Daily Archives: December 8, 2010

Churches seek to bridge the digital divide

As every avid Twitter user knows, there are only 140 characters in a “tweet” and that includes the empty spaces.

The bishops gathered at the ancient Council of Nicea didn’t face that kind of communications challenge and, thus, produced an old-fashioned creed that in English is at least 1,161 characters long.

No wonder so many of the gray-haired administrators in black suits in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops struggle with life online.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

The Bishop of London's Presidential Address to Diocesan Synod

Within the Diocese, Bishop Pete [Broadbent] is a most valued friend and colleague. I am deeply grateful to him for our partnership in the gospel and was able to say that when I visited him and Sarah at home on Sunday.

What the outside world sees is a bishop who represents the Church of England making comments abut a marriage for which Bishop Pete has himself apologised unreservedly. The subsequent action has been taken in consultation with Pete. The best course now is for us all to refrain from comment and observe the order of the day ”“ heads down or heads off.

Another aspect of the turbulence to which I have referred is of course the Bishop of Fulham’s retirement. Bishop John has served the Diocese for more than forty years in variety of roles and many of us have reason to be grateful for his ministry. He has the gift of colourful speech and there may be some Synod members unconvinced by his suggestion that he was leaving a “fascist” institution for Liberty Hall on Tiber. All people, however, who act conscientiously deserve our understanding.

There does however seem to be a degree of confusion about whether those entering the Ordinariate like Bishop John might be able to negotiate a transfer of properties or at the least explore the possibility of sharing agreements in respect of particular churches. For the avoidance of confusion I have to say that as far as the Diocese of London is concerned there is no possibility of transferring properties. As to sharing agreements I have noted the Archbishop of Westminster’s comment that his “preference is for the simplest solutions. The simplest solutions are for those who come into Catholic communion to use Catholic churches”. I am also mindful that the late Cardinal Hume, whom I greatly revered, brought to an end the experiment of church sharing after the Synod’s decision of 1992 because far from being conducive to warmer ecumenical relations it tended to produce more rancour.

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

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams' Radio Times Advent message

Christmas is one of the great European exports. You’ll meet Santa Claus and his reindeer in Shanghai and Dar-es-Salaam; a long way from the North Pole. More seriously and less commercially, the story of the Nativity is loved even in non-Christian contexts (I discovered that one of the best and most sensitive recent film re-tellings of the story was one made by an Iranian Muslim company). The weary annual attempts by right-thinking people in Britain to ban or discourage Nativity plays or public carol-singing out of sensitivity to the supposed tender consciences of other religions fail to notice that most people of other religions and cultures both love the story and respect the message.

It isn’t difficult to see why. For a start, the story is a compelling and dramatic one. A long journey through a land under military occupation; a difficult birth in improvised accommodation. And alongside these harsh realities, the skies torn open, and blazing angelic voices summoning a random assortment of farm labourers to go and worship in the outhouse; or a mysterious constellation in the heavens triggering a pilgrimage by exotic oriental gurus to come and kneel where the farm labourers have knelt.

The story says that something is happening that will break boundaries and cross frontiers, so that the most unlikely people will find they are looking for the same thing and recognise each other instead of fearing each other.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Advent, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons

(NY Times) Pulling Back the Curtain on Fraud Inquiries

….in the two years since the peak of the financial crisis, the government has not brought one criminal case against a big-time corporate official of any sort.

Instead, inexplicably, prosecutors are busy chasing small-timers: penny-stock frauds, a husband-and-wife team charged in an insider trading case and mini-Ponzi schemes.

“They will pick on minor misdemeanors by individual market participants,” said David Einhorn, the hedge fund manager who was among the Cassandras before the financial crisis. To Mr. Einhorn, the government is “not willing to take on significant misbehavior by sizable” firms. “But since there have been almost no big prosecutions, there’s very little evidence that it has stopped bad actors from behaving badly.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Stock Market, The Banking System/Sector, The U.S. Government, Theology

NPR–Elizabeth Edwards Succumbs To Cancer

Elizabeth Edwards ”” who catapulted into the public eye in 2004, when her husband, Sen. John Edwards, ran for president and was John Kerry’s running mate on the Democratic ticket, has died, a close family friend tells NPR. She was 61.

Over the past few years, Edwards wrote two best-selling books, fought a well-publicized battle against cancer and saw her marriage crumble after her husband fathered a child with another woman.

Even for a public figure, Edwards led an extraordinarily public life. Not only did she do the things most political spouses do ”” the fundraisers and the luncheon speeches and the campaign rallies ”” but she also allowed the country to share her personal struggles. She wrote candidly about the death of her teenage son. She spoke openly about having cancer ”” even holding a news conference with her doctor to announce her diagnosis. And after her husband confessed to an affair, she went on the talk-show circuit, explaining in a 2009 NPR interview that she hoped to help others by talking about her pain.

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Women

Obama Administration wants Fannie and Freddie to join program to cut underwater Mortgage Balances

The Obama administration is pressuring Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, through their primary regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The administration wants the firms to join a program run by the Federal Housing Administration that allows banks and other creditors, which agree to write down mortgages, to essentially hand off the reduced loans to the FHA.

Federal officials estimate that 500,000 to 1.5 million homeowners could benefit from the program””a fraction of the estimated 11 million borrowers who were underwater as of June 30, according to CoreLogic Inc. That figure represents about 23% of all U.S. households with a mortgage.

Industry executives say the FHA program””as well as a related initiative by Treasury””will be only marginally helpful to the housing market without the participation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The program completed three loan modifications during its first three months and received 61 applications

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government

(LA Times) Michael Oren–A lesson of the Carmel fire in Israel

Hanukkah, which we celebrate this week, recalls the miracle of lights that burned for eight days. Israel, meanwhile, struggled to extinguish a forest fire raging out of control. Fanned by Santa Ana-type winds, the blaze engulfed the Carmel region of the Lower Galilee, claiming 42 lives, destroying communities, and consuming about 10,000 acres and more than 4 million trees. A country that has prevailed through successive wars and terrorist attacks, Israel had never before confronted such a devastating natural disaster. And we could not overcome it alone.

Admitting that was not easy for us. A self-reliant people who are renowned as first responders to disasters abroad ”” in earthquake-stricken Haiti and Turkey, for example, or in a Congolese village decimated by fire ”” we are accustomed to offering rather than requesting aid. And yet, as the Carmel fire spread, forcing 17,000 people from their homes, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not stand on pride. “We live in a global world,” he explained. “We give and receive help, and it’s not shameful to ask.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Foreign Relations, Israel, Middle East

CP–Polygamy leaves women worse off, court told

The same supply-and-demand forces that drive the economy ensure women are worse off in societies where polygamy is practised, a professor testified Tuesday at a landmark court case examining Canada’s ban on multiple marriages.

Shoshana Grossbard, an expert in the economics of marriage from San Diego State University, said allowing men to have multiple wives inevitably leads to a reduced supply of women, increasing demand.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Canada, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Women

A Prayer for the (Provisional) Feast Day of Richard Baxter

We offer thanks, most gracious God, for the devoted witness of Richard Baxter, who out of love for thee followed his conscience at cost to himself, and at all times rejoiced to sing thy praises in word and deed; and we pray that our lives, like his, may be well-tuned to sing the songs of love, and all our days be filled with praise of Jesus Christ our Lord; who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Lord Jesus Christ, who at thy first coming didst warn us to prepare for the day when thou shalt come to be our judge: Mercifully grant that being awake from the sleep of sin, we may always be watching and intent upon the work thou hast given us to do; who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end.

–W. E. Scudamore

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

In the year that King Uzzi’ah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim; each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.

–Isaiah 6:1-4

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

In visit to Afghanistan, Gates reminded of tough fight U.S. troops face

Persistent reminders that U.S. troops remain embroiled in a tough fight greeted Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates as he toured eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday, days before the Obama administration is scheduled to complete a major review of its war strategy.

A few miles from the Pakistani border, in Konar province, Gates pinned combat medals on a dozen soldiers as U.S. commanders reported a litany of challenges in attempting to secure the area. At another border-region base, in Nangahar province, Gates offered condolences to an Army platoon that suffered six deaths last week when an Afghan police officer opened fire on his U.S. trainers.

“I know you all have had a rough go of it, taken a lot of losses,” Gates told soldiers at Forward Operating Base Connolly in Nangahar, not far from the Tora Bora district, where Osama bin Laden narrowly escaped U.S. and Afghan forces nine years ago.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Defense, National Security, Military, War in Afghanistan

The Bishop of Michigan on What Makes a Vibrant Episcopal Church

Read it all–pages 3 and 4 once you download the pdf.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, TEC Parishes

Calgary Anglican explains why parish wants to join Catholic church

For longtime Anglican Richard Harding, switching to the Catholic church feels like coming home.

Last month, Harding and other members of the St. John the Evangelist congregation in Calgary became the first Anglican parish in Canada to accept an offer from the Pope to rejoin the Catholic church.

Harding said they are excited about the change.

Only two members of the parish in Inglewood, one of the city’s oldest neighbourhoods, voted against the move and a few others abstained.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

In Western Massachusetts Diocese, Adams, North Adams Episcopal churches decide to merge

After 15 months of sharing a priest, a music minister and parish administrator, as well as alternating weekend services between the city and Adams, the members of St. John’s Episcopal Church in North Adams and St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Adams have voted to consolidate the two entities into a single congregation — All Saints Episcopal Church.

The new congregation will continue to alternate its weekend Mass services between the two church buildings, with hopes of eventually building a new, smaller church, senior wardens Susan Walker and JoAnn Gagne said in an interview on Monday.

“We’ve been headed in this direction for some time,” Walker, of North Adams, said. “The decision to consolidate has mostly been driven by the financial crisis of 2008, which has negatively impacted all of the churches in this area. We were trying to figure out a way to survive, when the idea of consolidating was first posed about 112 years ago. Neither church is very big, so it made sense to explore the idea. We’ve received a lot of support from our diocese — the Dioceses of the Western Massachusetts Protestant Episcopal Church.”

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