Daily Archives: November 12, 2010

Evan Goldstein: Israel's Ultra-Orthodox Welfare Kings

In Israel, where modernity coexists uneasily with tradition, hand-wringing about the country’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish minority is a national pastime. Cloistered in poor towns and neighborhoods, exempted from conscription into the military and surviving largely off government handouts, the black-hatted ultra-Orthodox, known as Haredim, have long vexed more secular Israelis. Now, in the wake of an Israeli Supreme Court decision, this perennial tension has escalated to new heights.

The immediate issue is a decades-old state policy of providing stipends to students who attend religious schools, called yeshivas. In June, the court declared those stipends illegal, citing discrimination against secular university students who don’t qualify for such assistance. Last month, however, ultra-Orthodox lawmakers introduced a bill to reinstate the stipend. “The state sees a great importance in encouraging Torah study,” says their proposal.

Opposition to the bill is fierce, as many Israelis believe that decades of welfare and draft exemptions have created a cycle of poverty and dependence among Haredim. “If they want to live in a ghetto, fine, but why should the state pay for it?” Yossi Sarid, a former education minister, told the Associated Press. The controversy has triggered street protests across Israel, and threatens to topple the coalition government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Israel, Judaism, Middle East, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Anna Nussbaum Keating: Losing My Religion

Perhaps if ordinary people were publicly Catholic or Christian in their daily lives and online, that would dispel some of the stereotypes and make the civic discourse on faith more fruitful, more authentic, more varied or nuanced. I spoke to one Catholic woman who told me she viewed her Facebook profile as an “apostolate.” She shares musings about her love of the church right alongside her love of kickboxing. The transition, for her, was seamless. She is not aggressive in her posts, but it’s clear that she is deeply committed to her local parish.

If you find my page on Facebook, it will not take you long to discover that I am Catholic, but I do sympathize with friends who are reluctant to make such electronic declarations of faith. Surely it is not ideal to “discuss” religion or politics in the decidedly anti-Socratic setting that is Facebook. Still, when religion is one of the few things that remain private in our carefully constructed, very public, online universe, then religious voices at the extremes will profile us all.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Leaders Defer Decisions on Curbing Imbalances at the G-20 Meeting

Leaders of the world’s biggest economies agreed on Friday to curb “persistently large imbalances” in saving and spending but deferred until next year tough decisions on how to identify and fix them.

The agreement, the culmination of a two-day summit meeting of leaders of the Group of 20 industrialized and emerging powers, fell short of initial American demands for numerical targets on trade surpluses and deficits. But it reflected a consensus that longstanding economic patterns ”” in particular, the United States consuming too much, and China too little ”” were no longer sustainable.

President Obama called the agreement significant, even if not as dramatic or far-reaching as the one that emerged from the first G-20 leaders’ meeting in 2008, when nations came together quickly amid fears of a global meltdown.

“Instead of hitting home runs, sometimes we’re going to hit singles,” Mr. Obama said. “But they’re really important singles.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, G20, Globalization

CEN–Proposed 2011 Primates meeting in Ireland in doubt

The Archbishop of Canterbury has proposed suspending the Primates Meeting””the fourth ”˜instrument of unity’ in the Anglican Communion””in favour of holding multiple small group gatherings of like minded archbishops.

In a letter to the primates dated Oct 7, Dr. Rowan Williams suggested that given the “number of difficult conversations” and the threat of a boycott of its meetings, a regime of separate but equal facilitated small groups sessions might better serve the primates’ “diverse” perspectives and forestall the substantial “damage” to the communion a full-fledged boycott would entail.

Dr. Williams also called for a reform of the structure of the meetings, suggesting that an elected standing committee be created and the powers and responsibility of the meeting of the communion’s 38 archbishops, presiding bishops and moderators be delineated.

Lambeth Palace did not respond to a request for clarification about the Oct 7 letter, while a spokesman for the Anglican Consultative Council said it could not address the question of a potential boycott as “the content of correspondence between the Primates and the Archbishop of Canterbury is private.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury

Church Times–Flying bishops move as eleventh hour approaches

After months of speculation over their future, two Provincial Episcopal Visitors (PEVs) ”” the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, the Rt Revd Andrew Burnham, and the Bishop of Rich­borough, the Rt Revd Keith Newton ”” announced this week that they are resigning to take up the Pope’s offer of joining the Ordinariate.

They will be accompanied by the Bishop of Fulham, the Rt Revd John Broadhurst, who had announced his intention to enter the Ordinariate at Forward in Faith’s National As­sembly last month… and two retired bishops, the Rt Revd Edwin Barnes, a former Bishop of Richborough, and the Rt Revd David Silk, a former Bishop of Ballarat in Australia, now an hon­orary assistant bishop in the diocese of Exeter.

The Archbishop of Canterbury said that it was “with regret” that he had accepted the two PEVs’, or flying bishops’, resignations. He wished them well in their next stage of ministry, and thanked them for their service in the Church of England. He confirmed that he would “set in train the process for filling the vacant sees” of both flying bishops.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, Women

(Anglican Journal) John McKay: Should religion and politics mix?

To return to the thesis, [environmental concern].. is just one example of where faith communities can play a critically important role in our democracy. It is not enough to lay out a case in cold fact. It requires, as Martin Luther King Jr. understood, an appeal to the heart and soul of the individual. This is the sphere in which faith moves.

Faith can be the impetus which moves grand, national debates and changes minds. But this cannot happen unless we allow for that voice in our public realm. The strict separation of church and state as codified in the U.S. constitution was never intended to deny the voice of faith in public, but to prevent potentates like George III from dictating how and in what manner one should worship. In Canada, that formal separation has never existed. Rather, we seek to protect all forms of worship in the framework of a culture of pluralism.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Canada, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(AllAfrica) Nigerian Anglican Bishop Laments Insecurity in South East

Anglican Bishop of Egbu Diocese, near Owerri, Prof. Emmanuel Iheagwam, has expressed worry over the high rate of insecurity in the South East particularly the spate of kidnapping and violence, describing it as an embarrassment to Ndigbo.

Addressing [the] Anglican faithful, most of them priests, the laity, and the women’s guide at the church third session of the fifth Synod at the Umualum, Nekede, near Owerri on Monday, Iheagwam lamented that the perpetrators of the crime have no limits as they now abduct priests in sacred/hallowed institutions like in church, doctors in their theatres and so on.

Though, he expressed happiness that the crime has reduced drastically recently in the zone, the bishop warned some of the fleeing criminals to repent and confess their sins and turn to God before God’s judgment befalls them.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria, Violence

ENI–Global church leader credits U.S. churches for ecumenical change in last century

The head of the World Council of Churches has affirmed its ties with the U.S. National Council of Churches, praising churches in the United States for “bringing change and reformation in this sinful world”.

“The ‘old world’ of Europe brought the teaching of Martin Luther; you had the Baptist leader and visionary dreamer of a new future, Martin Luther King,” WCC general secretary the Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit said on 11 November at the NCC’s centennial ecumenical gathering in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The WCC leader noted that the rest of the world has often criticised U.S. dominance in the 20th century, a period sometimes called the “American century”. But the Norwegian Lutheran cleric said the century would also be noted for the role of the U.S. churches in the development of the international ecumenical movement.

“This needs to be recalled at a time when you and also many others in the world are aware of less beneficial effects of the American century on others in the world,” said Tveit.

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Ecumenical Relations

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Charles Simeon

O loving God, who orderest all things by thine unerring wisdom and unbounded love: Grant us in all things to see thy hand; that, following the example and teaching of thy servant Charles Simeon, we may walk with Christ in all simplicity, and serve thee with a quiet and contented mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God, whose truth is hidden from the wise and prudent, and revealed to babes: Grant us pure and childlike hearts, that being taught of thy Spirit we may know the things which belong to our peace and to our salvation; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures. Know this, my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God.

–James 1:16-20

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Statement from the Council of Forward in Faith North America

Regarding the resignations of Bishops Andrew Burnham, Keith Newton, John Broadhurst, Edwin Barnes, and David Silk – it is with thanksgiving that we recognize their faithful witness and service to Forward in Faith and the Anglican Communion in upholding the historic Catholic faith. We assure them of our gratitude and our prayers that God will bless and guide them in their future ministries. We pray that the Holy Spirit will provide discernment and guidance to our Forward in Faith brothers and sisters during this time of transition.

As our beloved brothers in Christ embark on their new chapter of ministry, Forward in Faith North America will remain an Anglican ministry, committed to upholding the historic, catholic faith of the church among its members and its affiliated parishes and jurisdictions.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

Economist–Five Anglican bishops defect to Rome. Now they need followers

Since its split from Rome (in a messy row about King Henry VIII’s divorce in 1529) the Anglican church has evolved into a curious hybrid. It tries to be both Catholic and Reformed (Protestant). Its adherents include people who believe every word in the Bible is true, modernists who consider it a collection of inspiring fables, and traditionalists who cherish archaic English.

One exotic bit of that ecclesiological cocktail is shrinking. Five bishops from the Anglo-Catholic strain in the Church of England (dubbed “smells and bells” for its love of incense and ritual) are leaving to join the Ordinariate. This is a new outfit set up by Pope Benedict XVI for Anglicans unable to accept their church’s decision this year to let women be bishops.

The move follows a crisis in the early 1990s over ordaining women priests, which Anglo-Catholics saw as dooming their hope for eventual unity with the (male-only) Roman Catholic priesthood. Around 500 Anglican priests switched to Rome then. Others decided to stay in the Church of England, in a parallel set-up led by “flying bishops”. This lot, concentrated in 363 of the church’s 13,000 parishes, bemoan its unilateral approach to theology and intolerance of minorities.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, Women

(Salt Lake Tribune) Top Episcopal bishop sees less conflict over same sex unions

Conflicts between the Episcopal Church and many in the Anglican Communion who reject same-sex unions and gay clergy, [Jefferts] Schori said, have eased in the past two years.

The Episcopal Church is even in conversation with more Anglicans around the world than it was a decade ago, she said. “The conflict has been an encouragement and an invitation to deeper dialogue and conversation.”

Whether the larger Anglican Communion eventually will accept the Episcopal Church’s approach isn’t clear.

“It takes a long time for people’s prejudices and people’s justifications for things we think are wrong to be overturned,” she said. “My hope is that eventually people will come to understand human sexuality in a broader context.”

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

Diocese of East Tennessee Standing Committee Announces Slate of Episcopal Nominees

The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee announced a slate of 4 nominees for the diocese’s fourth bishop today, Thursday, November 11, during a joint meeting with the Search/Nominating Committee at the Diocesan House in Knoxville, Tennessee.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

Harriet Baber–Crystal Cathedral had its day

Fashion dominates the world of evangelical Christianity and its therapeutic penumbra. The Crystal Cathedral, that glitzy architectural marvel, has become a 1980s nostalgia item. Now Rick Warren is the anointed leader of America’s “People of Faith” and, for the time being, Orange county crowds are flocking to Saddleback’s dull preaching halls.

But there is nothing new under the sun. Saddleback and the Crystal Cathedral, Willow Creek and all the other evangelical megachurches that have had their time in the sun sell the same product: mind-power through talk-magic, which in secular packaging is just what all the innumerable therapies and self-help programmes on the market promise.

In the US, where school psychologists are almost as common as school nurses, we are obsessed with talk therapies because they are in fact ecumenical and secularised versions of evangelical Christianity, our old time religion. Twelve-step programmes, beginning with Alcoholics Anonymous, appropriated the conversion scenario of revivalism, eliminating references to Jesus in favour of appeals to a generic “higher power”. Later self-help programmes and therapies dispensed with supernatural intermediaries altogether. Learning the right tricks and gimmicks, thinking the right thoughts and acquiring the proper attitudes would directly, by a law of nature, make good things happen for you.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Psychology, Religion & Culture

Stupidest Lawsuit Ever Has Us Suing Ourselves: Jonathan Weil

Of all the absurdities to emerge from the government’s never-ending bailout of the U.S. financial system, here’s a new one that’s hard to top: The government, through Freddie Mac, in effect is now suing itself.

Never let it be said that Bailout Nation doesn’t have a sense of humor. It would be only a slight hyperbole to say this may be the stupidest lawsuit ever.

Here’s what happened. In July the Internal Revenue Service told Freddie Mac, the congressionally chartered housing financier, that it owed $3 billion of back taxes and penalties for the years 1998 through 2005. Rather than pay up, the McLean, Virginia-based company sued the IRS on Oct. 22 in U.S. Tax Court to contest its claims.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Law & Legal Issues, The Banking System/Sector, The U.S. Government