Daily Archives: March 12, 2008

Notable and Quotable

“Never talk when you can nod, and never nod when you can wink, and never write an email because it’s death. You’re giving prosecutors all the evidence we need.”

–Eliot Spitzer in an interview with ABC News 2 years ago which was replayed this past Monday on Nightline (You can watch the Nightline Video report here; the quote is about 26 seconds before the end)

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General

The Obama Campaign's Delegate Count Chart

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

Criminalizing Home Schoolers in California?

Parents of the approximately 200,000 home-schooled children in California are reeling from the possibility that they may have to shutter their classrooms ”” and go back to school themselves ”” if they want to continue teaching their own kids. On Feb. 28, Judge H. Walter Croskey of the Second District Court of Appeals in Los Angeles ruled that children ages six to 18 may be taught only by credentialed teachers in public or private schools ”” or at home by Mom and Dad, but only if they have a teaching degree. Citing state law that goes back to the early 1950s, Croskey declared that “California courts have held that under provisions in the Education Code, parents do not have a constitutional right to home school their children.” Furthermore, the judge wrote, if instructors teach without credentials they will be subject to criminal action.

This news raised a furor among home schooling advocates, including government officials. “Every California child deserves a quality education and parents should have the right to decide what’s best for their children,” Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said in a statement today. “Parents should not be penalized for acting in the best interests of their children’s education. This outrageous ruling must be overturned by the courts and if the courts don’t protect parents’ rights then, as elected officials, we will.” “It’s kind of scary,” says Julie Beth Lamb, an Oakdale, California, parent who, with no teaching credentials, has taught her four children for 15 years. “If that ruling is held up, this would make us one of the most restrictive states in the nation.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education, Law & Legal Issues

Bishop of Southwark attacks 'chaotic' regulations

The Situation on the ground for voluntary organisations working with families is “chaotic”, the Bishop of Southwark has said.

He highlighted problems faced by the organisations during a debate on “strengthening families, community cohesion and social action” in the House of Lords on Thursday, February 28.

The Rt Rev Tom Butler said funding continuity was one of the particular issues leading to uncertainty.

He said Christian organisations, such as Welcare in his diocese, are “committed to supporting families through prayer, pastoral care and in other practical ways ”” and through the provision of education”.

Bishop Butler told peers: “I wish to focus on the delivery of family care at local borough level, for here ”” despite what were well intentioned changes in the delivery of services ”” it is our experience that the current situation on the ground is chaotic.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture

Software Nails Eliot Spitzer, and it was something he Among Others Asked For

Listen to it carefully and listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General

The Bishop of Fort Worth: What it truly means to ”˜remain Episcopal’

But my hopes were dashed when I discovered that this was not at all what the sender of the e-mail had in mind. Instead, the author and those he represents were quite clear that they want The Episcopal Church to change into something it has never been. They support all the changes that the revisionists have been making in our Church over the past 30 years and are eager for more. In reality, they favor updating The Episcopal Church to make it more acceptable to popular norms and contemporary times, rather than having it remain faithful to the historic faith and practice of the ancient catholic church. Instead of wanting to remain Episcopal, what they really want is to “remain under the authority of the General Convention church,” no matter what ”“ even when it violates the teachings of the Bible and happily changes the Biblical teaching on sexual morality. In our liturgy they want to get rid of those masculine images for God ”“ like Father and Lord and King ”“ and replace them with inclusive language images that revise the biblical revelation. Far from wanting to “Remain Episcopal” and to be loyal to the church we have known and loved and served over the ages, what they are striving for is a new, improved, and up-to-date version of The Episcopal Church.

The revisionists, like those represented by the e-mail I received, are clearly in control of this new Episcopal Church, and there seems little hope of reform. Not to be deterred nor turned back from their agenda, they are perfectly willing to sacrifice the church’s unity in order to achieve their goals.

Read it all.

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

Fed Hopes to Ease Strain on Economic Activity

Fed officials are increasingly convinced that the United States is sliding into a recession, and they worry that the deepening credit squeeze will aggravate the problem by making it even harder for consumers and businesses to borrow money for houses, new equipment or new factories.

The Fed’s hope is to relieve some of the pressure on institutions to sell at fire-sale prices, easing the strains on economic activity and making the credit markets feel more comfortable in buying mortgage bonds again.

Despite the staggering sums being offered by the Fed over the past week, some analysts warned that the new infusion of money might not be enough to fill the hole caused by the losses on ill-conceived mortgages during the housing bubble.

“They are essentially creating a $300 billion bank out of nothing,” said Lou Crandall, chief economist at Wrightson ICAP, a financial research firm.

But while the Fed’s moves may relieve short-term cash problems, Mr. Crandall said, “it doesn’t solve the fundamental issue, which is the decline of capital in the banking system.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

Bishops Clarify that Littering is not a new Deadly Sin

Reports that the Vatican has published a new list of the seven deadly sins of modern times that includes littering and economic inequality is simply not true, affirmed the episcopal conference of England and Wales.

The conference released a statement today clarifying that an interview published Sunday by L’Osservatore Romano with Bishop Gianfranco Girotti, regent of the tribunal of he Apostolic Penitentiary, was misinterpreted in the media as an official Vatican update to the seven deadly sins, laid out by Pope Gregory the Great in the sixth century.

“The Vatican has not published a new list of seven deadly sins; this is not a new Vatican edict,” said the conference. “The story originated from an interview that Bishop Gianfranco Girotti gave to the L’Osservatore Romano in which he was questioned about new forms of social sins in this age of globalization.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Theology

Foreclosure crisis has ripple effect in Cities

About two-thirds of 211 officials surveyed by the National League of Cities reported an increase in foreclosures in their cities in the past year, according to the online and e-mail questionnaire. A third of them reported a drop in revenues and an increase in abandoned and vacant properties and urban blight.

“There’s a reduction in revenues at the same time that more services are needed,” says Cynthia McCollum, president of the National League of Cities and councilwoman in Madison, Ala., a suburb of Huntsville. “Because of foreclosures, people are stealing, crime is on the rise and we don’t have more money for cops on the street.”

More than a fifth of city officials responding said homelessness and the need for temporary and emergency housing increased in the past year.

The ills of foreclosures are dominating the agenda of the league’s meeting with congressional lawmakers in Washington, D.C., this week to secure federal funding for local initiatives.

“The American dream for individuals has now become the nightmare for cities,” says James Mitchell, a Charlotte councilman and head of the group’s National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials.

Read it all.

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

Sandeep Jauhar: Many Doctors, Many Tests, No Rhyme or Reason

…in the United States, regions that spend the most on health care appear to have higher mortality rates than regions that spend the least, perhaps because of increased hospitalization rates that result in more life-threatening errors and infections. It has been estimated that if the entire country spent the same as the lowest spending regions, the Medicare program alone could save about $40 billion a year.

Overutilization is driven by many factors ”” “defensive” medicine by doctors trying to avoid lawsuits; patients’ demands; a pervading belief among doctors and patients that newer, more expensive technology is better.

The most important factor, however, may be the perverse financial incentives of our current system.

Doctors are usually reimbursed for whatever they bill. As reimbursement rates have declined in recent years, most doctors have adapted by increasing the quantity of services. If you cut the amount of air you take in per breath, the only way to maintain ventilation is to breathe faster.

Overconsultation and overtesting have now become facts of the medical profession. The culture in practice is to grab patients and generate volume. “Medicine has become like everything else,” a doctor told me recently. “Everything moves because of money.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine

Daily Account from the House of Bishops for Tuesday, March 11

Bishop Jim Curry of Connecticut, convener of Bishops Working for a Just World, spoke about the group which is a coalition of active and retired bishops gathered to support each other and other members of HOB to claim a public voice, leadership and advocacy for the church and the world. The bishops meet for training, legislative processes, and trying to demystify the process. They work with the Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations. A “go-to” group when legislation is at a critical point such as issues on the Farm Bill.

Bishop Charles Jenkins of Louisiana advocated contacting legislators. “They may not like to hear from us, but if we don’t, someone else will do it for us. It is not unexpected or unwelcome.”

The bishops were briefed by the staff of the Office of Government Relations (OGR) on the MDGs, the Farm Bill and the Jubilee Act for Debt Consolidation. Maureen Shea, OGR’s director, announced there are approximately 22,000 members of the Episcopal Public Policy Network. She presented questions for small group discussion: What are the public policy issues (local, national, and international) most important in your diocese? What obstacles do you face in being involved with public policy issues? What could the Office of Government Relations do to help you get past those obstacles?

Read it all.

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

One in 4 Teen Girls Has a Sexually Transmitted Disease

More than 3 million teenaged girls have at least one sexually transmitted disease (STD), a new government study suggests.

The most severely affected are African-American teens. In fact, 48 percent of African-American teenaged girls have an STD, compared with 20 percent of white teenaged girls.

“What we found is alarming,” Dr. Sara Forhan, from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a teleconference Tuesday. “One in four female adolescents in the U.S. has at least one of the four most common STDs that affects women.”

“These numbers translate into 3.2 million young women nationwide who are infected with an STD,” Forhan said. “This means that far too many young women are at risk of the serious health effects of untreated STDs, including infertility and cervical cancer.”

Makes the heart sad–read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology

Rounding up the faithful in Western Heritage churches

Pastor Shorty likes to keep his sermons short and simple because that’s the cowboy way and his is a cowboy church.

“We’re not into religion. We’re not into ritual. We’re just here to worship the Lord,” says Glen “Shorty” Huffman of the 50 or so faithful filing into a converted metal barn outside Kersey on a Monday evening.

“You can come here straight from the field with manure on your boots or tractor grease on your jeans. There are people here who would never grace the door of a conventional church.”

Jesus would approve of the informal, “come as you are,” approach, Huffman says.

And the relaxed style, he says, goes a long way to explain why cowboy churches ”” also known as Western Heritage churches ”” number 550 nationwide and are on the rise.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Other Churches

An AP Article on the Decision Regarding Gene Robinson and Lambeth 2008

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lambeth 2008, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts

Resignation by Spitzer Not Likely Today; State in Limbo

Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who has spent much of the day considering his options following allegations that he was linked to a high-priced prostitution ring, will not resign his office on Tuesday, according to a person involved in discussions with the governor.

The governor remained in his Fifth Avenue apartment in Manhattan a day after law enforcement officials said he was a client of the prostitution ring, which was broken up last week by federal authorities. Things remained uncertain regarding the governor’s future throughout the day. Mr. Spitzer, 48, a first-term Democrat, was said by aides to be considering resigning, but no official announcement had been made Tuesday afternoon.

Lt. Gov. David A. Paterson, who would serve out Mr. Spitzer’s term in the event of a resignation, also said he had not heard from the governor on Tuesday.

“The governor called me yesterday, he said he didn’t resign for a number of reasons, and he didn’t go into the reasons, and that’s the last I’ve heard from him,” he said.

Read it all; it now appears likely he will resign as early as tomorrow.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Politics in General

Seminaries Under Stress

Of the 11 Episcopal seminaries in the United States, one recently announced it would end its main residential program, another is shutting down one of its campuses, and a third is selling a good portion of its campus. The changes reflect not only each institution’s own financial or enrollment straits but also changes that are coming in Episcopal seminary education, which has historically played a key role in American theological life. Among them are an embrace of distance education and new, more flexible alternatives to the traditional residential seminary model thus far sustained for centuries, and ever-increasing numbers of collaborations involving other seminaries, Episcopal and non, and non-sectarian colleges, as tiny institutions struggle to survive.

Read it all.

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

William Witt: Self -Denial or Self-Affirmation? Freedom or Slavery? A Lenten Sermon

If there is a single value that lies at the heart of contemporary American culture, it is freedom. After the horror of September 11, we were told that what was under attack was our American love of liberty. Yet our society is conflicted about what freedom means. In current political controversy, opponents always present themselves as defending the values of freedom. In the abortion debate, one side presents itself as defending a woman’s right to choose””freedom! On the other side of the political spectrum, the National Rifle Association presents itself as preserving the “right to bear arms”””freedom! Defenders of unrestrained capitalism talk about “free markets.” Those who represent the opposite side of the economic spectrum talk about “liberation” and “freedom from economic exploitation.” The Libertarian political party speaks of freedom from all government intervention or restraint, whether in the Market Place or the bedroom or perhaps sharing a little hashish among friends.

These various disagreements reflect just how confused and conflicted our society is about this very notion of freedom. For another common theme in contemporary society is the problem of addiction, and the corresponding need to restrain freedom. Since the nineteen seventies, a common cultural symbol is the Rehabilitation Center. It seems almost impossible to attain real celebrity status unless one has dried out at the Betty Ford Center at least once. The actor Robert Downey Jr. and the baseball player Daryl Strawberry go back over and over. In a recently popular movie, Sandra Bullock plays an alcoholic who is so out of control, she ruins her own sister’s wedding by showing up drunk. The title of the movie, Twenty-Eight Days, refers to the number of days it takes to get sober in such a clinic. And exactly what happens at the clinic? Bullock’s freedoms are denied. She cannot have alcohol or drugs. She is not free to come and go when she wants. She has to live by a strict schedule, more Spartan than a Benedictine monastery.

Our culture’s confusion and conflictedness about freedom lies in the fact that we have turned freedom, the “right to choose,” into a value in itself. Yet there is no such thing as freedom to choose””simple and of itself. Freedom is always the ability to choose something. If you were, without explanation, to command me to””“Choose!” “Make your choice now!”””I could only respond with, “Choose what?”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology

Scott Anderson: Congregational growth

The reasons for growth and decline in a congregation can often be complex. What is clear is that some congregations are ready for growth when the opportunity comes, and others are prone to decline, no matter how much is done for them. This is because of the way that the existing congregation works – its dynamic. The attitudes of the people, to God, to their priest, to each other and to the newcomer, are actually much more important than the style of the worship and the state of the finances.

Think for a moment about how different types of people make up your congregation. I don’t mean young and middle-aged and old, or black and white and Asian, but rather the way in which groups of people behave. Four types are represented in most congregations….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry