Monthly Archives: December 2010

(Globe and Mail) The appeal of Orthodoxy to young, secular-born Jews

As Canadian youth continue their march toward secularism, with the majority of religious communities aging and shrinking, a small but steady trickle of secular Jewish youth have been heading in the opposite direction.

In what one scholar says is a movement of “tens of thousands of people” worldwide in the past two decades, Jewish youth raised in secular homes have been adopting Jewish Orthodoxy, one of the more demanding religious practices.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Canada, Judaism, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Anne Hendershott: Catholic Hospitals vs. the Bishops

Many theologians, like Prof. Nicholas Healy of St. John’s University in New York, write that theologians comprise “an alternative magisterium” to the teaching authority of the bishops. And in cases like the one at St. Joseph’s, the alternative magisterium often trumps the true Magisterium of the church. Catholic colleges and hospital administrators now “shop” for theologians who will support their decisions.

Bishop Olmsted has refused to allow this to continue. In his letter responding to Mr. Dean, the bishop wrote: “You have only provided opinions of ethicists that agree with your own opinion and disagree with mine.”

Concluding that “there can be no tie so to speak in this debate,” Bishop Olmsted said, “it is my duty as the chief shepherd in the diocese to interpret whether the actions at St. Joseph’s meet the criteria of fulfilling the parameters of the moral law as seen in the Ethical and Religious Directives.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

Pastor retires after 22 years at Ventura, California, Episcopal Church

After 22 years at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Ventura, Pastor Jerome Kahler is hanging up his collar and looking to start a new life of gardening and furniture-making.

“I’ve got major garden work I never had enough time for, to raise vegetables and flowers,” said Kahler, 66, adding that he and wife Beth also plan to travel. He said he also likes to make Shaker-style chairs from kits and plans to do that as a hobby.

Kahler first came to St. Paul’s after the previous pastor, Robert E. Henry, was accused of child molestation and suddenly resigned. “It was a hell of a way to begin,” Kahler said. “There was the betrayal of the congregation, the betrayal of the sacred trust and betrayal of the clergy. This was the 1980s, and the issue of clergy misconduct was making the news.”

Read it all.

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

(Natchez Democrat) Churches to reflect as year passes

Churches all over the Miss-Lou will be having their annual watch night services this evening to help kick off the New Year by looking back on the previous year, and looking ahead for what’s to come.

“We take the time to reflect over the year,” Zion Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church Pastor the Rev. Birdon Mitchell said. “It is a very spiritual atmosphere.”

Mitchell said the service at his church will include songs and a testimonial time where anyone who wants to speak can share.

“Any person who would like to speak and reflect over things that happened that the Lord brought them through over the year or what their desires and aspirations are can do so,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care

Church Times: Canon Andrew White defiant in face of violence

Christians in Iraq face a sombre and fearful Christmas, as the prospects for 2011 look, at best, uncertain.

“There’s been great fear, and there’s been a lot of anxiety,” Canon Andrew White, Chaplain of St George’s, Baghdad, told the BBC at the weekend. “We lost many of our families who have disappeared or been killed.” Some 500 of the formerly 4000-strong congregation were no longer present, he said.

The string of attacks on Christian targets this year, culminating in the siege in October of a cathedral in Baghdad in which more than 50 people were killed…, prompted the Iraqi government to erect concrete walls around churches and increase security in other ways. Despite the introduction of these new precau­tions, most churches in Iraq have decided not to risk the lives of members of the congregation, and have cancelled Christmas services and celebrations.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Latest News, Iraq, Middle East

Peter Schiff: Home Prices Are Still Too High

From my perspective, homes are still overvalued not just because of these long-term price trends, but from a sober analysis of the current economy. The country is overly indebted, savings-depleted and underemployed. Without government guarantees no private lenders would be active in the mortgage market, and without ridiculously low interest rates from the Federal Reserve any available credit would cost home buyers much more. These are not conditions that inspire confidence for a recovery in prices.

In trying to maintain artificial prices, government policies are keeping new buyers from entering the market, exposing taxpayers to untold trillions in liabilities and delaying a real recovery. We should recognize this reality and not pin our hopes on a return to price normalcy that never was that normal to begin with.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, House of Representatives, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Office of the President, Personal Finance, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, The 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration Plan, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government

(Living Church) Christopher Wright–Lausanne 2010: Jesus Walked Among Us

One of those responsible for leading the younger leaders movement within Lausanne, Michael Oh, wrote this afterward:

During the reception for younger leaders, where we had close to 1,000 in attendance, I mentioned that many had been asking about the future of Lausanne and the future of the global Church. So I asked the young people gathered there to look around the room and into each other’s eyes. And I said to them, “Welcome to the future.”

Jesus showed up with a message. My job at the congress, which nobody envied but everybody was keen to encourage, was to chair the Statement Working Group.

We were tasked to listen for the voice of the Lord coming through the deluge of voices in all the plenaries and groups, and a deluge it was. It was like trying to catch Niagara Falls in a bucket. We hope to release the full Cape Town Commitment, Parts 1 and 2, in January 2011.

But what struck me towards the end was how often we had heard two themes coming through again and again ”” the same voice, saying the same things: “Make disciples” (don’t just count decisions to believe in me) and “Love one another” (and stop chopping up my body among you with your brands and labels, your ignorance and arrogance). And I thought to myself: “Two thousand years ago an Ethiopian met Jesus and brought him to the top end of Africa, through the scroll of Isaiah interpreted by Philip. How wonderful that two thousand years later our Lord is meeting us at the bottom end of Africa and giving us the same fundamental message.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Evangelicals, Evangelism and Church Growth, Globalization, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, South Africa, Theology

(USA Today) Medicare to swell with Baby Boomer onslaught

Baby Boomers are about to create a record population explosion in the nation’s health care program for seniors.

Starting on Saturday, Baby Boomers begin turning 65 and qualifying for Medicare ”” one every eight seconds. A record 2.8 million will qualify in 2011, rising to 4.2 million a year by 2030, projections show.

In all, the government expects 76 million Boomers will age on to Medicare. Even factoring in deaths over that period, the program will grow from 47 million today to 80 million in 2030.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, Budget, Economy, Health & Medicine, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

(Guardian) Faith groups will not fill gaps left by spending cuts, warns Anglican bishop

A senior Church of England bishop has warned that faith groups will not step in to fill the gap left by state spending cuts, saying it would be “completely irresponsible” to leave the care of the vulnerable in the hands of “amateurs”.

The bishop of Leicester, Tim Stevens, who has spoken forcefully about David Cameron’s proposals for a “big society”, said that although faith groups were ready and willing to play a greater part in community life, their enthusiasm and engagement should not mean the government rolled back on its responsibilities to the needy.

The warning follows fears expressed by a leading charity figure this week, David Robinson of Community Links, who said massive public spending cuts threatened to undermine the big society project.

Read it all

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

A Prayer for the Provisional Feast day of Samuel Ajayi Crowther

Almighty God, who didst rescue Samuel Ajayi Crowther from slavery, sent him to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ to his people in Nigeria, and made him the first bishop from the people of West Africa: Grant that those who follow in his steps may reap what he has sown and find abundant help for the harvest; through him who took upon himself the form of a slave that we might be free, the same Jesus Christ; who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of Nigeria, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O merciful Jesus, who when thou tookest upon thee to deliver man, didst not abhor the Virgin’s womb: Vouchsafe evermore to dwell in the hearts of us thy servants. Inspire us with thy purity; strengthen us with thy might; guide us into thy truth; that we may conquer every adverse power, and be wholly devoted to thy service and conformed to thy will, to the glory of God the Father.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.

–Psalm 46:1-3; somehow oh-so-appropriate at the end of the year–KSH

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NPR) Lone-Wolf Plots Alter Anti-Terrorism Strategy In U.S.

The three [year-end 2010] plots had two things in common: They were launched by lone-wolf attackers, and the FBI was in the middle of them. Experts say to expect more undercover cases in 2011, because the agency has clearly decided that the best way to battle the growing threat of homegrown terrorism in this country is to confront the suspects directly.

“I believe that we have something in this country that you don’t see characterized in TV shows,” says Philip Mudd, a former counterterrorism official with both the CIA and the FBI, who is now a research fellow at the New America Foundation.

“It is not cells or clusters of individuals that are like-minded … it is clusters of kids who are talking about extremism,” he says. “I think this exists across the country. Kids are talking about what they don’t like in Palestine or Iraq or Afghanistan, and within those clusters occasionally you’re going to have a couple who say, ‘All my friends, all our friends are talking, why don’t we do something about it?’ ”

Read or listen to it all

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Terrorism

Families Bear Brunt of Deployment Strains

Life changed for Shawn Eisch with a phone call last January. His youngest brother, Brian, a soldier and single father, had just received orders to deploy from Fort Drum, N.Y., to Afghanistan and was mulling who might take his two boys for a year. Shawn volunteered.

So began a season of adjustments as the boys came to live in their uncle’s home here. Joey, the 8-year-old, got into fistfights at his new school. His 12-year-old brother, Isaac, rebelled against their uncle’s rules. And Shawn’s three children quietly resented sharing a bedroom, the family computer and, most of all, their parents’ attention with their younger cousins.

The once comfortable Eisch farmhouse suddenly felt crowded.

“It was a lot more traumatic than I ever pictured it, for them,” Shawn, 44, said. “And it was for me, too.”

Read it all

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Children, Iraq War, Marriage & Family, Military / Armed Forces, War in Afghanistan

(NY Times) New Look for Mecca: Gargantuan and Gaudy

It is an architectural absurdity. Just south of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, the Muslim world’s holiest site, a kitsch rendition of London’s Big Ben is nearing completion. Called the Royal Mecca Clock Tower, it will be one of the tallest buildings in the world, the centerpiece of a complex that is housing a gargantuan shopping mall, an 800-room hotel and a prayer hall for several thousand people. Its muscular form, an unabashed knockoff of the original, blown up to a grotesque scale, will be decorated with Arabic inscriptions and topped by a crescent-shape spire in what feels like a cynical nod to Islam’s architectural past. To make room for it, the Saudi government bulldozed an 18th-century Ottoman fortress and the hill it stood on.

The tower is just one of many construction projects in the very center of Mecca, from train lines to numerous luxury high-rises and hotels and a huge expansion of the Grand Mosque. The historic core of Mecca is being reshaped in ways that many here find appalling, sparking unusually heated criticism of the authoritarian Saudi government.

“It is the commercialization of the house of God,” said Sami Angawi, a Saudi architect who founded a research center that studies urban planning issues surrounding the hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca, and has been one of the development’s most vocal critics. “The closer to the mosque, the more expensive the apartments. In the most expensive towers, you can pay millions” for a 25-year leasing agreement, he said. “If you can see the mosque, you pay triple.”

Read it all

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Art, Islam, Middle East, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Saudi Arabia

Maclin Horton: The Heart of Christmas

As with the holiday, so with the culture at large. The increasingly post-Christian culture of America and Europe are nevertheless more deeply rooted in Christianity than is usually recognized by its opponents (and some of its adherents). It’s at least theoretically possible that this culture will eventually get Christianity out of its system, out of the roots of its consciousness, and negligible as a cultural force, reduced to the private practices of an eccentric few. This would take several generations, and I don’t think it will happen, but it certainly could. And if it did, the resulting culture would, like Christmas, lose the hope and the humanism which had been its legacy from Christianity. As with Christmas, if the heart were to stop beating, the body would die.

We have seen the prospects for that new culture already, in the totalitarian nightmares of communism and fascism, in the wasteland of pleasure-and-power-seeking which is offered as the good life by much of the entertainment and advertising produced by capitalism, in the drab materialist collectivism of “Imagine” and the absurd materialist egoism of Atlas Shrugged.

Perhaps it’s not even too much to say that if Christmas were to die, the remains of Christian culture would die, too, and with it that softness toward the individual human person””imperfect, of course, and slow to develop””that has characterized it. As long as the mad mixture of the very earthly and the very heavenly which is Christmas””the poor and vulnerable newborn baby among the animals on the one hand, choirs of angels on the other””remains at the heart of the holiday, and the holiday remains very much alive in the culture, the natural coldness and brutality of the human race is always challenged from within the culture itself. Should that challenge be removed, no one would be more surprised by the result than those who worked to remove it. They might not live to see that result, but if their souls were not lost altogether, part of their purgatory might be the knowledge of what they had done to their descendants.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Religion & Culture

As it Continues to Push for Rare Earth Dominance, China Cracks Down on Illegal Industrial Mining

What is new are efforts by China’s national and provincial governments to crack down on the illegal mines, to which local authorities have long turned a blind eye. The efforts coincide with a decision by Beijing to reduce legal exports as well, including an announcement by China’s commerce ministry on Tuesday that export quotas for all rare earth metals will be 35 percent lower in the early months of next year than in the first half of this year.

Rogue operations in southern China produce an estimated half of the world’s supply of heavy rare earths, which are the most valuable kinds of rare earth metals. Heavy rare earths are increasingly vital to the global manufacture of a range of high-technology products ”” including iPhones, BlackBerrys, flat-panel televisions, lasers, hybrid cars and wind-power turbines, as well as a lot of military hardware.

China mines 99 percent of the global supply of heavy rare earths, with legal, state-owned mines mainly accounting for the rest of China’s output. That means the Chinese government’s only effective competitors in producing these valuable commodities are the crime rings within the country’s borders.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, China, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Globalization, Science & Technology

Some Israelis Question Benefits for Ultra-Religious

Chaim Amsellem was certainly not the first Parliament member to suggest that most ultra-Orthodox men should work rather than receive welfare subsidies for full-time Torah study. But when he did so last month, the nation took notice: He is a rabbi, ultra-Orthodox himself, whose outspokenness ignited a fresh, and fierce, debate about the rapid growth of the ultra-religious in Israel.

“Torah is the most important thing in the world,” Rabbi Amsellem said in an interview. But now more than 60 percent of ultra-Orthodox men in Israel do not work, compared with 15 percent in the general population, and he argued that full-time, state-financed study should be reserved for great scholars destined to become rabbis or religious judges.

“Those who are not that way inclined,” he said, “should go out and earn a living.”

Read it all.

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

Duke's Mike Krzyzewski gets 880th win

Watch the whole ESPN video. My favorite moment–what he says about his parents in the interview–KSH.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education, Sports, Young Adults

To Each His Own Museum, as Identity Goes on Display

Me! Me! Me! That is the cry, now often heard, as history is retold. Tell my story, in my way! Give me the attention I deserve! Haven’t you neglected me, blinded by your own perspectives? Now let history be told not by the victors but by people over whom it has trampled.

And why, after all, should it be any different? Isn’t that the cry made by most of us? We want to be acknowledged, given credit for our unique experiences. We want to tell our stories. We want to convert you from your own narrow views to our more capacious perspective.

I am exaggerating slightly ”” but only slightly. In recent years, I have been chronicling the evolution of the “identity museum” or “identity exhibition,” designed to affirm a particular group’s claims, outline its accomplishments, boost its pride and proclaim, “We must tell our own story!”

Read it all (Hat tip: Elizabeth).

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

Nature: A round-up of the top science news stories of the past 12 months

See how many you can guess–then read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources, Globalization, Science & Technology

A Yorkshire Post article on the Ministry of Bellringing–Knowing the ropes

…the art of change ringing is something which new recruits often find hard to pick up and they usually start by training on a special computer simulator. They still pull the bell ropes, but the metal clappers in the bells have been tied up by bungees to stop them ringing, while the wheels to which each bell is attached passes an electronic sensor and sends a message to a PC downstairs in the ringing chamber, which then plays the sound of the bell. This ingenious technology spares those who live nearby having to listen to hours and hours of learner ringers, mistakes and all.

Irene Stanford-Wood, one of the newest members at Bingley, began with the simulator in September and is now ready for her first Christmas as a ringer. “I always thought you had to be big and strong, but I’m five-foot three and just under eight stone. So really it’s more about the technique and keeping track of changes.

“I like the fact that bell ringing is a public service as well as a performance. But it’s one that’s a team effort, and there’s no room for prima donnas among bellringers.”

Read it all.

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

(AP) US Muslims: a new consumer niche

In the ballroom of an upscale hotel a short train ride from New York, advertisers, food industry executives and market researchers mingled ”” the men in dark suits, the women in headscarves and Western dress. Chocolates made according to Islamic dietary laws were placed at each table.

The setting was the American Muslim Consumer Conference, which aimed to promote Muslims as a new market segment for U.S. companies. While corporations have long catered to Muslim communities in Europe, businesses have only tentatively started to follow suit in the U.S. ”” and they are doing so at a time of intensified anti-Muslim feeling that companies worry could hurt them, too. American Muslims seeking more acknowledgment in the marketplace argue that businesses have more to gain than lose by reaching out to the community.

“We are not saying, `Support us,'” said Faisal Masood, a graduate of the University of Illinois, Chicago, and management consultant. “But we want them to understand what our values are.”

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

(AP) Poll: Most want easier way to fire bad teachers

An overwhelming majority of Americans are frustrated that it’s too difficult to get rid of bad teachers, while most also believe that teachers aren’t paid enough, a new poll shows.

The Associated Press-Stanford University poll found that 78% think it should be easier for school administrators to fire poorly performing teachers. Yet overall, the public wants to reward teachers ”” 57% say they are paid too little, with just 7% believing they are overpaid and most of the rest saying they’re paid about right.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education

(Telegraph) David Cameron must face the challenge of Islamisation

First, that Muslims have migrated to Britain in enormous numbers over the past 40 years; one of the heaviest waves of immigration was encouraged by the last government. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life estimates that there are 2,869,000 Muslims in Britain, an increase of 74 per cent on its previous figure of 1,647,000, which was based on the 2001 census. No demographic statistics are reliable in an era of open borders, but such an expansion is unprecedented.

The second point is that ”“ different political traditions notwithstanding ”“ Britain is beginning to experience French-style anxiety about Islamisation.

Read it all.

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

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Frances Joseph-Gaudet

Merciful God, who didst raise up thy servant Frances Joseph-Gaudet to work for prison reform and the education of her people: Grant that we, encouraged by the example of her life, may work for those who are denied the fullness of life by reasons of incarceration and lack of access to education ; through Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

God of all grace, who didst in the fullness of time send Jesus Christ thy Son to be born of a woman, that he might redeem the sons of men and make them the sons of God: Accept our endless praise for this thy mercy; and grant that the Spirit of thy Son may so dwell in our hearts that we may evermore serve and worship thee with the freedom of thy children; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

O LORD, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure.

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Ohio sues Wells Fargo over pension fund loss

An Ohio pension fund has sued Wells Fargo & Co to recover losses suffered when a bank that it bought put the fund’s money into a risky investment vehicle that failed.

The School Employees Retirement System of Ohio, represented by state Attorney General Richard Cordray, said it lost $29.6 million because a unit of Wachovia Corp mismanaged a securities lending program marketed as a “low-risk” way to boost returns.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Education, Law & Legal Issues, Pensions, Personal Finance, Politics in General, State Government, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Daniel Henninger: Popes, Atheists and Freedom

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Politics in General, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic