Daily Archives: February 7, 2008

Beatles Guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Dies

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a guru to the Beatles who introduced the West to transcendental meditation, died Tuesday at his home in the Dutch town of Vlodrop, a spokesman said. He was thought to be 91 years old.

“He died peacefully at about 7 p.m.,” said Bob Roth, a spokesman for the Transcendental Meditation movement that Maharishi founded. He said his death appeared to be due to “natural causes, his age.”

Once dismissed as hippie mysticism, the Hindu practice of mind control known as transcendental meditation gradually gained medical respectability.

He began teaching TM in 1955 and brought the technique to the United States in 1959. But the movement really took off after the Beatles attended one of his lectures in 1967.

Maharishi retreated last month into silence at his home on the grounds of a former Franciscan monastery, saying he wanted to dedicate his remaining days to studying the ancient Indian texts that underpin his movement.

“He had been saying he had done what he set out to do,” Roth said late Tuesday.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Music, Religion & Culture

Mitt Romney will suspend his presidential campaign

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

Rosa Brooks: A national mood swing

‘We can end a war. … We can save the planet. … We can change the world.”

A few years ago, if you’d suggested that a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination consider airing these sentiments in ads broadcast during the Super Bowl, most political pundits would have said you were insane. The Super Bowl, watched by nearly a third of the U.S. population, is about football, beer and machismo. It’s not about the antiwar movement, the environmental movement, the antipoverty movement or peace, love and understanding.

But on Sunday, Barack Obama aired a 30-second Super Bowl ad that drew unabashedly on the iconography of the American left — and no one batted an eyelash. The ad offered images of rallies and protest marches, of poverty and environmental destruction, of the devastation of war and of beaming, hopeful, multiracial crowds. Broadcast not to a niche demographic of activist students or South Carolina African Americans but to a cross-section of football fans, the message was unashamedly nostalgic and idealistic.

The Obama ad highlights a recent sea change in Democratic politics, one that’s impossible to understate. Just a few short years ago, Democrats were on the defensive. On national security issues, the party’s Beltway power brokers anxiously debated how best to look “tough.” That led easily into a depressing sort of “me tooism,” as Democrats competed to show that they weren’t the wimpy, soft creatures of Republic caricature but hard, chest-beating types, willing to embrace wars, abandon civil liberties and kill terrorists deader than dead.

On domestic issues, Democrats were also running scared. Most congressional Democrats voted to support Bush’s ruinous 2004 tax cut, for instance. And in general, Democrats did their darnedest to avoid using words or images that would remind the average American of the 1960s. The conventional wisdom was that bringing up the antiwar movement or the women’s movement or race or poverty would be a gift to the right.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Politics in General, US Presidential Election 2008

Howard P. Milstein: Give the banks some credit

The federal government could make this happen by entering into an arrangement with American banks that hold subprime mortgages, in which homeowners typically pay a low interest rate for two or three years then face much higher payments. Here’s how it would work: The government would guarantee the principal of the mortgages for 15 years. And in exchange the banks would agree to leave their “teaser” interest rates on those loans in effect for the entire 15 years.

This would instantly give the lending banks new capital. As these mortgages would be guaranteed by the Treasury, they would suddenly be assessed, on bank balance sheets, at their original value – and a significant amount of the banks’ lost capital would be restored. Plus, the banks would receive, from most of the homeowners with subprime mortgages, up to 15 years of teaser-rate payments.

By solving the bank capital crisis immediately, this strategy would ensure that fewer families would lose their homes, that fewer neighborhoods would deteriorate because of abandoned housing and that, as a consequence, there would be less downward pressure on local real estate prices and property tax revenues.

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

Rowan Williams–Sharia law in UK is 'unavoidable'

The Archbishop of Canterbury says the adoption of Islamic Sharia law in the UK seems “unavoidable”.
Dr Rowan Williams told Radio 4’s World at One that the UK has to “face up to the fact” that some of its citizens do not relate to the British legal system.

Dr Williams argues that adopting some aspects of Sharia law would help maintain social cohesion.

For example, Muslims could choose to have marital disputes or financial matters dealt with in a Sharia court.

He says Muslims should not have to choose between “the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty”.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Episcopal Seminaries continue movement toward greater cooperation in theological education

The leaders of the 11 seminaries connected with the Episcopal Church have agreed that the schools they lead will consolidate their efforts in four areas of theological education.
The agreement came during a January meeting at Grace Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Attending the meeting were deans and trustees — including many board chairs — from nearly all 11 of the seminaries, along with many of the bishops who serve on some of the seminaries’ boards.

The collaborations will be distance learning, Spanish-language ministry preparation, Anglican Communion partnerships, and seminary-diocesan partnerships for local ministry development education.

“The spirit of cooperation” that was present during the meeting is “critically important” to the success of the plans, and marks a major change in the way the seminaries relate to each other, the Very Rev. Ward Ewing, dean and president of the General Theological Society (GTS) and convener of the seminaries’ Council of Deans, told Episcopal News Service.

“This is a big deal because we say we’re not going to be Lone Rangers anymore,” agreed Donn Morgan, dean of Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP) and Ewing’s predecessor as convener.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

Fate Of Rebate Checks In Limbo After Vote

The fate of $600-$1,200 rebate checks for more than 100 million Americans is in limbo after Senate Democrats failed Wednesday to add $44 billion in help for the elderly, disabled veterans, the unemployed and big business to the House-passed economic aid package.

Republicans banded together to block the $205 billion plan from advancing Wednesday, leaving Democrats with a difficult choice either to quickly accept a House bill they have said is inadequate or risk being blamed for delaying a measure designed as a swift shot in the arm for the lagging economy.

The tally was 58-41 to end debate on the Senate measure, just short of the 60 votes Democrats would have needed to scale procedural hurdles and move the bill to a final vote. In a suspenseful showdown vote that capped days of partisan infighting and procedural jockeying, eight Republicans – four of them up for re-election this year – joined Democrats to back the plan, bucking GOP leaders and President Bush, who objected to the costly add-ons.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Economy, Politics in General

Pope’s Rewrite of Latin Prayer Draws Criticism From 2 Sides

Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday issued a replacement for a contentious Good Friday prayer in Latin, removing language that many Jewish groups found offensive but still calling for the Jews’ conversion.

However, representatives of Jewish groups as well as traditionalist Catholics quickly condemned the new prayer, though for different reasons. Jewish groups said it was still offensive, and traditionalists said they preferred the version that was replaced.

“It’s disappointing,” said Rabbi David Rosen, director of inter-religious affairs for the American Jewish Committee, who for 20 years has worked on Jewish-Catholic relations with Benedict as pope and, earlier, when he was a cardinal.

The prayer was a focus of dispute last year when Benedict allowed for greater use of a traditional version of the Latin Mass, called the Tridentine rite. That decree improved ties with Catholic traditionalists, who oppose the sweeping changes to church liturgy made from 1962 through 1965 during the Second Vatican Council.

The prayer is not part of the standard service used by most of the world’s 1.1 billion Catholics, who celebrate Mass in their local languages.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

Why our Son Nathaniel is Happy

We have a Duke Blue Devils basketball nut in our house and last night Duke beat North Carolina.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Sports

A Tranquil Melody for a Lenten Morning

Take a moment to enjoy it.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Music

Democratic dead-heat 'not good news' says Dean

Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean on Wednesday voiced concern over the prospect of a brokered convention at the end of the party’s White House nominating contests.
“The idea that we can afford to have a big fight at the convention and then win the race in the next eight weeks, I think, is not a good scenario,” Dean said according to excerpts of an interview with NY1 television.

In state nominating contests so far, no clear winner has emerged among Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for the party’s nomination ahead of November’s presidential vote to replace George W. Bush in the White House.

“I think we will have a nominee sometime in the middle of March or April. But if we don’t, then we’re going to have to get the candidates together and make some kind of an arrangement,” said Dean, who failed in his bid for the party’s nomination in 2004.

“Because I don’t think we can afford to have a brokered convention — that would not be good news for either party.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

Evangelical voters bolster Huckabee in Southern states

Evangelical voters played a major role in Super Tuesday’s Republican primaries, especially in the South, providing a huge boost for former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and possibly costing Mitt Romney victory in some states, analysts said.

Nationally, Huckabee, Romney and Senator John McCain roughly split the evangelical vote, exit polls showed yesterday. But in the South, the vote among Christian conservatives was significant, and Huckabee drew the largest percentage of them by far.

For example, in Alabama, 78 percent of GOP primary voters said they are evangelical Christians, and 48 percent of them supported Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister. Their votes helped Huckabee win the state, reviving his struggling campaign.

An ebullient Huckabee, speaking to cheering supporters, declared that his strength in the South has made the Republican primary campaign a two-man race, “and we’re in it.”

Huckabee also won large shares of the evangelical vote in Georgia, Tennessee and Missouri.

In other parts of the country, the percentage of conservative Christian voters was smaller, and they spread their support among the three candidates. For example, in Massachusetts, only 20 percent of Republican primary voters described themselves as evangelicals, but 60 percent of them favored former governor Romney, according to exit polls. In Illinois, meanwhile, 42 percent of Republican voters said they were evangelical Christians, and 38 percent supported McCain.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Other Churches, US Presidential Election 2008

From the Morning Bible readings

But our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,

who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power which enables him even to subject all things to himself.

–Philippians 3:20,21

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Maryland Bill Would End Civil Marriage, Create Domestic Partnerships

Advocates for same-sex marriage plan to introduce legislation in the Maryland General Assembly today [Tuesday] that would abolish civil marriage ceremonies now confined to heterosexual unions in the state and replace them with domestic partnerships for all couples.

The bills represent an unusual new tactic in the effort to push legal rights for gay couples through the House and Senate during the legislature’s 90-day session. Sponsors of the measure say they are attempting to address head-on the concerns of lawmakers who oppose same-sex marriage on religious grounds.

Under their proposal, all couples — straight or gay — would be on equal footing with secular unions. Religious marriage in churches, synagogues and mosques would be unaffected, as would existing civil marriages.

The word “marriage” would be replaced with “valid domestic partnership” in the state’s family law code.

“If people want to maintain a religious test for marriage, let’s turn it into a religious institution,” said Sen. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Montgomery), the bill’s Senate sponsor.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Sexuality

On Intrade, the Clinton and Obama contracts are deadlocked after Super Tuesday

In the Democratic nomination contracts, Clinton and Obama are both currently trading at 50.0. The volume on both contracts was quite heavy. In the Republican nomination contracts, McCain has added to his already sizeable lead over the other candidates, now trading at 92.0 vs 89.4 yesterday. The Huckabee contracts are now trading at 2.0 vs 0.7 yesterday, on the back of his decent showing in Tuesday’s primaries. The Romney contracts have fallen down to 2.3 from 9.3 on February 5th.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008