Monthly Archives: September 2009

Wired Magazine–Netflix Everywhere: Sorry Cable, You're History

It had taken the better part of a decade, but Reed Hastings was finally ready to unveil the device he thought would upend the entertainment industry. The gadget looked as unassuming as the original iPod””a sleek black box, about the size of a paperback novel, with a few jacks in back””and Hastings, CEO of Netflix, believed its impact would be just as massive. Called the Netflix Player, it would allow most of his company’s regular DVD-by-mail subscribers to stream unlimited movies and TV shows from Netflix’s library directly to their television””at no extra charge.

The potential was enormous: Although Netflix initially could offer only about 10,000 titles, Hastings planned to one day deliver the entire recorded output of Hollywood, instantly and in high definition, to any screen, anywhere. Like many tech romantics, he had harbored visions of using the Internet to rout around cable companies and network programmers for years. Even back when he formed Netflix in 1997, Hastings predicted a day when he would deliver video over the Net rather than through the mail. (There was a reason he called the company Netflix and not, say, DVDs by Mail.) Now, in mid-December 2007, the launch of the player was just weeks away. Promotional ads were being shot, and internal beta testers were thrilled.

But Hastings wasn’t celebrating. Instead, he felt queasy. For weeks, he had tried to ignore the nagging doubts he had about the Netflix Player. Consumers’ living rooms were already full of gadgets””from DVD players to set-top boxes. Was a dedicated Netflix device really the best way to bring about his video-on-demand revolution? So on a Friday morning, he asked the six members of his senior management team to meet him in the amphitheater in Netflix’s Los Gatos offices, near San Jose. He leaned up against the stage and asked the unthinkable: Should he kill the player?

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Movies & Television, Science & Technology

Quotes from William Safire

Here is one:

“Never assume the obvious is true.”

Read them all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Media

An Open Letter to Religious Leaders on Abortion as Moral Decision

As religious leaders, we are committed to supporting people’s efforts to achieve spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being, including their reproductive and sexual health. We assist women and families confronted with unintended pregnancies or pregnancies that can no longer be carried to term. We are committed to social justice, mindful of the 46 million women worldwide who have an abortion each year, almost half in dangerous and illegal situations. We seek to create a world where abortion is safe, legal, accessible, and rare. Millions of people ground their moral commitment to the right to choose in their religious beliefs. While there are strong public health and human rights arguments for supporting the right of women to safe and legal abortion, here we invite you to consider the religious foundations for affirming abortion as a morally justifiable decision.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture

RNS: Celebrating the Work of Ecumenism, Done and Undone

Catholic, Lutheran and United Methodist leaders will gather in Chicago on Thursday (Oct. 1) to commemorate the 10th anniversary of a milestone agreement on the long, slow and often painful road to Christian unity.

The celebration, held at Old St. Patrick’s Church in Chicago, will pay tribute to the signing of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification by the Vatican and the Lutheran World Federation on Oct. 31, 1999. In 2006, the World Methodist Council affirmed the agreement as an expression of how Methodists, too, understand the character of salvation.

The declaration aimed at resolving a key Reformation-era doctrinal dispute between Roman Catholics and Martin Luther’s emerging Protestants on salvation, how human beings are made right with God and the role of grace and works.

The document declares: “Together we confess: By grace alone, in faith in Christ’s saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping and calling us to good works.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Ecumenical Relations

Bishop Iker Calls for Fasting and Prayer

I am inviting everyone in the Diocese to join me in a morning of fasting and prayer this Friday, Oct. 2nd, as Judge John Chupp considers three motions we have put before him in the 141st District Court. The hearing begins at 9 a.m. on the fourth floor of the Family Law Center, located at 200 E. Weatherford Street (one block east of the old court house, on the south side of the street).

In the first motion the Diocese is asking leave to file a third-party petition against the persons elected as provisional bishop and as members of the Standing Committee at a meeting held on Feb. 7, 2009. This is to bring before the court those persons who have authorized the suit against the Diocese and the Corporation Trustees in order to determine the legitimacy of their election.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Spirituality/Prayer, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

Living Church: Fort Worth to Vote on Southern Cone Ties

A member diocese of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) will consider a resolution that maintains the diocese’s ties with the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone.

The resolution is being proposed by the Diocese of Fort Worth’s standing committee. The diocese’s convention will meet on Nov. 6 and 7 in Arlington, Texas. The resolution commits the diocese to continued participation in the ACNA, but also “maintains its status as a member diocese in the Province of the Southern Cone while the formal process of recognition of [ACNA] continues in the Anglican Communion.”

“At this point, the Anglican Church in North America is not yet fully recognized as a province of the Anglican Communion,” the standing committee said in an explanation. “We are working towards that goal, but it is a lengthy process involving the primates, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Anglican Consultative Council.”

Read it all.

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

ENS: In Los Angeles Hindu American Foundation honors clergy with Gandhi award

[Bishop Jon] Bruno, who was unable to be present, sent a letter expressing gratitude for recognition of efforts “to build bridges of cooperation between the great religious traditions … [and] assist you as your community strives for justice and equality.

“The world cannot afford for us to repeat the errors of our past, in which we Christians often sought to dominate rather than to serve,” according to the letter, read to the gathering by Guibord, who is also the consultant for interfaith relations for the Episcopal Church.

“In order to take another step in building trust between our two great religious traditions, I renew the apology that I have offered to the Hindu community for the religious and racial discrimination that Christians have directed towards Hindus for far too long. Such discrimination is wrong; it is a sin. There is no justification for it.”

Bruno committed to working together to put an “end to racial and religious discrimination against Hindus. We desire to work together in the great divine task of our time: to build reconciliation and peace, honoring the God-given dignity of each person, sharing and learning the wisdom of each other’s traditions, recognizing God’s equal love for each of us, and sincerely responding to God’s desire to bring us together into one human family, rich in diversity and mutual respect.”

Read it all

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Hinduism, Inter-Faith Relations, Other Faiths, TEC Bishops

U.S. Says Taliban Has A New Haven in Pakistan

As American troops move deeper into southern Afghanistan to fight Taliban insurgents, U.S. officials are expressing new concerns about the role of fugitive Taliban leader Mohammad Omar and his council of lieutenants, who reportedly plan and launch cross-border strikes from safe havens around the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta.

But U.S. officials acknowledge they know relatively little about the remote and arid Pakistani border region, have no capacity to strike there, and have few windows into the turbulent mix of Pashtun tribal and religious politics that has turned the area into a sanctuary for the Taliban leaders, who are known collectively as the Quetta Shura.

Pakistani officials, in turn, have been accused of allowing the Taliban movement to regroup in the Quetta area, viewing it as a strategic asset rather than a domestic threat, while the army has been heavily focused on curbing violent Islamist extremists in the northwest border region hundreds of miles away.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Pakistan, Terrorism

Poll: Public Says Voice Not Heard In Health Debate

Perhaps no other issue Congress deals with touches every American as intimately as health care. Yet a new poll by NPR, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and the Harvard School of Public Health finds that, so far, the public feels profoundly shut out of the current health overhaul debate.

“Most people don’t feel that they personally have a voice in this debate,” said Mollyann Brodie, director of public opinion and survey research for the Kaiser Family Foundation. “In fact, 71 percent told us that Congress was paying too little attention to what people like them were saying.”

Nancy Turtenwald is one of those people. The tourist from Milwaukee was walking around the sparkling new visitor center at the U.S. Capitol Tuesday. She was quick to agree with poll findings that the lawmakers debating the massive health overhaul bill just a few blocks away weren’t much interested in problems like hers.

“I don’t think they are people like us, you know?” she said. She thinks Congressional lawmakers know very little about the daily lives of the average American ”” and the health care costs they face. “How often do they go and buy gas and bread and stuff to see what it’s really like for the people like us?”

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Health & Medicine, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate

The old secular cross? High court to consider issue of church-state separation

If the court reaches the constitutional issues at hand, all sides agree it could provide clarity to the court’s blurry rules on church-and-state separations. It could also carry important implications for the fate of war memorials around the country that feature religious imagery — the Argonne Cross in Arlington National Cemetery, for instance, or the Memorial Peace Cross in Bladensburg.

The Mojave cross’s protectors, which include veterans groups and the federal government, say the symbol is a historic, secular tribute; its original plaque from the 1930s said it was erected to honor “the dead of all wars.” They argue that Congress has taken the steps to distance itself from any appearance of endorsing a religious display.

But the American Civil Liberties Union, Jewish and Muslim veterans, and others say government actions have only deepened the problem. In an effort to avoid the lower courts’ rulings that it must come down, Congress has designated the site the country’s only official national memorial to the dead of World War I, elevating it to an exclusive group of national treasures that includes the Washington Monument and Mount Rushmore.

Congress’s actions ensures that “the cross necessarily will reflect continued government association with the preeminent symbol of Christianity,” the ACLU said.

It seems an improbable importance for this piece of desert land, where temperatures regularly hit three digits, an hour can go by without a passing car and somewhere nearby is likely to be a Mojave Green, the desert’s own highly lethal variety of rattlesnake.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Church/State Matters, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

The devastating consequences of Teen Violence in Chicago

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Watch it all–makes the heart sad–KSH.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Education, Marriage & Family, Teens / Youth, Violence

The Bishop of Missouri on some of What General Convention 2009 did and Didn't do

First, the resolution deserves a reading in its totality, despite a tendency to separate the most newsworthy section from the rest and treat it in isolation. Five of the seven resolves in this action, for example, directly address the participation of the Episcopal Church in the Anglican Communion. While this resolution addresses the rightful place of gay men and lesbians in the common life of the Episcopal Church, that life is given context within a community of Christians larger than this Church alone. D025 addresses both inclusion and communion””and gives greater attention to issues of communion.

Second, the resolution recognizes the canonical access to the ordination process for gay men and lesbians, a recognition which they and their allies have asked for, and for which they and I are grateful. They also understand fully, I believe, that access to a process is never a guarantee of ordination itself. Our canonical and pastoral processes toward ordination never treat ordination as a right for anyone. But anyone has the full privilege of presenting himself or herself to the Church in order to say: I believe I am so called. This is a pastoral clarification which D025 makes, for the sake of gay men and lesbians.

Third, and with this being the case, D025 does not in itself represent an end to the moratorium on the ordination of partnered gay men or lesbians to the episcopate. To state the obvious, this moratorium would end only in the event of such an ordination.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops

David Brooks: The Next Culture War

Our current cultural politics are organized by the obsolete culture war, which has put secular liberals on one side and religious conservatives on the other. But the slide in economic morality afflicted Red and Blue America equally.

If there is to be a movement to restore economic values, it will have to cut across the current taxonomies. Its goal will be to make the U.S. again a producer economy, not a consumer economy. It will champion a return to financial self-restraint, large and small.

It will have to take on what you might call the lobbyist ethos ”” the righteous conviction held by everybody from AARP to the agribusinesses that their groups are entitled to every possible appropriation, regardless of the larger public cost. It will have to take on the self-indulgent popular demand for low taxes and high spending.

A crusade for economic self-restraint would have to rearrange the current alliances and embrace policies like energy taxes and spending cuts that are now deemed politically impossible. But this sort of moral revival is what the country actually needs.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

Calpers was Doing WHAT? Think Carefully About What this Means

Last year’s credit crunch exposed cases in which investors’ agents placed collateral into risky pools of securities that had big losses. That spurred lawsuits by investors against agents. In some cases, the declines have been so severe that they undermined years of profits. The California Public Employees’ Retirement System reported last month a loss of $634 million for its securities-lending program in the year ended in March.

Wilshire Consulting said that figure could end up as high as $1 billion, wiping away much of the $1.4 billion that Calpers has earned from this since its inception more than 20 years ago.

“We are in the process of developing new policies to reduce risk and losses in the program’s reinvestment of collateral cash,” said Calpers spokesman Brad Pacheco.

Read it all.

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

Bishop Pierre Whalon reflects on the Anglican Covenant

People continue to go back and forth about the proposed Anglican covenant, perhaps more so (if possible) since Archbishop Williams’ July 27 essay, Communion, Covenant, and Our Anglican Future, in which he commented on the actions of General Convention. The upshot of Cantuar’s piece is that a Covenant is desperately needed if there is to be an Anglican Communion, that is, a “theologically coherent ‘community of Christian communities’.”

More recently, a group of Episcopal scholars, along with the Bishop of Durham, has opined that the 2009 General Convention has already rejected the Covenant, particularly in Resolution D025””brushing aside the last (and in rhetoric, the most important) paragraph that acknowledges continuing disagreement among Episcopalians on how to fully include gay and lesbian people in the life of the church. This piece seems to deploy a “hermeneutic of deep suspicion”””that is, if they say one thing, they really mean the contrary. Up means down, right means left…you get the picture.

Let’s all try to remember D020. Convention 2009 asked all the dioceses to consider carefully a Covenant draft which is still not out yet.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Covenant, Episcopal Church (TEC), Europe, TEC Bishops

Katharine Jefferts Schori: God is found in patient work of conversation

I read a fascinating book recently that touches on several of these themes: The Friend by Alan Bray, University of Chicago Press, 2003 (there is a paperback edition from 2006). Bray explores the history of friendship in Europe and the British Isles from the 11th century into the 19th and points to the ways in which public and private concepts of friendship historically have varied from our own.

In earlier centuries, friendship had public expectation and meaning that often was rooted in a shared baptismal bond. Members of the body of Christ had a duty to each other, and such duty might be more strongly recognized through vows said at the door of the church and then sealed in the Eucharist.

The peace we share in church today is often a pale imitation of such a deeply meant promise to uphold the other, even in the face of potentially competing claims. It is that willingness to stand together in difficulty that we are continually challenged to relearn.

Bray’s explication is academic and carefully dispassionate, but it has a number of surprises. He documents vowed friendships, sealed in church, between men and a few between women. The vows they made to each other usually were made at the church door, as was similarly the custom for those entering marriage, and then followed by Eucharist in the church. The process of making those vows was in the English vernacular called “wedding,” and the result in the context of vowed friends was sometimes termed “wedded brothers.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop

Stephen Joseph Fichter: How Common is the Move from Roman Catholic to Protestant Ordained Ministry?

When asked why they chose their current denomination, the majority of respondents spoke of the strong similarity between their present church and the Catholic Church in terms of liturgy, ministry and theology. This was especially true for the Episcopalians and seems to explain why so many of the survey respondents gravitated to the Anglican Communion. Most of those who joined the Episcopal Church said that with only minor adjustments they “felt at home” from the beginning and that they found comfort in the fact that they could hold onto their core beliefs in the Resurrection and the Eucharist. Over time they modified their views on other subjects, such as papal infallibility and women’s ordination, but many of them had already begun to question the validity of those doctrines.

Before I began the interviews, I hypothesized that diocesan priests would be overrepresented in my sample because they seem to be at greater risk for loneliness than religious order priests. (Most religious live in community, while diocesan priests often live alone in rectories because of the shortage of priests.) The survey results support this hypothesis. Based on the historical ratio of American diocesan clergy to religious, one would expect to find 61.5 percent diocesan priests in this sample; in fact, 72.3 percent of the respondents had served in diocesan ministry. (Recall that Cutié was a diocesan priest.)

Where [Alberto] Cutié differs from most of the men I surveyed is in the historical timing of his decision. The majority of respondents began their journey to a new church in the period from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. It seems unlikely that Cutié’s example will spark another wave of priestly resignations. According to research conducted by Dean R. Hoge and Jacqueline E. Wenger in Evolving Visions of Priesthood: Changes from Vatican II to the Turn of the New Century (2003), young priests today are more theologically conservative than their immediate predecessors and are more likely therefore to embrace the church’s traditional teaching on celibacy. Questions remain, however, about how many young Catholic men have chosen lay or Protestant ministry over the Catholic priesthood because of the demands of celibacy””a fitting area of inquiry, perhaps, for another curious sociologist.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lutheran, Methodist, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, United Church of Christ

Senate Finance Committee Rejects Public Option Amendment

The Senate Finance Committee voted down a government-run “public option” as part an overhaul of the nation’s health-care system Tuesday, rejecting the first of two amendments offered by Democrats.

The panel’s chairman, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), and four other Democrats sided with Republicans in opposing a public-option amendment offered by Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.). Baucus said he voted against the politically volatile provision because he feared that a bill including it would not get the 60 votes it would need to pass on the Senate floor. The committee voted 15 to 8 to reject the amendment.

After the vote, the panel began debating a second public-option amendment introduced by Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.).

“We are going to get at this, and at this, and at this, until we succeed, because we believe in it so strongly,” Schumer said in offering his amendment. He disputed Baucus’s contention that a health-care reform bill including the public option could never pass the Senate, saying the more Americans hear about its benefits, “the more they like it.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Senate

Houston (or rather King County, Washington State) We Have a Problem

County expenses have been growing at about 6 percent annually, but revenue has grown only about 2 percent a year.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, City Government, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Politics in General, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

10th Largest ELCA Congregation in the U.S. Votes to Leave the Denomination

Community Church of Joy, Glendale, Ariz., ended its affiliation Sept. 27 with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the largest Lutheran denomination in the United States.
The congregation was the 10th largest in the ELCA with 6,800 baptized members. According to the 2009 ELCA Yearbook, Community Church of Joy’s current operating expenses are more than $2.7 million. It gave more than $207,915 to the ELCA and other organizations in benevolence. By a unanimous vote of 129-0, Community Church of Joy terminated the relationship at a congregational meeting following worship.
“I was praying that (the vote) would be a clear direction from the congregation,” said the Rev. Walter P. Kallestad, senior pastor of the congregation. Seeking to be consistent with the congregation’s decision, Kallestad announced to the congregation his intention to resign from the ELCA’s clergy roster.

Read it all and check out the three documents linked to here also.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Lutheran, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

Abortion Fight Complicates Debate on Health Care

As if it were not complicated enough, the debate over health care in Congress is becoming a battlefield in the fight over abortion.

Abortion opponents in both the House and the Senate are seeking to block the millions of middle- and lower-income people who might receive federal insurance subsidies to help them buy health coverage from using the money on plans that cover abortion. And the abortion opponents are getting enough support from moderate Democrats that both sides say the outcome is too close to call. Opponents of abortion cite as precedent a 30-year-old ban on the use of taxpayer money to pay for elective abortions.

Abortion-rights supporters say such a restriction would all but eliminate from the marketplace private plans that cover the procedure, pushing women who have such coverage to give it up. Nearly half of those with employer-sponsored health plans now have policies that cover abortion, according to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The question looms as a test of President Obama’s campaign pledge to support abortion rights but seek middle ground with those who do not. Mr. Obama has promised for months that the health care overhaul would not provide federal money to pay for elective abortions, but White House officials have declined to spell out what he means.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, House of Representatives, Life Ethics, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture, Senate, Theology

Local paper Editorial: Time should be up for Iran

The topic is bound to come up in looming talks that officials from the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China will have with representatives of Iran.

Unfortunately, as French President Nicolas Sarkozy pointed out last week at a meeting of the U.N. Security Council on nuclear proliferation, years of gradually stronger sanctions against Iran for ignoring that body’s to stop enriching uranium have only led to “more enriched uranium, more centrifuges” for enriching it, and a vow to “wipe a U.N. member [Israel] off the map.”

That history shows that more talk will only lead to more talk while Iran forges ahead.

With or without the help of Russia and China, however, the U.S. and European nations, must meet Iranian defiance head on with severe economic sanctions.

The time for talking should be past.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Europe, Foreign Relations, Iran, Middle East

Notable and Quotable

The biblical writers take the opposing view [of the (post)modern mentality]. Truth statements do indeed correspond to what is out there. Biblical affirmations are neither arbitrary nor provisional but have all the weight of eternity behind them. And the biblical authors clearly assume that despite capacities for misreading our own desires into this truth, seeing only what we want to see, refusing to see what is actually there, we can still know this truth. And this is so despite the many innocent mistakes we might make in reading the Scriptures.

–David Wells, The Courage to be Protestant (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008), page 80

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Nigerian Anglican Bishops receive Youth Fellowship Awards

In his remarks shortly before he was given the Award, Rt. Rev Chukwuneye urged youth to acquaint themselves with skills to compete and fulfill their divine mandate globally beyond the shores of local church and not only concentrating energy in local churches or dioceses.

According to him, discovering the purpose for which every life and the society exit will go a long way in achieving excellence and making the world a better place for all.

“God has a purposed in forming Rising Stars Fellowship. God is God of purpose; in you discovered the purpose for which God brought you to existence? You must key to the global purpose of God, not only concentrating on localized worships, but global worships for all nations of the world. God expects you to be given thanks and in doing that, we will be able to affect the society positively”Chukwunonye said.

He urged Christians to always avoid living segmented, haphazard and divergent lifestyles faithful Jesus who lived an exemplary life while on earth not be fixed to a particular character.

“As Christians, we should avoid exhibiting to avoid disgracing the conflicting attitudes at home, office, church market and other places ,because as Christians we should approach life positively to affect our generation as if there is no tomorrow,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria

Hindu converts to Christianity to keep Caste status

Church leaders in India have welcomed the call by the Andhra Pradesh State Assembly for India’s federal government to allow Hindu Dalits who convert to Christianity to keep their protected status as members of a Scheduled Caste (SC).

On Aug 25 the legislature of the southeastern Indian state passed a resolution presented by the state’s chief minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy that petitions the national government to amend the Constitution to confer SC status on Dalit Christians.

The Indian Constitution allows quotas in educational institutions and government jobs for members of castes once considered “untouchable,” to support their social and economic advancement. According to the 1950 Presidential Order however, SC privileges are meant only for Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists, but not Christians.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Hinduism, India, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Lowcountry S.C. Principal Lucy Beckham named National High School Principal of the Year

Beckham has been an educator for more than 33 years, an administrator for 15 years and principal of Wando, the state’s largest high school, since 1998. She oversaw the school’s move into its new building in 2004, and she helped create four career-related schools of study and a ninth-grade academy to ensure students have more opportunities for personal connections. Students meet weekly with faculty advisers and, as upperclassmen, with an administrator or counselor who monitors and supports them through graduation.

Under Beckham’s leadership, Wando has been the recipient of numerous statewide and national accolades. The school was named one of the best in the country by U.S. News & World Report, its band was recognized as best in the nation, and both its newspaper and culinary arts programs have garnered national honors.

After receiving the award, Beckham told those gathered that this honor wasn’t about her and that it was their award. She credited teachers, students, parents and the community for making the school the great place that it is. She called it a principal’s dream to be in a town such as Mount Pleasant, where officials support the school any way they can.

“Wando is an incredible place,” she said. “Everyone here is committed to excellence.”

Read the whole article from the front page of the local paper.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Education, Teens / Youth

Joy R. Jones Chimes In

Have you ever seen the brochure, “What did Jesus Say About Homosexuality?”

When the brochure is opened, the pages inside are completely blank. In the early 1990s Episcopal Chaplain Penelope Duckworth at Stanford University had that brochure posted to her door. She was way ahead of her time.

This letter addresses my confusion regarding the commanding involvement of the Diocese of Portland as it struggles to beat up many of its own parishioners.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Michael J. Henchal: Another Look at "Gay Marriage"

Regrettably, we all know that the bond between marriage and procreation was ruptured some decades ago. Today about 40% of children in America are born outside of marriage and in some groups that percentage rises to about two-thirds of all births.

Now, the state tells us that even being male and female has nothing to do with marriage. So if you eliminate openness to permanence, fidelity, openness to children, and male and female, what is left of marriage? It becomes no more than a relationship for mutual support and sharing of property and, since the state cannot legislate mutual support, it ends up little more than a contract regarding property rights. Marriage has been reduced to the least common denominator.

Now I am no hopeless romantic, but this sounds to me like a frightening reduction in the nature of marriage, a social structure so necessary for the well-being of society. At this point, you can see that what the state does is never more than civil unions. An individual couple may, by their own consent, choose to bind themselves in a religious or even nonreligious ceremony to more than a mere contract regarding property rights, but the state makes no such demand. The state sees no difference between marriage and civil unions. But, is that really the “marriage” we want as a society, and, for that matter, as voters?

If marriage means marriage, with all the elements of that definition I have listed above, and if marriage is not just civil union, then there is nothing discriminatory about restricting marriage to one man and one woman. That’s simply the definition of the thing.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Theology

National Catholic Register: Defending Marriage in Maine

Portland Bishop Richard Malone has publicly supported the repeal of the law.

“We oppose attempts to grant the legal status of marriage to a relationship between persons of the same sex,” said Bishop Malone. “A same-sex union can never realize the unique and full potential that the marital relationship expresses.”

The organization Stand for Marriage Maine, which is fighting for the repeal of the law, released its first television ad last Tuesday, featuring Boston College law school professor Scott Fitzgibbon. Their “Yes on 1” campaign billboards and yard signs are beginning to appear around the state.

Read it all and make sure to follow the link to the youtube video.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality

Sudan Tribune: Archbishop Marona laid to rest in Juba

The retired Archbishop of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan (ECS), the Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Marona Biringi, died in Khartoum on Friday, September 18 and was laid to rest on the following Friday at All Saints’ Cathedral in Juba town.

The late archbishop died at the house of his son, Hon. Justin Joseph Marona, the Chairman of Economics Committee in the National Assembly at Kalakala, South of Khartoum on Friday at around 10:00 PM.

Rev. Dr. Marona was a Baka by tribe from Munga Can in Maridi County of Western Equatoria State. He was born in Maridi in 1941. In 1981 he was ordained deacon and in 1982 ordained priest. On Apri, 22, 1984 he was consecrated the bishop and became the first diocesan bishop of Maridi under the Diocese of Yambio.

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