Daily Archives: January 6, 2011

Amid disasters, a preacher holds fast to his faith in Haiti

Much has been damaged by the earthquake that struck Haiti last January. Much has changed for so many people.

But some things remain constant. Joel Sainton will get up each morning prepared to walk for miles, visiting people with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. He will sit with those who are not feeling well, sing, pray and counsel. If he has money or food to give them, he will. If he needs to refer them to a clinic, he does.

Sainton calls these people his “congregation,” but he has no actual church. Instead, he leads a group called APIA (Association of People Infected and Affected by HIV/AIDS) that serves people who are HIV-positive and those with family members who are living with or have died from the disease. More than 200 of them have registered with his non-governmental organization for moral, spiritual and material support as they deal, mostly in secret, with the illness.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Caribbean, Haiti, Religion & Culture

(BBC) Egypt on alert as Copts gather for Christmas Eve

Coptic Christians are preparing to celebrate Christmas Eve amid tight security after a bomb attack on a church in Egypt in which 23 died.

Armed Egyptian police have been ordered to protect churches where Copts are expected to gather in large numbers.

There have been calls for Muslims to hold vigils outside Coptic churches in a gesture of solidarity.

But some radical Islamist websites have urged more attacks, publishing church addresses in Egypt and Europe.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Coptic Church, Egypt, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Violence

(LA Times) Blue Shield of California seeks rate hikes of as much as 59% for individuals

Another big California health insurer has stunned individual policyholders with huge rate increases ”” this time it’s Blue Shield of California seeking cumulative hikes of as much as 59% for tens of thousands of customers March 1.

Blue Shield’s action comes less than a year after Anthem Blue Cross tried and failed to raise rates as much as 39% for about 700,000 California customers.

San Francisco-based Blue Shield said the increases were the result of fast-rising healthcare costs and other expenses resulting from new healthcare laws.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Health & Medicine, Personal Finance, Politics in General, The U.S. Government

Second Anglican church in Southwestern Ontario to close

Dwindling attendance will result in the closure of a second Anglican church in Sarnia in less than a year.

The century-old St. John’s Church on Devine Street will close it doors Feb. 1, following hard on the decision to shutter St. James The Apostle Church on Lansdowne Avenue last year.

Archdeacon Richard Salts said it was a tough call, but in the end the members of each congregation voted in favour of amalgamation with other area Anglican churches.

“As with most mainline churches there has been a certain amount of decrease in numbers,” he said. “The critical mass is not always there.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canada, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

A Response to Ephraim Radner from the Bishops of Toronto

….Dr. Radner takes issue with our description of a consensus: that a few should not be able to prevent an action representing the wish of the vast majority. He seems to imply that the conscience of the few should count. If so, then what does he make of those people, priests, Dioceses and Provinces who cannot go along with the supposed “virtual unanimity” in the communion? His claim validates positional authority, vested in the current Instruments of Communion, to override the eddies underneath the surface. We acknowledge that the Christian tradition has opposed homosexual relationships of any kind. It is a strong tradition which must have its respected voice. From our pastoral engagement, however, we realise that the received tradition on homosexuality no longer holds sway over significant number of people in our Diocese. We respect that it still has authority over many among us, and within a vast majority of Anglicans in the world whose contexts are not ours. But what of those who in good conscience, like the homosexually inclined person described by Rowan Williams, do not agree with it? They, too, are caught between holding together their loyalty to their conscience and their loyalty to the Communion, and in parts of Canada and elsewhere, loyalty to their bishop. This is certainly a difficult tension, but hardly a new or an impossible position in which to be. We ask again, but will they be given the same protection and freedom customarily extended to theological minorities in the Diocese of Toronto and is extended again clearly in the Guidelines? All too often majority is invoked to force compliance. When that happens we are not talking about authority, only power, and it frequently backfires. When the majority fails to listen to the real needs and pains of the minority, and when they do not help work out a legitimate way to accommodate, the minority often act inappropriately. We, as bishops of Toronto, by these Guidelines aim at foreswearing coercion and are willing to live in the tensions created while continued discernment is engaged. We appeal to others to do the same.

But neither will we be coerced. This can come from many directions, from those who believe we are too timid and from those who believe we are too bold. In the end, those who have power in the Communion will decide what to do with Dr. Radner’s accusation and do with us what they will, or not. We on our part are happy to maintain the bonds of affection with all members of the Communion, and eager to collaborate in Christ’s mission with any who are willing. We are also eager to continue the dialogue and listening that Professor O’Donovan commends and have committed ourselves to those processes across the Communion. While ready to make an account of our actions, we do not make a habit of answering every charge in public, but a person of Dr. Radner’s stature warrants an exception.

Read it all and note that Dr. Radner has responded to their response.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Ecclesiology, Instruments of Unity, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Windsor Report / Process

Sean Marsh–The Liberal Arts Entrepreneur

It has long been thought that people who hold engineering, science and business degrees from major Universities are well prepared to become successful entrepreneurs and a very interesting study by some MIT professors provides strong evidence of this, but I think it is very intriguing to see the scale and degree of success liberal arts educated graduates have achieved as entrepreneurial innovators.

To some people, including myself, this data supports a long held intuition that successful entrepreneurs have the ability to think in dynamic and non-linear ways and then to aggressively challenge conventional wisdom in pursuit of an innovative endeavor. Furthermore, the best entrepreneurs I have worked with are incredibly artful communicators and motivators which I think is certainly a skill learned and honed from a liberal arts education. People will debate forever the question of whether or not entrepreneurship can be taught but what I have learned is that there appears to be a substantial correlation between a liberal arts education and becoming a successful entrepreneur.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Education, Psychology, Science & Technology

(Harvard Magazine) Who Is Poor?

If poverty means more than just the weight of a wallet, the world’s poor may be more numerous than previously believed. World Bank estimates put the population of global poor at 1.44 billion people””but a recent poverty index based on the work of Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, Lamont University Professor and professor of economics and philosophy, raises that number to 1.71 billion.

The differences lie in how poverty is measured. The Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), published in July by researchers from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Oxford University’s Poverty and Human Development Initiative, factors in living standards ranging from sanitation and the composition of household flooring (dirt, sand, or dung) to child mortality and years of schooling. The MPI asks how far a person has to walk for clean drinking water, while the World Bank’s measure is based solely on income, defining anyone who earns less than $1.25 a day as poor. By the World Bank standard, for example, only 39 percent of the population of Ethiopia would be considered poor; by MPI calculations, the figure is 90 percent. Conversely, 46 percent of Uzbekistan’s population would be classified as poor using the $1.25-a-day measure, but only 2 percent meet the criteria under the MPI. A change in how the poor are counted could vastly improve the effectiveness of international aid organizations as they allocate resources among impoverished people globally.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Globalization, Personal Finance, Poverty

(BBC) US oil spill: Cost-cutting decisions led to BP disaster

The companies involved in the BP oil spill had made decisions to cut costs and save time that contributed to the disaster, a US panel has found.

In a 48-page report, the presidential commission wrote that the failures were “systemic” and likely to recur without industry and government reform.

But it said BP did not have adequate controls in place to ensure safety.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2010 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Theology

Matthew J. Franck–Incest and the Degradation of Our Vocabulary

The story of David Epstein, the Columbia University political scientist and Huffington Post blogger now facing criminal charges of incest, has launched a very interesting discussion. What is fascinating about it, and deeply disturbing, is the inability of some commentators to articulate what is morally wrong about the act of incest. It is almost equally disturbing that a legal argument for a “right” to engage in adult, consensual incest stands on surprisingly firm footing, thanks to precedents the United States Supreme Court has already established in other cases on the “autonomy of the person” under our Constitution….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Faiths, Philosophy, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Secularism, Sexuality, Theology

Conference Reminder–Mere Anglicanism: Renewing Biblical Anglicanism for a Global Future

Here is a nice color brochure to remind ou of this upcoming gathering.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, - Anglican: Analysis, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast of the Epiphany

O God, who by the leading of a star didst manifest thy only-begotten Son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know thee now by faith, to thy presence, where we may behold thy glory face to face; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb.

–Revelation 22:22-23

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CNN) Oil and power at center of vote to split Sudan

If the south does split, what are the dangers?

The main rebel force in the south, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army has dominated politics in the south since the fighting ended in 2005. But the area is still awash with weapons, militias and mistrust. The whole process is precarious. Experts say a fresh conflict is a real possibility.

Alex Vines, of London-based think tank Chatham House, said: “The referendum is a risky affair. If it’s managed wisely by leaderships of the south and north then maybe an amicable separation can take place. There’s a lot of danger it could backfire spectacularly — we could see a renewed civil war, which is nothing new for Sudan.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Politics in General, Sudan

NY Times Magazine: Cyberspace When You’re Dead

Suppose that just after you finish reading this article, you keel over, dead. Perhaps you’re ready for such an eventuality, in that you have prepared a will or made some sort of arrangement for the fate of the worldly goods you leave behind: financial assets, personal effects, belongings likely to have sentimental value to others and artifacts of your life like photographs, journals, letters. Even if you haven’t made such arrangements, all of this will get sorted one way or another, maybe in line with what you would have wanted, and maybe not.

But many of us, in these worst of circumstances, would also leave behind things that exist outside of those familiar categories. Suppose you blogged or tweeted about this article, or dashed off a Facebook status update, or uploaded a few snapshots from your iPhone to Flickr, and then logged off this mortal coil. It’s now taken for granted that the things we do online are reflections of who we are or announcements of who we wish to be. So what happens to this version of you that you’ve built with bits? Who will have access to which parts of it, and for how long?

Not many people have given serious thought to these questions….

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, History, Parish Ministry, Psychology, Science & Technology, Theology

Radical Cleric Returns to Iraq After Years in Iran

Moktada al-Sadr, the populist cleric who emerged as the United States’ most enduring foe in Iraq, returned Wednesday after more than three years of voluntary exile in Iran in a homecoming that embodied his and his movement’s transition from battling in the streets to occupying the halls of power.

“Long live the leader!” supporters shouted as a grayer Mr. Sadr made his way from the airport in the holy city of Najaf to his home and then to prayers at the gold-domed shrine of Imam Ali, one of the most sacred places in Shiite Islam. Supporters there hailed his return as another show of strength for a movement that is now more powerful than at any time since the United States invaded in 2003.

“We’re proving to everyone that we’re an important part of Iraq and its politics,” said Jawad Kadhum, a lawmaker with Mr. Sadr’s movement.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Foreign Relations, Iran, Iraq, Iraq War, Islam, Middle East, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism

( Herald-Sun) Cardinal George Pell rebukes Catholic MPs

Australia’s senior Catholic cleric has denounced politicians of that faith who defy church teachings.

With debates over euthanasia and gay marriage looming in 2011, Cardinal George Pell yesterday rebuked MPs who “fly under the Christian or Captain Catholic flag” but “blithely disregard Christian perspectives” when they vote in Parliament on moral issues such as same sex adoptions.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic