Monthly Archives: February 2009

Where are the Minutes of the Last Two Episcopal Church Executive Council Meetings?

Just asking, I believe they should be available by now.

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

Notable and Quotable (III)

There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary””we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

–Romans 5:3-5 from The Message

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Notable and Quotable (II)

“Our view is the economy will continue to deteriorate sharply this quarter and next quarter and be pretty weak second quarter and maybe sort of see stability fourth quarter, and then I think you will have a pretty, and a weak 2010 although I don’t think it will keep declining”¦I think 2011 will show some growth but still be well below the levels of 2006 and 2007. My own view is you may not get back to 2006 and 2007 a long time because we have sort of an emotional and psychic shift going on in America which is back to basics don’t live on leverage, live within your means, more humble life styles, less extravagant consumption, savings and all of that sort of stuff.

I believe that a lot of people in America are legitimately scared and have seen their life savings or what they perceived as their net worth largely either wiped out or cut in half. That’s going to forge fundamental behavioral differences and that will retard the growth.”

Stephen Allen Schwarzman, Co-Founder and CEO of The Blackstone Group during the Company’s Fourth Quarter and 2008 Year End Earnings Conference Call yesterday

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Credit Markets, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance, Stock Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Notable and Quotable (I)

O God and Heavenly Father,
Grant to us the serenity of mind to accept that which cannot be changed; the courage to change that which can be changed, and the wisdom to know the one from the other, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

–The so-called Serenity Prayer, often attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr and many others (when I first learned it before being a Christian in high school I was told it was by Saint Augustine), but which clearly predates him and whose original authorship is still in some dispute/doubt

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer

LA Times on Obama's budget: Taxing for fairness or class warfare?

From front to back and on nearly every page, President Obama’s new budget plan delivers a stark message: It’s time for the rich to lighten the load on the middle class.

In education, healthcare and an array of other proposals, the budget focuses more benefits on middle-class and lower-income Americans and looks to the affluent to help pay for them.

The change is meant to reverse a long-running trend in the opposite direction.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

Church of England Fund Loses $1.7 Billion on Markets

The Church of England’s investment fund, which pays the pensions of retired clergy, lost about 1.2 billion pounds ($1.7 billion) last year as stock markets tumbled and property values slumped amid the global financial crisis.

The 305-year-old fund, one of the best performing funds of its type over the past decade, lost an estimated 22 percent last year, the Church Commissioners said in an e-mailed statement today. The benchmark FTSE 100 Index lost almost 30 percent, the statement said.

“The impact of the overall financial situation would be much greater had we not taken a range of steps before the full extent of the financial crisis was felt by the markets,” Andrew Brown, secretary of the Church Commissioners, said in the statement.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Economy, Stock Market

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me: LORD, be thou my helper.

Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness;

To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.

–Psalm 30:10-12 (KJV)

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Gordon Brown pins his hopes of recovery on Barack Obama

Gordon Brown will seek to make common cause with President Obama next week over the best way to take the world out of recession.

The Prime Minister aims to use a two-day trip to Washington to bond with the US President over the issue on which Mr Brown has staked his damaged political reputation: the massive state-funded stimulus packages to the world’s stricken economies.

One Downing Street aide described their White House meeting as an attempt to present a united front against the “forces of global conservatism”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Economy, England / UK, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

A.S. Haley on the Episcopal Process in Northern Michigan

The most interesting answer they gave to a question, though, was this:

12. How was it decided to present one name for Bishop/Ministry Developer?
In the traditional search process anyone can throw his or her hat into the ring. Someone decides that they want to be a bishop. It is self-selection. We chose to use the discernment process that has served us well in the local congregations for the past twenty plus years. At the congregational level there is often more than one person discerned for the same ministry. The team after much discussion and struggle came to the conclusion that we would try to focus or stay true to what the congregational conversations had revealed. Because there is only one bishop/ministry developer we would try and discern one person that best fit the criteria outlined by the people of this diocese, the person who would most fully encompass these gifts. This person would be able to function as part of a team and truly be able to share the Episcopal leadership in this diocese.

In a traditional election model three or four names are presented for the vote. Usually one person will stand out as a better fit and the others would be “ok.” People don’t know the candidates well when they come to convention. Our intention is to present one name based on prayerful consideration that is the very best fit for the ministry in this unique diocese. It is our hope that because of the careful, prayerful discernment of the team, one person will become the obvious choice. This one person will be presented to the diocese as the team’s best recommendation.

It is in this one answer that we see all of the “new age” elements of the process beginning to coalesce. It begins with a small circle of those “in the know”, who bring in trusted colleagues from the “outside” to lend a sheen of objectivity, and to help bring others into the middle of the circle. By meeting together in confidence twice a month for six months, the circle gains both unanimity and a conviction that it is on the right path. What the circle loses, however, is any sense of accountability to those outside of it….
Anyone who has troubled to read this far should appreciate the magnitude of the uphill battle that lies ahead. It should be obvious from all the connections spelled out earlier that a number of bishops, beginning with the Presiding Bishop, will want to see this election confirmed—not for the benefit, necessarily, of the parishioners in Northern Michigan, but for its precedential value as a method to control the selection of bishops in other dioceses.

Take a look around the Church. The movement for “Mutual Ministry” is already flourishing in many other dioceses (albeit the more sparsely populated ones)—Eastern Tennessee, for example, parts of New England, and even the Church of England. As finances become critical with declining membership, the model of the “Bishop/Ministry Developer” pioneered in Northern Michigan will become attractive to more dioceses. Because Mutual Ministry is virtually content-free (it has to be in order to be all-inclusive), it combines well with any other set of spiritual beliefs, not the least of which is Buddhism.

This is where the changes of 1979 have brought us. The future of our Church lies before us as we watch what is happening in the Diocese of Northern Michigan.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan, Theology

A Pastoral Letter from Bishop Bob Duncan

After the Realignment Resolution passed at the 2007 Diocesan Convention, Calvary took the position that if Realignment occurred after a second reading of the resolution at the 2008 Convention, then the Stipulation would act to bar the Diocese from continuing to use and administer Diocesan property. We opposed this argument, advising the court of our position that the Stipulation did not address realignment. We advised the court that the process for Diocesan realignment was in place and that we intended after realignment to continue to hold and administer Diocesan property for the beneficial use of all the parishes.

This process was transparent. We have tried to follow the good example of St. Paul in the 26th chapter of Acts by speaking and acting openly, and “not in a corner.”

The leaders of the new diocese challenge the validity of the Diocesan realignment. Although we strongly disagree with this position, we recognize that some of these leaders publicly took this position at our 2007 and 2008 Conventions. In this respect, it is right to acknowledge that their position on this issue is consistent, and to recognize that they believe it their duty to challenge the legitimacy of the Diocesan action.

The same cannot be said, however, for the new diocese leaders’ recent adoption of Calvary’s arguments regarding the 2005 Stipulation and Order. On behalf of the new diocese’s Standing Committee and Board of Trustees, Dr. Simons and Mr. Ayres (the presidents of each body) have written: “We call attention to the stipulation signed in good faith by Bishop Duncan’s attorneys on October 15, 2005, which clearly defines how assets are to be disposed of, if any attempt to leave the Episcopal Church occurred – they are to stay in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church.”

The statements made, and the inferences apparent for readers to draw, are both incorrect and unfair. The reference to “good faith” and “Bishop Duncan’s attorneys” appears to be an attempt to personalize the present dispute as being about my actions alone, and they question my good faith. Our counsel represented me as Bishop of the Diocese, but also represented all of the other defendants in the litigation, including the then-members of the Standing Committee, and the Diocese itself as an entity. Personal attacks on me during the litigation are not new, but I reject the improper personalization of my role as Bishop. On issues of property and fiscal stewardship, the Bishop operates within a well-defined role outlined by the Diocesan Constitution, Canons, and Financial Regulations. This structure delineates the proper role of not only the Bishop, but also the role of the Standing Committee, the Board of Trustees, the Diocesan Council, and the Diocesan Convention. I have faithfully exercised my duties on all of these issues.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Pittsburgh

Peter Duffy: Dancing and Shaking With an Exultant Spirit

Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer, the 18th-century founder of modern Hasidism, was once asked why his followers worshipped in an ecstatic style full of singing and dancing. He responded by telling a parable about a street-corner fiddler who played with such skill that everyone who heard him began to jig. A deaf man, unable to hear the beautiful sounds, walked by and wondered if the world had gone mad. “Why are they jumping up and down, waving their arms and turning in circles in the middle of the street?” he asked.

“My disciples are moved by the melody that issues forth from each and every thing that God, blessed be He, has created,” said the Baal Shem Tov, as the rabbi was known. “If so, how can they keep from dancing?”

Just such an exultant spirit infuses the performances of Lipa Schmeltzer, a wildly popular Hasidic performer who will be headlining a concert at the WaMu Theater of Madison Square Garden in New York on Sunday. Mr. Schmeltzer, who is 30, grew up in New Square, a village in Rockland County, N.Y., founded in the 1950s by the strict Skverer Hasidic movement. He was born into a culture that required its young to devote long hours to intensive study. Young Lipa wasn’t cut out for it. Even the deaf man could have sensed that.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Judaism, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

From the This is Not a Good Idea Dept.: Ryanair may charge £1 for lavatory use

In an interview on BBC television this morning, [Ryanair CEO] Mr [Michael] O’Leary said that the low-cost airline was looking at the possibility of installing a coin slot on the lavatory door so that “people might actually have to spend a pound to spend a penny.”

Ironically, in a light-hearted survey conducted by Telegraph Travel last November, we asked readers which service they thought no-frills airlines might start charging for in the future.

56 per cent of readers said that a charge for “using the loo” would be the most likely, while 31 per cent chose “reclining seats” and 11 per cent opted for “sick bags”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Economy, Europe, Travel

Taxpayer Beware: Bank Bailout Will Hurt

A single piece of paper may just be one of the most surprising and illuminating documents of the whole banking crisis.

It’s a one-page research note from an economist at Deutsche Bank, and it outlines in the clearest terms the kind of solution many bankers are looking for. The basic message: We should forget trying to get a good deal for taxpayers because even trying will hurt.

“Ultimately, the taxpayer will be on the hook one way or another, either through greatly diminished job prospects and/or significantly higher taxes down the line,” the document says.

In other words, the paper says, if the government tries to save taxpayers money, many people will lose their jobs and the whole economy will suffer.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout Plan, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor: 'Many believe Christianity is out of step with society'

…Speaking at London’s Westminster Cathedral, he went on to warn against a false pessimism within the Church and said it “has a perspective and a wisdom which society cannot afford to exclude or silence.”

He said: “The greatest danger for us at the moment is to let ourselves believe what secular culture wants us to believe about ourselves, namely, that we are becoming less and less influential and in decline.

Read it all and more importantly read the whole lecture.

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

Obama Plans to End Combat Mission in Iraq by August 2010

President Obama heads to one of the nation’s most storied military bases Friday morning to unveil plans to pull most troops out of Iraq by August 2010 and he has support from an unlikely quarter ”” Senator John McCain, the Republican he beat in last year’s election.

Mr. McCain and other Republicans emerged from a meeting with Mr. Obama at the White House on Thursday evening reassured that the president’s withdrawal plan is responsible and reasonable. After securing assurances from Mr. Obama that he would reconsider his plans if violence increases, Mr. McCain and the Republicans expressed cautious support.

The convergence of Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain on Iraq would have seemed highly improbable just a few months ago, when they clashed sharply on the future of the American mission there. Mr. McCain accused Mr. Obama of being naïve and opposed his withdrawal plans. At one point, Mr. McCain said Mr. Obama “would rather lose a war than lose a campaign.”

Aides to the president said Mr. Obama approved his withdrawal plan at a meeting with his national security team Wednesday and would tell an audience of several thousand Marines and their families at Camp Lejeune, N.C., on Friday that he is bringing the current phase of the war to a close in August 2010.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Iraq War