Daily Archives: January 24, 2011

(NY Times) Mortgage Giants (Fannie and Freddie) Leave Legal Bills to the Taxpayers

Richard S. Carnell, an associate professor at Fordham University Law School who was an assistant secretary of the Treasury for financial institutions during the 1990s, questions why Mr. Raines, Mr. Howard and others, given their conduct detailed in the Housing Enterprise Oversight report, are being held harmless by the government and receiving payment of legal bills as a result.

“Their duty of loyalty required them to put shareholders’ interests ahead of their own personal interests,” Mr. Carnell said. “Had they cared about the shareholders, they would not have staked Fannie’s reputation on dubious accounting. They defied their duty of loyalty and served themselves. At a moral level, they don’t deserve indemnification, much less payment of such princely sums.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Law & Legal Issues, The U.S. Government

Pope to Catholics online: It's not just about hits

Pope Benedict XVI told Catholic bloggers and Facebook and YouTube users Monday to be respectful of others when spreading the Gospel online and not to see their ultimate goal as getting as many online hits as possible.
In his annual message for the church’s World Day of Social Communications, Benedict called for the faithful to adopt a “Christian style presence” online that is responsible, honest and discreet.

“We must be aware that the truth which we long to share does not derive its worth from its ‘popularity’ or from the amount of attention it receives,” Benedict wrote. “The proclamation of the Gospel requires a communication which is at once respectful and sensitive.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

(Anglican TV) Mere Anglican 2011: Bishop Mouneer Anis

Important update: You may now find a full transcript of the talk here.

See also: Q & A with Archbishop Mouneer Anis – Video and Transcript here

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Primates, Anglican Provinces, The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East

More couples finding out funeral home facilities can make great wedding chapels

Paulita and Tony Flores took their vows in an elegant rotunda with marble floors amid glimmering chandeliers and a bubbling fountain.

It didn’t bother them that a room down the hall showcased caskets and urns. Or that the building was surrounded by a cemetery with 100,000 gravestones on 60 acres. Or that on other days, the facility hosts something a lot more somber — funerals.

And they’re not alone. The Floreses’ wedding last month at the Community Life Center at Washington Park East Cemetery on Indianapolis’ Far Eastside illustrates a growing trend.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(NPR) New Terrorism Adviser Takes A 'Broad Tent' Approach

Now there is someone new at the National Security Council who won’t be getting much sleep: He’s a former Rhodes College professor named Quintan Wiktorowicz, and he’s an expert on, among other things, how some people decide to become terrorists.

“A number of years ago, before he went into government, he did some of the most path-breaking work not only on who was susceptible to being radicalized, but most importantly, who was the most resistant to being radicalized,” says Christine Fair, an expert on terrorism and radicalization at Georgetown University. “And the findings that he came up with based upon his work really shattered some of the stereotypes we have about Muslims and radicalization.”

As part of his research, Wiktorowicz interviewed hundreds of Islamists in the United Kingdom. After compiling his interviews he came to the conclusion that ”” contrary to popular belief ”” very religious Muslims were in fact the people who ended up being the most resistant to radicalization.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Islam, Other Faiths, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

George Will: America's intense disharmony is part of our history

The tone of today’s politics was anticipated and is vindicated by a book published 30 years ago. The late Samuel Huntington’s “American Politics: The Promise of Disharmony” (1981) clarifies why it is a mistake to be alarmed by today’s political excitements and extravagances, a mistake refuted by America’s past.

The “predominant characteristics” of the Revolutionary era, according to Gordon Wood, today’s pre-eminent historian of that period, were “fear and frenzy, the exaggerations and the enthusiasm, the general sense of social corruption and disorder.” In the 1820s, Daniel Webster said “society is full of excitement.” Of the 1830s, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “The country is full of rebellion; the country is full of kings. Hands off! Let there be no control and no interference in the administration of this kingdom of me.” As the 20th century dawned, Theodore Roosevelt found a “condition of excitement and irritation in the popular mind.” In 1920, George Santayana wrote, “America is all one prairie, swept by a universal tornado.” Unusual turmoil is not so unusual that it has no pattern.

By the time Huntington’s book appeared, America had had four of what he called “periods of creedal passion” — the Revolutionary era (1770s), the Jacksonian era (the 1830s), the Progressive era (1900-1920) and the 1960s. We are now in the fifth.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., History, Politics in General

(Press-Gazette) Green Bay Packers savor return to the Super Bowl

If the sky is the limit for the Green Bay Packers and their fans, they can almost touch it now.

The Super Bowl, where best-of-show is earned and pro football history is made, awaits this version of the most historic franchise in National Football League history.

Fittingly and deservingly, the Packers made it to the big show by outlasting their oldest and most stubborn opponent, the Chicago Bears, 21-14 at Soldier Field Sunday.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Sports

(Post-Gazette) Steelers hold on for championship after dominating Jets in first half

Hines Ward gripped a near-empty bottle of non-alcoholic champagne and joked that he had stolen it from the New York Jets, who had boasted that they and their fans would be drinking the bubbly.

“I’m sleeping with this bottle tonight,” Ward proclaimed after the jubilation around him in the Steelers locker room had calmed down.

Ward had just performed his as-promised Heinz Field leap, joining fans in the stands to celebrate the Steelers’ eighth trip to a Super Bowl after they prevailed against the New York Jets, 24-19, Sunday night in the AFC championship.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Sports

(BBC) John Mohammed Butt: The hippy who became an imam

Forty years after following the hippy trail to South Asia, John Butt is still living in the region, and still spreading a message of peace and love – though now as an Islamic scholar.
As our car turned around the bumpy Indian road, a gleaming white marble minaret came into view. My fellow passenger, John Mohammed Butt, could barely contain his excitement.
“Can you see it?” he asks. “It’s like the Oxford University of Islamic learning. For me these minarets and domes are just like the spires and towers of Oxford.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, India, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(NY Times) To Really Learn, Quit Studying and Take a Test

Taking a test is not just a passive mechanism for assessing how much people know, according to new research. It actually helps people learn, and it works better than a number of other studying techniques.

The research, published online Thursday in the journal Science, found that students who read a passage, then took a test asking them to recall what they had read, retained about 50 percent more of the information a week later than students who used two other methods.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Eternal God, whose majesty is revealed in mercy: Grant that as we draw near to thee thy truth may set us free from the bondage of our own thoughts and desires, and that as we abide in thee our prayers may be an instrument of thy righteous will; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Leslie Hunter

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

From the Morning Bible readings

Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father; to whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

–Galatians 1:3-5

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Slap to a Man’s Pride Set Off Tumult in Tunisia

Mohamed Bouazizi spent his whole life on a dusty, narrow street here, in a tiny, three-room house with a concrete patio where his mother hung the laundry and the red chilis to dry. By the time Mr. Bouazizi was 26, his work as a fruit vendor had earned him just enough money to feed his mother, uncle and five brothers and sisters at home. He dreamed about owning a van.

Faida Hamdy, a 45-year-old municipal inspector in Sidi Bouzid, a police officer’s daughter, was single, had a “strong personality” and an unblemished record, her supervisor said. She inspected buildings, investigated noise complaints and fined vendors like Mr. Bouazizi, whose itinerant trade may or may not have been legal; no one seems to know.

On the morning of Dec. 17, when other vendors say Ms. Hamdy tried to confiscate Mr. Bouazizi’s fruit, and then slapped him in the face for trying to yank back his apples, he became the hero ”” now the martyred hero ”” and she became the villain in a remarkable swirl of events in which Tunisians have risen up to topple a 23-year dictatorship and march on, demanding radical change in their government.

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, Africa, Tunisia

Impending Medicaid cuts would severely impact care for South Carolina's disabled

Parents of the profoundly disabled are profoundly troubled.

Beginning April 1, Medicaid will cover a total of 75 occupational, physical and speech therapy sessions annually. The health insurance program for the poor and disabled now covers a combined 225 of those therapies a year.

The reductions will be retroactive to July 2010, meaning some families already will have reached their yearly maximum before the cuts officially take effect.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Budget, Economy, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, State Government, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government

Mount Pleasant Anglican congregation offers worship at downtown club

The idea came out of the blue.

It was a crazy idea, holding church in a rock-‘n’-roll club. But the leadership at St. Andrew’s Church-Mount Pleasant had been thinking for a while about extending its reach, not by purchasing land and building church buildings, not by transforming their Old Village campus into a megachurch, not by investing money in things.
No, the goal was to reach people where they live, to delve deeply into the urban landscape, to leverage existing assets, foster communities and tie them together.

It’s the old way of “doing” Christianity, said the Rev. Steve Wood. It’s what the Apostle Paul did when he left the synagogue in Ephesus for the lecture hall of Tyrannus.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry

Religion and Ethics Newsweekly: The Gülen Movement

[LUCKY ] SEVERSON: Bill Martin is a senior fellow in religion and public policy at the James Baker Institute at Rice University. He says the Gülen movement is different from fundamentalist Islam because they respect all faiths and believe religion is compatible with science.

WILLIAM MARTIN (Senior Fellow, James Baker Institute at Rice University): I think it’s fair to say that Islam has had difficulty in coming to terms with modernity, and in that I think that the Gülen movement offers a much more positive picture of what Islam can be.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(AP) Reynolds Price RIP

Reynolds Price, a long-time Duke University professor and award-winning writer whose novel “Kate Vaiden,” received national acclaim, died Thursday after suffering a heart attack. He was 77.

Duke spokesman Keith Lawrence said Price died after he was stricken last Sunday.

A native of Macon, Price graduated summa cum laude from Duke in 1955, where he studied creative writing under William Blackburn, whose other Duke students included noted authors William Styron and Anne Tyler.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Poetry & Literature, Religion & Culture

(RNS) Cash-Strapped Cities Look To Tax Churches

When a community needs to rebuild crumbling roads, should houses of worship pay fees for the number of times their congregants drive on them?

That’s the question behind a recent suit filed by churches in the small city of Mission, Kan., who argue the city’s new “transportation utility fee” is a tax they should not have to pay.

With cash-strapped states and cities facing a slew of tough choices, there’s a growing debate nationwide about whether religious congregations should help foot the bill.

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

(Time) Tiger Moms: Is Tough Parenting Really the Answer?

Even before Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Chua’s proudly politically incorrect account of raising her children “the Chinese way,” arrived in bookstores Jan. 11, her parenting methods were the incredulous, indignant talk of every playground, supermarket and coffee shop. A prepublication excerpt in the Wall Street Journal (titled “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior”) started the ferocious buzz; the online version has been read more than 1 million times and attracted more than 7,000 comments so far. When Chua appeared Jan. 11 on the Today show, the usually sunny host Meredith Vieira could hardly contain her contempt as she read aloud a sample of viewer comments: “She’s a monster”; “The way she raised her kids is outrageous”; “Where is the love, the acceptance?”

Chua, a petite 48-year-old who carries off a short-skirted wardrobe that could easily be worn by her daughters (now 15 and 18), gave as good as she got. “To be perfectly honest, I know that a lot of Asian parents are secretly shocked and horrified by many aspects of Western parenting,” including “how much time Westerners allow their kids to waste ”” hours on Facebook and computer games ”” and in some ways, how poorly they prepare them for the future,” she told Vieira with a toss of her long hair. “It’s a tough world out there.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, Children, China, Marriage & Family

South Carolina expects solid recovery in tourism

Despite a shaky economy and the specter of higher gas prices, tourism is expected to continue its solid improvement this year in the Carolinas, where it means almost $39 billion to the two states’ economies.

“We’re in the midst of a slow-motion recovery, but tourism remains a bright spot,” said Brad Dean, president and CEO of the chamber of commerce in Myrtle Beach, the oceanfront town that attracts about 14 million visitors a year.

South Carolina’s former parks and tourism director agreed.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, City Government, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Politics in General

In Rhode Island Lincoln, Cumberland Episcopal churches may merge

Even now, the portable rental marquee sign sitting in the snow outside the Christ Church Parish House reads, in part, “Christmas joy continues.”

“We haven’t been able to change it because of the weather, the way it’s been,” chuckled Rev. Scott Gunn, the Episcopal church’s rector for over three years now.

Fact is, neither Gunn nor his parishioners have had much to celebrate lately. Due to serious financial hardships, he has asked his congregation to vote on Jan 30 to accept a merger with Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Cumberland Hill.

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

Oklahoma Interim Episcopal dean influenced by faith and American Indian heritage

That faith heritage is one reason why [Stephen] Charleston has returned to his Oklahoma roots as the interim dean of St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral, 127 NW 7.

“Religion hooked me early,” Charleston said recently.

“My grandfather and great-grandfather were both ordained Presbyterian ministers. They founded churches in the Choctaw Nation. My grandfather baptized people in the lakes of southeast Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, TEC Bishops

(Star-Telegram) Bishop Iker to appeal Judge's order

Bishop Jack Iker said he and other area Episcopalians who left the national church will appeal a judge’s decision ordering his group to give up all property of the 24-county Episcopal 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