Monthly Archives: May 2009

Florence South Carolina’s Christ Episcopal Church to celebrate 150th year

Christ Episcopal Church will celebrate its 150th anniversary at 10 a.m. June 7.

S.C. Bishop Mark Lawrence of Charleston will lead the service at the quaint church, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Father Michael Burton is the rector of Christ Episcopal, located at 2305 U.S. 327. He is assisted by Deacon Hiram Moseley.

Christ Episcopal’s building is in the shape of a cross, originally painted white. The outside walls are boarded and battened. The boards are 10 inches wide running up and down, every seam covered with a beveled board about four inches wide and two inches in the center.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Parishes

Sunday Telegraph–Christians risk rejection and discrimination for their faith, a study claims

The first poll of Britain’s churchgoers, carried out for The Sunday Telegraph, found that thousands of them believe they are being turned down for promotion because of their faith.

One in five said that they had faced opposition at work because of their beliefs.

More than half of them revealed that they had suffered some form of persecution for being a Christian.

Read the whole aritcle.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, England / UK, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Religion & Culture

Young clergy face life on the dole after Church of England loses £1.3billion

The Church of England is turning away trainee clergy for the first time in history after £1.3billion of its investments were wiped out in the financial crisis.

Up to a dozen graduates of theological colleges will miss out on their ordination next month and may end up on the dole as there are no parish jobs for them.

The Church has previously given all graduates placements in parishes as curates, which they need before they can become ordained as priests.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry

LA Times: Spitting in the eye of mainstream education

Reporting from Oakland — Not many schools in California recruit teachers with language like this: “We are looking for hard working people who believe in free market capitalism. . . . Multicultural specialists, ultra liberal zealots and college-tainted oppression liberators need not apply.”

That, it turns out, is just the beginning of the ways in which American Indian Public Charter and its two sibling schools spit in the eye of mainstream education. These small, no-frills, independent public schools in the hardscrabble flats of Oakland sometimes seem like creations of television’s “Colbert Report.” They mock liberal orthodoxy with such zeal that it can seem like a parody.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education

Green Promise Seen in Switch to LED Lighting

To change the bulbs in the 60-foot-high ceiling lights of Buckingham Palace’s grand stairwell, workers had to erect scaffolding and cover precious portraits of royal forebears.

So when a lighting designer two years ago proposed installing light emitting diodes or LEDs, an emerging lighting technology, the royal family readily assented. The new lights, the designer said, would last more than 22 years and enormously reduce energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions ”” a big plus for Prince Charles, an ardent environmentalist. Since then, the palace has installed the lighting in chandeliers and on the exterior, where illuminating the entire facade uses less electricity than running an electric teakettle.

In shifting to LED lighting, the palace is part of a small but fast-growing trend that is redefining the century-old conception of lighting, replacing energy-wasting disposable bulbs with efficient fixtures that are often semi-permanent, like those used in plumbing.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources

The Impact of Substance Abuse on Federal, State, and Local Budgets

As the Administration and the Congress consider health care reform and work to expand access to the 45 million Americans without coverage, it is worth noting that the largest amount of federal and state spending on the burden of substance abuse and addiction–$207.2 billion, or 58 percent””was for health care, and that health care is 74.1 percent of the federal shoveling up burden. With health care costs by far the biggest cost of shoveling up, for the Administration and Congress to attempt health care reform without providing for prevention and treatment of substance abuse and addiction is like trying to make a Reuben sandwich without corned beef and sauerkraut.

Some key 2005 findings of the report are:

* For every dollar federal and state governments spent to prevent and treat substance abuse and addiction, they spent $59.83 in public programs shoveling up its wreckage.
* If substance abuse and addiction were its own state budget category, it would rank second just behind spending on elementary and secondary education.
* If substance abuse and addiction were it own federal budget category, it would rank sixth, behind social security, national defense, income security, Medicare, and other health programs including the federal share of Medicaid.
* Federal and state governments spend more than 60 times as much to clean up the devastation substance abuse and addiction visits on children as they do on prevention and treatment for them.

This report is the second in CASA’s analysis of the impact of tobacco, alcohol and other drug abuse and addiction on government. Our first report, Shoveling Up: The Impact of Substance Abuse on State Budgets, was released in 2001 and was limited to state spending. Such spending has increased since CASA’s 2001 report. In 2005, states spent 15.7 percent of their budgets on substance abuse and addiction compared with 13.3 percent in 1998, up more than 18 percent.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Drugs/Drug Addiction

Religion and Ethics Newsweekly: Religion and the Courts

Mr. [DAN] GILGOFF: Well, we know that she has a record of siding with those who are alleging violations of their religious liberty. And I think that’s been another bright spot for conservatives. It’s interesting in that conservatives came out roundly against her as soon as her nomination was announced this week, and at the same time, I mean, in the analysis that they were releasing before Obama made his choice, she kind of received the warmest treatment. And I think some of that was because of her rulings over the religious liberty cases.

Mr. [TOD] LINDBERG: I think you’d also have to draw the distinction between the conservative commentary crowd and actually the members of the Senate, who have taken a very cautious view of this. I mean they promised, the Republicans promised full scrutiny, full assessment, but certainly no one has leapt out to be an opposition figure. Certainly no one has said this nominee is unacceptable where it really matters, which is in the Senate.

[DEBORAH] POTTER: So the presumption at this point is that she will be confirmed?

Mr. LINDBERG: I think the presumption is exactly that, in the absence of some unknown, unexpected revelation or disclosure.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

Charlie Rose: A Conversation with author Simon Schama about his "The American Future: A History"

CHARLIE ROSE: All right. That segues perfectly into this. So, but I’m interested…


CHARLIE ROSE: Became passionately in love with America as much as the Americans. What did you fall in love with?

SIMON SCHAMA: Oh, you know, the division of powers. Isn’t that the dullest question — the dullest answer to the most interesting question? By which I mean the liveliness of American politics.

Watch it all (just over 30 1/2 minutes). Look for the comments on Europe’s view of this administration and the previous one and for the wonderful Hamlet quote.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., History, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, President George Bush

A Promise to Be Ethical in an Era of Immorality

When a new crop of future business leaders graduates from the Harvard Business School next week, many of them will be taking a new oath that says, in effect, greed is not good.

Nearly 20 percent of the graduating class have signed “The M.B.A. Oath,” a voluntary student-led pledge that the goal of a business manager is to “serve the greater good.” It promises that Harvard M.B.A.’s will act responsibly, ethically and refrain from advancing their “own narrow ambitions” at the expense of others.

What happened to making money?

That, of course, is still at the heart of the Harvard curriculum. But at Harvard and other top business schools, there has been an explosion of interest in ethics courses and in student activities ”” clubs, lectures, conferences ”” about personal and corporate responsibility and on how to view business as more than a money-making enterprise, but part of a large social community.

I much prefer “the common good,” yet appreciate the effort. Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Theology

San Francisco Chronicle: Earthquake fears threaten California's oldest Episcopal church

Trinity Episcopal Church, established in 1849 before moving into its current, fortress-like digs on the corner of Gough and Bush streets in 1892, potentially has a seismic safety problem, an official there said.

But here’s the real issue: the church doesn’t have the funds to find out, or fix it.

As a result, church leaders decided the 350-capacity main sanctuary is going to be mothballed, likely by the end of September. Services are moving to the smaller chapel on the property, a separate building that holds about 75 people.

“What we’re trying to avoid is the use of the word closing,” interim rector Otis Charles said. “The congregation is alive and functioning.”

Read it all.

Update: A chart of some parish statistics is here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Parishes

Toronto Bishop asks synod for advice on pastoral response

Tonight you have another opportunity for a similar discussion, not leading to a vote but leading to an opportunity to give advice and feedback. The College of Bishops met together in January at our annual retreat, and just before we began that retreat, we decided that we needed to sit down together and talk out what it might mean in the Diocese of Toronto to exercise generous pastoral care which the House of Bishops of the Canadian church had set as guidelines for the life of the Anglican Church of Canada. Having been together at Lambeth, having engaged in conversations with the House of Bishops in the Canadian church, and having had partnerships with various places across the world, we had a full, frank conversation and discovered that we had a whole lot more consensus than we originally thought.

Part of that consensus was that the way forward at this time, when there is no consensus within the life of the church, was not to engage in a legislative vote that sets policy, that enshrines things in legislation, but rather thatwe needed to recognize that in this period of time as we engage in a period of gracious restraint, when it is quite clear in the teaching of the church that marriage at this time is a holy relationship between a man and a woman in solemn matrimony and that that is a subject for the General Synod and not the Diocese of Toronto to define.

In that period of time when there are pastoral needs that are evident within our parishes amongst faithful people, how might we deal with those pastoral, individual circumstances in the most generous and gracious way possible while holding open the opportunity for further discussion and consideration by the wider church?

Read it all.

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

RNS: 'Father Oprah' leaves for Episcopal Church; plans to marry

The celebrity Miami priest known as “Father Oprah” converted from Catholicism to the Episcopal Church on Thursday (May 28), weeks after pictures surfaced of the cleric canoodling with his girlfriend on a Florida beach.

The Rev. Alberto Cutie and his girlfriend were received into the Episcopal Church at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Miami on Thursday, according to the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida.

Unlike Catholic clerics, Episcopal priests are allowed to marry, and Cutie, 40, plans to wed his girlfriend and pursue ordination in the Episcopal Church, according to the diocese.

The diocese said Thursday’s ceremony culminates a “two year discernment process” for Cutie, indicating that he had considered converting long before photos revealing his relationship with the woman were published by Spanish-language media earlier this month.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Ecumenical Relations, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Roman Catholic, Theology

Still Working, but Making Do With Less

The Ferrells have cut back on dance lessons for their twin daughters. Vaccinations for the family’s two cats and two dogs are out. Haircuts have become a luxury.

And before heading out recently to the discount grocery store that has become the family’s new lifeline, Sharon Ferrell checked her bank account balance one more time, dialing the toll-free number from memory.

“Your available balance for withdrawal is, $490.40,” the disembodied electronic voice informed her.

At the store, with that number firmly in mind, she punched the price of each item into a calculator as she dropped it into her cart, making sure she stayed under her limit. It was all part of a new regimen of fiscal restraint for the Ferrells, begun in January, when state workers, including Mrs. Ferrell’s husband, Jeff, were forced to accept two-day-a-month furloughs.

For millions of families, this is the recession: not a layoff, or a drastic reduction in income, but a pay cut that has forced them to thrash through daily calculations similar to the Ferrells’.

Read the whole piece from the front page of Friday’s New York Times.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Children, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Frank Lampard blasts Chelsea to FA Cup glory

Congratulations to Chelsea who were the better team today–I enjoyed watch it. Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Sports

News from the Diocese of New Westminster on Day 4 of the B.C. Court Proceedings

After the blessing was approved, the dissident group tried to find a Canadian bishop who would take them in. Bishop of the Yukon Terrance O. Buckle offered episcopal oversight, but Bishop Michael Ingham refused to cede jurisdiction to him.

[David] Short said the conservatives were unwilling to settle for an alternative bishop who didn’t have full power to do all the things a diocesan bishop can do, such as appoint clergy. They didn’t want “a kind of suffragan [assisting] bishop.” Bishop Buckle would appoint appropriate priests.

“The point is you wanted a conservative bishop who held your views,” said the defense lawyer.

“We wanted a bishop who would hold to the doctrine of the Church,” replied Short.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Law & Legal Issues, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

ANIC: Day 4 ”“ Trial of ANiC Parishes v Diocese of New Westminster

…[David Short] described the difference between “communion” – the spiritual and personal reality that exists when we put our faith in Christ and are united with God and with all those who believe the same faith – and “Communion” – which relates to the structures that have evolved to promote and protect our faith. He discussed how the Solemn Declaration of 1893 and the Windsor Report reflect that understanding.

He explained how, when he arrived in Vancouver to attend Regent College in 1991, he found St John’s to be of the same character as Anglican churches in Sydney, “liturgically centrist, broadly speaking”¦ evangelical” and with a number of ministries both in and outside the parish.

He discussed his involvement with the synods, clergy conferences and as regional dean for several years, as well as reaction to Bishop Ingham’s book, Mansions of the Spirit and the pastoral issues it raised in the congregation. He said the vote of the diocesan Synod in 2001 “shocked” him after the clear position taken by the House of Bishops in 1997 and the Lambeth Conference in1998. After the 2001 vote, a number of conservative clergy in the diocese met with Bishop Ingham to indicate the depth of their concern and that this was a “no go area” for them. Just before the 2002 Synod, he delivered a legal opinion to Bishop Ingham that said because the issue of same-sex blessings is an issue of doctrine, it was only within the jurisdiction of the General Synod and any motion would be ultra vires (beyond the authority of the diocesan synod).

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Law & Legal Issues

The Economist: Clever boxing has saved the Church of Scotland from schism for the moment

There is something about gender and sexuality that seems to split asunder one church after another these days. Last year the Church of England and the worldwide Anglican Communion failed to resolve profound differences over whether gays and women should be made bishops. This month the Catholic church in Ireland has been pilloried for years of mistreatment, including sexual abuse, of children in its care. This week, less dramatically, it was only some deft manoeuvring that kept the Church of Scotland in one piece.

The Kirk’s general assembly, the annual gathering of ministers and lay folk who dictate policy for the church as a whole, decided by 326 votes to 267 that an Aberdeen congregation had broken no rules in choosing the Rev Scott Rennie, a divorced father who lives with his male partner, to be their pastor. But it also said that no more gays should be ordained for two years, while a church commission ponders whether the practice ought in fact to be allowed. Mr Rennie claims that there are already “tens” of ministers who dare not admit openly to being gay.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Other Churches, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

With bankruptcy looming, a new GM begins to emerge

With an almost certain bankruptcy filing days away, General Motors is beginning its reinvention, planning to retool one factory to make its smallest vehicles ever in the U.S. and rid itself of the biggest.

As GM’s board began two days of meetings Friday to make a final decision on the company’s fate, GM was also closing in on a sale of its European Opel unit, and its main union overwhelmingly approved dramatic labor cost cuts. A deal to sell its rugged but inefficient Hummer brand also appeared on the horizon.

The moves provided more clues about what a restructured GM might look like ahead of the expected Chapter 11 filing Monday. Taxpayers will eventually own nearly three-quarters of a leaner GM, with a total government commitment of nearly $50 billion.

GM has yet to confirm it will seek bankruptcy protection but scheduled a news conference for Monday in New York.

With the government’s backing and nearly $20 billion in U.S. loans so far, the company has made more dramatic changes in just a few days than it has in decades.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto Industry

Notable and Quotable

Where his radical contemporaries anticipated a day of renewal after a night of destruction, Dostoevsky could spot nothing but darkness in the nihilistic dawn. He dealt with the subject in Demons in the early 1870s, but the book did little to calm his fears about the damaging power of persistent unbelief. As a result, he came to the writing of The Brothers Karamazov still filled with anxiety concerning the destructive power of nihilism over Russian culture and the Russian family. Dostoevsky took the collapse of the family system in particular to be the symptom of a deeper catastrophic loss of established values that had resulted from the sudden decline, among the educated, of faith in God and in Jesus Christ. In The Brothers Karamazov, the novelist set out to reaffirm explicitly Christian values by demonstrating “their linkage to the supernatural presuppositions of the Christian faith, which for Dostoevsky offered their only secure support.”

— Roger Lundin, Believing Again: Doubt and Faith in a Secular Age (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009), p. 155

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Europe, Poetry & Literature, Religion & Culture, Russia

South Carolina Supreme Court Order to buy time for families struggling to Keep Homes

John Rao, an attorney who studies state foreclosure procedures for the Washington, D.C.-based National Consumer Law Center, said this court order is the first of its kind. Some states like California have required foreclosing attorneys to include a statement saying whether the homeowner has been contacted about a loan modification, but the South Carolina order requires attorneys to say why the property isn’t eligible.

“Simply contacting a homeowner is easy to do,” Rao explained. “I think what’s more important is that before they process the foreclosure, a court can look at the file and see exactly why they aren’t eligible, so there’s some transparency.”

The order actually originated from a quirky state law that prompted Fannie Mae, a government-controlled mortgage company, to ask the state Supreme Court for a 90-day delay in foreclosure proceedings for homes it guarantees. Several South Carolina consumer groups filed a response to that request, alerting the court of this backlog in homeowner requests.

Lil Ann Gray of the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs, which wrote to the court on behalf of struggling homeowners, applauded the court order.

Read it all from the front page of the local paper.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Law & Legal Issues, Personal Finance, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Hamish McRae: The cost of the US government's borrowing could be the recovery

Another, more helpful way of looking at what is happening is to see it as a change in perception of where risk lies. Of course, there is risk in equities ”“ how could there not be with the prospect of the once-mighty General Motors filing for bankruptcy? But there is also risk in bonds, including dollar bonds issued by AAA governments. So, as you can see in the graphs, the dollar/sterling rate has come sharply back, reflecting a change in the relative perception of risk between the two countries. More significant still has been the rise in the interest rate on 10-year bonds issued by the US, the UK and eurozone governments. As you can see, the interest rate on 10-year US bonds spun down from about 4 per cent in the middle of last year, to close to 2 per cent at the turn of the year. Now it is heading back to 4 per cent again. Those are astounding swings. If you have bought at the right moment last summer, and then sold at the right moment, you could just about have doubled your money. December buyers would now be facing a large loss.

Now look ahead. What will happen over the next decade, particularly in the US? Tax revenues have collapsed, while spending has soared, as the third graph shows. The US federal government is raising only about 55 cents in taxation for every dollar it spends. The rest has to be borrowed, either from foreign countries such as China and Japan, or by artificially creating the stuff by borrowing from the US Federal Reserve system. In the latter case the debt is being “monetised”, the practice that normally happens only in wartime or in Latin America and which threatens massive inflation (the US mechanism for monetising debt is slightly different from our own “quantitative easing”, but the effect is pretty much the same).

This cannot go on, as President Barack Obama acknowledges. “We are,” as he puts it, “out of money.” So what will happen?

It is very hard to know because there are no obvious precedents.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Credit Markets, Economy, Federal Reserve, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government, The United States Currency (Dollar etc)

ENS: In Forth Worth, TEC affiliated Bishop asks clergy to verify decision

Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth provisional Bishop Edwin F. Gulick Jr. has asked 72 members of the diocesan clergy to meet with him to verify their decision to leave the Episcopal Church with former bishop Jack Iker.

“It is not my intention in writing you this letter to trespass upon your conscience in this matter or to offer any new arguments or words of persuasion,” wrote Gulick, who is also bishop of the Diocese of Kentucky, in a May 26 letter. “However, before I begin to exercise certain canonical responsibilities regarding the status of those who have left the Episcopal Church, I feel compelled to offer to meet with you, if you wish, for a conversation related to your own discernment and decision.”

The clergy and Iker aligned themselves with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone by way of a series of votes at a November 15 diocesan convention. Six days later Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori inhibited Iker from exercising his ordained ministry and on December 5 announced that she had accepted what she said was Iker’s renunciation of his Episcopal Church ordination. Iker has denied that he renounced his orders.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Cono Sur [formerly Southern Cone], Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

Follow up on the ACI Email Controversy: Louie Crew and Bishop Howe go Back and Forth

Worth the time.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, Windsor Report / Process

The Los Angeles Bishop and Standing Committee Vote no on Northern Michigan

Check it out.

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

Arizona Churches strategize to lessen parishioners' financial woes

W. Nicholas Knisely arrived in Phoenix three years ago to serve as dean of Trinity Cathedral downtown.

“I came from Pennsylvania,” he says. “The housing market was just starting to go bust. I thought, ‘Well, I know what to do.’ ”

So he has tightened the belt of the Episcopal church. Although Trinity Cathedral isn’t hurting, the coffer’s growth has stagnated.

The church now relies more on its congregation. Members are doing paint jobs that in the past would have been done by professionals. The same goes with mechanical repairs.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Parishes, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Timothy Larsen on A.N. Wilson: Look Who's a Believer Now

Have you ever heard the one about the Christian who started to study calculus and ended up losing his faith? Of course you have. Such “conversion” to atheism is supposed to be the story of all modern, thinking people. But imagine it happening the other way around. Moreover, imagine the convert being a well-informed, public intellectual who had long made it his business to argue that faith is irrational?

Just such a conversion has happened to A.N. Wilson, the 58-year-old British biographer, novelist and man of letters. He was once an observant Anglican and, later, a Roman Catholic, but in the 1980s he lost his faith and began skewering the supposed delusions of the faithful. His antifaith stance was expressed in books such as “God’s Funeral” (1999) and “Jesus: A Life” (1992). A few weeks ago, however, Mr. Wilson confessed that Christ had risen indeed. He attributed this to “the confidence I have gained with age.” He now says he believes that atheists are like “people who have no ear for music or who have never been in love.”

Mr. Wilson’s story matches that of other skeptical authors who became convinced by Christianity, not least in Victorian Britain, when Darwin and various modern ideas shook the foundations of faith among the educated classes. Among the notable examples from Victorian Britain are Thomas Cooper, the most popular free-thinking lecturer in London in the 1850s; George Sexton, the most academically accomplished secularist intellectual of the time; and Joseph Barker, a well-respected leader of the mid-19th-century free-thinking movement. The 20th century also had its share of writers and intellectuals who rediscovered Christianity as mature thinkers, including T.S. Eliot, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, C.S. Lewis, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh and W.H. Auden.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Atheism, England / UK, History, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Scientology on trial in France

The Church of Scientology has gone on trial in the French capital, Paris, accused of organised fraud.

The case centres on a complaint by a woman who says she was pressured into paying large sums of money after being offered a free personality test.

The church, which is fighting the charges, denies that any mental manipulation took place.

France regards Scientology as a sect, not a religion, and the organisation could be banned if it loses the case.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

RNS: Obama Names Hispanic Theologian as Vatican Envoy

President Obama has nominated Hispanic theologian Miguel H. Diaz as the next U.S. ambassador to the Vatican.

Diaz, a professor of theology at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University in Minnesota, was nominated as U.S. ambassador to the Holy See on Wednesday (May 27).

If the nomination is approved by the Senate, Diaz, 45, would be the ninth ambassador and the first Hispanic in the post since Washington and the Vatican established full diplomatic relations in 1984.

Diaz was Obama’s second high-profile Hispanic Catholic nominee in as many days, following the president’s choice of Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the U.S. Supreme Court. Observers said Diaz is a subtle, if perhaps unintentional, acknowledgment of the growing ranks of Hispanics in the U.S. church.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Office of the President, Other Churches, Politics in General, Pope Benedict XVI, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(London) Times–The hidden massacre: Sri Lanka’s final offensive against Tamil Tigers

More than 20,000 Tamil civilians were killed in the final throes of the Sri Lankan civil war, most as a result of government shelling, an investigation by The Times has revealed.

The number of casualties is three times the official figure.

The Sri Lankan authorities have insisted that their forces stopped using heavy weapons on April 27 and observed the no-fire zone where 100,000 Tamil men, women and children were sheltering. They have blamed all civilian casualties on Tamil Tiger rebels concealed among the civilians.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Military / Armed Forces, Violence

Notable and Quotable

If the US government had a FICA score it would be around 245 according to University of Washington Professor Telda Wang.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, Federal Reserve, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government, The United States Currency (Dollar etc)