Daily Archives: March 12, 2009

Washington Post: in South Carolina More Need, Less Help

The scenes here are now familiar in places deeply bruised by the recession: The Salvation Army gets so many calls from people desperate for help with overdue utility bills that, one morning, its phone system crashed. The Family Service Center of South Carolina is deluged with clients seeking free counseling for delinquent mortgages. And the shelves at the Life Force food pantry run out of rice, canned stew meat and black-eyed peas in less than an hour.

Yet in few places is the nonprofit sphere being tested as profoundly as in this Southern city — the capital of a state where, figures released yesterday show, the unemployment rate is now the second worst in the nation and conservative political leaders believe that charities, and not the government, should bear primary responsibility for people in need.

Gov. Mark Sanford (R) eschews the prevailing view in Washington that government money should be used as a salve to the economy and to people who have lost jobs. “At some level, government steps in to fill the void,” Sanford said in an interview, “but we ought to be the lender of last resort, not the first.”

Sanford and the Republican-led General Assembly have cut the state’s budget three times since last summer by a total of $871 million, or 13 percent — among the deepest reductions in the nation.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Economy, Politics in General, State Government, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

A Mind of the House Resolution from the Executive Council of the Diocese of Dallas

Passed unanmiously–KSH.

10 March 2009

The Executive Council of the Diocese of Dallas wishes to express its grave concern at the election of the Rev. Kevin Thew Forrester as the bishop of the Diocese of Northern Michigan and encourage the Standing Committee of this Diocese to withhold consent to his election to the episcopate for the following reasons:

1. The process by which Fr Forrester was elected raises significant concerns. There was no election in that diocese as Fr Forrester was the only candidate put forward. This Diocese consented to an election in the Diocese of Northern Michigan, not the appointment of the bishop by a small committee. In addition, Fr Forrester was a member of the search committee which selected him as the only candidate to lead an episcopal ministry team.

2. Fr Forrester has, by his own admission, received “lay ordination” within Zen Buddhism and has stated publically that he has “walk[ed] the path of Christianity and Zen Buddhism.” While Fr Forest has stated that “there is one faith and it is Christianity,” this connection raises grave concerns as to whether Fr Forrester would be able, as bishop, to guard and protect the Catholic Faith as this church has received it.

3. Resolution B033 of General Convention 2006 (The Election of Bishops) calls upon bishops with jurisdiction and Standing Committees “to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.” We understand “manner of life” to entail the public theological witness of a Christian bishop that hinders the proclamation and articulation of the Christian Gospel. It is clear that consent to Fr Forrester’s election would present a challenge to the wider church ”“ both within the Anglican Communion and with our ecumenical partners ”“ and also increase the strains on the communion.

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

ACI Statement on Civil Litigation

We note with concern the petition filed by the Presiding Bishop’s chancellor seeking to intervene in the ongoing litigation in Pittsburgh. The Anglican Communion Institute has posted several articles over the past year critical of actions of the Presiding Bishop which are widely perceived to be contrary to the constitution and canons of The Episcopal Church. In just the past year alone, she has called diocesan conventions on her own authority and held them without proper notice or quorums. She has dismissed members of diocesan Standing Committees without any authority to do so (or any due process). She has repeatedly removed bishops of The Episcopal Church (and the Church of England) without following proper procedures. Actions of the past contrary to the canons are used as precedents for further such actions.

The attempted intervention in Pittsburgh seeks to enlist the civil courts in a new and more serious challenge to the long-standing polity of The Episcopal Church. The complaint proffered by the Presiding Bishop’s chancellor seeks to turn The Episcopal Church’s governance on its head and asks the court to enshrine this reversal in civil law. It alleges that the polity of The Episcopal Church has as its highest tier of authority the central bodies of the Presiding Bishop, General Convention and Executive Council. Underneath this triumvirate on “the next level” are the dioceses and their bishops. Dioceses are explicitly characterized as “subordinate unit[s].”

These allegations could hardly be more incorrect.

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

Ryan T. Anderson: Preserving Marriage in Substance, Not Just Name

No longer seeing the point of public ratification of a strictly personal relationship, many people would cease to get or stay married. As the marriage rate fell, we would also see higher rates of divorce, cohabitation, and non-marital childbearing. As marriage came to be understood as simply a private relationship, the sense of its importance would erode. Traditional marriage would become one lifestyle and family choice among many ”” one that could not legitimately be given a privileged status in law. That would eliminate the ideal of marriage as the place to bear and rear children. We’ve already seen these developments in several European nations.

To take Kmiec’s reasoning to its logical conclusion entails state recognition of polygamy and polyamory. Some, no doubt, will cry that this is just extremist slippery-slope reasoning, but the conclusion follows strictly from Kmiec’s principle: If some religions favor polygamous and polyamorous relationships, and if the state is supposed to be neutral among competing voluntary arrangements of adults, then on what grounds could the state refuse to recognize polygamous and polyamorous civil unions?

No matter what, the law will teach. Either it will teach that marriage exists as a natural institution with the public purpose of joining one man and one woman as husband and wife, ready to become father and mother to their children; or it will teach that marriage (or whatever we now call it) is just a creation of the state meant to recognize adults’ private sexual choices and fulfill their desires. Neither option is neutral. And, contra Kmiec, neither is sectarian. But, for children and for society, only one is sound.

Read the whole thing.

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

William Cohan: A tsunami of excuses

“The events of the past months have shaken the foundation of our global financial system,” [John] Mack told Congress in February. “And they’ve made clear the need for profound change to that system. At Morgan Stanley, we’ve dramatically brought down our leverage, increased transparency, reduced our level of risk and made changes to how we pay people.”

He continued: “We didn’t do everything right. Far from it. And make no mistake: As the head of this firm, I take responsibility for our performance.”

Well, it’s a start. But there can be no restoration of confidence in the banking system ”” and therefore no hope for an economic recovery ”” until Wall Street comes clean.

If the executives responsible for what happened won’t step forward on their own, perhaps a subpeona-wielding panel along the lines of the 9/11 commission can be created to administer a little truth serum.

Read it all.

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

Anatole Kaletsky –It's an emergency: get your act together, Obama

This could be the week when the greatest financial crisis in history finally reached its nadir. Then again, it could merely be another week in which a brief rally in global stock markets has suckered more investors, politicians and commentators into assuming that the worst is over, when the tentative improvement in financial confidence is just another false dawn.

So which will it be? The answer depends, even more than usual, on the finance ministers and central bankers gathering at a potentially chaotic G20 meeting this weekend. The omens are not benign.

It is now understood that the global financial system can be stabilised and economic demand revived only through government intervention. Private businesses and consumers do not have the access to credit or the confidence to start spending and investing again. But government intervention will work only with some degree of international co-operation and that requires leadership from America. Yet despite the mandate won by President Obama, Washington has proved muddled in its economic priorities and indecisive in its financial response to the crisis.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Globalization, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

'Responsible middle' gets no help in crisis

Zach is feeling the icy fingers of the recession gripping his throat. He’s a small-business man with a retail store in New York and an investment in a small apartment renovation that hasn’t gotten a buyer. Suddenly, his income is down by 25 percent or so. He has a mortgage on the house in Brooklyn where he lives that he used to be able to afford, but now he’s dipping into his savings to the tune of $2,000 or $3,000 a month to cover his costs, and he’s worried.

So he called his mortgage bank to see what might be done. The answer was: not much, certainly nothing from any government plans to help homeowners get through the crisis. And for Zach, who’s never gone to the government for anything before, there’s a larger point in that fact.

To wit: If you’ve behaved responsibly and prudently all these years, you’re on your own. But if you’ve made colossal mistakes of greed and misjudgment ”” either by selling billions in mortgages to people who couldn’t afford to pay you back or by being one of the people whose eyes were bigger than their wallets”” you might just get rescued, at the expense of taxpayers like Zach.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Office of the President, Personal Finance, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration Plan, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Living Church: ACI, Communion Partner Bishops Mull Petition in Pittsburgh

A friend-of-the-court petition filed in the ongoing litigation in Pittsburgh by the Presiding Bishop’s chancellor represents a new, serious challenge to the long-standing polity of The Episcopal Church, according to a joint statement to be issued March 12 by the Anglican Communion Institute (ACI) and the Communion Partner bishops.

“The historic episcopate has long been recognized as an essential, non-negotiable element of Anglican identity,” the statement notes. “The polity of The Episcopal Church, clearly expressed in its name, its constitution and its history, is that of dioceses and bishops meeting in a general convention as equals. The Presiding Bishop and the Executive Council are the agents, not the superiors of dioceses.”

Read it all.

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

USA Today: Mental stress spirals with economy

As the economic crisis gathered steam last year, Americans became increasingly stressed out and experienced worsened mental health ”” a trend that continues today, according to a landmark Gallup-Healthways poll out this week.

Done nearly every day in 2008 and still ongoing, the survey of 355,334 people is believed to be the largest, longest and most thorough poll showing how emotional well-being shifts with economic changes.

The survey produces a so-called Emotional Health Index (EHI) ”” a measure that weighs negatives such as depression, worry and stress against the positive feelings a person experienced the day before the survey.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Psychology, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Hidden homeless: U.S. families living in motel rooms

Greg Hayworth, 44, graduated from Syracuse University and made a good living in his home state, California, from real estate and mortgage finance. Then that business crashed, and early last year the bank foreclosed on the house he was renting, forcing his family’s eviction.

Now the Hayworths and their three children represent a new face of homelessness in Orange County: formerly middle income, living week to week in a cramped motel room.

“I owe it to my kids to get out of here,” Hayworth said, recalling the night they saw a motel neighbor drag a half-naked woman out the door while he beat her.

As the recession has deepened, long-time workers who lost their jobs are facing the terror and stigma of homelessness for the first time, including those who have owned or rented for years. Some show up in shelters and on the streets, but others, like the Hayworths, are the hidden homeless living doubled up in apartments, in garages or in motels, uncounted in U.S. homeless data and often receiving little public aid.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Poverty, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Notable and Quotable

The Uniqueness and Universality of Christ

We affirm that there is only one Saviour and only one gospel, although there is a wide diversity of evangelistic approaches. We recognise that everyone has some knowledge of God through his general revelation in nature. But we deny that this can save, for people suppress the truth by their unrighteousness. We also reject as derogatory to Christ and the gospel every kind of syncretism and dialogue which implies that Christ speaks equally through all religions and ideologies. Jesus Christ, being himself the only God-man, who gave himself as the only ransom for sinners, is the only mediator between God and people. There is no other name by which we must be saved. All men and women are perishing because of sin, but God loves everyone, not wishing that any should perish but that all should repent. Yet those who reject Christ repudiate the joy of salvation and condemn themselves to eternal separation from God. To proclaim Jesus as “the Saviour of the world” is not to affirm that all people are either automatically or ultimately saved, still less to affirm that all religions offer salvation in Christ. Rather it is to proclaim God’s love for a world of sinners and to invite everyone to respond to him as Saviour and Lord in the wholehearted personal commitment of repentance and faith. Jesus Christ has been exalted above every other name; we long for the day when every knee shall bow to him and every tongue shall confess him Lord.

(Gal. 1:6-9;Rom. 1:18-32; I Tim. 2:5,6; Acts 4:12; John 3:16-19; II Pet. 3:9; II Thess. 1:7-9;John 4:42; Matt. 11:28; Eph. 1:20,21; Phil. 2:9-11)

–Paragraph 3 of the Lausanne Covenant (1974)

Posted in Christology, Theology

South Carolina: Becoming a Healthier Pastor/Becoming a Healthier Church

Two workshops will be held at St. Andrew’s, Mt. Pleasant, on March 12, prior to 218th Diocesan Convention. The Rev. Dr. Leander Harding will teach a workshop on “Becoming a Healthier Pastor,” for clergy from 10 a.m. until noon. After a break for “lunch on your own,” a second workshop, “Becoming a Healthier Church,” will be offered to clergy, lay delegates and lay leaders from 2 to 4 p.m. The workshops are open and no registration is necessary.

Dr. Harding teaches Pastoral Theology and is Head of Chapel at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylania. Ordained for 25 years, he has served in rural, suburban and urban parishes.

Read it all and pray for Dr. Harding and those participating.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils

WSJ: Obama, Geithner Get Low Grades From Economists

U.S. President Barack Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner received failing grades for their efforts to revive the economy from participants in the latest Wall Street Journal forecasting survey.

The economists’ assessment stands in stark contrast with Mr. Obama’s popularity with the public, with a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC poll giving him a 60% approval rating. A majority of the 49 economists polled said they were dissatisfied with the administration’s economic policies.

On average, they gave the president a grade of 59 out of 100, and although there was a broad range of marks, 42% of respondents rated Mr. Obama below 60. Mr. Geithner received an average grade of 51. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke scored better, with an average 71.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

Notable and Quotable

One cause of misery and vice is always present with us in the greed and pride of men, but at certain periods in history this is greatly increased by the temporary prevalence of some false philosophy. Correct thinking will not make good men of bad ones; but a purely theoretical error may remove ordinary checks to evil and deprive good intentions of their natural support. An error of this sort is abroad at present. I am not referring to the Power philosophies of the Totalitarian states, but to something that goes deeper and spreads wider and which, indeed, has given these Power philosophies their golden opportunity. I am referring to Subjectivism.

After studying his environment man has begun to study himself. Up to that point, he had assumed his own reason and through it seen all other things. Now, his own reason has become the object: it is as if we took out our eyes to look at them. Thus studied, his own reason appears to him as the epiphenomenona which accompanies chemical or electrical events in a cortex which is itself the by-product of a blind evolutionary process. His own logic, hitherto the king whom events in all possible worlds must obey, becomes merely subjective. There is no reason for supposing that it yields truth.

As long as this dethronement refers only to the theoretical reason, it cannot be wholehearted. The scientist has to assume the validity of his own logic (in the stout old fashion of Plato or Spinoza) even in order to prove that it is merely subjective, and therefore he can only flirt with subjectivism. It is true that this flirtation sometimes goes pretty far. There are modern scientists, I am told, who have dropped the words truth and reality out of their vocabulary and who hold that the end of their work is not to know what is there but simply to get practical results. This is, no doubt, a bad symptom. But, in the main, subjectivism is such an uncomfortable yokefellow for research that the danger, in this quarter, is continually counteracted.

But when we turn to practical reason the ruinous effects are found operating in full force. By practical reason I mean our judgement of good and evil. If you are surprised that I include this under the heading of reason at all, let me remind you that your surprise is itself one result of the subjectivism I am discussing. Until modern times no thinker of the first rank ever doubted that our judgements of value were rational judgements or that what they discovered was objective. It was taken for granted that in temptation passion was opposed, not to some sentiment, but to reason. Thus Plato thought, thus Aristotle, thus Hooker, Butler and Doctor Johnson. The modern view is very different. It does not believe that value judgements are really judgements at all. They are sentiments, or complexes, or attitudes, produced in a community by the pressure of its environment and its traditions, and differing from one community to another. To say that a thing is good is merely to express our feeling about it; and our feeling about it is the feeling we have been socially conditioned to have.

–C.S. Lewis, from “The Poison of Subjectivism” in Christian Reflections (Eerdmans: Grand Rapids, 1967), p. 72

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Theology

Mark Sanford rides stimulus attacks onto political radar screen

For a ballroom full of downhearted conservatives desperate for some good news, Mark Sanford had an odd message.

The South Carolina governor urged 1,000 activists, gathered in late February at the Ronald Reagan Banquet in a fancy Washington hotel, to be prepared to lose, and to feel happy about it ”” to “be happy warriors,” as he put it.

“Would you be willing to support a cause or a candidate that is likely to lose?” Sanford asked conventioneers at the Conservative Political Action Committee’s annual gathering.

Too much focus on winning, Sanford said, leads to compromise and the abandonment of conservative principles.

As the diners leapt to their feet and applauded, Sanford declared:

“The name of the game is staying true to the principles that got you into politics in the first place ”” and letting the chips fall where they may.”

Over the past three months, Sanford’s criticism of President Barack Obama’s $787 billion economic-stimulus plan has transformed him from a conservative Republican governor little-known outside South Carolina to a political powerhouse with a growing profile among party stalwarts nationwide.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Economy, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, State Government, The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009

Mark Galli: On the Lasting Evangelical Survival

The Internet is abuzz with the latest prognostications about “the coming evangelical collapse.” This is the substance of three blog posts over at Internet Monk (a.k.a. Michael Spencer), who predicts said collapse in ten years. When his thoughts got picked up and condensed by the Christian Science Monitor and then the Drudge Report ”” well, you can just imagine the electronic excitement.

The title of Spencer’s posts spoils the ending; still, many of the details are interesting. I’ve made many of the same observations in this column. For example, Spencer writes, “Expect evangelicalism as a whole to look more and more like the pragmatic, therapeutic, church-growth-oriented megachurches that have defined success. The determination to follow in the methodological steps of numerically successful churches will be greater than ever. The result will be, in the main, a departure from doctrine to more and more emphasis on relevance, motivation and personal success.” My only caveat here is to wonder if this is a future or present reality.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

Duke Divinity Students forge ties in wake of schism

When the students of the Anglican Episcopal House of Studies at Duke University speak about their community, they often speak of friendship and pain in the same sentence.

At the AEHS, part of Duke Divinity School, future church leaders pray together, take communion together, share classes and meals and conversation. Most are preparing for ordination as deacons or priests.

Yet despite their common goals, recent controversies in the Episcopal Church have complicated their sense of unity, particularly about the role of gay clergy and some dioceses’ decision to bless same-sex marriages.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Latest News, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Seminary / Theological Education, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts, Theology

Consultation in Sudan explores engagement with Muslims, living together with respect and harmony

(ACNS) Participants included bishops, clergy and lay people, both men and women, of ECS along with representatives of the Sudan Council of Churches and CMS. There was a representative from the Ministry of Religious Affairs. Presentations were made on inter faith relations in each of seven clustered areas, covering the whole Province. Based on the presentations and the discussion which followed, a number of areas for consultation and dialogue ecumenically and with Muslim partners emerged: the relationship between the churches and the National Government; a review of provision for Christian teaching and curriculum in schools; devising an inter faith curriculum in theological institutions; issues concerning the safety and dignity of women and children; increased local interaction between Christians and Muslims to develop mutual understanding and respect, and to safeguard permanent prosperity.

Future immediate work will concern the strengthening of ecumenical relationships within the Sudan ”“ nationally and regionally ”“ clustered inter faith workshops with Muslim people. The Commission recognised the importance of positioning inter faith dialogue within the contexts of identity, mission and witness. It further recognised he interconnectedness of the dialogue of life and the dialogue of ideas.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Episcopal Church of the Sudan, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Sudan

Now-needy FDIC collected little in premiums

The federal agency that insures bank deposits, which is asking for emergency powers to borrow up to $500 billion to take over failed banks, is facing a potential major shortfall in part because it collected no insurance premiums from most banks from 1996 to 2006….

Congress believed that the fund was so well-capitalized – and that bank failures were so infrequent – that there was no need to collect the premiums for a decade, according to banking officials and analysts.

Ugh. Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, 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