Daily Archives: January 17, 2008

San Francisco bay area home sales decline 40%, Dataquick says – Bloomberg

A headline currently crossing.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market

U.S. religious freedom is being eroded, advocates say

They are heroes in a battle most Americans think has already been won. On Wednesday evening, they are to be honored for their contributions to strengthening religious freedom at home and abroad.

Although the US is home to the greatest experiment in religious freedom ever, and the great majority of Americans support that principle, surprising gaps in knowledge and understanding remain when it comes to practicing that freedom. And support for it seems to rise and fall.

Only a slim majority (56 percent) of Americans said in a 2007 survey that freedom of worship should extend to people of all religious groups, no matter what their beliefs (down 16 points, from 72 percent in 2000).

“A great many Americans don’t define religious liberty as a universal right for everyone,” says Charles Haynes, one of the honorees. He is senior scholar at Freedom Forum’s First Amendment Center, which conducted the survey.

At the same time, others see a weakening in federal courts in recent years of the First Amendment provisions relating to religion, a development that could endanger the rights of minority faiths.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

AP: Episcopal Church acts against Pittsburgh bishop

An Episcopal committee says that conservative Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan has “abandoned the communion of this church” ”” a potential first step toward stripping him of religious authority in the denomination.

The committee blocked the national Episcopal Church from imposing the penalty of “inhibition,” which would have barred him from performing religious duties. But the Episcopal House of Bishops is expected to consider imposing the punishment near the end of this year.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who notified Duncan that he had abandoned the communion on Tuesday, told Duncan that she sought permission to inhibit him.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

Pittsburgh Post- Gazette: Episcopal Church formally warns Pittsburgh bishop over split

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts-Schori of the Episcopal Church has warned Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh that he has been declared out of communion with the Episcopal Church and is danger of being removed from office if he does not abandon his efforts to realign the diocese with an Anglican province outside the United States.

Earlier today the Associated Press distributed a story claiming that Bishop Duncan had been banned from his duties. In fact, a key committee of three bishops on Friday had refused Bishop Jefferts-Schori’s request to take immediate action against Bishop Duncan.

“He has not been inhibited,” church spokesman Neva Rae Fox said today, using a technical term for banning a bishop from exercising his duties.

“What the presiding bishop has done is informed him that the Title IV Committee has looked into the situation and has said that he has abandoned the communion of the church.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

Reuters: Episcopal church cracks down on dissidents

Leaders of the U.S. Episcopal Church have stepped up a crackdown on conservative dissidents, ordering one bishop to stop his religious work and threatening a second with the same thing.

Both rebuffed the moves.

The worldwide Anglican church and its U.S. branch have been fractured since 2003 when the Episcopal Church consecrated Gene Robinson of New Hampshire as the first bishop known to be in an openly gay relationship in over four centuries.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

Housing Slump hits Columbia South Carolina; home sales fall 2.4%

The housing bust that has plagued the nation and the S.C. coast for more than a year has made its way to the Midlands.

The Columbia area had its first annual decline in home sales since 2000 with a 2.4 percent dip last year, the S.C. Association of Realtors reported Wednesday.

Homes are staying on the market a week longer than in 2006, an average of 85 days.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market

Blue-Collar Jobs Disappear, Taking Families’ Way of Life Along

After 30 years at a factory making truck parts, Jeffrey Evans was earning $14.55 an hour in what he called “one of the better-paying jobs in the area.”

Wearing a Harley-Davidson cap, a bittersweet reminder of crushed dreams, he recently described how astonished and betrayed he felt when the plant was shut down in August after a labor dispute. Despite sporadic construction work, Mr. Evans has seen his income reduced by half.

So he was astonished yet again to find himself, at age 49, selling off his cherished Harley and most of his apartment furniture and moving in with his mother.

Middle-aged men moving in with parents, wives taking two jobs, veteran workers taking overnight shifts at half their former pay, families moving West ”” these are signs of the turmoil and stresses emerging in the little towns and backwoods mobile homes of southeast Ohio, where dozens of factories and several coal mines have closed over the last decade, and small businesses are giving way to big-box retailers and fast-food outlets.

Here, where the northern swells of the Appalachians lap the southern fringe of the Rust Belt, thousands of people who long had tough but sustainable lives are being wrenched into the working poor.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

A Message from Bishop Iker to all Clergy and Convention Delegates of the Diocese of Fort Worth

BISHOP BOB DUNCAN of Pittsburgh was officially charged with abandonment of the communion of the church on this very same day! Though the Review Committee endorsed the charges brought by the PB, the three senior diocesan bishops would not consent to his being inhibited from functioning as a bishop, as they had done in the same charges brought against Bishop John-David Schofield of the Diocese of San Joaquin just last week. The essential difference in the two cases is that San Joaquin approved measures to separate from The Episcopal Church with a second, ratifying vote on December 8th, whereas the Pittsburgh Convention approved of their measures at the preliminary, first reading vote in November, an action which will need to be ratified at the 2008 Convention. Fort Worth is in the same position as Pittsburgh.

BISHOP STANTON OF DALLAS AND I had a very good meeting yesterday at St. Vincent’s, where we discussed how to make provision for any parishes in this Diocese that may choose to remain in TEC if the Diocesan Convention votes to separate from The Episcopal Church. We were joined by our Canons to the Ordinary, the Presidents of our respective Standing Committees, and the Chancellor of the Diocese of Dallas. You will be hearing more about this in due course.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

Obama, Clinton tied in 2008 Democratic race

Barack Obama has erased a once substantial deficit to climb into a virtual tie with Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential race, according to a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Wednesday.

Among Republicans, John McCain charged to the front of a shifting presidential field, shooting past Mike Huckabee and a fading Rudy Giuliani as the opening contests of the 2008 White House campaign dramatically reshaped the races in both parties.

Heading into potentially crucial contests in Nevada, South Carolina and Florida, the campaign to choose candidates for the November election to succeed President George W. Bush has shown deep volatility.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

Documentation from Fort Worth on the Controversy with the Presiding Bishop

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

Benjamin Moore: A Pastoral Letter to Members of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the State of NY

The enemies of our holy religion have frequently boasted, that the philosophy which is so highly celebrated in the present day is of a mild and liberal spirit, abhorring all manner of violence, using no weapons with which to propagate its peculiar notions, but those of candid discussion, and sober argument. Some shocking examples, which have recently occurred in one of the greatest nations of the European world, prove these assertions to be utterly false, and have showed to all mankind, that Infidel Philosophy, armed with power, is one of the most despotic and sanguinary of all tyrants. We have reason to bless God, that in this country the profession of Christianity does not expose us to such severe trials. We are not called upon “to resist unto blood, striving against sin.” Unbelievers are, nevertheless, numerous, subtil, [4/5] and malignant. The principles which they advocate, unless baffled by determined resistance, will be productive of the same effects here which they have produced in other parts of the world. With indefatigable perseverance, they are disseminated by methods almost infinitely diversified; by secret societies caballing in darkness, and by lectures delivered at noonday; by histories and travels, by novels and plays, by cheap pamphlets for the poor, and by newspapers circulating far and wide, among all classes of the community; and, when the original productions of our own country fail, the most impious publications of foreign nations are translated with mischievous industry. The word of divine inspiration has forewarned us, “that, in the last days, perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, boasters, proud, blasphemers, despisers of those that are good. Ye have need, therefore, to be exhorted to put on the whole armour of God, that ye may fight the good fight of faith, and having done all to stand.”

Be not misled by the bold pretensions of those proud boasters, who are ever declaiming upon the superior attainments of this enlightened age. It will be readily acknowledged, that, in the course of a few years past, improvements have been made in astronomy, geography, chymistry, and some other branches of natural philosophy, which depend upon experiments; but, in all these things, how is pure religion concerned? What have these to do [5/6] with that merciful scheme of salvation which has been revealed in the gospel of our Redeemer? Of this momentous subject we know no more than what God has been pleased to disclose to us. Christianity is now what it was from the beginning; and all the wisdom of this world can make no improvement upon the prescribed method of obtaining the remission of our sins, the sanctification of our corrupted nature, and the final salvation of our souls. It is written in the scriptures of everlasting truth, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nought the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” In things pertaining to godliness, let the word of God be your only guide. Attempt not to be wise above what is written. “Cast down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bring into captivity every thought, to the obedience of Christ.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

Minister loses 78 pounds for challenge

Pastors expect to make sacrifices for their churches, but rarely does that include giving up doughnuts. For the Rev. Robert Hartwell, senior minister of the Village Lutheran Church, it meant that and more.

Around Thanksgiving 2006, when the church was seeking donations to pay off an $8 million mortgage for a new building at the church’s Chapel School, a former congregant made an unusual offer. The benefactor said he would donate $5,000 for every pound Hartwell lost by the end of 2007, provided Hartwell lost at least 70 pounds. Back then Hartwell weighed at least 270 pounds, he said.

“I’d actually stopped weighing myself because it wasn’t pleasant,” said Hartwell, 40.

As the minister recalled, the donor, who wants to remain anonymous, said he had money to give, but added: “I want you to be as committed as I am.”

The pastor took the challenge after consulting with Dr. Joy Elwell, a nurse practitioner who runs the parish health program. He lost the first 30 pounds or so by adjusting what he ate, using NutriSystem, while continuing to take daily walks with his wife, Sue.

Expecting further loss to be more difficult, he then enlisted a parishioner who is a personal trainer, Rich Foster, to design an exercise program. Hartwell now works out three days a week at Concordia College’s Meyer Athletic Center, next to the church, and does aerobic training another two days a week.

As someone who has been on a medically supervised diet since August 2006, all I can say is God bless this man! Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry

From Bible Belt Blogger: 'Straight Talk' or heresy from Sen John McCain?

A look at one of McCain’s advertisements.

Update: Also, take a look at this: McCain’s new S.C. ad takes dig at Clinton

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Theology, US Presidential Election 2008

Pope cancels university visit after protests

In a volte face by the Vatican a controversial visit to Rome’s ancient La Sapienza University by Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday was today called off apparently because of security concerns amid mounting protests by both students and academic staff.

The Vatican, which had earlier insisted the visit would go ahead, said it was “opportune to postpone”.

A hundred militant left wing students had occupied the office of Professor Renato Guarini, the university rector, to demand that the papal visit be cancelled because of Benedict’s “obscurantist” stand on science in general and the Church’s treatment of Galileo as a heretic in particular. Sixty-seven science professors and lecturers at La Sapienza signed a letter to Professor Guarini calling on him to scrap the visit. Professor Guarini said the Pope was “saddened” by the protests.

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

Three New Polls Show McCain Leading in South Carolina

Check it out

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, US Presidential Election 2008

More Coverage of the Unsuccessful Inhibition of the Bishop of Pittsburgh

First, there is PEP’s Progressive Episcopalians See Review Committee Action As Providing Reconciliation Opportunity. Next, George Conger has Bid to depose US Bishop backfires. Read them both.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

Inflation rate is worst in 17 years

Higher costs for energy and food last year pushed inflation up by the largest amount in 17 years, even though prices generally remained tame outside of those two areas. Meanwhile, industrial output was flat in December, more evidence of a significant slowdown in the economy.

Consumer prices rose by 4.1 percent for all of 2007, up sharply from a 2.5 percent increase in 2006, the Labor Department said Wednesday. Consumers felt the pain when they filled up their gas tanks or shopped for groceries. Prices for both energy and food shot up by the largest amount since 1990.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy