Daily Archives: December 10, 2010

(WSJ) David Campbell and Robert Putnam–Charity's Religious Edge

Along with jobs and 401(k)s, a major casualty of the Great Recession has been charitable giving. According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, America’s charities report an 11% drop in contributions in the past year alone. There’s one big exception: Charitable contributions to religious groups dropped by only 0.1% from 2007 to 2009.

Americans are generous people. In 2006, as detailed in our recent book, “American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us,” 80% of all Americans reported having made a charitable contribution in the previous year. But some””the religious””contributed more than others.

Of the most secular fifth of Americans, two-thirds said they gave money to charity in the previous year. That’s an impressive number, but it pales next to the 94% of the most religious fifth who reported making a charitable donation.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

On Christmas Shopping Lists, No Credit Slips

Christmas will no longer be on credit for many shoppers, despite tempting offers from retailers and credit card companies trying to coax the plastic out of consumers’ wallets.

The lowest percentage of shoppers in the 27-year-history of a national survey said they used credit cards over the Thanksgiving weekend, while the use of general credit cards like Visa and MasterCard fell 11 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier, according to the credit bureau TransUnion.

“Cash is the route I’m taking this year, from past experiences with credit cards and being in debt and trying to pay it off for so many years,” said Liz Gonzalez, a community-college employee in Signal Hill, Calif. Her debt problems started two Christmases ago, when she charged the gifts that turned into the bills that sent her life into disarray. Ms. Gonzalez, 40, still owes $2,200 from that Christmas, and said her recent divorce had been caused in part by the stress of debt.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Personal Finance, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Church Times–Diocesan unification proposed for Yorkshire

Three dioceses in Yorkshire ”” Brad­ford, Ripon & Leeds, and Wakefield ”” should be abolished and replaced by a single, larger diocese, a report from the Dioceses Commission sug­gests.

The Commission began a review of the dioceses of Bradford, Ripon & Leeds, Sheffield, and Wakefield, and their boundaries with the diocese of York, last year. Its report, published yesterday, concludes “that the exist­ing configuration of the dioceses in West Yorkshire is no longer appro­priate for the Church’s mission and not sustainable into the future”.

It recommends, however, that the “distinct community” of South York­shire continue to have its own dio­cese of Sheffield.

Read it all.

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

CEN–Archbishop Rowan Williams' Roman Holiday

The Archbishop of Canterbury has travelled to Rome and Athens, holding private meetings with Pope Benedict XVI and the Archbishop Hieronymus II, the primate of the Church of Greece.

On Nov 17, Dr. Rowan Williams delivered a lecture commemorating the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. He joined Cardinal Walter Kasper, Cardinal-designate Kurt Koch and Metropolitan John Zizioulas of Pergamon in addressing the evening service at the Sala San Pio V in Rome.

The lectures were part of the council’s Nov 15-19 plenary session focusing on the theme: “Towards a new stage of ecumenical dialogue.” The speakers noted the weakening spirit of ecumenism, but underscored the importance of continued church relations.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecumenical Relations, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

NPR–Neil Armstrong Talks About The First Moon Walk

In yesterday’s post, I talked about Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s walk across the lunar surface back in 1969 and wondered, how come they walked such a modest distance? Less than a hundred yards from their lander?

Today Neil Armstrong wrote in to say, here are the reasons:

* It was really, really hot on the moon, 200 degrees Fahrenheit. We needed protection.

* We were wearing new-fangled, water-cooled uniforms and didn’t know how long the coolant would last.

* We didn’t know how far we could go in our space suits.

* NASA wanted us to conduct our experiments in front of a fixed camera.

* We [meaning Neil] cheated just a little, and very briefly bounded off to take pictures of some interesting bedrock.

Read it all.

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

From the U.S. News and World report Top 50 Best Careers for 2011: Clergy

From here:

From officiating at a wedding ceremony to eulogizing at a funeral, it’s clear that the job of a clergy member is complex but crucial. Whether you’re a priest, minister, vicar, rabbi, or bishop, it’s typically your job to provide religious and spiritual guidance to members of your congregation. While you will most likely rely on the authority of a particular religious text””the Bible, the Koran, or the Torah, for example””you will encounter challenging spiritual questions and earthly events that require your own interpretation of those texts and rely on your own knowledge, understanding, and faith experiences. Much of your work can be administrative””managing the day-to-day operations and staff of a religious center or place of worship””and very time consuming. It can also be highly social, whether you’re visiting congregation members in the hospital, attending a community event, or counseling a couple on the brink of divorce. It will be your responsibility to grow your congregation, find reliable lay leaders to run workshops or handle finances, and even oversee the repair of old lighting fixtures and damaged organ pipes. Keep in mind, too, that not all clerics have congregations, but may serve in other capacities….

There would seem to be no shortage of clergy in this country. There were about 670,000 jobs held by clergy in 2008, and the Labor Department expects that number to climb by 13 percent over the next decade or so. Note that opportunities are often the most numerous in smaller congregations, although pay tends to be lower.

Read the rest and check out the whole list at the link.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Independent: A global Climate Control agreement remains the planet's best hope

This is a dark hour. The Kyoto Protocol will end in 2012. With every failed summit, the likelihood grows that there will be no new treaty to replace it. Kyoto was far from perfect. The nations covered by the protocol’s targets account for less than a quarter of global emissions. And it did not cover shipping or aviation. But Kyoto did represent a global recognition of the need to tackle climate change. And if the treaty lapses without a replacement the small successes it has delivered, such as finance for developing nations that protect their rainforests, could unravel.

Optimists point out that Spain and India have made constructive moves over the past fortnight. But Japan, Canada and Russia have grown more recalcitrant. And the election of a host of new climate sceptic Republican members to Congress in last month’s mid-term US elections has tied President Barack Obama’s hands. China, meanwhile, remains the roadblock that it was in Copenhagen.

It is tempting to argue that the search for a binding global deal should now be abandoned and to recommend that governments focus on national emission reductions, bilateral deals where possible or even adaptation to a hotter planet. Yet if nations go their own way, we will likely descend into a beggar-thy-neighbour world, in which countries with laxer emissions controls poach manufacturing capacity from states that take a lead. It is hard to see even the most modest national emission reduction efforts surviving under such circumstances.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources, Globalization, Politics in General

(USA Today) Study: Happiness is having friends at church

Attending religious services regularly and having close friends in the congregation are key to having a happier, more satisfying life, a study finds.

Even attending services irregularly ”” just several times a year ”” increases a sense of well-being, so long as there is a circle of friendships within the community and a strong, shared religious identity.

That’s the key finding of a study released today in the December issue of the American Sociological Review.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Psychology, Religion & Culture

An Address by the Bishop of Montreal to General Theological Seminary (1852)

In order rightly to appreciate the position of those…Branches of the Church, of which we are severally members, it will be necessary that you should fully understand the principles upon which the great work of the Reformation was conducted, and what it really effected. This is far too wide a subject for me to do more than just glance at; but I would wish you carefully to note that it was not a work completed at once, or by one generation of men; and that it resulted in two inestimable blessings, which we now possess as our inheritance, which have preserved to us “the truth once delivered to the saints,” and which, I trust, we shall faithfully hand down to those that come after.

The first and greatest of these blessings was The Bible, which now once more received its due reverence and regard; and, having been translated into the language known and used by the people, was placed by command in all churches and places of public worship, that it might be read by all for their guidance and comfort, and be referred to by all who, respecting any matters of faith or doctrine, wished to “search the Scriptures to see whether these things were so.” [Acts xvii. 11.] And it is the great excellence of the Church, to which we belong, that, in all her formularies and articles, she shrinks from no inquiry, and fears no comparison with the written Word; and teaches expressly, in her Sixth Article, that “Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation, so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.”

The other blessing I refer to is “the Book of Common Prayer,” which serves not only as our guide and assistant in public worship, and in most simple and spiritual language leads us with one mind and one voice to praise and worship God; but it also provides us with Confessions of Faith, and standards of doctrinal truth, by means of which the maintenance of a full and pure system of Christian belief is always preserved, and the Gospel-message necessarily set forth before men.

The weakness of man is so extreme, the temptation to evil so great, and false doctrine so agreeable to our natural inclination, that we may truly bless God that we have not been left, each of us to search out for himself, without such a guide to help us, the great and essential truths contained in the Word of God.

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Posted in Uncategorized

A Prayer for the Provisional Feast Day of Karl Barth

Almighty God, source of justice beyond human knowledge: We offer thanks that thou didst inspire Karl Barth to resist tyranny and exalt thy saving grace, without which we cannot apprehend thy will. Teach us, like him, to live by faith, and even in chaotic and perilous times to perceive the light of thy eternal glory, Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, throughout all ages. Amen.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Gracious God and most merciful Father, who has vouchsafed us the rich and precious jewel of thy holy Word: Assist us with thy Spirit that it may be written in our hearts to our everlasting comfort, to reform us, to renew us according to thine own image, to build us up into the perfect building of thy Christ, and to increase us in all heavenly virtues. Grant this, O heavenly Father, for the same Jesus Christ’s sake.

–Geneva Bible

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

In thee, O LORD, do I seek refuge; let me never be put to shame; in thy righteousness deliver me! Incline thy ear to me, rescue me speedily! Be thou a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me! Yea, thou art my rock and my fortress; for thy name’s sake lead me and guide me, take me out of the net which is hidden for me, for thou art my refuge. Into thy hand I commit my spirit; thou hast redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.

–Psalm 31:1-5

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(USA Today) More states enter debate on sharia law

Although Oklahoma’s law is the first to come under court scrutiny, legislators in at least seven states, including Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah, have proposed similar laws, the National Conference of State Legislatures says. Tennessee and Louisiana have enacted versions of the law banning use of foreign law under certain circumstances.

Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the U.S. House, is pushing for a federal law that “clearly and unequivocally states that we’re not going to tolerate any imported law.”

Read it all.

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

(Bloomberg) Home Values to Drop by $1.7 Trillion This Year, Zillow Says

U.S. home values are poised to drop by more than $1.7 trillion this year amid rising foreclosures and the expiration of homebuyer tax credits, said Zillow Inc., a closely held provider of home price data.

This year’s estimated decline, more than the $1.05 trillion drop in 2009, brings the loss since the June 2006 home-price peak to $9 trillion, the Seattle-based company said today in a statement.

“It’s definitely going to continue into 2011,” Stan Humphries, Zillow’s chief economist, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television today. “The back half of 2010 looked horrible and 2011 should look like the mirror image of that.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

(Telegraph) Rowan Williams: stop political correctness taking 'Christ' out of 'Christmas'

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has criticised politically correct officials who remove carols and Nativity plays from Christmas celebrations.

Dr Williams said people of other faiths loved the story of Jesus’s birth and were not offended by public celebrations of Christmas because they respected its message.

Even non-believers should stop and think about the Nativity as a story of “defenceless love” that crosses cultural and religious boundaries, he said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Archbishop of Canterbury, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, England / UK, Religion & Culture