Daily Archives: November 15, 2010

David Campbell and Robert Putnam–Religious people are 'better neighbors'

What is it about friends-at-church that fosters good citizenship? It could be that requests to get involved carry more moral weight when they come from someone you know through your congregation rather than work or your bowling team. Or perhaps religious congregations simply foster peer pressure to do good. At this point, we do not know the precise magic civic ingredient in religious friendships.

Not knowing exactly how religious friendships foster good neighborliness thus leaves open the possibility that the same sort of effect could be found in secular organizations. But they would probably have to resemble religious congregations ”” close-knit communities with shared morals and values. Currently, though, such groups are few and far between. (Communes might qualify, for example.)

So, does religion help or harm our civic life? The answer is a little of both. Religion means less tolerance but more neighborliness. And the reason for that neighborliness is not found in what religions teach but in the communities they form.

All of this should give both religion’s fans and foes food for thought.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture

WSJ front Page–Fresh Attack on Fed Move

A group of prominent Republican-leaning economists, coordinating with Republican lawmakers and political strategists, is launching a campaign this week calling on Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke to drop his plan to buy $600 billion in additional U.S. Treasury bonds.

“The planned asset purchases risk currency debasement and inflation, and we do not think they will achieve the Fed’s objective of promoting employment,” they say in an open letter to be published as ads this week in The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.

The economists have been consulting Republican lawmakers, including incoming House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, and began discussions with potential GOP presidential candidates over the weekend, according to a person involved.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Federal Reserve, House of Representatives, Politics in General, Senate, The U.S. Government

Morning Quiz–What percentage of Las Vegas Homes are under water on the mortgage?

You need to guess before you look.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, City Government, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Politics in General

Answering the call in Lenawee County, Michigan–Two local residents ordained as transitional deacons

When Diana Walworth of Adrian opened a letter several years ago from a discernment team at her church, St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal, telling her the team had discerned that she should study to become a priest, she was pretty stunned.

“I had no idea what I’d done (to get such discernment),” she said.

In fact, when she and the other members of her church had filled out sheets earlier listing what they each saw as their gifts and talents, “I told Sandy””ˆ”” the church’s then-rector, the Rev. Sandy Benes ”” “that ”˜I’m not sure they’ll find anything for me to do, because all I have is the ability to love.’ ”

It so happened that another person in the church, Tecumseh’s Mark Hastings, received the same letter ”” and had very much the same reaction. And over the years since that day, he said, there have been plenty of times when “you go through periods of saying, ”˜Am I worthy?’ ”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

The Latest Edition of the Anglican Digest

You can find it here. Please consider becoming a regular reader if you are not at present and pass on the link to your friends.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Media, Pastoral Theology, Theology

Disney encourages sales of digital movies

Walt Disney Co. has begun rolling out its plan to spur digital movie purchases by removing the technological obstacles that thus far have stymied growth.

The studio has quietly launched Disney Movies Online, which lets consumers buy or rent digital versions of Disney and Pixar films and watch them on the Internet. The site was conceived as a bridge to gently transition the family entertainment company’s mainstream consumers from the physical to the digital world. It debuted in May without fanfare.

How much without fanfare? Disney still isn’t promoting the site beyond including the Web address on a sleeve inside DVDs and Blu-ray packages. There isn’t even a link to it on the company’s main website.

Read it all.

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

A.S. Haley on some recent Reappraisers Flaccid Arguments–"My Church, Right or Wrong!"

“[A] notion invented . . . to suit the political needs of a dissatisfied minority.” Rather says it all, doesn’t it? The original fundamental principles on which the Church was founded in 1789, and then re-established in 1901, have now — in the eyes of Mr. Naughton and his ilk — become the concoctions of a minority — and not just any minority, but a dissatisfied minority. (Could that possibly be a case of self-reference?)

Diocesan autonomy is not, and could never be, an “invented notion”; it is inherent in the very concept expressed by the word “diocese.” Mr. [Jim] Naughton’s claim that he will never “embrace the notion of diocesan autonomy” is on a par with claiming that he “will never agree that grapefruits taste sour”, or that “mosquito bites itch.” The roots of “diocese” go back to the Greek dio, “thoroughly”, and oikos, “house”, the combination of which yielded the verb diaoikein, “to control, govern, manage a house,” and the noun diaoikesis, meaning “government, province, administration.” When borrowed for the administrative units of the early Church, the word kept its connotation of governmental autonomy, under a single bishop.

Sovereign, autonomous dioceses came to this country with the founding of Jamestown in 1607 and the holding of the first communion service using a log nailed between two trees as an altar. The “Diocese of Virginia” thereby established was soon followed by similar autonomous branches of the Church of England in New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Maryland and Delaware. It was those autonomous dioceses (without, at first, any bishops) which came together in 1785 to 1789 to assemble the framework of a national Church.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Theology

NY Times Week in Review–Budget Puzzle: You Fix the Budget

This is a good exercize.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, Social Security, Taxes, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

David Brooks is Hopeful about America's Future

The [Deficit Reduction] report from the chairmen lists some of the best ways to raise revenue and cut spending. But it comes with no enactment strategy. In this climate, asking politicians to end the mortgage deduction and tax employer health care plans and raise capital gains taxes and cut benefits for affluent seniors is like asking them to jump on a buzzing sack full of live grenades. They won’t do it.

So we continue on the headlong path toward a national disaster. And along the way our dysfunctional political system will leave all sorts of other problems unaddressed: immigration, energy policy and on and on.

Yet, I’m optimistic right now. I’m optimistic because while our political system is a mess, the economic and social values of the country remain sound. My optimism is also based on the conviction that serious, vibrant societies don’t sit by and do nothing as their governments drive off a cliff.

Over the past few years, we have seen millions of people mobilize ”” some behind President Obama and others around the Tea Parties. The country is restive and looking for alternatives. And before the next round of voting begins, I suspect we will see another mass movement: a movement of people who don’t feel represented by either of the partisan orthodoxies; a movement of people who want to fundamentally change the norms, institutions and rigidities that cause our gridlock and threaten our country.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Budget, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, History, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, Social Security, Taxes, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

BBC–Darfur violence alert as Sudan referendum nears

The head of peacekeepers in the Darfur region of Sudan has warned of increased violence ahead of January’s referendum on possible independence for the south.

Ibrahim Gambari condemned recent clashes between the Sudanese army and two Darfuri rebel groups.

Some analysts accuse the government of trying to eliminate the rebels before it deals with the referendum.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Sudan, Violence

U.S., NATO to announce 'transition' strategy in Afghanistan war

The seemingly contradictory messages, in communiques and agreements to be released at NATO’s upcoming summit in Lisbon, are intended to reassure U.S. and European audiences that the process of ending the war has begun.

At the same time, the coalition wants to signal to the Taliban – along with Afghans and regional partners who fear a coalition withdrawal, and Republicans in Congress who oppose it – that they are not leaving anytime soon.

“We have to assemble a coherent narrative . . . that everyone buys into,” said a senior administration official, one of several who discussed ongoing alliance negotiations on the condition of anonymity.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Afghanistan, Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Europe, Foreign Relations, Pakistan, War in Afghanistan

Uruguay votes to transfer to another Province

(ACNS) One week after a proposal to allow dioceses to individually permit women’s ordination to the priesthood was turned down by the Tenth Synod of the Province of the Southern Cone, the Diocese of Uruguay has voted to seek another jurisdiction with which to share its ministry.

The vote in the Province had been by a specific request of the Diocese of Uruguay and sought to allow a diocesan option in the matter, rather than Provincial wide adoption, so that the diocese could proceed to minister within a very difficult agnostic milieu. Uruguay felt that after a nine year hiatus since the last vote for approval, a patient wait would be rewarded. That was not the result and so the Uruguayan Synod took this measure to move away from the Province.

The extraordinary diocesan Synod was held November 12 in the capital city of Montevideo and the motion to quit the Province was proposed by the Diocesan Council and passed with a simple majority vote in orders according to the Uruguayan canonical process. Bishop Miguel Tamayo then informed the Primate, Hector ‘Tito’ Zavala, Bishop of Chile, the other Bishops and the Executive Council.

The diocese requests that permission for transfer from the Province take place within the year and that if this is not possible an appeal would be made to the Anglican Consultative Council to arrange for oversight, following Provincial canons. Uruguay has been a diocese within the Southern Cone since its formation in 1988.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Latest News, Anglican Provinces, Cono Sur [formerly Southern Cone]

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God, most holy, most loving, infinite in wisdom and power: Teach us to reverence thee in all the works of thy hands, and to hallow thy name both in our lives and in our worship; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

A Prayer for the Provisional Feast Day of Francis Asbury and George Whitefield

Holy God, who didst so inspire Francis Asbury and George Whitefield with evangelical zeal that their faithful proclamation of the Gospel caused a great awakening among those who heard them: Inspire us, we pray, by thy Holy Spirit, that, like them, we may be eager to share thy Good News and lead many to Jesus Christ, in whom is eternal life and peace; and who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.'”

–Luke 16:29-31

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Kent News–Anglican priests consider move to Rome

Following the news earlier this week of five bishops resigning to join the Roman Catholic Church in the wake of protests over changes ”“ among them the ordination of women bishops ”“ two leading local figures have now admitted they are considering their position.

Father Ed Tomlinson, from St Barnabus’ Church in Tunbridge Wells and Father Ivan Aquilina of St John the Baptist in Sevenoaks, spoke about the difficult decision they face and explained the schism between traditionalists and modernisers within the church.

Father Tomlinson said: “Certainly it is fair to say that it would be very difficult for anyone with genuine Catholic convictions to stay, although some may try and do that for the time being.

“Catholicism in the Church of England is dead beyond a generation. People could stay and enjoy the last few years or could make a radical decision in the short term that would guarantee a better future.

“It is easy intellectually, but emotionally it is much harder. The important thing to say is that no decision has been made yet.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

Economist–China buys up the world and the world should stay open for business

Chinese firms can bring new energy and capital to flagging companies around the world; but influence will not just flow one way. To succeed abroad, Chinese companies will have to adapt. That means hiring local managers, investing in local research and placating local concerns””for example by listing subsidiaries locally. Indian and Brazilian firms have an advantage abroad thanks to their private-sector DNA and more open cultures. That has not been lost on Chinese managers.

China’s advance may bring benefits beyond the narrowly commercial. As it invests in the global economy, so its interests will become increasingly aligned with the rest of the world’s; and as that happens its enthusiasm for international co-operation may grow. To reject China’s advances would thus be a disservice to future generations, as well as a deeply pessimistic statement about capitalism’s confidence in itself.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Economy, Globalization

Religion and Ethics Newsweekly–Washington Jesuit Academy

POTTER: Washington Jesuit Academy [WJA] is an independent Catholic school. All of its students are African American or Latino. Most are not Catholic. Tuition is $18,000 a year, but families pay nothing. The money comes mainly from private donations and foundation grants.

SHANA HAIRE (WJA Parent): I just love my kids, you know, and I want the best for them. If you have your education you can go anywhere. Anything that you want to do in life, you can do it.

POTTER: Shana Haire’s son, Domonic, is in seventh grade at WJA and willingly gets up before dawn to begin a rigorous 12-hour day at school, 11 months a year.

DOMONIC HAIRE: It’s fun to do because you learn more every day, you know, you get to interact more with the students, so it’s like it’s another part of your family.

Read or watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Education, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

RNS–An American exorcist plies his lonely trade

Pity the poor exorcist, caught between evil spirits eager to invade human bodies and a society skeptical that demons exist outside of Hollywood horror movies.

Even some church leaders look askance at exorcists as peddlers of a practice best left in the Middle Ages. Most American exorcists, particularly the handful of priests appointed by the Roman Catholic Church, keep a low profile, hesitating to open themselves ”” or their church ”” to ridicule and quacks.

But exorcists may soon be moving out of the shadows.

U.S. Catholic bishops are sponsoring a conference this weekend in Baltimore on the “liturgical and pastoral practice of exorcism.” Fifty-six bishops and 66 priests have registered to hear about the shortage of trained exorcists and the growing interest in the mysterious rite, according to Catholic News Service.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theodicy, Theology

The Presiding Bishop addresses major ecumenical gathering on interconnectedness of God's creation

Read it all (3 page pdf).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Ecumenical Relations, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop

Independent–Afghanistan – behind enemy lines

Three years ago, the Taliban’s control over this district, Chak, and the 112,000 Pashtun farmers who live here, was restricted to the hours of darkness ”“ although the local commander, Abdullah, vowed to me that he would soon be in full control. As I am quickly to discover, this was no idle boast. In Chak, the Karzai government has in effect given up and handed over to the Taliban. Abdullah, still in charge, even collects taxes. His men issue receipts using stolen government stationery that is headed “Islamic Republic of Afghanistan”; with commendable parsimony they simply cross out the word “Republic” and insert “Emirate”, the emir in question being the Taliban’s spiritual leader, Mullah Omar.

The most astonishing thing about this rebel district ”“ and for Nato leaders meeting in Lisbon this week, a deeply troubling one ”“ is that Chak is not in war-torn Helmand or Kandahar but in Wardak province, a scant 40 miles south-west of Kabul. Nato commanders have repeatedly claimed that the Taliban are on the back foot following this year’s US troop surge. Mid-level insurgency commanders, they say, have been removed from the battlefield in “industrial” quantities since the 2010 campaign began. And yet Abdullah, operating within Katyusha rocket range of the capital ”“ and with a $500,000 bounty on his head ”“ has managed to evade coalition forces for almost four years. If Chak is in any way typical of developments in other rural districts ”“ and Afghanistan has hundreds of isolated valley communities just like this one ”“ then Nato’s military strategy could be in serious difficulty.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Afghanistan, Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, War in Afghanistan

Britain's top soldier says al-Qaeda cannot be beaten

The new head of Britain’s armed forces, Gen Sir David Richards, has warned that the West cannot defeat al-Qaeda and militant Islam.

He said defeating Islamist militancy was “unnecessary and would never be achieved”.

However, he argued that it could be “contained” to allow Britons to lead secure lives.

Gen Richards, 58, said the threat posed by “al-Qaeda and its affiliates” meant Britain’s national security would be at risk for at least 30 years.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Terrorism

Deficit-Battle Gains Demand Spreading the Pain: Albert Hunt

Russell Long, of the famous Louisiana political dynasty, loved to tell how his Uncle Earl, the governor, advised a city slicker politician, hit by redistricting, how to successfully court rural voters.

He should rumple up the fancy white suit, loosen the tie, toss dirt on those shiny shoes, and reach into his pocket, bring out that big wad of bills and “spread the joy.”

That is the mirror opposite of what the fiscal deficit commission, Congress and the White House should do if they want to seriously address long-term budget deficits. They have to spread the pain.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

Haiti's deep misery still on Alabamians' radar

“Haiti has had a rough go of it with hurricanes in 2008, then the earthquake and now cholera,” said Dave Drachlis, a deacon at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Huntsville who has made two trips to Haiti this year. The Episcopal Diocese of Alabama, which has a partnership with the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti, has sent five medical mission teams to Haiti this year and a sixth is on its way.

The Rev. John Fritschner, rector of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Auburn, and doctors Keith Adkins and Will Meadows from that parish were scheduled to leave for Haiti this weekend.

Last month, the diocese sent a team of clergy wives on a mission trip. They worked at a remote mountain school setting up a lunch program.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Caribbean, Episcopal Church (TEC), Haiti