tempered.

The Fed policy committee should take the survey to heart when it meets this month to decide whether to raise interest rates. Higher rates are a way to slow an economy that is at risk of overheating ”” a far-fetched proposition when tens of millions of Americans are barely hanging in there.

Read it all from the New York Times.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Psychology, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Theology

(NYT) Millennials’ Roommates Now More Likely to Be Parents Than Partners

The empty nests are filling up: For the first time in modern history, young adults ages 18 to 34 are more likely to live with a parent than with a romantic partner, according to a new census analysis by the Pew Research Center.

Millennials, who have been slower than previous generations to marry and set up their own households, reached that milestone in 2014, when 32.1 percent lived in a parent’s home, compared with 31.6 percent who lived with a spouse or a partner, the report found.

“The really seismic change is that we have so many fewer young adults partnering, either marrying or cohabiting,” said Richard Fry, the Pew economist who wrote the report. “In 1960, that silent generation left home earlier than any generation before or after, because they married so young.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Economy, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Young Adults

(Church Times) Queen's Speech sets out plan to better young people's 'life chances'

The Government has set out a new post-EU-referendum course focus­ing on key domestic policies, after attracting criticism for its series of U-turns on issues such as schooling and disability benefits in recent months.

The Queen’s Speech, on Wednes­day, included new legislation on housing, education, safeguarding chil­dren in care, and speeding up the adoption process, to better the “life chances” of young people. It also made mention of new counter-extremism measures, defence spend­ing, and a prison-reform Bill.

Under the social-care Bill, a new regulator will be set up to oversee care homes and social services. Those leaving care will be assigned a mentor until the age of 25, and care workers will be supported to find work and affordable housing.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Economy, Education, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Politics in General, Theology

(Wash Post Wonkblog) The middle class is shrinking just about everywhere in America

The great shrinking of the middle class that has captured the attention of the nation is not only playing out in troubled regions like Rust Belt metros, Appalachia and the Deep South, but in just about every metropolitan area in America, according to a major new analysis by the Pew Research Center.

Pew reported in December that a clear majority of American adults no longer live in the middle class, a demographic reality shaped by decades of widening inequality, declining industry and the erosion of financial stability and family-wage jobs. But while much of the attention has focused on communities hardest hit by economic declines, the new Pew data, based on metro-level income data since 2000, show that middle-class stagnation is a far broader phenomenon.

The share of adults living in middle-income households has also dwindled in Washington, New York, San Francisco, Atlanta and Denver. It’s fallen in smaller Midwestern metros where the middle class has long made up an overwhelming majority of the population. It’s withering in coastal tech hubs, in military towns, in college communities, in Sun Belt cities.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Psychology

(Atlantic) Neal Gabler–The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans

I know what it is like to have to juggle creditors to make it through a week. I know what it is like to have to swallow my pride and constantly dun people to pay me so that I can pay others. I know what it is like to have liens slapped on me and to have my bank account levied by creditors. I know what it is like to be down to my last $5””literally””while I wait for a paycheck to arrive, and I know what it is like to subsist for days on a diet of eggs. I know what it is like to dread going to the mailbox, because there will always be new bills to pay but seldom a check with which to pay them. I know what it is like to have to tell my daughter that I didn’t know if I would be able to pay for her wedding; it all depended on whether something good happened. And I know what it is like to have to borrow money from my adult daughters because my wife and I ran out of heating oil.

You wouldn’t know any of that to look at me. I like to think I appear reasonably prosperous. Nor would you know it to look at my résumé. I have had a passably good career as a writer””five books, hundreds of articles published, a number of awards and fellowships, and a small (very small) but respectable reputation. You wouldn’t even know it to look at my tax return. I am nowhere near rich, but I have typically made a solid middle- or even, at times, upper-middle-class income, which is about all a writer can expect, even a writer who also teaches and lectures and writes television scripts, as I do. And you certainly wouldn’t know it to talk to me, because the last thing I would ever do””until now””is admit to financial insecurity or, as I think of it, “financial impotence,” because it has many of the characteristics of sexual impotence, not least of which is the desperate need to mask it and pretend everything is going swimmingly. In truth, it may be more embarrassing than sexual impotence. “You are more likely to hear from your buddy that he is on Viagra than that he has credit-card problems,” says Brad Klontz, a financial psychologist who teaches at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, and ministers to individuals with financial issues. “Much more likely.” America is a country, as Donald Trump has reminded us, of winners and losers, alphas and weaklings. To struggle financially is a source of shame, a daily humiliation””even a form of social suicide. Silence is the only protection…

Financial impotence goes by other names: financial fragility, financial insecurity, financial distress. But whatever you call it, the evidence strongly indicates that either a sizable minority or a slim majority of Americans are on thin ice financially. How thin? A 2014 Bankrate survey, echoing the Fed’s data, found that only 38 percent of Americans would cover a $1,000 emergency-room visit or $500 car repair with money they’d saved. Two reports published last year by the Pew Charitable Trusts found, respectively, that 55 percent of households didn’t have enough liquid savings to replace a month’s worth of lost income, and that of the 56 percent of people who said they’d worried about their finances in the previous year, 71 percent were concerned about having enough money to cover everyday expenses.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance, Politics in General, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Theology

(Telegraph) Anthony Evans-Pritchard This is a global stock market rout worth celebrating

We toiling workers can allow ourselves a wry smile. For most of the last eight years the owners of wealth and inflated assets have had things their own way, while the real economy has been left behind.

The tables are finally turning. The world may look absolutely ghastly if your metric is the stock market, but it is much the same or slightly better if you are at the coal face.

The MSCI index of world equities has fallen almost 20pc since its all-time high in May of 2015, implying a $14 trillion loss of paper wealth. Yet the world economy has carried on at more or less the same anemic pace, and the OECD’s global leading indicators show no sign that it is suddenly rolling over now.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Federal Reserve, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Stock Market, The U.S. Government, Theology

(LAT) Many US elderly are on the road, way past retirement and chasing jobs

[Dolores Westfall]…endures what is for many aging Americans an unforgiving economy. Nearly one-third of U.S. heads of households ages 55 and older have no pension or retirement savings and a median annual income of about $19,000.

A growing proportion of the nation’s elderly are like Westfall: too poor to retire and too young to die.

Many rely on Social Security and minimal pensions, in part because half of all workers have no employer-backed retirement plans. Eight in 10 Americans say they will work well into their 60s or skip retirement entirely.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, America/U.S.A., Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Politics in General, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

(NY Times Op-ed) Rusty Reno– How Both Parties Lost the White Middle Class

What’s striking ”” and crucial for understanding our populist moment ”” is the fact that the leadership cadres of both parties aren’t just unresponsive to this anxiety. They add to it.

The intelligentsia on the left rarely lets a moment pass without reminding us of the demographic eclipse of white middle-class voters. Sometimes, those voters are described as racists, or derided as dull suburbanites who lack the élan of the new urban “creative class.” The message: White middle-class Americans aren’t just irrelevant to America’s future, they’re in the way.

Conservatives are no less harsh. Pundits ominously predict that the “innovators” are about to be overwhelmed by a locust blight of “takers.” The message: If it weren’t for successful people like us, middle-class people like you would be doomed. And if you’re not an entrepreneurial “producer,” you’re in the way.

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

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Children, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Marriage & Family, Office of the President, Personal Finance, Politics in General, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Theology

(Telegraph) Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: the Fed will have to reverse gears fast if anything goes wrong

[The data in the economic background paints]…a very murky picture. This is the first time the Fed has ever embarked on tightening cycle when the ISM gauge of manufacturing is below the boom-bust line of 50. Nominal GDP growth in the US has been trending down from 5pc in mid-2014 to barely 3pc.

Danny Blanchflower, a Dartmouth professor and a former UK rate-setter, said the US labour market is not as tight as it looks. Inflation is nowhere near its 2pc target and the world economy is still gasping for air. He sees a 50/50 chance that the Fed will have to pirouette and go back to the drawing board.

“All it will take is one shock,” said Lars Christensen, from Markets and Money Advisory. “It is really weird that they are raising rates at all. Capacity utilization in industry has been falling for five months.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Federal Reserve, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance, Politics in General, The Banking System/Sector, The U.S. Government, Theology

(Guelph Mercury) Travis Davis–"Anglican Diocese [of Niagra] only cares about money"

Two contract extensions in spite of the fact that the City councillors unanimously said no to the rezoning application. Two extensions in spite of the feelings of the neighbours who want the church to remain a church and in spite of the hopes and prayers of local congregations who are longing for usable worship space. Preserve a church as a church? Why do that when you can reap an extra million dollars by selling to a developer who specializes in high-density construction?

The words of Bill Mous, spokesperson for the Diocese, ring hollow to anyone who has a stake in the neighbourhood surrounding the church property. The Diocese “cares deeply for Guelph”? This community does not feel cared for.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canada, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Stewardship, Theology

(AP) Court to decide whether Judge's Islam-education order went too far

After a landlord was convicted of pushing her Muslim tenant down a flight of stairs, a judge ordered her to respect the rights of all Muslims and to take an introductory course on Islam. Now the highest court in Massachusetts is being asked to decide whether the judge violated the landlord’s constitutional rights.

The Supreme Judicial Court will hear arguments next month in a case that poses interesting legal questions at a time when the country is grappling with anti-Muslim backlash following deadly attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, both allegedly carried out by radical Muslims.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Theology

Anglican Diocese to give City of Guelph two-month extension before sale of former church property

The Anglican Diocese of Niagara is giving community groups a two-month window to come up with a revised development proposal for the patch of land at 171 Kortright Rd. W.

The Diocese made the announcement in a news release on Wednesday.

Earlier this year, HIP Developments made a conditional offer on the property that was formerly the St. Matthias Anglican Church. When residents and community groups complained about the proposed six-storey, 325-resident condominium geared toward student housing, the developers offered a plan for stacked townhouses instead.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canada, City Government, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(Pew Research) The American Middle Class Is Losing Ground

After more than four decades of serving as the nation’s economic majority, the American middle class is now matched in number by those in the economic tiers above and below it. In early 2015, 120.8 million adults were in middle-income households, compared with 121.3 million in lower- and upper-income households combined, a demographic shift that could signal a tipping point, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of government data.

In at least one sense, the shift represents economic progress: While the share of U.S. adults living in both upper- and lower-income households rose alongside the declining share in the middle from 1971 to 2015, the share in the upper-income tier grew more.

Over the same period, however, the nation’s aggregate household income has substantially shifted from middle-income to upper-income households, driven by the growing size of the upper-income tier and more rapid gains in income at the top. Fully 49% of U.S. aggregate income went to upper-income households in 2014, up from 29% in 1970. The share accruing to middle-income households was 43% in 2014, down substantially from 62% in 1970.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Sociology, Theology

(Guelph Mercury) Bruce Taylor writes an open letter to the Bishop of Niagra

This column is presented as an open letter to Michael Bird, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Niagara.

On behalf of the Citizens for Community and all the residents of Guelph, I would appeal to you not to renew the Anglican Church’s conditional purchase agreement with HIP Developments for 171 Kortright Rd. W. Yes, you have the legal right to sell the St. Matthias church property – and to the highest bidder. That’s all you have though. You don’t have the moral right. The land is community space ”“ for the people of Guelph.

You represent the Anglican Church. People expect higher moral standards of churches, not lower. If you sell the property, zoned “institutional” for a much higher “residential” or “high density residential” amount, in the middle of a single home family neighbourhood, the Anglican Church will be held responsible. You will have failed morally.

You can do better. The Anglican Diocese bought the land in 1981 for $110,000. It was zoned “institutional” and for a reason. Communities need lands zoned “institutional” for different faiths, hospices, nursery schools, service clubs, seniors’ centres, not-for-profit housing, and a host of other organizations. To buy land zoned for “institutional,” and then turn around and sell it for “residential” or “high density residential,” at a much higher profit, and to not accept fair market offers from other churches, is immoral. The word on the streets of Guelph is greed. People also aren’t interested in money reinvested in Guelph that is more than the value of the property as “institutional.” That would be tainted money. It would be totally unjust for Anglican ministries to be financed at the expense of the McElderry neighbourhood and their families.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Theology

Ross Douthat on the Angus Deaton+ Anne Case paper–The Dying of the Whites

Amid the stresses of the dot-com bust and the Great Recession, it was only white Americans who turned increasingly to drugs, liquor and quietus.

Why only them? One possible solution is suggested by a paper from 2012, whose co-authors include Andrew Cherlin and Brad Wilcox, leading left and right-leaning scholars, respectively, of marriage and family.

Noting that religious practice has fallen faster recently among less-educated whites than among less-educated blacks and Hispanics, their paper argues that white social institutions, blue-collar as well as white-collar, have long reflected a “bourgeois moral logic” that binds employment, churchgoing, the nuclear family and upward mobility.

But in an era of stagnating wages, family breakdown, and social dislocation, this logic no longer seems to make as much sense.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CSM Cover Story) So how’s the American middle class, really?

The old image of the “middle class” as an aspirational state of being ”“ upward mobility coupled with a measure of financial stability ”“ hasn’t disappeared. But it’s under stress as much as at any time in the postwar era. Fewer Americans these days call themselves middle class, and many who do use that label see it as a badge of struggle as much as a badge of opportunity.

The middle class is being redefined partly by demographics. In 1970, fully 40 percent of US households were married couples with at least one child under 18 years old. By 2012 that share had declined to 20 percent of US households ”“ a shift that includes more single-parent breadwinners. It’s also being redefined by a changing job market ”“ notably by the rising importance of education on résumés, as well as the disappearance of punch-the-timecard jobs in offices and factories that once produced comfortable lifestyles but were vulnerable to automation.

All this doesn’t mean that living standards for average middle-income families are languishing in a state of permanent deterioration. A good deal of evidence suggests that’s not the case. And while some deride the insecurity of the Gig Economy ”“ the growing legions of people doing freelance, contract, temporary, or other independent work ”“ the changing job market has a bright side for many Americans: greater flexibility, creativity, and self-determination for one’s career.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Psychology, Science & Technology, Theology

TEC Diocese of Pittsburgh–Nov 7th to be the end for St Martin's Monroeville before it is sold

For more than a half-century, St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Monroeville has played an important, if not unique, role in the life of our diocese as a whole, as I know it has for many of you individually. Its visibility along the Parkway provided the means to proclaim to thousands of drivers every day that Jesus is alive. It was a Spirit-charged community, and members of our clergy and lay leaders alike have been fostered by that charism. And, it was the final resting place for some of our departed sisters and brothers.

As I am sure you are aware, there has not been an active Episcopal Church congregation worshiping at St. Martin’s for several years and the diocese now intends to sell the property.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Episcopal Church (TEC), Housing/Real Estate Market, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Departing Parishes

(Church Times) Review calls for more state funds for Church buildings

The Church of England should ask the Government to find more money to support listed churches and cathedrals, a report has recommended.

The Church Buildings Review Group, which was set up under the Reform and Renewal programme earlier this year, and chaired by the Bishop of Worcester, Dr John Inge, set out the proposal in a report released on Tuesday.

Although the report noted “conspicuous success” in recent years in securing state funds for church buildings, it urged the C of E and the Government to find new ways of funnelling money into maintaining the 16,000 churches under the Church’s care.

“By European standards, the Church of England bears an unusually heavy financial burden of maintaining part of the nation’s built heritage,” the report says.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Theology

Launch of major new report on how the C of E manages its 16,000 church buildings

As part of its Reform and Renewal programme, which was debated in the General Synod in February, the Church of England has today published a report and launched a consultation on proposals to improve the support for its 16,000 church buildings.

The report comes from the Church Buildings review group, which was chaired by the Bishop of Worcester, the Rt Revd Dr John Inge. It constitutes the first attempt in many years to undertake a comprehensive review of the Church of England’s stewardship of its church buildings and includes a wide range of statistics, a substantial theological reflection and a survey of various initiatives being taken in individual dioceses. The report goes on to identify a number of principles that should shape the Church’s approach and makes some specific recommendations.

The review notes that more than three quarters of the Church of England’s churches are listed, and the Church of England is responsible for nearly half of the grade I listed buildings in England. More than half of churches are in rural areas (where 17% of the population lives) and more than 90% of these are listed.

Read it all and follow the link to the full report.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Architecture, Art, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Economy, England / UK, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Theology

(AP) A multigenerational hit: Student debt traps parents and kids

A college degree practically stamped Andres Aguirre’s ticket to the middle class. Yet at age 40, he’s still paying the price of admission.

After a decade of repayments, Aguirre still diverts $512 a month to loans and owes $20,000.

The expense requires his family to rent an apartment in Campbell, Calif., because buying a home in a decent school district would cost too much. His daughter has excelled in high school, but Aguirre has urged her to attend community college to avoid the debt that ensnared him.

“I didn’t get the warmest reception on that,” he said. “But she understands the choice.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Children, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance, Theology, Young Adults

(FT) US banks build defences against economic downturn

Wall Street’s biggest banks are beginning to build their defences against downturns, signalling an end to the steady thinning of reserves that has helped boost profits in the past five years.

Tapping into reserves set aside for bad loans has become a reliable source of income for the banks in the post-crisis environment, allowing them to offset the effects of weak demand and ultra-low interest rates. Regulators let lenders dip into reserves in this way if they can argue that an improving outlook makes losses less likely.

But the practice is expected to have a limited impact on the banks’ third-quarter profits, which begin to be presented this week, because reserves have been run down about as far as they can go.

While some banks with plump cushions of reserves could still make net reductions, others are at an “inflection point,” said Jennifer Thompson, an analyst at Portales Partners in New York. Lenders with big exposures to energy could see “dramatic” increases in reserves, she said, while related sectors such as materials, commodities and industrials also look vulnerable to rises.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance, The Banking System/Sector, Theology

(Chrstn Post) Florida Anglicans Win Battle to Build New Church; City to Pay $290K in Legal Fees

A Florida congregation has successfully won the right to build a church in a Jacksonville Beach neighborhood despite objections from local residents and an attempt by the city to prevent construction.

Church of Our Savior, a congregation affiliated with the Anglican Church in North America, will soon build a church in Jacksonville Beach, thanks to a settlement reached earlier this week with city officials.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, City Government, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Law & Legal Issues, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

More Foreclosures, this time by Hedge Funds

Private equity and hedge fund firms have bought more than 100,000 troubled mortgages at a discount from banks and federal housing agencies, emerging as aggressive liquidators for the remains of the mortgage crisis that erupted nearly a decade ago.

As the housing market nationwide recovers, this is a dark corner from which banks, stung by hefty penalties for bungling mortgage modifications and foreclosures, have retreated. Federal housing officials, for the most part, have welcomed the new financial players as being more nimble and creative than banks with terms for delinquent borrowers.

But the firms are now drawing fire. Housing advocates and lawyers for borrowers contend that the private equity firms and hedge funds are too quick to push homes into foreclosure and are even less helpful than the banks had been in negotiating loan modifications with borrowers. Federal and state lawmakers are taking up the issue, questioning why federal agencies are selling loans at a discount of as much as 30 percent to such firms.

Read it all from the front page of today’s New York Times.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Law & Legal Issues, Personal Finance, Stock Market, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government, Theology

(WSJ) Charles Moore–Western countries must honestly face The Middle-Class Squeeze

Since the financial crisis of 2007-08, which Western leader could boast of spreading ownership in any important way? In the U.S. and Britain, the percentage of citizens owning stocks or houses is well down from the late 1980s. In Britain, the average age for buying a first home is now 31 (and many more people than before depend on “the bank of Mom and Dad” to help them do so). In the mid-’80s, it was 27. My own children, who started work in London in the last two years, earn a little less, in real terms, than I did when I began in 1979, yet house prices are 15 times higher. We have become a society of “have lesses,” if not yet of “have nots.”

In a few lines of work, earnings have shot forward. In 1982, only seven U.K. financial executives were receiving six-figure salaries. Today, tens of thousands are (an enormous increase, even allowing for inflation). The situation is very different for the middle-ranking civil servant, attorney, doctor, teacher or small-business owner. Many middle-class families now depend absolutely on the income of both parents in a way that was unusual even as late as the 1980s.

In Britain and the U.S., we are learning all over again that it is not the natural condition of the human race for children to be better off than their parents. Such a regression, in societies that assume constant progress, is striking. Imagine the panic if the same thing happened to life expectancy.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Federal Reserve, Foreign Relations, Globalization, History, House of Representatives, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Office of the President, Pensions, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Senate, Taxes, The U.S. Government, Theology

(PBS Blog) Race relations in U.S. at a low point in recent history, new poll suggests

In the year following the death of Michael Brown, America has seen its share of racial disquiet. The Aug. 9, 2014, shooting death of the black teenager at the hands of a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, sparked weeks of protest, and drew attention to a brand new civil rights campaign for the modern era: Black Lives Matter.

The organization, and the phrase itself, has been the center of controversy and tension since it gained nationwide attention last year. Candidates on the 2016 presidential campaign have stumbled while trying to find the perfect pitch in addressing its significance.

On the evening of June 17, 2015, America once again was forced to confront racial tensions with the mass shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, nearly a year after Brown’s death.

It is with this backdrop that PBS NewsHour and Marist College’s Institute for Public Opinion conducted a survey of Americans that illustrates the contrast in opinions along racial lines about the opportunities available today for African Americans.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * South Carolina, America/U.S.A., Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Rural/Town Life, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(NYT) Cabins, the New American Dream

Tiny living (a gentle, left-leaning alternative to hard-edged right-wing survivalism) is a way for people who are already slim to go on dieting. In both its real and imaginary versions, but especially in the latter, it’s invigorating and clarifying. Lack of closet space concentrates the mind, challenging us to reflect on our priorities, or develop some if we don’t have any. In my own life, I’ve noticed in recent years that the pleasures of divestiture ”” of carting stuff off to the thrift store or the dump ”” far exceed the pleasures of acquisition. When I see a photo of a clever loft space perched above a compact, TV-free living room with a cool kitchenette in the corner and views of pine trees, I drift off into an alternate existence where smartphones and antacids have no hold over me.

Is any of this new? Of course not. Back in the 1930s, during the Depression, the businessman and tinkerer Wally Byam founded a company called Airstream. Its signature product, a streamlined RV, was a miracle of miniaturization promising freedom and self-reliance. ”˜”˜I’m here today and gone tomorrow/ I drive away from care and sorrow,’’ reads a vintage postcard from the era that depicts a grumpy bill collector gazing after a departing trailer hitched to a car whose driver wears a huge grin. But Byam’s goals for his homes on wheels weren’t merely escapist; he truly believed that his trailers could save the world, or at least substantially improve it. He organized caravans of the vehicles with the intention, similar to Zach Klein’s, of fostering understanding and togetherness and building, what we now call ”˜”˜community.’’ Humble spaces, smiling faces ”” that was the general notion. And it endures. The American Dream is like that. You think it has receded, that it has died, but really, it’s only downsized.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Theology

(FT) Is a global recession coming?

Economists at Citigroup argue in a new report that a global recession is now “the most likely outcome” over the next two years.

What exactly do they mean by a global recession?

They point out:

We use the only definition of a recession we know that makes sense when it is used consistently. As stated earlier, we define a recession as a period during which the actual unemployment rate is above the natural unemployment rate or Nairu, or during which there is a negative output gap: the level of actual real GDP is below the level of potential real GDP.

To avoid excessive attention to mini-recessions, the period of excess capacity should have a duration of a year or longer.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, China, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Politics in General, Russia, Theology