Daily Archives: April 19, 2009

Lee Pringle: Visionary thinker has passion for music

He is utterly in charge, greeting members of the choir as they arrive, coordinating adjustments to the risers, smiling, joking, scolding, talking with a latecomer on the cell phone, selling tickets, writing something on his clipboard, reviewing the draft of the program to be distributed at the concert, and all the while thinking about several upcoming engagements, the need to stay healthy and in good voice, the many tasks yet to be done.

‘Show me that diva posture!’ he tells one woman. ‘We sent ya that a loooong time ago,’ he says to another, in a Gullah accent. ‘I’m only doing a million things in a day,’ he tells a visitor.

Having thrown into the air an armful of balls, Lee Pringle sits in the first pew at Citadel Square Baptist Church working diligently to keep them there. It is what he does. Then, 10 or 15 minutes after rehearsal was supposed to start, Pringle announces that the rainy weather has held them up long enough; it’s time to start.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Music, Religion & Culture

George Will: Potemkin Country

Martin Walker of the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, writing in the Wilson Quarterly (“The World’s New Numbers”), notes that Russia’s declining fertility is magnified by “a phenomenon so extreme that it has given rise to an ominous new term — hypermortality.” Because of rampant HIV/AIDS, extreme drug-resistant tuberculosis, alcoholism and the deteriorating health-care system, a U.N. report says “mortality in Russia is three to five times higher for men and twice as high for women” as in other countries at a comparable stage of development. The report, Walker says, “predicts that within little more than a decade the working-age population will be shrinking by up to 1 million people annually.” Be that as it may, “Russia is suffering a demographic decline on a scale that is normally associated with the effects of a major war.”

According to projections by the United Nations Population Division, Russia’s population, which was around 143 million four years ago, might be as high as 136 million or as low as 121 million in 2025, and as low as 115 million in 2030.

Marx envisioned the “withering away” of the state under mature communism. Instead, Eberstadt writes, the world may be witnessing the withering away of Russia, where Marxism was supposed to be the future that works. Russia, he writes, “has pioneered a unique new profile of mass debilitation and foreshortened life previously unknown in all of human history.”

“History,” he concludes, “offers no examples of a society that has demonstrated sustained material advance in the face of long-term population decline.” Demography is not by itself destiny, but it is more real than an arms control “process” that merely expresses the liberal hope of taming the world by wrapping it snugly in parchment.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Europe, Foreign Relations, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Russia

A Picture: Our Son Nathaniel Heads to the Prom

How do they grow up so fast. His girlfriend, Francesca, is accompanying him..

Posted in * By Kendall, Harmon Family

In North Carolina Earth Day observance emphasizes recycling

St. Francis Episcopal Church is observing Earth Day early this week with a Monday night covered dish dinner and distribution of reusable bags.

Outreach Chairman Harriet Pegram said attendees will receive one of 100 reusable bags donated by Wal-Mart to take to the churches in their community. The church already has distributed bags donated by earlier this year.

Mrs. Pegram said the project is part of the 15-year Millennium Development Project developed by world leaders in 2000 to reduce poverty and boost renewable energy. One of the eight goals developed was to ensure environmental sustainability.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, TEC Parishes

Mental Illness, the Musical, Aims for Truth

Mental illness on the stage and screen is often portrayed in extreme ways, and not just for dramatic effect. In Western culture psychic pain has tended to be seen as the territory of the artist, visionary, rebel and genius, from Emily Dickinson to Sylvia Plath and Friedrich Nietzsche to John Forbes Nash Jr. So it should be no surprise that madness is often used to signify creativity, sensitivity or spiritual and intellectual depth.

In “Proof,” for instance, a troubled math prodigy fears she will unravel like her brilliant father, and in “Equus,” recently revived on Broadway, an emotionally flattened psychiatrist envies his young patient’s creative religious passion, however warped. In “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” mental illness is portrayed as the only refuge of the social misfit.

“Depression can appear to embody an aesthetic or moral or even political stance,” the author and psychologist Peter D. Kramer writes in his book “Against Depression.” In our culture, he added, it “is what tuberculosis was 100 years ago: illness that signifies refinement.”

Brian Yorkey, 38, and Tom Kitt, 35, the creators of “next to normal,” were keenly aware of that romantic strain and studiously worked to avoid it. “Someone said to make her a painter,” Mr. Yorkey said of the protagonist, Diana. “I said no. She’s a suburban mother.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Psychology, Theatre/Drama/Plays

Religion and Ethics Weekly: Rwandan Reconciliation

Today Rwanda is a much different place thanks, in part, to this man””Anglican Bishop John Rucyahana

Bishop JOHN RUCYAHANA (Chairman, Prison Fellowship Rwanda): People are smiling because they have the hope, but the wounds and the healing is a process that we’ll continue to engage deliberately to tell people that they just can’t cover it up. We need to be able to unearth it and deal with it head on.

[LUCKY] SEVERSON: That’s what the bishop has been preaching from the pulpit of his beautiful church in northern Rwanda since the killing stopped: deal with it head on. And it was personal for him. How could it not be after so many members of his extended family were murdered, including his niece?

Bishop RUCYAHANA: I have forgiven those who killed my niece, and they peeled off the flesh off her arms to the wrist, and they left bare bones, and they gang-raped her, and I forgive them because forgiving is not only benefiting the criminal, it benefits me.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Church of Rwanda, Pastoral Theology, Rwanda, Theology, Violence

Bank Regulators Clash Over U.S. Stress-Tests Endgame

The U.S. Treasury and financial regulators are clashing with each other over how to disclose results from the stress tests of 19 U.S. banks, with some officials concerned at potential damage to weaker institutions.

With a May 4 deadline approaching, there is no set plan for how much information to release, how to categorize the results or who should make the announcements, people familiar with the matter said. While the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and other regulators want few details about the assessments to be publicized, the Treasury is pushing for broader disclosure.

The disarray highlights what threatens to be a lose-lose situation for Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner: If all the banks pass, the tests’ credibility will be questioned, and if some banks get failing grades and are forced to accept more government capital and oversight, they may be punished by investors and customers.

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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, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

George Pell: Choice, not condoms, make the difference with AIDS

At least 25 per cent of the services and care for people with HIV/AIDS in Africa is provided by the Catholic Church. While the role of a church is different from government, which has to legislate and organise for people of all religions as well as those without, both are required to respect the evidence and good moral values in the programs they deliver.

Catholics are not obliged to protest publicly against every harm minimisation program, even when the church urges her members not to participate. In the same way, governments and non-Catholic aid agencies can and will continue to hand out condoms in HIV/AIDS programs, although the evidence suggests they may on balance be exacerbating the problem.

But all of us who want to help prevent and reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS need to respect the evidence about what helps and what doesn’t. And the evidence is that it’s not condoms which make the crucial difference, but the choices people make about how they use the gift of sexuality.

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, Other Churches, Roman Catholic

Bono: It’s 2009. Do You Know Where Your Soul Is?

The preacher said, “What good does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?” Hearing this, every one of the pilgrims gathered in the room asked, “Is it me, Lord?” In America, in Europe, people are asking, “Is it us?”

Well, yes. It is us.

Carnival is over. Commerce has been overheating markets and climates … the sooty skies of the industrial revolution have changed scale and location, but now melt ice caps and make the seas boil in the time of technological revolution. Capitalism is on trial; globalization is, once again, in the dock. We used to say that all we wanted for the rest of the world was what we had for ourselves. Then we found out that if every living soul on the planet had a fridge and a house and an S.U.V., we would choke on our own exhaust.

Lent is upon us whether we asked for it or not. And with it, we hope, comes a chance at redemption.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Religion & Culture

(London) Times: Israel stands ready to bomb Iran's nuclear sites

The Israeli military is preparing itself to launch a massive aerial assault on Iran’s nuclear facilities within days of being given the go-ahead by its new government.

Among the steps taken to ready Israeli forces for what would be a risky raid requiring pinpoint aerial strikes are the acquisition of three Airborne Warning and Control (AWAC) aircraft and regional missions to simulate the attack.

Two nationwide civil defence drills will help to prepare the public for the retaliation that Israel could face.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Foreign Relations, Iran, Israel, Middle East, Military / Armed Forces

Connecticut Episcopal Church Rector Out Of Surgery After Maine Hiking Fall

The Rev. Jeffrey S. Dugan, pastor at St. James Episcopal Church, is recovering today from surgery after suffering a broken thigh bone Wednesday in a fall at Acadia National Park in Maine.

Dugan, who’s been at St. James for nearly two decades, was hiking at the park when he fell, according to a report in the Bangor Daily News. Lois Wack, the church administrator, said that Dugan was at the park with his daughter.

Wack said that Dugan’s wife, Betty, went to Maine to join her daughter and husband, who was heavily sedated.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Departing Parishes

Church of England Newspaper: Presiding Bishop ”¦ ”˜Jesus is not the only way to God’

JESUS is a way, but not the only way to salvation, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Most Rev Katharine Jefferts Schori has told members of the Diocese of Quincy….

“If Billy Graham or Pope Benedict” were asked the questions the presiding bishop were asked, they would respond that “Jesus is the way, the truth and life,” South Carolina theologian Canon Kendall Harmon said. In a time of doctrinal confusion, “good leadership claims its particular identity from the stability of its historical faith,” he argued.

“It’s the leadership of this church giving up the unique claims of Christianity,” Canon Harmon said. “They act like it’s Baskin-Robbins. You just choose a different flavour and everyone gets in the store.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Christology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Quincy, Theology