By acting together to fulfil these pledges we will bring the world economy out of recession and prevent a crisis like this from recurring in the future.
Daily Archives: April 2, 2009
Attempting to bridge deep divides in policy and financial philosophy, the leaders of nearly two dozen of the world’s largest economies agreed Thursday to a broad array of new fiscal and regulatory steps, in a desperate effort to revive the paralyzed global economy.
At the conclusion of the first economic summit meeting to rivet world attention in decades, Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain announced that the leaders had committed to $1.1 trillion in additional loans and guarantees to finance trade and bail out troubled countries.
But the funds he announced are well short of a direct injection of stimulus into the world’s economic bloodstream ”” the result of a continuing division between continental Europe and much of the rest of the world over whether to act now or wait see how current spending measures take effect.
“This is the day the world came together to fight against the global recession,” Mr. Brown declared. “Our message today is clear and certain: we believe global problems require global solutions.”
So, presented with an eviscerated version of Christianity on the one hand, and a sincere expression of Buddhism and Islam on the other hand–in the midst of a pluralistically, multiculturally-oriented church where merely being a “spiritual person” is enough to become a priest, and you have what we are seeing in Kevin Thew Forrester and Ann Holmes Redding.
But the ultimate responsibility for these two examples (and, to repeat myself, countless others like them that aren’t in the spotlight) lies with the parishes that raised them up, the clergy who mentored them, the discernment process that sent them toward ordination, the seminaries that trained them, and the Bishops who ordained them. You cannot raise up true leaders in a faith that you yourselves do not possess. And that is the real tragedy of this whole affair.
The nation’s accounting board agreed today to give more leeway to banks when assigning a dollar value to distressed assets, following an aggressive lobbying campaign by lawmakers and the financial industry to change the rules.
The move by the Financial Accounting Standards Board revises fair value, or mark-to-market, accounting, which has been blamed for exacerbating the financial crisis by forcing banks to value home loans and other assets below their worth.
But defenders of fair value accounting say it gives investors a transparent accounting of the real value of assets held by banks. Changing the rules, some say, will only give banks the chance to conceal how bad their financial conditions are.
It was a dramatic show of muscle, targeting two of the erstwhile Big Three, and the economic mainstay of the city of Detroit and the state of Michigan, which rank among the top five political pillars of the Democratic Party. Michigan’s Democratic governor, Jennifer Granholm, protested that Wagoner was being made a scapegoat. But Sen. Carl Levin commented that when Obama met with members of the Michigan delegation, he made plain that “there wasn’t much point in arguing whether or not it was fair or unfair, wise or unwise. It was a decision that he didn’t ask us about; he informed us.”
You can hear in the comments of Levin and other members of Congress the sounds of grudging admiration for a fellow politician who has shown them he has more backbone than they expected.
Britain predicted on Thursday that world leaders would bridge their differences on steps to recover from the deepest global economic downturn since World War II, as President Obama and his counterparts from more than 20 industrial and developing countries began a day of talks here.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who greeted Mr. Obama and the other leaders in a seemingly endless cavalcade of motorcades, said the Group of 20 had agreed to tough language against protectionism, including a pledge to “name and shame” countries that erect trade barriers.
Negotiators from the United States and Europe worked frantically to hash out an agreement on new regulations, a day after France and Germany signaled a rift over the level of scrutiny that regulators should have over hedge funds and global financial institutions.
When Muslim, Christian and Jewish leaders in Omaha, Neb., broached the idea of trying to construct a shared facility, they shared one common early fear. It wasn’t politics, fundamentalism or even doctrinal differences.
“It turned out the biggest fear they all had was evangelism,” said Nancy Kirk, director of the two-year-old Tri-Faith Initiative, “that one group would try to get another group to cross the line.”
Yet once a “no proselytizing” rule was in place, leaders from the three congregations gave the green light toward creating a space where all three groups could grow to appreciate””and even respect””each other’s traditions.
The outgoing Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Rev Graham Dow, delivers the broadside at the non-believers in the April issue of his diocesan news. And as he sounds the triumphant note about the truth of Christianity, he asserts that over half a century of living “in touch with Jesus” has brought him “untold joy”. Bishop Dow, who will be 67 in July, makes the declaration in an article headed “Get A Life! – the Atheists’ Way or the Christian Way?”
He declares: “The notion that science has disproved – or will one daydisprove – the existence of God is one of the great lies of our generation.
“Even if it is remotely possible that the perfect conditions on earth for human existence could have happened by sheer statistical luck – in a system with many universes and with billions of billions of planets – there is no sign of any scientific explanation as to why the raw materials of the universe existed at all.”
God has placed the U.S. Church in a situation of enormous risk.It is a risk brought on mostly because of policies and attitudes rooted in a conviction of exceptionalism, but nevertheless a risk that is deep and broad, and generative of enormous anxiety…I understand, of course, that there is no easy interface between the contemporary “Big Sort” and scripture, but will seek to make a useful connection through this thesis: The temptation to exclusionary absolutism is an old and deep and recurring seduction in the community of faith. But one can also detect scriptural strategies””by which I mean interpretive strategies undertaken by those who put the Bible together””that seek to resist off such exclusionary absolutism that is characteristically rooted in anxiety. I will use my time and energy to consider three such interpretive strategies, with the suggestion that these same strategies are now available in our interpretive practices and may be useful in present circumstance for the sustenance and maintenance of church unity and church fidelity.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon warned Thursday that failing to act to halt the global economic crisis could lead to widespread social unrest and failed states, ahead of the G20 crisis summit here.
“What began as a financial crisis has become a global economic crisis,” the UN secretary general wrote in an article in the Guardian newspaper.
“I fear worse to come — a full-blown political crisis defined by growing social unrest, weakened governments and angry publics who have lost all faith in their leaders and their own future.”
In his reply to Mr. [John] Vanderstar, Bishop Howe said he had not initiated the board’s resolution to disassociate from the RCRC, but that he fully supported it.
“I am, frankly, deeply embarrassed that the Executive Council adopted this affiliation in the first place,” Bishop Howe said. He added that he would share the documents Mr. Vanderstar had included with his letter.
Bishop Howe noted that he is a past president and chairman of the board of the organization now known as Anglicans for Life, and he included with his letter a copy of a 1988 General Convention resolution he helped sponsor, which placed a number of conditions on when an abortion was morally permissible for a Christian. Bishop Howe noted that the resolution was abandoned by convention three years later.
Why is Thew Forrester’s teaching troubling to me? Because it flies in the face of what I take to be the conviction at the heart of our faith tradition, namely, that we are in bondage to sin and cannot get free without the rescue God has offered us in Jesus, who shouldered our sins on the cross. Our tradition certainly declares God’s closeness to us and God’s love for us, but insists that this is solely due to God’s gracious initiative, made known to us in Jesus. In other words, Jesus in his singular closeness to God is as much a reminder of our alienation from God and from God’s ways as he is God’s word to us that we are loved despite our collective wrongdoings.
I would not worry about this so much if Thew Forrester were merely speculating about alternative ways of understanding the Christian faith. I would not even worry so much if it were simply a matter of the content of a number of sermons (although I think we should expect to be accountable for what we preach). But, as his revision of the Baptismal rite makes clear, he appears to be settled in his conviction that our relation to Christ is not about salvation from a condition of objective alienation from God, but about a more realized union with God.
What is encouraging here is not only does the Bishop vote the right way, but he does so for the right reasons. This is about a lot of things, but primarily it is about Christology, the Trinity, salvation and atonement. Read it all–KSH.
One change would allow banks much more room to conclude that inactive markets are distressed, allowing them to value the assets at what they believe they would be worth in a normal market. The other change would let banks avoid reporting some of the impairment losses on their income statements.
Some financial institutions want immediate action. The Association of Corporate Credit Unions asked the board to make the change retroactive, so that 2008 annual reports could be restated. Whatever the details of the proposal adopted Thursday, it represents an abrupt turnabout for the board. Only a day before the Congressional hearing on March 12, Mr. Herz gave an interview in which he disparaged what he called “mark to management” accounting. But after the Congressional grilling, the board quickly moved to make it much easier for banks to value assets at what they should be worth, rather than what they were currently selling for.
The CFA Institute reacted bitterly to that about-face. “Continuing on the path of politicized accounting standard-setting that caters to special interests,” it wrote, would make it hard for the board “to maintain its credibility.”
In some ways, the reversal is similar to one that the board made more than a decade ago, when it backed down under Congressional pressure from a rule requiring that companies report the value of stock options as an expense. That rule was revived only after corporate scandals early in this decade.
[Bishop Geralyn] Wolf found Redding to be “a woman of utmost integrity and their conversations over the past two years have been open, honest and respectful,” according to a press release from the Diocese of Rhode Island.
“However, Bishop Wolf believes that a priest of the Church cannot be both a Christian and a Muslim….”
…to others, Redding is an example of what they see as a church that has strayed too far from its doctrinal and historical center.
The Rev. Kendall Harmon, the canon theologian with the Diocese of South Carolina who also runs the traditionalist blog TitusOneNine, said Redding should be commended, on one level, for having the integrity to be upfront about what she believes.
But what’s at stake is central to the church, he said. “To be a Christian is to be a Trinitarian and worship Jesus. If we’re not clear on that, we have nothing to offer in our witness.”
But despite calls for unity from Mr. Obama and the British prime minister, Gordon Brown ”” the host of the Group of 20 meeting that formally begins Thursday ”” the French and German leaders held a joint, and combative, news conference to underscore their differences with the Anglo-American approach to the crisis.
While President Nichoals Sarkozy of France did not repeat an earlier threat to walk out of the conference ”” “I just got here,” he joked ”” he made it clear he would reject an agreement that puts off stringent new regulations on banks, tax havens, and hedge funds.
“The decisions need to be taken now, today and tomorrow,” Mr. Sarkozy said. “This has nothing to do with ego. This has nothing to do with temper tantrums. When it comes to historic moments, you can’t circumvent them.”
In 2006, the world produced 161 exabytes (an exabyte is 1 quintillion bytes) of digital data, according to Columbia Journalism Review. Put in perspective, that’s 3 million times the information contained in all the books ever written. By next year, the number is expected to reach 988 exabytes.
The massive explosion of information has made us all a little batty. Just ask the congressional assistants who field frantic phone calls from constituents.
“Everybody’s come unhinged,” one told me recently. “They think we’re going to hell in a handbasket. And maybe we are.”
The unknowableness of current circumstances, combined with a lack of trust in our institutions, may partly be to blame for our apparent info-insatiability. People sense that they need to know more in order to understand an increasingly complex world.