Daily Archives: January 14, 2011

Troy Polamalu: In Pittsburgh, A Defensive Anchor Walks a Spiritual Path

Steelers safety Troy Polamalu opened his red leather-bound playbook to a dog-eared page. “The life of a man hangs by a hair,” he began reading in a voice as soft as falling snow. “At every step our life hangs in the balance.”

It was three days before the Steelers’ A.F.C. divisional playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens, a matchup in which the Super Bowl aspirations of two worthy contenders hang in the balance, and Polamalu was getting himself centered.

“How many millions of people woke up in the morning, never to see the evening?” Polamalu read. And then: “The life of a man is a dream. In a dream, one sees things that do not exist; he might see that he is crowned a king, but when he wakes up, he sees that in reality he is just a pauper.”

The book in Polamalu’s hands, “Counsels From the Holy Mountain,” guides him in football and in life. It contains the letters and homilies of a Greek Orthodox monk, Elder Ephraim, whom Polamalu described as his spiritual doctor.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Sports

ABC Nightline–Franklin Graham's relief mission one year after the earthquake in Haiti

Caught this one on the morning run–I thought it was fair. Watch it all–KSH.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Caribbean, Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Evangelicals, Haiti, Health & Medicine, Other Churches, Poverty, Religion & Culture

Tucson Pauses in Grief for the Youngest Victim

At Christina’s school, Mesa Verde Elementary, where students have been holding difficult discussions about death this week, it was quieter than usual as many students, teachers and administrators left to spend the day at the funeral. Out front was a memorial with messages to Christina. There was a photograph of her hugging her friend Serenity, who wrote, “Christina remember this photo, it was our first sleepover.”

During lunch this week, Kayley Clark, 9, called her mother at home to say that she did not want to eat the school meal of turkey tacos. She has never done that before, her mother said. Getting dressed in the morning, she has been unusually picky about what colors to wear, as if the decision might be her last.

“You know that could have been your kid there outside the supermarket standing right where Christina was standing, when the shooting broke out,” said Leah Simmers, 30, a mother of three. “This hit close to home for every mother I know.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Education, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Roman Catholic, Violence

Neil McNicholas: We all have a right to life… so why do we let many unborn children die?

In the 2008 guide to The Mental Capacity Act, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England Wales stated that “Christian faith gives us reason to cherish life, as a gift from God, and also gives reason to accept death, when it comes, with hope in God”.

This statement reflects the fundamental moral teaching of the Church that human life, and every person’s right to life, must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception until death, and that when laws are passed that deprive a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them”¦the very foundations of the state are undermined.

We are all older than we think ”“ around nine months older. We celebrate the anniversary of the day on which we were born, but we have actually been in existence since the moment of our conception.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Children, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

Lillian Daniel reviews Jeffrey Mac­Donald's new book on Church and its Soul Compromises

But MacDonald’s time in the parish was very short. He says that the very issues he writes about drove him from the ministry after only a few years. Missing from the book is the experience of hope that comes from the redemption of long-term service. When times are tough, I thank God that I have more than those early years in the ministry to sustain me. I wrestled a lot in those years with the hypocrisy of the church and the pressure to raise attendance and money, as well as the compulsion to meet everyone’s needs. And there were those awful rent-a-church weddings that didn’t seem to jibe much with the last course I took on liberation theology. If this was ministry, then there were many times when I was embarrassed to be associated with it. Sometimes I still am.

But I came to see more blessings than reasons for outrage. MacDonald might suspect that my core values have softened over the years and that I’ve been compromised and become complacent. But where does love fit into all of this judgment? There is work I can do as a pastor to shape the desires of my congregation because I have been with them more than two years and because I have done this work long enough to see desires get shaped and changed. I have even seen some of those rent-a-church couples join the church and follow through on those baptismal promises.

I still don’t want to perform their weddings. But apparently the Holy Spirit has lower standards than I do.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Books, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Personal Finance, Preaching / Homiletics, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

Over 50 Religious Leaders Call for 'Soul Searching' in Letter to Congress

You may find the signatories list here and the full letter is below the fold.
Dear Members of Congress,

As Americans and members of the human family, we are grieved by the recent tragedy in Tucson, Arizona. As Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders, we pray together for all those wounded, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords as she fights for her life. Our hearts break for those lives lost and for the loved ones left behind. We also stand with you, our elected officials, as you continue to serve our nation while coping with the trauma of this senseless attack.

This tragedy has spurred a sorely needed time of soul searching and national public dialogue about violent and vitriolic political rhetoric. We strongly support this reflection, as we are deeply troubled that rancor, threats and incivility have become commonplace in our public debates.

We appreciate the sacrifices you make and risks you incur by accepting a call to public service, and we urge you to continue to serve as stewards of our democracy by engaging ideological adversaries not as enemies, but as fellow Americans.

In our communities and congregations, we pledge to foster an environment conducive to the important and difficult debates so crucial to American democracy. In our churches, mosques and synagogues, we come together not as members of a certain political ideology or party, but as children of God and citizens called to build a more perfect union. We pray that you do the same.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Inter-Faith Relations, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Violence

Few foreclosures, no bank failures: Canada offers lessons

Not a single Canadian bank failed during the Great Depression, and not a single one failed during the recent U.S. crisis now dubbed the Great Recession. Fewer than 1 percent of all Canadian mortgages are in arrears.

That’s notable given that the recent U.S. economic turmoil was triggered by a meltdown in mortgage finance, forcing an unprecedented government rescue of Wall Street investment banks and the collapse of more than 300 smaller banks as the housing sector went bust.

How’d Canada avoid all that?

“This sounds very simple, but one of our CEOs has said we are in the business of making loans to people who will pay them back,” said Terry Campbell, vice president of policy for the Canadian Bankers Association in Ottawa.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Canada, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Politics in General, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

(USA Today) Police turn to drones for domestic surveillance

Police agencies around the USA soon could have a new tool in their crime-fighting arsenal: unmanned aerial vehicles inspired by the success of such drones on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Local governments have been pressing the Federal Aviation Administration for wider use of unmanned aircraft ”” a demand driven largely by returning veterans who observed the crafts’ effectiveness in war, according to experts at New Mexico State University and Auburn University. Police could use the smaller planes to find lost children, hunt illegal marijuana crops and ease traffic jams in evacuations of cities before hurricanes or other natural disasters.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, City Government, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Science & Technology, State Government

(Living Church) Episcopal Bishops Speculate on Murders in Arizona

The Rt. Rev. Kirk Smith, Bishop of Arizona, wrote Jan. 10 that Christians “can go behind the rhetoric of blame and name the root cause of acts of violence like these ”” fear. Whether the young man was rational or not, he certainly was influenced by the escalating violent language which seems to characterize our political discourse these days, when anyone who disagrees with you is labeled as an ”˜enemy’ or as ”˜evil.’”

Bishop Smith added: “We fear others when we are afraid. There has to be someone or some group to blame for our anxiety about our economy, our social breakdown, our drug culture and our institutional collapse. And so we find a scapegoat ”” our problems are all the fault of ”˜liberals’ or ”˜tea-party members’ or ”˜illegals.’”

The Rt. Rev. Dan Thomas Edwards, Bishop of Nevada, wrote that the weekend’s violence reflects wider societal problems.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, TEC Bishops, Theology, Violence

Charles Krauthammer on the Tuscon Tragedy and the Reaction Thereto

The verdict: Rarely in American political discourse has there been a charge so reckless, so scurrilous and so unsupported by evidence.

As killers go, Jared Loughner is not reticent. Yet among all his writings, postings, videos and other ravings – and in all the testimony from all the people who knew him – there is not a single reference to any of these supposed accessories to murder.

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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to at KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Media, Politics in General, Violence

David DeGraw–Horrific Arizona Massacre Is A Sign of Tragedies to Come

As our economic conditions continue to deteriorate, mentally disturbed people like Jared Loughner are the first to breakdown and lose it, but there will inevitably be many to follow. This tragedy is not an isolated incident. In just the past few days there have been two more incidents. A lobbyist, who was the wife of a White House adviser, was found dead in a burning car. A man upset over his Social Security benefits threatened to set fire to Senator Michael Bennet’s office and shoot his staff. There have been dozens of similar incidents over the past two years. From John Bedell, the man who opened fire on the Pentagon, to Joe Stack, the man who had a tax dispute and flew his plan into the Austin, Texas IRS building, an increasing number of Americans are beginning to resort to violence as a last desperate act of vengeance.

We can dismiss and write off all of this as just crazy people doing crazy things and go back to living with our heads in the sand, business as usual, or we can begin the urgent task of fixing a society that is severely out of balance.

The choice is ours.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to at KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Health & Medicine, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Mental Illness, Politics in General, Psychology, State Government, Stress, The U.S. Government, Violence

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Lord Jesus Christ, who didst sit lowly in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them and asking them questions: Give unto thy servants that humility of heart, and willingness to learn, without which no man can find wisdom; to the glory of thy holy Name.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

I keep the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also dwells secure. For thou dost not give me up to Sheol, or let thy godly one see the Pit. Thou dost show me the path of life; in thy presence there is fulness of joy, in thy right hand are pleasures for evermore.

–Psalm 16:8-11

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Chicago Tribune) More banks walking away from homes, adding to housing crisis

A new type of property is adding to neighborhood blight: the bank walkaway.

Research to be released Thursday, the first of its kind locally, identifies 1,896 “red flag” homes in Chicago ”” most of them are in distressed African-American neighborhoods ”” that appear to have been abandoned by mortgage servicers during the foreclosure process, the Woodstock Institute found.

Abandoned foreclosures are increasing as mortgage investors determine that, at sale, they can’t recoup the costs of foreclosing, securing, maintaining and marketing a home, and they sometimes aren’t completing foreclosure actions. The property, by then usually vacant, becomes another eyesore in limbo along blocks where faded signs still announce block clubs.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, The Banking System/Sector

Roman Catholic and Anglican Bishops of Chelmsford pledge to continue to work together

As bishops charged with responsibility to uphold the unity of God’s church on earth we are painfully aware of the divisions that still impair the unity that Christ longs for and for which he shed his blood. This is not just a unity within the church ”“ though we long for this to be revealed ”“ but a unity for all God’s people and between the families of the nations.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecumenical Relations, England / UK, Other Churches, Roman Catholic

In Haiti, earthquake survivors pray, lament 'a day that nobody can forget' on disaster's anniversary

With shops closed and traffic light, Haitians streamed down the streets in spontaneous processions, women wearing white, holding their children’s hands, men in crisp shirts and ties, the clothes they would wear to church or a funeral.

They went to the ruins of the National Cathedral, to pray the rosary at its front steps. The building is now a gutted, roofless shell. Some worshipers began to weep and shout out as they approached.

At Saint Antoine de Padoue, they held Mass in an alley. “A day nobody can forget, no matter how young, even my son,” said Carline Amazan, who held a young boy’s hand and recalled how people ran naked through streets.

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

(Catholic Herald) Andrew Burnham interview: Full transcript

You said before you were basically setting up the See of Ebbsfleet. What does that mean?

My predecessor, Michael Houghton, who died after a year (which is of course why they were nervous about me), had taken to calling it the See of Ebbsfleet as if it were a proper diocese. And I took the view that what we were aiming to be was a diocese, an orthodox diocese: bishop, priests, deacons, and laypeople. And therefore that, even though we weren’t an actual diocese, we should organise ourselves as if we were. So I wrote a pastoral letter to the people every month, more or less every month for 10 years. I had a council of priests. This was before anyone else was doing this sort of thing. I had a lay council and a lay congress. I had deaneries, with clergy organised in deaneries for pastoral care.

We did all this as if we were setting out to be a diocese, which irritated people no end. It was done in consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury because it was all about how best to care for people. And the apologia I gave was that of the Apostolic District, which was the term in canon law to describe a group that is not yet a diocese but might become so and has an apostolic administrator. Of course an administration, a jurisdiction, was the one thing we weren’t. We didn’t have the legal authority to do any of it. But that was what we were in search of becoming. And it fitted in with the Forward in Faith Free Province rhetoric and fitted what we needed to survive in the Church of England. It was a good way to organise people and get them to move forward together.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

(CNN Belief Blog) John Paul beatification news could come Friday, reports say

The Vatican could announce as soon as Friday that the late Pope John Paul II is to be beatified, putting him on the verge of sainthood, several Italian newspapers reported this week.

Catholic Church officials have credited him with a miracle, Il Giornale reported Thursday, and all that remains is for the pope to confirm it. The newspaper La Repubblica carried a similar report. Neither story named its sources.

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Roman Catholic