Monthly Archives: April 2010

Meera Subramanian–A Crisis for the Faithful Among the Parsis

The Parsi bodies are piling up in India. Parsis are modern adherents of the ancient Zoroastrian faith that emerged in the 6th century B.C. in Persia, predating Christianity and Islam. According to many scholars, Zoroastrianism influenced these religions and Judaism with its fundamental concept of a dualistic world of light versus darkness, with a good God pitted against the forces of evil.

In the earthly realm of humans, Parsis also believe in the ritual purity of fire, soil and water, elements that shouldn’t be sullied by pollution from a defiling corpse. So while virtually all other cultures dispose of their dead by burial or cremation, Parsis have followed a more unusual method. Yet after millennia, that method now has been called into question, forcing a crisis of faith whose only answer is adaptation.

In a ritual so old it was described by Herodotus, Zoroastrians have laid out their dead atop Towers of Silence to be exposed to sun, sky and””most importantly””vultures. These massive harbingers of death with eight-foot wingspans once numbered in the millions across South Asia and could strip a corpse to the bone in hours. Yet their service has come to an abrupt end in the past decade as the vulture population plummeted due to a fatal reaction to a common painkiller given to the livestock and humans that the birds eventually feed upon. Ongoing habitat shrinkage has exacerbated the decline. With vultures virtually extinct, the Parsis are left struggling with the question of how to preserve traditions when modern forces conspire against them.

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

Reuters: After TV win, Cameron tries to win UK voters' trust

Energised by a clear win in a final TV debate, Conservative leader David Cameron sought on Friday to convince waverers in a tight election race they could trust him with Britain’s future.

With a week to go before an election, snap viewer polls judged Cameron, 43, the victor of the third and final TV debate on Thursday night. Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, 43, was second while Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown, 59, came last.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Politics in General

Nicholas Kristof–Winning the Guinea Worm War

Since ancient times, one of the world’s most terrifying ailments has been caused by what the Bible calls “the fiery serpent,” now known as Guinea worm.

Guinea worms grow up to a yard long inside the body and finally poke out through the skin. They cause excruciating pain and must be pulled out slowly, an inch or two a day. In endemic areas like this district in Lakes State of southern Sudan, people can have a dozen Guinea worms dangling from their bodies.

Yet this is a good news column.

This district is, in fact, one of the last places on earth with Guinea worms. If all goes well, Guinea worms will be eradicated worldwide in the next couple of years ”” only the second disease ever to be eliminated, after smallpox.

For the last 24 years, former President Jimmy Carter has led the global struggle against the disease. When he started, there were 3.5 million cases annually in 20 countries. Last year, there were fewer than 3,200 cases in four countries: Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali and Sudan. The great majority of the remaining cases are here in southern Sudan.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Health & Medicine, Poverty, Sudan

Michael Nazir-Ali.–The Legal threat to our spiritual tradition

Lord Justice Laws’s judgment on the Gary McFarlane case in the Court of Appeal ”“ that legislation for the protection of views held purely on religious ground cannot be justified ”“ has driven a coach and horses through the ancient association of the Christian faith with the constitutional and legal basis of British society.

Everything from the Coronation Oath onwards suggests that there is an inextricable link between the Judaeo-Christian tradition of the Bible and the institutions, the values and the virtues of British society. If this judgment is allowed to stand, the aggressive secularists will have had their way.

It also raises a number of fundamental questions to which answers need to be provided. Will there be, once again, a religious bar to holding office? We have already had a rash of cases involving magistrates unable to serve on the bench because of their Christian beliefs, registrars losing their jobs because they cannot, in conscience, officiate at civil partnerships, paediatricians unable to serve on adoption panels”¦ Will this trickle gradually become a flood, so that rather than conforming to the Church of England, the new discrimination tests will involve conforming to the secular religion as promoted by Lord Justice Laws?

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

NPR–The Not-So-Funny Tale Of Laughing Gas

In 1799, a very young chemist ”” about 21 years old ”” inhaled a lot of carbon monoxide directly into his lungs, keeled over, was seized by agonizing chest pains, staggered into his garden, got giddy, became nauseous, went to bed, recovered ”” and then, a few days later, he did it again.

Welcome to the world of 18th century science. Richard Holmes, in his book Age of Wonder, describes how young Humphry Davy went looking for a possible cure for tuberculosis. He tried inhaling very different gases, hoping to improve respiration. In a very un-20th century way, he matter-of-factly experimented on himself, his pets, his friends and even friends of friends.

Listen to it all (about 7 3/4 minutes). A terrific piece on the history of science.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, History, Science & Technology

Robert Verkaik: Lord Carey's proposal is a step back to medieval days

It is out of profound respect for Lord Carey that a senior judge yesterday went to such obvious trouble of dignifying the former Archbishop of Canterbury’s question with an answer.

The Anglican prelate’s self-serving proposition that there should be a law that imposes a special duty on the judiciary to be sympathetic to the teachings of the Church of England, or indeed any other religion, is risible.

Yet Lord Justice Laws devoted more than 1,000 words of his judgment to dissecting Lord Carey’s argument, before concluding that he found it “deeply unprincipled”. The judge also said that it was irrational, divisive, capricious and arbitrary.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

Indian Anglican church leader comes to Melbourne on goodwill visit

The Anglican Bishop of Delhi, the Right Reverend Sunil Kumar Singh, is on a goodwill visit to Melbourne that the Anglican Church hopes will encourage closer ties between the churches and cities of Melbourne and Delhi.

Bishop Singh, who is the guest of the Archbishop of Melbourne, the Most Reverend Dr Philip Freier, will preach in St Paul’s Cathedral this Sunday, 2 May, at 10.30am. Members of the Indian community are especially welcome.

The bishop’s visit will last until 11 May. During his stay, Bishop Singh will visit the Brotherhood of St Laurence, meet other community leaders and offer Bible Studies to local clergy. Discussions will include the possibility of clergy exchanges and sharing experiences about living harmoniously in multicultural and multifaith societies.

Read it all.

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

Church Times–Anglican aspect of life in Ordinariate questioned

At a meeting on Saturday at Pusey House in Oxford, the Revd Jonathan Baker SSC, Principal of Pusey House, said that a group was gathering to reflect on what was the “distinct tradition” within the Anglican Church, fostered since the Reforma­tion, which was “potentially capable of finding its way to enrich the life of the wider Catholic Church”.

Under the norms of Benedict XVI’s Anglicanorum Coetibus, clergy trained in seminaries in the pro­posed Ordinariate (News, 23 Octo­ber) would be tutored in “those aspects of Anglican patrimony that are of particular value” to the RC Church.

One speaker, Eamon Duffy, Pro­fessor of the History of Christianity at Cambridge, and an Irish Roman Catholic, asked what “transferrable skills” Anglicans would bring. He said that what was distinctive was that they had been “shaped” by the Royal Supremacy, which had had a “moderating impact” on the differ­ences in the Church of England between Catholics and Protestants.

“A fundamental part of the nature, identity, and patrimony of Anglican­ism comes from the enforced co-existence of the Catholic dimension of Anglicanism within other more Protestant streams within an estab­lishment,” Professor Duffy said. There would be “big problems ima­gining how it would retain its coherence and Anglican identity outside those constraints. . . Could choral evensong survive in a min­ority uniate Church . . . within Roman Catholicism?”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, Theology

Church Times–Archbishops: Vote to make British society more just

A fairer distribution of wealth is at the centre of a call to voters issued by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York this week.

Writing in the Church Times, Dr Williams and Dr Sentamu say that the “deepest challenge” to the UK is “how the wealth we possess collectively is to become a real ”˜common wealth’, wealth that serves a whole population not just the powerful and privileged”.

Despite the recession, they write that “many in the United Kingdom are still better off financially than they have ever been.” The concept of “com­mon wealth” is central to the Chris­tian understanding of “what a just and sustainable society looks like”.

The Archbishops list six areas where voters need to examine the values promoted by the different parties: equality, stability, global re-sponsibility, law and justice, and the needs of older people. Unless people vote according to their values, they say, the General Election will be little more than a “celebrity contest”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Religion & Culture

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York' s article on the General Election

In the middle of the cacophony of competing voices as we prepare to vote this coming Thursday, there is a need for some quiet, some distance from the stridency, so that we can listen again for a moment to the basic questions about what kind of society we want to choose. Listening for the still small voice that speaks of these fundamental possibilities is something restorative and energising. It is time we made space for it.

Many people have been asking, in the wake of the crises both in financial markets and in political life, how we can recover confidence in our society and its direction. We have been drawn back repeatedly to the language of the ‘common good’, to questions about the real meaning of wealth and well-being, to the need for a robust vision of what is due to human beings and human society. If the general election is to be more than a celebrity contest, we must vote with our values. We must be clear about what we think is involved in being a citizen, and so what we can expect of and for citizens in this country now.

Our society needs a rebirth of civic values and virtues ”“ which is why we believe it is important both to vote and to encourage people of gifts and integrity to consider public office. We can all become real participants in the common life of a society that is working hard to clarify and realise its moral vision.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), Politics in General, Religion & Culture

KBC–Kenyan Anglican Church rejects draft law

The Anglican Church of Kenya has finally declared its position on the draft constitution.

The church which had earlier reserved its position pending further interrogation of the draft has now joined majority of other churches under the umbrella of the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK), in calling for the rejection of the draft if amendments on the contentious clauses are not made.

The church had been silent on which side it supports after a section of its Bishops and retired head David Gitari publicly declared support for the draft.

“We therefore say No to the proposed constitution as it is unless amendments are effected before the referendum,” read a statement by the bishops after day-long deliberations on Thursday at the All Saints Cathedral, Nairobi.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Church of Kenya, Anglican Provinces, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

In Ghana the Anglican Church asks "foot soldiers" to stop complaining

The Right Reverend Emmanuel Anyidana Arongo, the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Tamale, has called on Ghanaians, especially party supporters, to stop complaining and rally behind the leadership of the country.

He condemned actions of supporters of parties, especially NDC foot soldiers, for their impatience and their penchant to go on the rampage to settle scores.

“Such approach diverts the attention of the presidency and people in authority in fine-tuning the already fragile economy,” the Rt Rev Arongo said during the opening of the Sixth Diocesan Synod of the Church on Wednesday.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Provinces, Church of Central Africa, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Peter Suderman: Why Waxman Canceled the Health Care Write-Down Hearings

Ideally, of course, Congress would have never passed the Medicare prescription drug benefit to begin with, and thus never handed out the initial subsidy. That way this whole kerfuffle could have been avoided entirely. And the broader point I’d draw from all of this isn’t so much that the Affordable Care Act is going to cost big corporations billions””though it certainly is””but that the health care sector is so thoroughly dominated by government regulations and subsidies that exercise far, far too much influence over how decisions about health care and its associated costs get made. So rather than argue over the tax treatment of drug subsidies, we ought to be pushing to get rid of the subsidies entirely.

Read it all.

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

Willem Buiter gives Citi's Global Economics View: Sovereign Debt Problems in Advanced Countries

From the summary–

Sovereign Debt Problems in Advanced Industrial Countries

 Most advanced industrial countries in worst ever peacetime fiscal shape
 Sovereign default can become the least bad solution for a country
 Sovereign default risk outside Greece low but non-negligible
 Most countries will eventually choose a ”˜fiscal pain’ solution
 Debt restructuring, possibly with haircuts, likely to be part of the ”˜fiscal pain’ package
 Inflationary solution to public debt burden highly unlikely in Europe, unlikely in US
 Euro Area needs mutual fiscal insurance mechanism to survive and prosper
 Restoring fiscal balance will be a drag on growth for years to come for advanced industrial countries

The whole thing (a 68 page pdf) is here.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Budget, Economy, Europe, Globalization, Politics in General, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

Gulf spill could reach delta tonight

A federal official said this afternoon that the leading edge of the Gulf oil slick could reach the Mississippi River delta sometime tonight, and an executive said BP has asked the Department of Defense for technical help.

In Washington, lawmakers raised the heat on the offshore energy industry, although the Obama administration stopped short today of backing off its commitment to expanded drilling.

The White House dispatched top officials from the Homeland Security Department, Environmental Protection Agency and Interior Department to the Gulf Coast, and President Barack Obama today called the five Gulf Coast state governors to emphasize the federal government’s support and concern about the spill.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Politics in General, State Government

Holy Father urges end to war, education of youth in Congo

Addressing the the new ambassador to the Holy See from the Democratic Republic of Congo on Thursday, Pope Benedict called for an end to war in the country. He also took the opportunity to invite national reconciliation, especially through the education of children.

Read it all.

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

Thomas Friedman: The U.S. must lead the energy revolution or fall far behind

I appreciate the president’s dilemma. But I don’t think hanging back and letting the Senate take the lead is the right answer. This is a big leadership moment. He needs to confront it head on, because — call me crazy — I think doing the right and hard thing here will actually be good politics, too.

I’d love to see the president come out, guns blazing with this message:

“Yes, if we pass this energy legislation a small price on carbon will likely show up on your gasoline or electricity bill. I’m not going to lie. But it is an investment that will pay off in so many ways. It will spur innovation in energy efficiency that will actually lower the total amount you pay for driving, heating or cooling. It will reduce carbon pollution in the air we breathe and make us healthier as a country. It will reduce the money we are sending to nations that crush democracy and promote intolerance. It will strengthen the dollar. It will make us more energy secure, environmentally secure and strategically secure.

“Sure, our opponents will scream ‘carbon tax!’ Well what do you think you’re paying now to OPEC? The only difference between me and my opponents is that I want to keep any revenue we generate here to build American schools, American highways, American high-speed rail, American research labs and American economic strength. It’s just a little tick I have: I like to see our spending build our country. They don’t care. They are perfectly happy to see all the money you spend to fill your tank or heat your home go overseas, so we end up funding both sides in the war on terrorism — our military and their extremists.”

Read it all.

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

Jonathan Last–TV for Tots: Not What You Remember

For the most part, “Bob the Builder” is about normal kids’ stuff: teamwork, conflict resolution, taking turns and the like. The show isn’t overtly political””Bob’s catchphrase, “Yes we can!” predates the Obama campaign. Instead, it peddles a slightly hectoring brand of environmentalism. Ever since Bob discovered his inner environmental conscience, he’s been teaching kids about believing in recycling and being kind to Mother Gaia. “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” has become another one of the show’s catchphrases. That’s fine so far as it goes””aside from those evil Republicans, who doesn’t love the planet?

But it’s a little rich having Bob indoctrinate children about “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” while simultaneously prompting these children to beg their parents for plastic Bob the Builder trucks, and latex Bob the Builder balls, and plush Bob the Builder dolls. All of which are manufactured in far-away lands and shipped to our fair shores by the carbon-gobbling container-shipful. Bob the Builder is like one of those evangelists who lectures on the virtues of living green before hopping onto a private jet and flying back to his mansion in Nashville….

There’s nothing particularly pernicious about any of this. Bob and Thomas and “Sesame Street” have plenty of redeeming qualities. And in any case, if you don’t like a particular show you can always find one that better fits your tastes. Even so, it’s a shame that there isn’t more of a place for children’s entertainment that exists solely in its own universe, apart from adult debates and sociopolitical fashions.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Movies & Television

Local newspaper Editorial–Facing up to Facebook liabilities

Students applying to colleges are advised to do a lot: Make good grades; get good recommendations; play a sport; edit the yearbook; invent a simple, hand-held device that would run on solar energy and would provide a simple solution to climate change.

But those students are also being advised not to do one important thing: Leave a cyber trail that admissions offices can follow directly to their Facebook pages.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Education, Young Adults

Peter Meilaender–Defending the Innocent: Arizona and Immigration

More troubling is the requirement that law enforcement officials attempt to determine the immigration status of anyone whom they reasonably suspect of being unlawfully present in the United States. On its face, this seems fair enough, but it conjures fears of police stopping people and demanding to see identity papers with little justification. But even here the criticisms have been over the top. This is not Nazi Germany, nor is it Japanese internment. That someone might be required to show a suspicious police officer a document that he or she is required to carry anyway””just as I would need to show my driver’s license if pulled over””does not seem unjustly burdensome.

To understand the real causes of controversy, therefore, we must dig a bit deeper. They are, I think, twofold, and both reflect broader failures of governance in the U.S. today. First, it is clear that Arizona felt pressed to pass a law of this sort””and that other states will as well””precisely because the national government has for so long failed to deal effectively with the problem of illegal immigration. This may be changing””border security has improved in recent years, and increasing use of E-Verify, despite some initial kinks in the system, has gradually strengthened our ability to detect illegal employment. Nevertheless, this crisis has been two or three decades in the making, and it is not surprising that economic recession would intensify concerns about the federal government’s longstanding failure to enforce its own immigration laws.

Second is a more generalized fear””also, no doubt, prompted in part by recession, though it was visible even before the markets crashed””that the government is simply no longer doing its job. The first duty of the state is fundamentally a moral one: to protect the innocent and punish the guilty. In our system, we accomplish these goals through a system of representative government and the rule of law.

Yet recent events””in particular the completely partisan passage of Obamacare over enormous public opposition from citizens already unhappy about the bailouts, stimulus package, and ballooning deficit””have left many Americans fearing that the government no longer represents them, and that the law can therefore no longer be relied upon to protect them.

Read it all.

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

Supreme Court sides with Interior on Mojave Desert cross

The Supreme Court ruled today that Congress and the Interior Department acted properly when they used a land transfer to solve a dispute over a cross on display in the federal Mojave National Preserve.

The case, Salazar v. Buono, stemmed from a 2001 lawsuit challenging a cross erected in 1934 by the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Frank Buono, an Oregon resident who had served as an assistant superintendent in the park and was a regular visitor, claimed the memorial to World War I veterans was unconstitutional because it gave the impression that the government was advancing a particular religion.

By a 5-4 margin, the Supreme Court ruled today that lower federal courts were wrong to dismiss as “evasion” the federal government’s effort to transfer the land underneath the religious symbol. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the opinion (pdf) for the majority, arguing that the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had failed to consider the profound “dilemma” posed by the case.

The Interior Department could not leave the cross in place without violating the ruling that the display was unconstitutional, Kennedy wrote, “but it could not remove the cross without conveying disrespect for those the cross was seen as honoring. Deeming neither alternative satisfactory, Congress enacted the land-transfer statute.”

Read it all.

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

Stephen Hume–Many claims exist for oldest Anglican Church

It wasn’t my intention to further divide Anglicans when I wrote about the historic importance of little St. Stephen’s Church, founded in 1862 on Vancouver Island.

But claims to local bragging rights as the oldest Anglican Church in British Columbia have been coming in following St. Stephen’s assertion that it’s the oldest in continuous use.

Read it all from the Vancouver Sun.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, History

Living Church: SAMS Changes Its Name

The missionary society known as SAMS is keeping its acronym but changing what the initials mean. What was the South American Missionary Society”“USA is now the Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders.

“We are offering more opportunities for people to serve,” said Stewart Wicker, president and mission director of SAMS.

Wicker said the society sent its first missionary outside of Central and South America 15 years ago. That missionary served in Spain, and today 20 of the society’s 78 missionaries are serving outside of South America.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, - Anglican: Latest News, Episcopal Church (TEC), Missions

Julia Duin–Churches ride immigration wave

The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church was in town this past weekend visiting a Hispanic congregation in Hyattsville.

San Mateo, also known as St. Matthew’s, is the largest – at 300 members – of the seven Spanish-speaking congregations in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. What the Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori was looking at was the future of her denomination.

She said as much when I talked with her at the fiesta afterward. Membership in the mainline Protestant denominations is dropping like a stone – especially in the Episcopal Church, which is perilously close to dropping below the 2 million mark. The nation’s 68 million Catholics would be losing folks, too, she noted, were it not for immigration.

About 30 million of these Catholics – half of them younger than 25 – are Hispanic.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Presiding Bishop, Religion & Culture

BBC–Pakistan Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud 'still alive'

Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud survived an American drone attack in the north-west of the country in January, intelligence sources say.

Officials said at the time that he was killed in a US missile attack along with at least 10 suspected militants.

Pakistani intelligence officials now say that Mr Mehsud was only wounded in the attack – although his authority within the Taliban has diminished.

From the outset, the Taliban consistently denied that he was dead.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Pakistan, Terrorism

RNS–Roman Catholic Bishops Slam Draconian Arizona Law

The U.S. Catholic bishops slammed a new Arizona immigration law as “draconian” and called on Congress to stop political “gamesmanship” and pass immigration reform.

Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City, head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ migration committee, said Tuesday (April 27) the Arizona law could lead to ethnic profiling and adversely effect how immigrants are treated nationwide.

Wester, speaking on behalf of fellow bishops, called on the Obama administration to review the law’s impact on civil rights and urged Washington to enact federal immigration reform.

“While many of our federal elected officials have made good faith efforts to pass reform, too many still view the issue through a political lens, using it to gain political or partisan advantage,” Wester said in a statement. “This gamesmanship must stop.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, State Government

Mohamed El-Erian–Greek crisis endangers private sector

The Greek debt crisis is now morphing into something much broader. No wonder the European Union and the International Monetary Fund are scrambling to regain control of the rapidly deteriorating situation. There is talk of a bigger bail-out package for Greece. The heads of the European Central Bank and IMF have made the trip to Germany that is reminiscent of the Ben Bernanke-Hank Paulson trip to Congress in the midst of the US financial crisis.

Markets are now catching up to the reality of over-burdened public finances in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. These developments are of particular concern to countries with elevated debt levels and challenging maturity profiles for this debt. Indeed, absent some dramatic change in sentiment, they will need to worry not only about their ability to mobilise new funding from the private sector at reasonable cost, but also about keeping their existing creditors on board. As a result, credit downgrades will multiply. And once a package is approved for Greece, there will be questions as to whether similar packages can be secured for other vulnerable countries in the European Union….

The bottom line is simple yet consequential: the Greek debt crisis has morphed into something that is potentially more sinister for Europe and the global economy. What started out as a public finance issue is quickly turning into a banking problem too; and, what started out as a Greek issue has become a full-blown crisis for Europe.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Credit Markets, Economy, Europe, Germany, The Banking System/Sector

From the Morning Bible Readings

And the LORD said to Moses, “Write these words; in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments. When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tables of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. And when Aaron and all the people of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him. But Moses called to them; and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him, and Moses talked with them. And afterward all the people of Israel came near, and he gave them in commandment all that the LORD had spoken with him in Mount Sinai.

–Exodus 34:27-32

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Another Prayer for the Easter Season

O Lord Jesus Christ, who hast promised in thy holy gospel that thy disciples shall know the truth, and the truth shall make them free: Give us, we pray thee, the Spirit of truth, sent by thee and leading to thee, that we may find the truth in finding thee, who art the Way, the Truth, and the Life, for ever and ever.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, Spirituality/Prayer

E. D. Hirsch reviews Diane Ravitch's "The Death and Life of the Great American School System…"

The reasons for this communitarian emphasis were obvious to American leaders in the nineteenth century. Loyalty to the Republic had to be developed, as well as adherence to Enlightenment ideals of liberty and toleration. For without universal indoctrination by the schools in such civic virtues, the United States might dissolve, as had all prior large republics of history, through internal dissension.

The aim of schooling was not just to Americanize the immigrants, but also to Americanize the Americans. This was the inspiring ideal of the common school in the nineteenth century, built upon a combination of thrilling ideals and existential worry. By the end of the century we were educating, relative to other countries, a large percentage of the population, and this forward movement continued well into the twentieth century. In the post”“World War II period, the US ranked high internationally according to a number of educational measures. But by 1980, there had occurred a significant decline both in our international position and in comparison with our own past achievements. Two decades ago I was appalled by an international comparison showing that between 1978 and 1988 the science knowledge of American students had dropped from seventh to fourteenth place. In the postwar period we have declined internationally in reading from third place to fifteenth place among the nations participating in the survey.

The root cause of this decline, starting in the 1960s, was a by-then-decades-old complacency on the part of school leaders and in the nation at large. By the early twentieth century worries about the stability of the Republic had subsided, and by the 1930s, under the enduring influence of European Romanticism, educational leaders had begun to convert the community-centered school of the nineteenth century to the child- centered school of the twentieth””a process that was complete by 1950. The chief tenet of the child-centered school was that no bookish curriculum was to be set out in advance. Rather, learning was to arise naturally out of activities, projects, and daily experience.

Read it all.

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