Daily Archives: January 21, 2008

Launch of Lambeth Conference 2008

Read both speeches carefully.

UpdateJohn Richardson is concerned:

The fact is that perhaps one bishop in five has therefore not even indicated they are coming. The fact also is that these ”˜painful controversies’ have not ”˜clouded the life of the Communion’ like some inconvenience obscuring an otherwise-healthy picture. They have brought the Communion as we knew it in 1998 to an end. Only the most drastic surgery will save it from complete collapse some time before 2018, when the next Lambeth Conference would be scheduled.

What has happened, I ask, to the indications of seriousness in the Advent Letter? In Dr Williams’s mind, they may still be there. Indeed, since the actual programme of the Conference has not yet been published, we do not know precisely what is planned.

But the tone of bonhomie bodes ill. Even if Dr Williams wants to use the Conference, as he should, to address the crisis, it makes one wonder if the minders and managers of the ”˜instruments of Communion’ are controlling the agenda so that nothing effective will be done.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Lambeth 2008

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church History, Military / Armed Forces

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr: I Have a Dream

It really is worth the time.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Race/Race Relations

Tom Krattenmaker: Why Christians should seek MLK's dream

Americans err if we believe that it’s only a black responsibility to right the social wrongs of racial inequality. It’s a white responsibility, too ”” and a Christian responsibility. Why Christians? It’s not that other faiths can’t do their part as well, but Christians ”” by sheer number and religious tradition ”” could be our best hope.

History shows that the teachings of Christianity hold an undeniable power to inspire positive social movements and call Americans to conscience, as they did during King’s time. Many Christians will be the first to tell you they should be held to a higher standard ”” because their religion insists on it.

Let’s improve educational and economic opportunities for African-Americans. Let’s acknowledge and root out the racism that mocks the American ideal. Let’s reject the harmful message of the prosperity gospel and reclaim the best of the nation’s black church tradition, with Christians ”” white as well as black ”” leading the charge for the dispossessed.

As the distinguished columnist Roger Cohen recently reminded, it is on the matter of race where one finds the greatest gulf between American behavior and American ideals. Will history find the same gap between Christian behavior and Christian ideals?

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

Barack Obama's Sermon in Atlanta Yesterday

And on the eve of the bus boycotts in Montgomery, at a time when many were still doubtful about the possibilities of change, a time when those in the black community mistrusted themselves, and at times mistrusted each other, King inspired with words not of anger, but of an urgency that still speaks to us today:

“Unity is the great need of the hour” is what King said. Unity is how we shall overcome.

What Dr. King understood is that if just one person chose to walk instead of ride the bus, those walls of oppression would not be moved. But maybe if a few more walked, the foundation might start to shake. If a few more women were willing to do what Rosa Parks had done, maybe the cracks would start to show. If teenagers took freedom rides from North to South, maybe a few bricks would come loose. Maybe if white folks marched because they had come to understand that their freedom too was at stake in the impending battle, the wall would begin to sway. And if enough Americans were awakened to the injustice; if they joined together, North and South, rich and poor, Christian and Jew, then perhaps that wall would come tumbling down, and justice would flow like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

Unity is the great need of the hour ”“ the great need of this hour. Not because it sounds pleasant or because it makes us feel good, but because it’s the only way we can overcome the essential deficit that exists in this country.

I’m not talking about a budget deficit. I’m not talking about a trade deficit. I’m not talking about a deficit of good ideas or new plans.

I’m talking about a moral deficit. I’m talking about an empathy deficit. I’m taking about an inability to recognize ourselves in one another; to understand that we are our brother’s keeper; we are our sister’s keeper; that, in the words of Dr. King, we are all tied together in a single garment of destiny.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Race/Race Relations, US Presidential Election 2008

A Man on the Street: A Slide Show of Martin Luther King Jr.

In America’s poorest ghettos, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s portrait is one of the most popular subjects of public art. These images, which I have been documenting since 1977, regularly appear on the walls of the liquor stores, auto-repair shops, fast-food restaurants, mom-and-pop stores and public housing projects of Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York and many other cities across the country. The majority are the work of amateur artists. Though Dr. King is usually front and center, he is often accompanied by other inspirational figures: Nelson Mandela, John Paul II, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Mother Teresa, Pancho Villa. He is often accompanied by his famous phrase, “I have a dream” ”“ a reminder that in many of the communities where these murals exist, the gulf between hope and reality remains far too wide. — Camilo José Vergara

Watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Race/Race Relations

Sarah Vowell: Radical Love Gets a Holiday

Still, there’s a pleasing symmetry in Reagan forking over a day to Dr. King. Both men owe their reputations to the Sermon on the Mount. The president’s most enduring bequest might be a city-smiting drug war, but thanks to a nice smile and a biblical sound bite that’s not how he’s remembered. Reagan cribbed from the Gospel of Matthew via the Puritan John Winthrop to dream up his “shining city on a hill” legacy. And Americans in general and Republican presidential candidates in particular still believe in it, probably because they’re not watching “The Wire.”

Here’s what Dr. King got out of the Sermon on the Mount. On Nov. 17, 1957, in Montgomery’s Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, he concluded the learned discourse that came to be known as the “loving your enemies” sermon this way: “So this morning, as I look into your eyes and into the eyes of all of my brothers in Alabama and all over America and over the world, I say to you: ”˜I love you. I would rather die than hate you.’ ”

Go ahead and re-read that. That is hands down the most beautiful, strange, impossible, but most of all radical thing a human being can say. And it comes from reading the most beautiful, strange, impossible, but most of all radical civics lesson ever taught, when Jesus of Nazareth went to a hill in Galilee and told his disciples, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you.”

The Bible is a big long book and Lord knows within its many mansions of eccentricity finding justification for literal and figurative witch hunts is as simple as pretending “enhanced investigation technique” is not a synonym for torture. I happen to be with Dr. King in proclaiming the Sermon on the Mount’s call for love to be at the heart of Christian behavior, and one of us got a Ph.D in systematic theology.

I live in Lower Manhattan. In my seriously secular neck of the woods, Christians are often dismissed as those homophobes on the news hell-bent on keeping half the population of Chelsea out of the wedding pages. Once, I told a member of the fabled East Coast Media Elite that I was raised Pentecostal and he asked if that meant I grew up “fondling snakes in trailers.”

I replied: “You know that book club you’re in? Well, my church was a lot like that, except that we actually read the book.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

An Editorial from the local paper: King's empowering legacy

Dr. King also learned ”” and taught ”” the utter futility of being consumed by animus. In a 1963 sermon, he explained: “Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man’s sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true.”

Though clearly on the side of the righteous, he urged magnanimity against those who had persecuted him and his people. As he wrote in his 1963 “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”: “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us.”

Through his total sacrifice and noble example, Dr. King, despite living less than 40 years, succeeded in his improbable quest to bring out much more of the good in this country. He didn’t just uplift one race. He uplifted the human race.

And he still does. His message, and his legacy, live on, making us better people, and this a better nation.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Race/Race Relations

Luns C. Richardson: Today not for 'rest and play'

Luns C. Richardson, who has led the historically black college in Sumter for 34 years, served as the keynote speaker at the 36th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Trident Area Ecumenical Service at Morris Street Baptist Church.

He told the crowd of around 200 people that King’s influence continues to grow, more than four decades since he was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn.

“There is no American living or dead who has had a greater influence on American social and political institutions than Martin Luther King Jr.,” Richardson said. “Wherever people struggle for freedom, they think of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”

Yet, many continue to view the day as a holiday for black people. Richardson recounted King’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech in which he said that the Civil Rights effort didn’t seek victory over anyone but sought to liberate everyone.

“America has missed the point entirely if it looks upon Martin’s birthday as a heyday and a holiday for blacks only,” Richardson said. “While others drew lines to keep people out, Martin drew circles to take people in.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Race/Race Relations

Roger Lowenstein: The Education of Ben Bernanke

Ben Bernanke’s first exposure to monetary policy was reading the works of Milton Friedman, the Nobel laureate. That was 30 years ago, when Bernanke was a graduate student at M.I.T., and he has been studying central banking ever since. By the time President Bush nominated him to run the Federal Reserve, at the end of 2005, Bernanke knew more about central banking than any economist alive. On virtually every topic of significance ”” how to prevent deflationary panics, for instance, or to gauge the effect of Fed moves on stock-market prices ”” Bernanke wrote one of the seminal papers. He championed ideas for improving communications between the Fed ”” whose previous chairman, Alan Greenspan, spoke in riddles ”” and the public, believing that clearer guidance about the Fed’s aims would help the economy run more smoothly. And having devoted much of his career to studying the causes of the Great Depression, Bernanke was the academic expert on how to prevent financial crises from spinning out of control and threatening the general economy. One line from his “Essays on the Great Depression” sounds especially prescient today: “To the extent that bank panics interfere with normal flows of credit, they may affect the performance of the real economy.”

Bernanke, who came to the job with a refreshing humility ”” a desire to be less an oracle like Greenspan than a plain-speaking technocrat ””faces exactly this sort of crisis now. Ever since last summer, a meltdown in financial markets has led to daunting losses in the banking industry and throughout Wall Street. Despite having written extensively on how to deal with such episodes, Bernanke has thus far been unable to reinstill a sense of confidence. His faith in modern forecasting models notwithstanding, he failed to foresee that the sudden rise in homeowner defaults, which triggered the crisis, would have such far-reaching effects. And the monetary medicine that he has prescribed, including some of the very tools that he lovingly detailed in his research, have yet to produce a turnaround.

Read it all. Mr Bernanke has had a very rocky start, and the Fed blew it badly in December 2007, but he also has an exceptionally difficult job. People forget that new Fed chairman have a learning curve, the same was true of Ben Bernanke’s predecessor–KSH.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

A Recession’s Impact Is All in the Timing

A FEW weeks ago, the big debate on Wall Street was whether or not the economy was headed for a recession. Today, for many investors, the question isn’t whether a recession is coming, but when. In fact, some are wondering whether one has already begun.

Does the timing of a recession really matter? If you’re an equity investor, it does.

No matter how aggressively the Federal Reserve lowers interest rates, the economy may be headed for a severe downturn. The stock market, at least, seems to support this argument. Just three weeks into the new year, the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index is down nearly 10 percent. And since the market peaked Oct. 9, stocks have lost more than 15 percent of their value.

So, the thinking goes, the sooner an official recession is declared, the sooner the economy can start to work its way out of it. “If we are in fact in recession, we may be close to fleshing out a bottom here in stock prices,” said Duncan W. Richardson, chief equity investment officer at Eaton Vance, the asset management firm in Boston.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

A Huge Week for the Diocese of South Carolina

Check out some of the details here, we appreciate your prayers.

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

Congratulations to the New England Patriots

The Chargers gave it a valiant effort, but they couldn’t score touchdowns in the red zone and the Patriots are just too good.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Sports

A New, Global Oil Quandary: Costly Fuel Means Costly Calories

Rising prices for cooking oil are forcing residents of Asia’s largest slum, in Mumbai, India, to ration every drop. Bakeries in the United States are fretting over higher shortening costs. And here in Malaysia, brand-new factories built to convert vegetable oil into diesel sit idle, their owners unable to afford the raw material.

This is the other oil shock. From India to Indiana, shortages and soaring prices for palm oil, soybean oil and many other types of vegetable oils are the latest, most striking example of a developing global problem: costly food.

The food price index of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, based on export prices for 60 internationally traded foodstuffs, climbed 37 percent last year. That was on top of a 14 percent increase in 2006, and the trend has accelerated this winter.

In some poor countries, desperation is taking hold. Just in the last week, protests have erupted in Pakistan over wheat shortages, and in Indonesia over soybean shortages. Egypt has banned rice exports to keep food at home, and China has put price controls on cooking oil, grain, meat, milk and eggs.

According to the F.A.O., food riots have erupted in recent months in Guinea, Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, Senegal, Uzbekistan and Yemen.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Globalization

Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor: Following Dolly into the future

In the 10 years since Dolly the sheep briefly walked the Earth the pace of biomedical research has massively accelerated, with extraordinary prospects for serving the good of humanity. Yet science is running ever further ahead of society’s ability to reflect and assess the wisdom of the latest technological advance. We cannot stop the tide of knowledge, and nor should we want to. But we can and must find better ways of deciding how that knowledge is used, or risk the profound social consequences of what we have unwittingly allowed.

The UK is already a leader in bio-ethical research. For all our sakes, it now urgently needs to become a world leader in the quality of sustained and continuous ethical reflection that must go with it. Today the House of Lords will have the chance to help to achieve this when it debates whether to set up a National Bio-ethics Commission.

Many other countries already have such a statutory body, bringing together a broad spectrum of experts with a clear mandate and an independent advisory role. Only by establishing such an authoritative and independent body can we ensure that serious ethical scrutiny is a precondition of research and of the development of biomedical technologies. The area of embryo research, for example, is fraught with deeply contested and profound ethical questions that go to the heart of what it means to be human.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Life Ethics, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Science & Technology

At King’s Church, Obama Speaks of Unity

Speaking from the pulpit of Ebenezer Baptist Church, Senator Barack Obama paid tribute here today to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and reprised his call from four decades ago, “Unity is the great need of the hour.”
“It’s the great need of this hour as well,” Mr. Obama said, addressing hundreds of worshipers during an overflowing service. “Not because it sounds pleasant or because it makes us feel good, but because it’s the only way we can overcome the essential deficit that exists in this country.”
The deficit, he said, is one of morality and of empathy.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

'Meet the Press' transcript for Jan. 20, 2008

MS. [Peggy] NOONAN: May I just throw in here that I think the Republicans have a tough time this year. The Democratic Party is trying to figure out of two candidates which one will take them to success, take them to the White House. The Republican Party is trying to refind its soul. And in looking at each state, at each of these guys, they’re thinking “is this the guy who reflects what conservatism is–what modern conservatism is, what this party is, and the next day they think, “maybe it’s this guy.” It is a much tougher thing to find your soul than it is to find success. So I think the Republicans are really going to be struggling for a while.

I also think, Jon, I must say, I think what has happened with the conservative coalition is that it has been sundered. I think it was sundered by this administration from 2004 on through a series of decisions that were not just at odds with, but deeply defined of and rejecting of the feelings, thoughts and views of Republicans and conservatives. And to make it even worse, the Congress, when it was under Republican hands and now Democratic hands, was just as defiant, just as at odds with the feelings of so many people about what it is that is most reflective of conservatism in the Republican Party. So I think Republicans have taken a beating in a way and they–I mean, almost a psychic beating, and they are trying really hard to redefine and come back. It’s going to be a tough job.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

Newsweek–Leading Democrats To Bill Clinton: Pipe Down

Prominent Democrats are upset with the aggressive role that Bill Clinton is playing in the 2008 campaign, a role they believe is inappropriate for a former president and the titular head of the Democratic Party. In recent weeks, Sen. Edward Kennedy and Rep. Rahm Emanuel, both currently neutral in the Democratic contest, have told their old friend heatedly on the phone that he needs to change his tone and stop attacking Sen. Barack Obama, according to two sources familiar with the conversations who asked for anonymity because of their sensitive nature. Clinton, Kennedy and Emanuel all declined to comment.

On balance, aides to both Bill and Hillary still see Bill as a huge net plus in fund-raising, attracting large crowds and providing a megaphone to raise doubts about Obama””even if some of those doubts are distortions. But there’s concern that in hatcheting the Illinois senator and losing his temper with the news media (last week he thrashed a San Francisco TV reporter for asking about a lawsuit filed by Clinton-backing teachers union members to limit the number of Nevada caucuses), Clinton is drawing down his political capital and harming his role as a global statesman. “This is excruciating,” says a member of the Clintons’ circle, who asked for anonymity. “But the stakes couldn’t be higher. It’s worth it to tarnish himself a bit now to win the presidency.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

In LA Episcopalians hold an Indian Rite Mass with Hindus and apologize for religious discrimination

Hindu nun Pravrajika Saradeshaprana, dressed in a saffron robe, blew into a conch shell three times, calling to worship Hindu and Episcopal religious leaders who joined Saturday to celebrate an Indian Rite Mass at St. John’s Cathedral near downtown.

The rare joint service included chants from the Temple Bhajan Band of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness and a moving rendition of “Bless the Lord, O My Soul” sung by the St. John’s choir.

“This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience in worship service,” said Bob Bland, a member of St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church of Thousand Oaks, who was among the 260 attendees. “There was something so holy — so much symbolism and so many opportunities for meditation.”

During the service, the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, issued a statement of apology to the Hindu religious community for centuries-old acts of religious discrimination by Christians, including attempts to convert them.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Hinduism, Inter-Faith Relations, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Other Faiths, Theology

Diocese of Central Florida closer to resolving 'disaffiliation' issues

Central Florida’s Diocesan Board on Jan. 18 moved closer to resolving questions about seven rectors’ stated intention to disaffiliate from The Episcopal Church.

On Thursday, October 18, 2007, the rectors and senior wardens of seven parishes of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida, and two church planters, met with Bishop John W. Howe and representatives of the Diocese to discuss the possible scenarios by which all or part of the congregations might leave The Episcopal Church.

The parishes are Gloria Dei, Cocoa; St. Anne’s, Crystal River; Good Shepherd, Maitland; St. Edward’s, Mount Dora; Grace, Ocala; Holy Cross, Winter Haven; and Trinity, Vero Beach. The “church plants” are St. Philip’s, Lake Nona; and St. Nicholas, Poinciana.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Central Florida

Local Paper Editorial: John McCain's big S.C. boost

John McCain’s victory in the South Carolina Republican presidential primary Saturday doesn’t assure him of the party’s nomination. It does, however, make the Arizona senator the clear front-runner. It also continues a remarkable political comeback for a man who long has earned respect across partisan and ideological lines for both his “straight talk” approach and his leadership on difficult issues.

Polling data indicate that Sen. McCain again did well among independents Saturday. That follows the pattern he established while attracting a considerable number of independent and even Democratic votes during his unsuccessful bid for the 2000 GOP presidential nomination, a pattern that resumed with his victory in the New Hampshire primary earlier this month.

That ability to draw non-Republican votes would be a crucial asset in November if Sen. McCain, a mainstream conservative, goes on to capture the nomination. So would his no-nonsense style, as well as his knowledge and experience on the domestic and international fronts

Read it all.

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

Religion and Ethics Weekly: Abraham Joshua Heschel

Rabbi ABRAHAM JOSHUA HESCHEL (from file footage, “The External Light,” NBC, 1972): God is either the father of all men or of no man, and the idea of judging a person in terms of black or brown or white is an eye disease.

ABERNETHY: Heschel also publicly and passionately opposed the war in Vietnam.

Rabbi HESCHEL (from file footage, “The External Light,” NBC, 1972): How can I pray when I have on my conscience the awareness that I am co-responsible for the death of innocent people in Vietnam? In a free society, some are guilty, all are responsible

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Judaism, Other Faiths

Albany Times Union: A fractured church seeking common faith

The event was organized by Albany Via Media, a group of liberal-to-moderate local Episcopalians. Members generally disagree with Love’s opposition to ordaining gay clergy and blessing same-sex marriages, and they want the Albany diocese to remain in communion with the national church.

“We talk about the struggles of the church, and we seem to think that it all has to do with sex,” Love said during his sermon. “That’s only a symptom of something much deeper. That issue much deeper is God’s word. How is it to be understood? How is it to be interpreted? How is it to be lived out?”

Some speakers told the bishop they felt shut out of diocesan events and publications. Some criticized links to conservative religious Internet sites on the diocesan Web page. One said he wasn’t comfortable being referred to as a “sodomite” or “heretic” on a Web site recommended by the diocese.

Love said he could check the policy regarding links. He also suggested that if the speaker found the material offensive, “Don’t read it.”

That drew loud disapproval from the audience and, later in the session, an apology from Love.

Read it all.

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