Daily Archives: March 4, 2009

Notable and Quotable (II)

I think we’re beginning to see a time of darkness when, amid a plethora of high tech connectivity, one-quarter of Americans say they have no close confidante, more than double the number twenty years ago. It’s a darkening time when we think togetherness means keeping one eye, hand, or ear on our gadgets, ever ready to tun into another channel of life, when we begin to turn to robots to tend to the sick and the old, when doctors listen to patients on an average for just eighteen seconds before interrupting, and when two-thirds of children under six live in homes that keep the television on half or more of the time, and envoronment linked to attention deficiencies. We should worry when we have the world at our fingertips, but half of Americans age eighteen to twnety-four can’t find New York state on a map and more than 60 percent can’t similarly locate Iraq

–Maggie Jackson, Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age (Prometheus Books, 2008), page 22

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Science & Technology

Conan hosts the comedian Louis CK on the Nature of Modern Western Living

Watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Humor / Trivia, Science & Technology

Benedict XVI in Q and A with Parish Priests

In this sense, I am essentially in agreement with you: It is not enough to preach or to do pastoral work with the precious cargo acquired in theology studies. This is important, it is essential, but it must be personalized: from academic knowledge, which we have learned and also reflected upon, in a personal vision of my life, in order to reach other people. In this sense, I would like to say that it is important, on one hand, to make the great word of the faith concrete with our personal experience of faith, in our meeting with our parishioners, but also to not lose its simplicity. Naturally, great words of the tradition — such as sacrifice of expiation, redemption of Christ’s sacrifice, original sin — are incomprehensible as such today. We cannot simply work with great formulas, [although] truths, without putting them in the context of today’s world. Through study and what the masters of theology and our personal experience with God tell us, we must translate these great words, so that they enter into the proclamation of God to the man of today.

And, on the other hand, I would say that we must not conceal the simplicity of the Word of God in valuations that are too heavy for human approaches. I remember a friend who, after hearing homilies with long anthropological reflections in order to bring others near the Gospel, said: But I am not interested in these approaches, I want to understand what the Gospel says! And it seems to me that often instead of long summaries of approaches, it would be better to say — I did so when I was still in my normal life: I don’t like this Gospel, we are the opposite of what the Lord says! But what does it mean? If I say sincerely that at first glance I am not in agreement, I already have their attention: It is understood that I would like, as a man of today, to understand what the Lord is saying. Thus we can, without circumlocution, enter fully into the Word.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, Theology

Notable and Quotable (I)

We can tap into 50 million Web sites, 1.8 million books in print, 75 million blogs, and other snowstorms of information, but we increasingly seek knowledge in Google searches and Yahoo! headlings that we gulp on the run while juggling other tasks. We can contact millions of people across the globe, yet we increasingly connect with even our most intimate friends and family via instant messaging, virutal visits, and fleeting meetings that are rescheduled a half dozen times, then punctuated when they do occur by pings and beeps and multitasking. Amid the glittering promise of our new technologies and the wondrous potential of our scientific gains, we are nurturing a culture of social diffusion, intellectual fragmentation, sensory detachment. In this new world, something is amiss. And that something is attention.

–Maggie Jackson, Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age (Prometheus Books, 2008), page 13

Posted in Uncategorized

'Mother' uses eclectic past for church's innovation

With closed eyes, 12 men and women sat in a circle of mismatched high-backed couches and chairs, listening as the soft musical voice of Mother Julia Anne Fritts led them in meditation.

“Now, actually breathe — something we adults often forget to do,” Fritts, the newly ordained priest at St. John’s Episcopal Church, said just loud enough over the recorded sounds of Gregorian chants.

She pushed her long, straight, silver hair off her shoulders as she looked around the quiet circle.

Pleased by the attendance, the church opened the Tuesday night meetings, called “Got Peace?” to people outside the parish.

“In the midst of an economic crisis, we hope this will catch people’s attention,” said the Rev. Jim Wheeler, rector of the Main Street church.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, TEC Parishes

Ottawa Anglican diocese to defy ban, perform same-sex blessings

The Diocese of Ottawa has said it will perform same-sex blessings, becoming the first Canadian Anglican diocese to make such a move since a ban was imposed on the practice by the international church.

The diocese said it is developing a liturgy and protocol for the rite and once they are created it will start performing the ceremonies for gay couples on a limited basis. But critics of same-sex blessings say those steps will widen the schism in the Canadian church.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Windsor Report / Process

Blog Open Thread: What Books Are You Reading for Lent 2009?

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Books, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Lent

AP: Muslim-Americans 'thriving'

Muslims in America have a much more positive outlook on life than their counterparts in most predominantly Muslim countries and some other Western societies, according to a poll released Monday.

The Gallup Organization study found Muslim-Americans to be racially and ideologically diverse, extremely religious, and younger and more highly educated than the typical American.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Market Meltdown Amplifies Baby Boomer Worries

“We won’t be rebuilding wealth so quickly,” says Christian Weller of the American Progress and the University of Massachusetts, who specializes in retirement income security.

Weller says the decline in wealth is the greatest on record.

Housing prices are expected to bottom out until mid year at the earliest. Thus far, the median price of a home is down more than 20 percent from $219,000 at the market peak in 2007 to $170,000 in January.

Stock prices, however, have fallen twice as much, some 50 percent, from their October 2007 peak.

And while a greater percentage of Americans are homeowners than investors and thus the average household’s wealth is more defined by real estate than investments, the investment outlook is still a major force.

“There are more people involved in the equity market and have wealth tied up in it than the 1980s and 1990s,” says Christopher Rupley of Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Middle Age, Personal Finance, Stock Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Pension bombs going off

Exploding pension fund shortfalls are blowing billion-dollar holes in the balance sheets of some of the Chicago area’s biggest companies, forcing them to make huge contributions to retirement plans at a time when cash flow and credit are already under stress.

Boeing Co.’s shareholder equity is now $1.2 billion in the hole thanks to an $8.4-billion gap between its pension assets and the projected cost of its obligations for 2008. At the end of 2007, Boeing had a $4.7-billion pension surplus. If its investments don’t turn around, the Chicago-based aerospace giant will have to quadruple annual contributions to its plan to about $2 billion by 2011.

Take a careful look at the chart accompanying this article and read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Stock Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

From the Keeping Things in perspective Department

The Ant

The ant has made himself illustrious
Through constant industry industrious.
So what?
Would you be calm and placid,
If you were full of formic acid?

–Ogden Nash (1902-1971)

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Animals, Poetry & Literature

From the Morning Scripture Readings

The LORD is my portion; I promise to keep thy words.

I entreat thy favor with all my heart; be gracious to me according to thy promise.

Psalm 119:57-58

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

David Brooks: A Moderate Manifesto

[From the current administration] we end up with an agenda that is unexceptional in its parts but that, when taken as a whole, represents a social-engineering experiment that is entirely new.

The U.S. has never been a society riven by class resentment. Yet the Obama budget is predicated on a class divide. The president issued a read-my-lips pledge that no new burdens will fall on 95 percent of the American people. All the costs will be borne by the rich and all benefits redistributed downward.

The U.S. has always been a decentralized nation, skeptical of top-down planning. Yet, the current administration concentrates enormous power in Washington, while plan after plan emanates from a small group of understaffed experts.

The U.S. has always had vibrant neighborhood associations. But in its very first budget, the Obama administration raises the cost of charitable giving. It punishes civic activism and expands state intervention.

The U.S. has traditionally had a relatively limited central government. But federal spending as a share of G.D.P. is zooming from its modern norm of 20 percent to an unacknowledged level somewhere far beyond.

Those of us who consider ourselves moderates ”” moderate-conservative, in my case ”” are forced to confront the reality that Barack Obama is not who we thought he was.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Budget, Economy, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

Harvard Medical School in Ethics Quandary

In a first-year pharmacology class at Harvard Medical School, Matt Zerden grew wary as the professor promoted the benefits of cholesterol drugs and seemed to belittle a student who asked about side effects.

Mr. Zerden later discovered something by searching online that he began sharing with his classmates. The professor was not only a full-time member of the Harvard Medical faculty, but a paid consultant to 10 drug companies, including five makers of cholesterol treatments.

“I felt really violated,” Mr. Zerden, now a fourth-year student, recently recalled. “Here we have 160 open minds trying to learn the basics in a protected space, and the information he was giving wasn’t as pure as I think it should be.”

Mr. Zerden’s minor stir four years ago has lately grown into a full-blown movement by more than 200 Harvard Medical School students and sympathetic faculty, intent on exposing and curtailing the industry influence in their classrooms and laboratories, as well as in Harvard’s 17 affiliated teaching hospitals and institutes.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Education, Health & Medicine

Longest marriage for a living couple-world record set by Herbert and Zelmyra Fisher

Herbert and Zelmyra Fisher have been married for more than 84 years-setting the world record for the Longest marriage for a living couple.

They watch TV together but she leaves when the baseball game comes on. They now have separate bedrooms and she says he can stay up until the last ball is thrown.

The two sit on the porch and as a train goes by they count the cars. They also watch the neighbors who walk by.

Simply fantastic. Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Marriage & Family

Tax credits DO help break up families: Report says some Parents divorce to claim higher benefits

Labour’s tax credits have caused thousands of families to break up, an authoritative study said yesterday.

The flagship scheme is blamed for a doubling of the divorce rate among low income parents with young children.

Tax credits, introduced a decade ago to cut child poverty, were supposed to help single mothers and hard-working families.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Children, Economy, England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Taxes

Controversial Northern Michigan Episcopal Bishop-Elect Composes Own Eucharistic Texts

A eucharistic prayer that the bishop-elect wrote for Easter season 2008 says this: “In the ancient days, at the dawn of time, You leaned over creation[,] scooped it to your breast and breathed the moist breath of life. … The fire of your Spirit kindled a love between Mary and Joseph; a fire that became the roaring flame of eternal compassion””the heart of Jesus.”

The lectionary texts are notable for their exclusion of male pronouns, even when the subject of the sentence is a man. A reading from Genesis 2 refers to Adam as “the earth creature” and “it.” Readings from the gospels of John and Mark refer to Jesus as “the Chosen One,” “the Only Begotten One,” “my Beloved, my Own” and “this One.”

The Rev. Canon Ralph McMichael, canon for ministry formation in the Diocese of Missouri, expressed concern about the texts.

“We are stewards of the church’s liturgy,” he said. “Liturgy does not exist for our self-expression, whatever form it might take.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Liturgy, Music, Worship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan, Theology

Russian President Won't "Haggle" Over US Missile Defense Plans

Russian President Medvedev has said he’s willing to discuss the proposed US missile shield with Washington. But he added that any deal linking those talks with negotiations regarding Iran would not be productive.

Russian President Dimitry Medvedev’s comments came in response to a New York Times report that US President Barack Obama had written a secret letter to his Russian counterpart offering to halt the planned missile shield, which would be located mainly in Poland and the Czech Republic, in return for Moscow’s help in stopping Iran from developing long-range nuclear weapons.

The Russian president welcomed the “positive signals” coming from the Obama administration with which he said he hoped to reach “agreements.” “Haggling,” however, was “not productive,” added Medvedev on Tuesday, March 3.

The Russian president also said Obama’s letter had not presented the issue in such a way.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Europe, Foreign Relations, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Russia

David Walker's Warning

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

LA Times: Half of nation's hospitals running losses

The economic decline is continuing to ravage the nation’s hospitals, with half of them operating in the red and many planning service and staffing cuts, two new reports show.

Hospitals are ailing because of a number of problems hitting in close succession. First, hospitals’ investment incomes plummeted — like everybody’s — eliminating a cushion for operating budgets and curtailing capital spending.

Then, the mix of patients began to shift: Paying admissions declined as people put off elective procedures and insurers tightened their grip on the length of hospital stays they covered. And the number of patients without insurance or the means to pay their part of the bill began to rise.

These problems have been surfacing for several months. But new data show their breadth and depth. Indeed, an unprecedented 50% of the nation’s hospitals appear to be losing money, according to an analysis of government and proprietary data that Thomson Reuters is set to release today.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Health & Medicine

Religious Intelligence: Nigerian Anglicans embrace ”˜signs and wonders’

By: George Conger.

“Signs and wonders” should become the mark of the Anglican Church in Africa, the Archbishop of Lagos, Dr Ephraim Ademowo said last month at service marking the collation of two archdeacons.

He urged a “return to apostolic tradition practiced in the early church characterized by miracles, signs and wonders;” saying it should become “the new direction of the Anglican Church today.”

The Anglican Communion’s largest church with an estimated 18,000,000 active members, the Church of Nigeria has been challenged by the equally fast-growing Pentecostal churches of West Africa. In recent decades it has taken on board many of the elements of the charismatic renewal movement as well embarking on a programme of African enculturation, drawing upon African resources for liturgical renewal.

One of the pillars of the Gafcon movement for the reform and renewal of the Anglican Communion, the Church of Nigeria’s cultivation of charismatic gifts, critics charge, will lead to splits with Gafcon’s Anglo-Catholic and conservative evangelical wings.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria