Daily Archives: April 27, 2009

Study Shows Americans Leave Religion Due to Drift, Not Rupture

More Americans have given up their faith or changed religions because of a gradual spiritual drift than switched because of a disillusionment over their churches’ policies, according to a new study released today which illustrates how personal spiritual attitudes are taking precedence over denominational traditions.

The survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life is the first large-scale study of the reasons behind Americans switching their religious faith and found that more than half of people have done so at least once during their lifetime.

Almost three-quarters of Catholics and Protestants who are now unaffiliated with a religion said they had “just gradually drifted away” from their faith. And more than three-quarters of Catholics and half of Protestants currently not associated with a faith said that, over time, they stopped believing in their religion’s teachings.

Read it all.

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

Charlie Rose–a Good Discussion on the Economy

A conversation about the economy with Bill Ackman, major investor and hedge fund manager of Pershing Square Capital Management LP, Kate Kelly, Andrew Ross Sorkin and Joe Stiglitz, economist and a member of Columbia University faculty.

Watch 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--

CDC says virus spreading person to person


Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine

AP: Pope Benedict XVI names 5 new saints

Pope Benedict XVI canonized five new saints Sunday, including Portugal’s 14th century independence leader and a nearly blind Italian monk who died of the plague after tending to the sick.

Benedict presided over the ceremony in a packed St. Peter’s Square, decorated with tapestries featuring pictures of each of the five. He praised each as a model for the faithful and said their lives and work were as relevant today as they were some 700 years ago.

Benedict singled out the Rev. Arcangelo Tadini, who lived at the turn of the last century and founded an order of nuns to tend to factory workers at the dawn of the industrial era. Tadini also created an association to provide emergency loans to workers experiencing financial difficulties.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

Mark Taylor: End the University as We Know It

The emphasis on narrow scholarship also encourages an educational system that has become a process of cloning. Faculty members cultivate those students whose futures they envision as identical to their own pasts, even though their tenures will stand in the way of these students having futures as full professors.

The dirty secret of higher education is that without underpaid graduate students to help in laboratories and with teaching, universities couldn’t conduct research or even instruct their growing undergraduate populations. That’s one of the main reasons we still encourage people to enroll in doctoral programs. It is simply cheaper to provide graduate students with modest stipends and adjuncts with as little as $5,000 a course ”” with no benefits ”” than it is to hire full-time professors.

In other words, young people enroll in graduate programs, work hard for subsistence pay and assume huge debt burdens, all because of the illusory promise of faculty appointments. But their economical presence, coupled with the intransigence of tenure, ensures that there will always be too many candidates for too few openings.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education

More Atheists Shout It From the Rooftops

Two months after the local atheist organization here put up a billboard saying “Don’t Believe in God? You Are Not Alone,” the group’s 13 board members met in Laura and Alex Kasman’s living room to grapple with the fallout.

The problem was not that the group, the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry, had attracted an outpouring of hostility. It was the opposite. An overflow audience of more than 100 had showed up for their most recent public symposium, and the board members discussed whether it was time to find a larger place.

And now parents were coming out of the woodwork asking for family-oriented programs where they could meet like-minded nonbelievers.

Read it all.

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

JammieWearingFool: Newspaper Circulation Crumbles

The Audit Bureau of Circulations released this morning the spring figures for the six months ending March 31, 2009, showing that the largest metros continue to shed daily and Sunday circulation — now at a record rate.

According to ABC, for 395 newspapers reporting this spring, daily circulation fell 7% to 34,439,713 copies, compared with the same March period in 2008. On Sunday, for 557 newspapers, circulation was down 5.3% to 42,082,707. These averages do not include 84 newspapers with circulations below 50,000 due to a change in publishing frequency.

Read it all.

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

On The Economy, Obama Gets Mixed Marks

The habit of assessing a president’s accomplishments after his first 100 days in office goes back to the first administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt. In his first 100 days, Roosevelt laid the foundations for the New Deal. It’s an impossible standard to meet, says former Federal Reserve vice chairman Alan Blinder.

“I often say that Roosevelt cursed future presidents with the 100 days concept. … It’s just too short,” Blinder says.

In normal times, new presidents can’t hope to match Roosevelt’s accomplishments. In that regard, Obama has an advantage. These aren’t normal times. In fact, they’re the most challenging economic times since the Great Depression. So challenging, says Douglas Holtz-Eakin, John McCain’s former top economic adviser, that Obama began to influence economic policy even before he was inaugurated.

“This is the longest first hundred days, at least in my lifetime,” Holtz-Eakin says. “President Obama actually became the leader right after his election.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, 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

Episcopal Church resembles 'Peace Corps in ecclesiastical drag'

A veteran newspaper columnist and longtime member of the Episcopal Church USA says the denomination has cheerfully given up truth to placate a relativistic culture.

William Murchison’s new book is called Mortal Follies: Episcopalians and the Crisis of Mainline Christianity. He says the denomination, like other churches of the American mainline, seems to be in a mad dash to catch up with a secular culture that values self-expression and does not want to promote the holy and just God of the Bible.

Read it all.

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

A.S. Haley on the ACI Bishops Statement and Email Leak Kerfuffle

Viewed as a political prize, however, the Church ceases to be a Church. Its mission is being determined by politics rather than under the governance of the Holy Spirit. So long as the battle rages for the prize, the fiction that it is a Church has to be maintained at all costs, because no one who could affect the outcome must realize what is at stake. And with the publicizing of views like those expressed in the Bishops’ Statement, the risk is now great that the momentum so carefully accumulated over the years will be seen for what it is: nothing more (or less) than a political attempt to take over a money machine.

And that is why the Bishops, the ACI and its lawyer have received the treatment they did. Only those who are plotting already can regard the publication of such a power-renouncing statement of subsidiarity as “an unprecedented power grab by anti-gay bishops who will assert they are not bound by the Episcopal Church’s governing body: General Convention.”

The spectacle of taking over a church politically, of even speaking in terms of a church “power-grab”, is so antithetical to the essence of a church that in the end it must be self-defeating.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Identity, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention, TEC Conflicts

RNS: Berliners' Votes to Decide on Option of Religion, Ethics Classes

Once divided by communism, Berliners are now split over faith as they head to the polls Sunday (April 26) to consider whether to offer public school students the choice of taking religion or ethics classes.

Until now, ethics courses have been mandatory for students in the German capital, thanks to a 2006 measure introduced out of concern about Muslim radicalism after an honor killing of a Turkish girl the year before. By contrast religion classes have been optional, making Berlin an exception in Germany, where most states include them in the public school curriculum.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Germany, Religion & Culture, Theology

AP: Presbyterians Vote Against Allowing Same Sex Partnered Clergy

Efforts to allow gays and lesbians to serve as clergy in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) have been defeated again, sealed by votes Saturday.

But the margin of defeat — the final tally has yet to be determined — is already guaranteed to be much closer than in previous years. That is encouraging for gay clergy supporters and concerning to opponents, with both sides expecting the issue to be revisited in the future.

Last summer, the 2.3 million-member denomination’s General Assembly voted to drop a constitutional requirement that would-be ministers, deacons and elders live in “fidelity within the covenant of marriage between and a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness.”

Any such change requires approval by a majority of the nation’s 173 presbyteries, or regional church bodies. Those votes have been trickling in for months, and on Saturday enough “no” votes had been recorded to clinch the measure’s defeat.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Presbyterian, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

Countries race to contain swine flu outbreak

New Zealand reported suspected swine flu cases Monday in a second group of teenage students returning from Mexico, as Asian nations with potent memories of SARS and bird flu outbreaks screened travelers for fever with thermal scanners.

Hong Kong assigned a team of scientists to find a quick test for the latest virus to raise global fears of a pandemic, following confirmed human cases of the disease in Mexico, United States and Canada.

More than 100 people in Mexico are believed to have died from the new flu and more than 1,600 sickened, prompting widespread school closures and other measures.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine

WSJ: Raising Bill Gates

The battles reached a climax at dinner one night when Bill Gates was around 12. Over the table, he shouted at his mother, in what today he describes as “utter, total sarcastic, smart-ass kid rudeness.”

That’s when Mr. Gates Sr., in a rare blast of temper, threw the glass of water in his son’s face.

He and Mary brought their son to a therapist. “I’m at war with my parents over who is in control,” Bill Gates recalls telling the counselor. Reporting back, the counselor told his parents that their son would ultimately win the battle for independence, and their best course of action was to ease up on him.

This ran on the front page of Saturday’s Wall Street Journal and was cited by yours truly in yesterday’s sermon. Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Marriage & Family

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Make me to know thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me, for thou art the God of my salvation; for thee I wait all the day long.

–Psalm 25: 4,5

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Scientists and ethicists unite to attack doctor's clone plan

Scientists and medical ethicists yesterday condemned the controversial fertility doctor Panayiotis Zavos for transferring cloned human embryos into the wombs of four women.

Dr Zavos claimed in an interview with The Independent that he had created 14 cloned human embryos and transferred 11 of them into the wombs of the four women, who wanted to give birth to cloned babies, although none of them had become pregnant.

Leading figures in the fertility world, including Lord Winston of Imperial College London, poured scorn on Dr Zavos’s claims, saying he had not produced any scientific evidence to support his statements, which critics said can only be done by publishing the work in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, Life Ethics, Science & Technology, Theology

David Broder: Obama Should Stand Against Prosecutions

If ever there were a time for President Obama to trust his instincts and stick to his guns, that time is now, when he is being pressured to change his mind about closing the books on the “torture” policies of the past.

Obama, to his credit, has ended one of the darkest chapters of American history, when certain terrorist suspects were whisked off to secret prisons and subjected to waterboarding and other forms of painful coercion in hopes of extracting information about threats to the United States.

He was right to do this. But he was just as right to declare that there should be no prosecution of those who carried out what had been the policy of the United States government. And he was right when he sent out his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, to declare that the same amnesty should apply to the lawyers and bureaucrats who devised and justified the Bush administration practices.

But now Obama is being lobbied by politicians and voters who want something more — the humiliation and/or punishment of those responsible for the policies of the past. They are looking for individual scalps — or, at least, careers and reputations.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Law & Legal Issues, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Terrorism

Christopher Howse: The earth and the Son of Man

Dr Jones, in his recent Kreitler Lecture (at the Virginia Theological Seminary) picked out something I had not realised. When God put Adam in the Garden of Eden “to dress it and to keep it”, the two words dress and keep in Hebrew are also found in the prescription of the Levites’ duties in the sanctuary of God. This, Dr Jones says, suggests that Adam, standing for all mankind, has a priestly role in uniting nature to God.

Dr Jones points out that the Old Testament is much quoted in the theology of the ethics of the environment. What about the connections between ecology and Christ? The bishop has touched on this before, in his book Jesus and the Earth (SPCK, 2003).

Jesus, we know, is the second Adam. As, in Eden, the disobedience of the first man, Adam, led all mankind into alienation from God, so the Son of Man reconciles all mankind to God. At his Resurrection, Jesus is even taken for the gardener by Mary Magdalen, as this paper noted in its leading article for Easter.

Jesus habitually referred to himself as the Son of Man, and the name Adam means “man”. But the Hebrew also seems to be connected with the word for “earth”, and “God formed man of the dust of the ground”.

Read it all

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources, Theology

Jordan sees new war if US does not act quickly

Jordan’s king urged President Barack Obama Sunday to take a more forceful role in the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians, warning of a new Mideast war if there is no significant progress in the next 18 months.

Speaking to NBC’s “Meet the Press,” King Abdullah described the Israeli-Palestinian dispute as the core problem of the region and solving it would help the U.S. in dealing with Iran and combatting the appeal of radical Islamic groups like Al-Qaida.

“In the next 18 months, if we don’t move the process forward, and bring people to the negotiation table, there will be another conflict between Israel and another protagonist,” he said in the interview recorded in Washington on Friday.

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Israel, Jordan, Middle East, The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle, War in Gaza December 2008--

Daniel Harrison: Swine Flu Threatens Weak Economy

Just as global markets seem to be recovering from an economic sickness, a biological one looms. “Swine flu,” a type of flu bug transmitted from pigs and mutated into a human strain known as “H1N1,” has so far claimed the lives of over 80 people in Mexico, and sickened more than 1,400 there since April 13. Sunday, the U.S. reported its twentieth case of the flu, including 8 New York-based high school children, and it’s already spread throughout the world to Europe and Asia.

Read it all.

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

Religion and Ethics Weekly: Jodi Picoult

[BOB] FAW: Religion, says Picoult, has brought comfort and misery. She does not affiliate herself with any formal religion.

Ms. [JODI] PICOULT: I do believe in God, though, and yet I totally support the fact that there are people who do not believe in God, and I think that if you are Catholic, that’s great, and I think if you’re Protestant, that’s great, and if you’re Jewish, that’s great, and I firmly believe that there is just not one way to do it.

FAW: Even though she forces her readers to think about the unthinkable, Picoult says for herself she’s never been happier in that New Hampshire home she shares with Delilah and Quigley, two miniature donkeys.

Ms. PICOULT: Even though I don’t write about things that come from my life because I’m ”” I’m lucky, and I live in a great place with great kids and, you know, a great husband, I think you can find threads of me in the characters, so that’s really what being a writer is, probably. It’s being able to dilute something about you ”” just a tiny little dollop of it into, you know, the heart or the soul of different characters. You are always bleeding a little piece of yourself into everybody.

FAW: Although some people of faith would say there is always a right or wrong side, for Picoult that choice is not so clear and can be agonizing to make.

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

Pam Belluck: Yes, Looks Do Matter

Now, after the video of …[Susan B0yle’s] performance went viral, a flurry of commentary has focused on how we stereotype people into categories, how we fall victim to the prejudices of ageism or look-ism, and how we should learn, once and for all, not to judge books by their covers.

But many social scientists and others who study the science of stereotyping say there are reasons we quickly size people up based on how they look. Snap judgments about people are crucial to the way we function, they say ”” even when those judgments are very wrong.

They would even agree with Ms. Boyle herself, who said after her performance that while society is too quick to judge people by appearance, “There is not much you can do about it; it is the way they think; it is the way they are.”

i cited this article this morning in an adult Sunday School class on James 2. Read it all–KSH.

Posted in Uncategorized

Emerging Anglican Province Announces 28 Dioceses

Leaders representing Canadian and US orthodox Anglican jurisdictions approved applications for membership of 28 dioceses and dioceses-in-formation and finalized plans for launching the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). Twelve Anglican organizations are uniting to form the ACNA.

The ACNA Leadership Council, in addition to accepting these dioceses as constituent members, finalized a draft constitution and a comprehensive set of canons (Church bylaws) for ratification by the provincial assembly. A list of the new dioceses, the constitution and the canons will soon be available at www.united-anglicans.org.

“It is a great encouragement to see the fruit of many years’ work,” said the Right Reverend Robert Duncan, archbishop-elect of the Anglican Church in North America and Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. “Today 23 dioceses and five dioceses-in-formation joined together to reconstitute an orthodox, Biblical, missionary and united Church in North America.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Proposed Formation of a new North American Province, Common Cause Partnership

Pastor Rick Warren, Metropolitan Jonah, the Rev. Dr. Todd Hunter to Address ACNA Assembly

Three Christian leaders, Pastor Rick Warren, Metropolitan Jonah, and the Rev. Todd Hunter have agreed to be among those addressing the organizing Assembly of the Anglican Church in North America scheduled for June 22-25 at St. Vincent’s Cathedral in Bedford, Texas.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Proposed Formation of a new North American Province, Common Cause Partnership