Daily Archives: March 10, 2009

Michael Spencer: The coming evangelical collapse

We are on the verge ”“ within 10 years ”“ of a major collapse of evangelical Christianity. This breakdown will follow the deterioration of the mainline Protestant world and it will fundamentally alter the religious and cultural environment in the West.

Within two generations, evangelicalism will be a house deserted of half its occupants. (Between 25 and 35 percent of Americans today are Evangelicals.) In the “Protestant” 20th century, Evangelicals flourished. But they will soon be living in a very secular and religiously antagonistic 21st century.

This collapse will herald the arrival of an anti-Christian chapter of the post-Christian West. Intolerance of Christianity will rise to levels many of us have not believed possible in our lifetimes, and public policy will become hostile toward evangelical Christianity, seeing it as the opponent of the common good.

Read it all.

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

Irish Church Leaders denounce murders

In a joint statement the Catholic primate Cardinal Seán Brady, the Church of Ireland primate Archbishop Alan Harper, the Presbyterian Moderator Rev Dr Donald Patton and the Methodist President Rev Alan Ferguson said “it takes us back to events which we thought we had left in the past and is a dangerous attempt to destabilise the peace process which must not be allowed to succeed.

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

Times Colonist: Fairfield Anglicans vote to split

The congregation at St. Matthias Anglican Church in Fairfield voted overwhelmingly Sunday to leave the Anglican Church of Canada, the latest sign of division among parishes across the country over controversial church doctrines like blessing same-sex marriages.

Of the 180 people who voted, 94.5 per cent said they want to join the Anglican Network of Canada, a conservative body that opposes same-sex marriage.

About 30 people refused to participate in the vote and wrote letters opposing the split, said church spokesman Michael Skinner, who chaired the meeting.

But another 20 parishioners who could not attend in person wrote letters of support, he said. The congregation had been just over 200 people.

Read it all.

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

Anglicans Down Under Try to Attract Followers

Churches that look like cafes and serve coffee and offer guided chanting and meditation could become the norm as the diocese looks for ways to reach out to a wider group of followers.

Traditional pastoral models would be tweaked to include more of what was relevant to today’s community, Anglican diocese of Newcastle ministry development officer Father David Battrick said.

“We will reconnect with ancient forms of spirituality like chanting that engages all the senses and tap into older forms of the eucharist that was common practice in the church 100 years ago,” he said.

Research showed there was great interest in spirituality, as distinct from religion, prompting the church to look at ways of helping people in their spiritual quest.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry

John P. Hussman: Buckle Up

The misguided policy response from Washington has focused almost exclusively on squandering public money and burdening our children with indebtedness in order to defend the bondholders of mismanaged financial institutions (blame Paulson and Geithner ”“ I’ve got a lot of respect for our President, but he’s been sold a load of garbage by banking insiders). Meanwhile, I suspect that the little tapes in Bernanke’s head playing “we let the banks fail in the Great Depression” and “we let Lehman fail and look what happened” are so loud that he is making no distinction about the form of those failures. Simply letting an institution unravel is quite different from taking receivership, protecting the customers, keeping the institution intact, replacing management, properly taking the losses out of stockholder and bondholder capital, and issuing it back into private ownership at a later date. This is what it would mean for these banks to “fail.” Nobody is advocating an uncontrolled unraveling of major financial institutions or permanent nationalization as if we’ve suddenly become Venezuela.

Make no mistake. Buying up “troubled assets” will not materially ease this crisis, nor will it even improve the capital position of financial institutions (see You Can’t Rescue the Financial System if You Can’t Read a Balance Sheet). Homeowners will continue to default because their payment obligations have not been restructured to any meaningful extent. We are simply protecting the bondholders of mismanaged financial institutions, even though that bondholder capital is more than sufficient to cover the losses without harm to customers. Institutions that cannot survive without continual provision of public funds should be taken into receivership, their assets should be restructured to better ensure repayment, their stockholders should be wiped out, bondholders should take a major haircut, customer assets should (and will) be fully protected, and these institutions should be re-issued to the markets when the economy stabilizes.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Stock Market, The 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout Plan, The 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration Plan, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009, The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto Industry, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

A WSJ Editorial: The Charity Revolt

Among those shocked by President Obama’s 2010 budget, the most surprising are the true-blue liberals who run most of America’s nonprofits, universities and charities. How dare he limit tax deductions for charitable giving! They’re afraid they’ll get fewer donations, but they should be more concerned that Mr. Obama’s policies will shove them aside in favor of the New Charity State.

What did these nonprofit liberals expect, anyway? Mr. Obama is proposing a vast expansion of the entitlement state, and he has to find some way to pay for it. So logically enough, one of his ideas for funding public welfare is to reduce the tax benefit for private charity. His budget proposes to raise the top personal income tax rate to 39.6% in 2011 from 35%, and the 33% rate to 36% while reducing the tax benefit from itemized deductions for the top two brackets to 28% from 35% and 33%, respectively. The White House estimates the deduction reduction will yield $318 billion in revenue over 10 years.

From the Ivy League to the United Jewish Appeal, petitions and manifestos are in the works. The Independent Sector, otherwise eager to praise the Obama budget, worries the tax change “could be a disincentive to some donors.” According to the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, total itemized contributions from the highest income households would have dropped 4.8% — or $3.87 billion — in 2006 if the Obama policy had been in place. That year, Americans gave $186.6 billion to charity, more than 40% from those in the highest tax bracket. A back of the envelope calculation by the Tax Policy Center, a left-of-center think tank, estimates the Obama plan will reduce annual giving by 2%, or some $9 billion.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Budget, Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Economy, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Taxes, The U.S. Government

Peggy Noonan: A Tragedy of Errors, and an Accounting

The day after the report I heard from a young Naval aviator in predeployment training north of San Diego. He flies a Super Hornet, sister ship to the plane that went down. He said the Marine investigation “kept me up last night” because of how it contrasted with “the buck-passing we see” in the government and on Wall Street. He and his squadron were in range of San Diego television stations when they carried the report’s conclusions live. He’d never seen “our entire wardroom crowded around a television” before. They watched “with bated breath.” At the end they were impressed with the public nature of the criticism, and its candor: “There are still elements within the government that take personal responsibility seriously.” He found himself wondering if the Marines had been “too hard on themselves.” “But they are, after all, Marines.”

By contrast, he says, when the economy came crashing down, “nowhere did we see a board come out and say: ‘This is what happened, these are the decisions these particular people made, and this was the result. They are no longer a part of our organization.’ There was no timeline of events or laymen’s explanation of how a credit derivative was actually derived. We did not see congressmen get on television with charts and eviscerate their organization and say, ‘These were the men who in 2003 allowed Freddie and Fannie unlimited rein over mortgage securities.’ Instead we saw . . . everybody against everybody else with no one stepping forth and saying, ‘We screwed up.'” There is no one in national leadership who could convincingly “assign blame,” and no one “who could or would accept it.”

Read it all or you may also find it here.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, The 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout Plan, The 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration Plan, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto Industry, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package, The U.S. Government

Clergy Voices: Findings from the 2008 Mainline Protestant Clergy Voices Survey

It is a 35 page pdf file and it is worth the time to read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lutheran, Methodist, Other Churches, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture

An ENS Story on the recently Released U.S. Religious Survey

Robert P. Jones, the research group’s founder and president, said during a March 6 telephone briefing that the survey showed that Episcopal Church and UCC clergy were “really staking out more progressive views” than the rest of the clergy who responded.

The two denominations also led the list of those clergy who said they believe the U.S. government should do more to solve social problems (UCC clergy were at 90 percent, Episcopal clergy 87 percent)….

On Episcopal stances about specific issues, the survey showed that:

* 73 percent of Episcopal clergy said that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, compared to 51 percent of all clergy surveyed.

* 49 percent approved of same-gender marriage and another 38 percent supported allowing gay couples to enter into civil unions, compared with 33 percent and 32 percent, respectively, of all clergy surveyed.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Episcopal Church (TEC), Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Liaquat Ahamed: Subprime Europe

The 1931 collapse of the Austrian bank Creditanstalt provoked financial panic across Europe and almost single-handedly turned a bad downturn into the Great Depression.

Last week, when I read about the brewing European banking crisis, I suddenly began to dread that history might be repeating itself.

You might think that my worries are a bit late. After all, losses on subprime mortgages in the United States have already caused a Depression-like banking collapse.

Well, believe it or not, Europe’s current crisis is scarier.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Eastern Europe, Credit Markets, Economy, Europe, Globalization, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

President Obama's Remarks on Stem Cell Research

Medical miracles do not happen simply by accident. They result from painstaking and costly research, from years of lonely trial and error, much of which never bears fruit, and from a government willing to support that work. From life-saving vaccines, to pioneering cancer treatments, to the sequencing of the human genome — that is the story of scientific progress in America. When government fails to make these investments, opportunities are missed. Promising avenues go unexplored. Some of our best scientists leave for other countries that will sponsor their work. And those countries may surge ahead of ours in the advances that transform our lives.

In recent years, when it comes to stem cell research, rather than furthering discovery, our government has forced what I believe is a false choice between sound science and moral values. In this case, I believe the two are not inconsistent. As a person of faith, I believe we are called to care for each other and work to ease human suffering. I believe we have been given the capacity and will to pursue this research — and the humanity and conscience to do so responsibly.

It’s a difficult and delicate balance. And many thoughtful and decent people are conflicted about, or strongly oppose, this research. And I understand their concerns, and I believe that we must respect their point of view.

But after much discussion, debate and reflection, the proper course has become clear. The majority of Americans — from across the political spectrum, and from all backgrounds and beliefs — have come to a consensus that we should pursue this research; that the potential it offers is great, and with proper guidelines and strict oversight, the perils can be avoided.

That is a conclusion with which I agree. And that is why I am signing this executive order, and why I hope Congress will act on a bipartisan basis to provide further support for this research. We are joined today by many leaders who have reached across the aisle to champion this cause, and I commend all of them who are here for that work.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Science & Technology

Germany at odds with U.S. over crisis

Germany may be at the heart of any European response to a weakening world economy, but Germany’s heart is not in it.

As world leaders gear up for a London summit meeting on April 2 where they are supposed to settle upon a coordinated response to the global economic crisis, conflict is brewing between Europeans who see tighter regulation of a skewed financial system as the main task ahead and Americans who are focused on the more immediate challenge of countering the acute dropoff in economic activity across the globe.

The differences between Europe and the United States are most evident in Germany, where years of growth fueled by a mighty manufacturing base and a deep-seated suspicion of financial capitalism has spurred a powerful resistance to the Keynesian-style deficit-spending favored in Washington.

As the United States pushes to ensure that governments around the world are spending enough to replace the demand that has evaporated as U.S. consumers lead a global retrenchment, Germany is sticking to the relatively modest stimulus it has already approved.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Economy, Europe, Germany, Globalization, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Pastoral visitors plan ”˜is too little, too late’

American Church leaders claimed this week that the Archbishop of Canterbury’s new group of Pastoral Visitors is ”˜too little, too late’. As the number of lawsuits between the Episcopal Church (TEC) and breakaway conservative groups approaches 60, some say the initiative ”“ intended to help repair the torn fabric of the Anglican Communion ”“ lacks integrity.

The names of the bishops who will act as ”˜mediators’ were announced this week by Lambeth Palace. The statement said that the bishops had attended a meeting at Virginia Theological Seminary in the USA from February 25 ”“ 28. The purpose of the new group is to assist in healing the current tensions in the Anglican Communion by holding ”˜face to face’ meetings with church leaders in both the new American provinces and TEC.

But the Rev Philip Ashey, Chief Operating Officer for the American Anglican Council, a grouping of conservative Anglicanism, was deeply concerned about Lambeth’s response. Speaking from Atlanta, Georgia, he said: “Every pastoral visitor programme suggested so far has …[omitted] the participation of the parties who have been aggrieved, those people who have left TEC.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lambeth 2008, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts, Windsor Report / Process

A Statement by the Archbishop of Armagh on the Attacks at Massereene Barracks

From the Most Revd Alan Harper, OBE, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland:

The lethal attack on Massereene Barracks leaving two people dead and four injured is deeply distressing and deplorable. I send my heartfelt sympathy to those who have been bereaved or injured.

It has been clear for some time that there are forces of evil intent on destabilising our community and returning to days of confrontation such as we knew in the past but have been steadily working to move beyond. Across our community, efforts must be redoubled to create a respectful and inclusive society that ensures that there is no place in our midst for agents of terror. We remember those affected by this incident as we continue to pray for a sustained peace.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of Ireland, England / UK, Religion & Culture, Violence


Posted in Uncategorized

Religious Intelligence: US Church to be asked to make marriage service gender-neutral

The General Convention of the US Episcopal Church will be asked to authorize rites for the blessing of same-sex unions at their triennial meeting in July. On Jan 31 the Diocese of Newark synod endorsed a resolution asking the General Convention to amend the national Church’s canons governing Holy Matrimony, making them gender-neutral.

Newark’s Resolution 2009-05 asks the national church to amend Canon 18: Of the Solemnization of Holy Matrimony, substituting the words “two persons” where the words “a man and a woman” now appear, and to amend Canon 19: Of Regulations Respecting Holy Matrimony, to substitute the word “spouse” where the words “husband or wife” appear.

Delegates to the Newark synod also asked their diocesan clergy to henceforth record services solemnizing same-sex civil unions in the parish register “in a manner identical to the recording of marriages,” and stated the diocese’s intention of asking the national Church to amend its canons making this innovation church wide.

Read it all.

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

Niles Gardiner: Barack Obama must grow as a statesman if he is to lead the free world

No British leader in modern times has been greeted with less decorum by his American counterpart, and the amateur reception he received was more fitting for the arrival of a Third World potentate than the leader of America’s closest ally.

Brown is hugely unpopular in Britain ”“ with good reason ”“ but he is still the leader of the only nation in the world that the United States can rely on in war or time of crisis, which has consistently shed blood and expended treasure in numerous conflicts alongside America. A British Prime Minister deserves to be treated with respect, even he is a lame duck at home or is barely recognizable to much of the American public.

President Bush was frequently labeled a cowboy and an isolationist by his critics, but the Bush White House knew how to receive its guests (including traveling press corps) with tremendous dignity, respect for tradition and sincere warmth towards visitors who had traveled thousands of miles to be there.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., England / UK, Foreign Relations

Job Losses Hint at Vast Remaking of Economy

As government data revealed that 651,000 more jobs disappeared in February, a sense took hold that growing joblessness may reflect a wrenching restructuring of the American economy.

The unemployment rate surged to 8.1 percent, from 7.6 percent in January, its highest level in a quarter-century. In key industries ”” manufacturing, financial services and retail ”” layoffs have accelerated so quickly in recent months as to suggest that many companies are abandoning whole areas of business.

“These jobs aren’t coming back,” said John E. Silvia, chief economist at Wachovia in Charlotte, N.C. “A lot of production either isn’t going to happen at all, or it’s going to happen somewhere other than the United States. There are going to be fewer stores, fewer factories, fewer financial services operations. Firms are making strategic decisions that they don’t want to be in their businesses.”

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

Northern Michigan Episcopal bishop-elect brings diversity

If the dual roles put too much stress on Forrester, he has a good way to relieve it. He has been instructed in Zen Buddhist meditation and incorporates what he’s learned into his duties.

“It’s not a matter of holding two faiths. There’s one faith and it’s Christianity,” Forrester said. “The gift is that that faith is deepened by my meditative practice and I’m eternally grateful to Zen Buddhism for teaching me that practice and receiving me as an Episcopal priest.”

Not everyone sees it that way. Jeff Walton, a member of the Washington, D.C.-based Institute on Religion and Democracy, said Forrester’s Zen Buddhist theology conflicts with traditional Anglican belief.

“Buddhist theology emphasizes the accumulation of experiential knowledge. Adherents work to gain awareness of the universe, by which they attain a synthesis with nirvana,” he said. “Christianity emphasizes the importance of grace, that which God gives freely but is neither earned nor deserved. You cannot with integrity resolve a system in which salvation is earned, and one in which it is freely given.”

Read it all.

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

Conspicuous Consumption, a Casualty of Recession

It is a sign of the times when Sacha Taylor, a fixture on the charity circuit in this gala-happy city, digs out a 10-year-old dress to wear to a recent society party.

Or when Jennifer Riley, a corporate lawyer, starts patronizing restaurants that take coupons.

Or when Ethel Knox, the wife of a pediatrician, cleans out her home and her storage unit, gives away an old car to a needy friend and cancels the family Christmas. “I just feel so decadent with all the stuff I’ve got,” she explained.

This certainly is one positive outcome of all of this mess. Read it all.

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