Daily Archives: December 24, 2010

Adam Goodheart: Ghosts of a Christmas Past (1860)

The Yuletide season was an unquiet time throughout the nation on the brink of the Civil War ”“ and not just among black Americans. Judging from period newspapers, Christmas 150 years ago was just as politicized as it is now, if not more so. With the nation splitting in half (South Carolina had seceded on Dec. 20), each side of the Mason-Dixon Line tried to claim the holiday as its own.

In the South, the Augusta Chronicle accused the Yankee Puritans of being joyless Christmas-haters: “Our broad Union is divided between the descendant of the Norman Cavalier reverencing Christmas, and the descendant of the Saxon Puritan repudiating it ”¦ Let us hear no more of a “Cotton Confederation” but let us have instead (what may sound like a jest, but which has something of seriousness in it) a Confederation of the Christmas States.”

Meanwhile, several hundred miles closer to the North Pole, the same day’s Philadelphia Inquirer called Christmas a “good old Yankee custom” and added: “If Charleston growls and, playing the Scrooge, would curse our Christmas carol, let us hope that the Marley’s Ghost of her old patriotism will soften her by and by.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, History, Religion & Culture

(Jer. Post) 100 gather at Jerusalem Memorial service for Kristine Luken

“I can imagine her, in her last breath, saying ”˜Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,’” says friend of American tourist killed in suspected terror attack.

In a moving ceremony that reaffirmed American Kristine Luken’s deep love for Israel and God, 100 people gathered in Christ Church in the Old City in Jerusalem in a memorial service for the women who was murdered in a stabbing attack on Saturday night.

“She went boldy where she believe God wanted her to go, and was not deterred in her dogged pursuit despite questioning and ridicule from others,” her family said in a letter that was read at the service.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Death / Burial / Funerals, Israel, Middle East, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Violence

John Wilson–Do Christians Overemphasize Christmas?

Where to start with what’s wrong with this analysis? Let’s begin with Rabbi Hoffman’s contention that Christmas never “really mattered.” Such hyperbole reveals the false dichotomy at the heart of this particular Anti-Christmas Rant: the idea that Christmas is more important than Easter, or vice versa, and we must choose between them. That’s no more cogent than suggesting that Revelation is more important than Genesis.

Christmas brings us face-to-face with the mystery of the Incarnation””the preposterous claim that the creator of the universe sent his son (but how could he have a “son”?) to be born of a virgin (what?), both fully man and fully God: “Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness,” as we read in Paul’s letter to the Philippians.

This claim we call the Incarnation””and celebrate at Christmas””can’t be separated from “the paschal mystery of death and resurrection.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Theology

(CEN) Bishop of Blackburn predicts year of protest against cuts

2011 will be a year of “legitimate Christian protest” against the coalition cuts, the Bishop of Blackburn will warn tomorrow in his Christmas address.

Following a season of violent student protests the Bishop will be the second senior clergyman this week to bemoan the swingeing cuts.

On Sunday the Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, labelled tuition fees as a “tax on aspiration”, warning that they would dissuade the poor from receiving a university education.

Read it all (subscription required).

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

(WSJ) In Cities Across the Country, Pensions Push Taxes Higher

Cities across the nation are raising property taxes, largely citing rising pension and health-care costs for their employees and retirees.

In Pennsylvania, the township of Upper Moreland is bumping up property taxes for residents by 13.6% in 2011. Next door the city of Philadelphia this year increased the tax 9.9%. In New York, Saratoga Springs will collect 4.4% more in property taxes in 2011; Troy will increase taxes by 1.9%.

Property-tax increases aren’t unusual, in part because the taxes are among the main sources of local revenue. But officials say more and larger increases are taking hold. “This year we have seen a dramatic increase in our cities and towns having to increase property taxes” for pensions and other expenses, said Jack Garner, executive director of the Pennsylvania League of Cities and Municipalities.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, City Government, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Pensions, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Taxes, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Local Newspaper Editorial–Hard South Carolina Budget calls can't wait

South Carolina’s budget problems call for decisive action. And Gov.-elect Nikki Haley is working on a restructuring plan for state agencies that will produce badly needed savings. The Legislature should be preparing to join that effort when the session begins next month.

So far, Gov.-elect Haley has mainly recommended consolidation of Cabinet agencies to reduce overhead and limit administrative duplication. She also is looking at other state agencies largely controlled by legislatively appointed boards and commissions.

With a budget shortfall of $800 million looming, state leaders should do what they can to make cost reductions where possible, while preserving essential state services.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Economy, Politics in General, State Government, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

The Consent Process Numbers for the Diocese of Springfield Bishop-Elect

Responses from the Standing Committees

Consents: 58

Non-Consents: 13

Read it all.

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

Michael Yon's Amazing Photo: Helicopter Rotors glowing due to Kopp-Etchells Effect

i found this just mesmerizing–check it out.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Iraq War, Military / Armed Forces

(WSJ) Joe Morgenstern's Picks for best Movies of 2010

For better and worse, this is one of those movie years when there’s widespread agreement among the early awards-givers and, presumably, among critics putting together their ritual 10-best lists. It’s better because the movies winning consistent favor are really good, and worse because they’re so few in number. While the pickings haven’t been slim, they haven’t been bountiful either.

My choice for the year’s best movie is “The Social Network.” If that means I’ve succumbed to a herd mentality, so be it; herds can stampede in the right direction. The film’s ambition is what I admire most. It grabs onto a genuine phenomenon in contemporary life and tells us things we didn’t know about it.

A whisker-close second is “The King’s Speech….”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Movies & Television

Very Sad News from Christ Church Jerusalem: An Attack on Kristine Luken and Kay Wilson

From here:

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” I Cor 15:58

The savage attack on December 18, 2010 in the Jerusalem forest where Kristine Luken was killed and Kay Wilson seriously wounded, has shocked family, friends and the community of Christ Church Jerusalem.

Kristine, a US citizen, worked for CMJ (Church’s Ministry Among Jewish People) in Nottingham UK and was a frequent visitor to Jerusalem. She had an infectious love for God and a great admiration and love for the Jewish people and the Holy Land. Recently, she studied Jewish history and the Holocaust on a CMJ sponsored tour of Poland.

Kay Wilson is the main educator for Shoresh Study Tours, a ministry of Christ Church Jerusalem, specializing in teaching the Jewish roots of the Christian faith. She is a well-loved guide and a gifted communicator as many Shoresh participants will attest. She is also an accomplished jazz pianist and artist. We ask that you join us in prayer for Kay’s ongoing recovery. We will be organizing practical help for Kay as her needs become apparent.

On Thursday December 23rd at 4 p.m. we will hold a memorial service for Kristine at Christ Church in the Old City. We are creating a memorial for Kristine in the Christ Church Heritage Center, a ministry she loved. (Donations gratefully received). We also ask for prayer for Kristine’s family.

In life Kristine was a faithful follower of Jesus and gave herself fully to the work of her Lord. In the midst of grief and great sorrow, we know Kristine’s life and work were not in vain and we take comfort in the promise of eternal life through the resurrection of Jesus the Messiah.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Israel, Middle East, Parish Ministry, The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East, Violence

Local paper Front Page–Struggling Mom finally has apartment for herself, daughter

Katie Tucker moved into her own apartment this week, the first real home her 1-year-old baby has ever known.

She had been living with family members and friends for more than a year, but a new Charleston Housing Authority program made a permanent place to live possible, just in time for Christmas.

A series of misfortunes and some personal struggles knocked down Tucker financially, and she and her baby Sydney were having a hard time getting up.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Children, City Government, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Marriage & Family, Politics in General

Montana Jurors Raise Hopes of Marijuana Advocates

It all began last Thursday, when a group of prospective jurors in Missoula were seated for a two-day trial of a repeat offender by the name of Teuray Cornell, whom the local police had arrested and charged with selling marijuana, a felony, and possession of a small amount of the drug, a misdemeanor.

To seat a 12-person jury, Judge Robert L. Deschamps III of Missoula County District Court had called a passel of Montanans to serve, and 27 had arrived at court on Dec. 16. So far, so good.

But after the charges were read, one of the jurors raised a hand.

“She said, ”˜I’ve got a real problem with these marijuana cases,’ ” Judge Deschamps recalled on Wednesday. “And after she got through, a couple more raised their hands.” All told, five jurors raised questions about marijuana prosecution.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Law & Legal Issues

(NY Times) Economists See Signs of Stronger Recovery

Eighteen months after the recession officially ended, the government’s latest measures to bolster the economy have led many forecasters and policy makers to express new optimism that the recovery will gain substantial momentum in 2011.

Economists in universities and on Wall Street have raised their growth projections for next year. Retail sales, industrial production and factory orders are on the upswing, and new claims for unemployment benefits are trending downward.

Despite persistently high unemployment, consumer confidence is improving. Large corporations are reporting healthy profits, and the Dow Jones industrial average reached a two-year high this week.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

(WSJ) Job Offers Rising as Economy Warms Up

As the economy gradually recovers, some big U.S. companies are cranking up their recruiting and advertising thousands of job openings, ranging from retail clerks and nurses to bank tellers and experts in cloud computing.

Many of the new jobs are in retailing, accounting, consulting, health care, telecommunications and defense-related industries, according to data collected for The Wall Street Journal by Indeed Inc., which runs one the largest employment websites. It said the number of U.S. job postings on the Internet rose to 4.7 million on Dec. 1, up from 2.7 million a year earlier. The company daily collects listings from corporate and job-posting websites, removing duplicates.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

(RNS) Gallup: More Religious, More Healthy

Americans who are “very religious” are more likely to practice healthy behaviors than those who are less religious, a Gallup survey shows.

The new findings are based on a survey of more than 550,000 people who were asked about their decisions related to healthy eating, smoking and exercise.

Overall, very religious Americans scored 66.3 on a “healthy behavior index,” compared to 60.6 among the moderately religious and 58.3 among the nonreligious.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine, Religion & Culture

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God our heavenly Father, who by the birth of thy Son Jesus Christ has visited us with thy salvation: Grant that as we welcome our Redeemer his presence may be shed abroad in our hearts and homes with the light of heavenly joy and peace; and in all our preparations for this holy season help us to think more of others than of ourselves, and to show forth our gratitude to thee for thine unspeakable gift, even the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God.

Isaiah 35:1-2

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

WSJ: Amid Violence, Iraq Christians Mark Holiday Quietly

The leader of Iraq’s largest remaining Christian communities is preparing for a subdued Christmas, marked by a renewed exodus of Iraqi Christians from their historic Middle Eastern home.

Christmas festivities in Mosul, an ancient center for Christianity in Iraq’s north, as well as in Baghdad are being shunned in favor of prayers and masses to protest the relentless targeting of Christians, especially in Mosul, one of the most volatile cities in Iraq. Chief on worshipers minds will be victims of a church siege in Baghdad at the end of October that killed nearly 60 people.

Extremists have targeted Iraqi Christians and their churches repeatedly since the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq that toppled Saddam Hussein and sparked a near civil war between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. The country’s relatively peaceful political transition and the approval of a new government this week haven’t lessened the sense of persecution among Christians, according to Archbishop Amel Shamon Nona, who leads the Chaldean Diocese of Mosul.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Iraq, Middle East, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

New Precedent Set by NJ Episcopal-Anglican Church Property Settlement?

St. George’s Anglican Church, a former Episcopal Church congregation which disaffiliated from its former denomination, has negotiated with the Diocese of New Jersey to retain its church buildings and tangible property with complete independence from The Episcopal Church (TEC). The congregation is now affiliated with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) under Missionary Bishop Martyn Minns and the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) under Archbishop Robert Duncan.

“We are extremely grateful that the congregation of St. George’s Anglican Church is able to retain its property. This is an incredible blessing and witness to others that Christians can resolve these matters amicably. We are also thankful that the church has been able to maintain a cordial relationship with the Diocese of New Jersey. I trust and pray that St. George’s Anglican Church will continue to serve the Lord through mission and ministry for many years to come,” said CANA Missionary Bishop Martyn Minns.

The final sale of St. George’s church property took place on Tuesday, November 23, 2010.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), CANA, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Parishes, Theology

CEN: TEC Texas legal setback

The Episcopal Church suffered a setback this week in its Texas legal battle with the breakaway Diocese of Fort Worth after a US Federal judge stayed all proceedings in the trademark against Bishop Jack Iker, pending the diocese’s motion to intervene in the case.

On Dec 20, Judge Terry R. Means in Fort Worth issued a one-page order that “in the interests of judicial economy and fairness to all parties,” the proceedings in the Episcopal Church’s trademark infringement suit against Bishop Iker would be stayed until the court ruled on the diocese’s request to intervene in the proceedings.

The decision affects only the third of the four lawsuits initiated by the national Episcopal Church and its surrogates against Bishop Iker and the majority faction of the Diocese of Fort Worth….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

Church Times: Josiah Idowu-Fearon pleads with Primates to "Bring your wisdom to next meeting’

Speaking on Friday, he said that his intervention was not prompted by pressure from any individual, “but by my conviction to work for the unity of this communion”.

He said that he feared that some of the Primates had “not actually consulted properly” before announcing their intention to boycott the meeting. There was “a huge desire” among “ordinary members” of the Church of Nigeria for the Communion to stay together, he said.

Responding to the suggestion made by the Primates that “the current text” of the Anglican Covenant is “fatally flawed”, Dr Idowu-Fearon said: “If those Primates believe they have a superior wisdom than the collective wisdom of those who produced the Covenant, let them meet and present their wisdom and not start throwing tantrums.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Primates, Anglican Primates, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of Nigeria

(New Statesman) Mehdi Hasan: What would Jesus do?

Was Jesus Christ a lefty? Philosophers, politicians, theologians and lay members of the various Christian churches have long been divided on the subject. The former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev once declared: “Jesus was the first socialist, the first to seek a better life for mankind.” The Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez, went further, describing Christ as “the greatest socialist in history”. But it’s not just Russian ex-communists and Bolivarian socialists who consider Jesus to be a fellow-traveller. Even the Daily Mail sketch-writer Quentin Letts once confessed: “Jesus preached fairness – you could almost call him a lefty.”

That conservatives have succeeded in claiming Christ as one of their own in recent years – especially in the US, where the Christian right is in the ascendancy – is a tragedy for the modern left. Throughout history, Jesus’s teachings have inspired radical social and political movements: Christian pacifism (think the Quakers, Martin Luther King or Bruce Kent in CND), Christian socialism (Keir Hardie or Tony Benn), liberation theology (in South America) and even “Christian communism”. In the words of the 19th-century French utopian philosopher Étienne Cabet, “Communism is Christianity . . . it is pure Christianity, before it was corrupted by Catholicism.”

These days, however, the so-called God-botherers tend to be on the right. In his book God’s Politics, the US Evangelical pastor Jim Wallis, spiritual adviser to President Obama and Gordon Brown before him, laments the manner in which Jesus’s message has been misinterpreted by the warring political tribes, writing of how the right gets Christ wrong, while the left doesn’t get him at all.

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