Daily Archives: February 17, 2011

USA Today Editorial–As mortgage mess fades away, so should Fannie and Freddie

Fannie and Freddie are failed experiments in social policy. Their government charters allowed them to borrow for less than other companies, which gave them easy money and easy profits. And their odd status as government-chartered entities that were also publicly traded corporations set them up to profit by putting taxpayers at risk.

The Treasury Department presented three options. The first would simply wind down Fannie and Freddie as the housing market recovers, leaving nothing in their place. The second would create a government agency that would lend during crises when private credit died up. The third would put government in the reinsurance business, selling policies that would guarantee mortgages in case a primary guarantor from the private sector foundered.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, House of Representatives, Housing/Real Estate Market, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government

In North Carolina Korean Catholics break new ground

Church groundbreakings are routine across the Triangle.

Most are symbolic affairs, with church leaders skimming the dirt, gleaming new shovels in hand.

But when members of the Korean Catholic community broke ground Sunday for their new church, it told a story – not just of a new immigrant community in the Triangle, but of the direction of the Roman Catholic Church, and, indeed, all of Christendom.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Korea, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Roman Catholic

(National Post) Ex-guitarist now preaches against music

Bilal Philips was once a guitar god. Now he is trying to convince Muslims that God doesn’t want them listening to guitars.

A Saudi-trained Canadian, Mr. Philips is among a small group of lecturers who preach against most forms of music — a controversial prohibition that surfaced in Manitoba recently, where a dozen Muslim families want to pull their children from music class.

“A heart filled with music will not have room for God’s words,” he writes in his bookContemporary Issues, which also defends child marriages, wife beating, polygamy and killing apostates while calling homosexuality “evil and dangerous.”

Read it all.

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

(CBC) Kirpan banned at Quebec national assembly

Quebec’s governing Liberals voted in favour of an opposition motion to ban ceremonial daggers from the provincial legislature.

The Parti Québécois tabled its motion Wednesday ”” requesting the government prevent Sikhs from carrying their ceremonial daggers into the national assembly building ”” and the legislature voted unanimously in favour.

Read it all

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Canada, Church/State Matters, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(LA Times) U.S. intelligence taxed by Middle East unrest

The quick pace of protests and two regime changes in the Middle East over the last month has stretched the U.S. intelligence community as it scrambles to keep up with events and maintain crucial counter-terrorism contacts, top intelligence officials said Wednesday.

Intelligence analysts had extensive reports on the tense economic and social conditions in the region, but were unable to predict when that volatile mix would ignite enough unrest to topple a government, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said during a hearing of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

“We are not clairvoyant,” Clapper said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Egypt, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Middle East

(RNS) Report: U.S. Churches Continue Growth, Decline Trends

Mainline Protestant churches that have seen a fall in membership since the 1970s continued their decline; the Presbyterian Church (USA) reported the greatest membership drop (2.6 percent) of the 25 largest denominations.

Other denominations reporting declines include the United Methodist Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Episcopal Church as well as the more evangelical Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

The membership declines in mainline churches led to a 1 percent decrease in total U.S. church membership, to 145.8 million.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(University of Exeter) The Bible on TV

A new television series includes the research expertise of Dr Francesca Stavrakopoulou, a biblical scholar at the University of Exeter.

Channel 4’s series The Bible: A History intends to show how the Bible has played a major role in shaping people’s ideas about the world.

In the second episode Dr Stavrakopoulou is interviewed by presenter Rageh Omaar about Abraham and his role in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). The interview focuses on the biblical claim that God promised Abraham the land of Canaan, the land now claimed by Israelis and Palestinians today. Dr Stavrakopoulou’s research focuses on the worship of the dead as divine ancestors, illustrating how the graves of ancestors marked the territorial claims of their living relatives. Her research suggests that the tomb in Hebron where Abraham is supposed to have been buried represents an ancient attempt to exploit this territoriality in favour of ancient land claims asserted by biblical writers. It goes onto to suggest that these claims continue to be asserted and contested by some Israelis and Palestinians today who claim direct descent from Abraham.

Read it all and you can find a lot more information about this over here.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Education, England / UK, Media, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Letter from Robert Duncan to the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh

Dear Friends,

Attached is a letter describing an agreement made by Somerset Anglican Fellowship with the TEC Diocese. Some of you have already read about this in the newspaper or received an email; many of you have communicated with me your concerns that there might be many “secret deals” being made which will leave many congregations “on their own.” Here is some information about the agreement, and our current situation, that we thought it would be helpful for you to know.

1) Somerset Anglican Fellowship negotiated this settlement without the input or approval of the Diocese. In fact, we have reason to believe that the lawyer representing SAF advised them not to inform the Anglican diocese. We are very concerned that a congregation thought itself to be so in jeopardy as to necessitate secret legal action.
2) St. Stephen’s, Sewickley and Church of the Savior, Ambridge have consulted legal counsel with regard to individual settlements with the TEC Diocese. Both parishes informed the Anglican Diocese at the time and both parishes have decided not to participate in any settlement without the involvement of the Diocese.

3) To the best of our knowledge, there are no other parishes which are unilaterally attempting to make a settlement with the TEC diocese.

4) The Anglican Diocese remains committed to finding the best solution for each of its parishes in light of the recent legal decisions. We also continue to hope for and look for some kind of settlement that would benefit all of our congregations.

5) Please do not hesitate to email or call Canon Mary, Geoff Chapman (Chair of the Standing Committee) or Jonathan Millard (Standing Committee member) or me if you have further questions or concerns.

In light of these very serious developments, I feel compelled to issue a godly directive to all of the clergy of the diocese not to engage in, conduct, or conclude negotiations without first discussing such actions with me, or with Canon Mary, and with our chancellor.


The Most Rev. Robert Wm. Duncan

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Pittsburgh

(ENS) Questions of how church must change continue to challenge Executive Council members

Episcopal Church Center Chief Operating Officer Linda Watt . . . began by saying that a human resources consultant hired by the Episcopal Church Center (located at 815 Second Avenue in New York) in 2006 “reported his impression that we were a place of broken wings where the primary focus was placed upon caring for individual staff members and less attention was paid to the work those individual staff members were accomplishing.”

She said that “this inward focus was troubling” to Jefferts Schori, who was just beginning her term, and who “also recognized that there were dangers inherent in a staff that consisted in considerable part of individuals whose working style was fundamentally isolated in silos.”

“Many mission staff considered themselves to be in charge of an area ”“ to be the expert ”“ individually in control of events and budget and information,” Watt continued. “Bishops and others in leadership positions around the church expressed annoyance and even hostility toward 815, and some staff members exhibited some patronizing attitudes. There was really very little accountability on how money was spent, or if events had to take place or if goals were met, if indeed goals were set.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Executive Council

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Janani Luwum

O God, whose Son the Good Shepherd laid down his life for the sheep: We give thee thanks for thy faithful shepherd, Janani Luwum, who after his Savior’s example gave up his life for the people of Uganda. Grant us to be so inspired by his witness that we make no peace with oppression, but live as those who are sealed with the cross of Christ, who died and rose again, and now liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of Uganda, Death / Burial / Funerals, Parish Ministry, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Almighty and eternal God, who in thy Son Jesus Christ hast revealed thy nature as Love: We humbly pray thee to shed thy love abroad in our hearts by thy Holy Spirit; that so by thy grace we may evermore abide in thee, and thou in us, with all joyfulness, and free from fear or mistrust; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Christian von Bunsen (1791-1860)

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by giving heed to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, through the pretensions of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and enjoin abstinence from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Computer wins in 'Jeopardy!' Man v. Machine challenge.

Note to self: Never play “Jeopardy!” with a supercomputer.

That’s a useful lesson for me or any mortal who has followed the Man vs. Machine faceoff this week on the popular trivia game show, where on Wednesday the second of two exhibition matches sealed the deal: Watson, the IBM-created megabrain, officially buried his flesh-and-blood opponents, veteran “Jeopardy!” champs Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter.

Watson’s winning score was $41,413 for the day ($77,147 for both games), while Jennings notched $19,200 ($24,000 overall) and Rutter reached $11,200 ($21,600 overall).

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Science & Technology

Statement from the Episcopal/Anglican Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa

Our beloved country Egypt is going through a critical time which requires all of us to be united, working together in order to achieve “freedom, democracy and social equality” which are at the heart of the Youth Revolution of 25 January 2011. Without achieving these goals, the Revolution will have been mere words. Therefore, with strong hands, hopeful hearts and with patience, we all need to work each in our own field, until Egypt becomes a developed democratic country. Only then will Egypt regain its pioneering place in the Middle East, a position it has held over the centuries.

We are pleased with the decision of the Minister of Interior to reinstate the motto of the police: “Police in the service of the People.” We hope and trust that the police will make their motto a reality, actively providing a real service to citizens, not just monitoring them. On the other hand, we as citizens need to rebuild our trust in the police, start a new page, and work together for the sake of our beloved country Egypt.

We appreciate the role of the High Council of the Egyptian Army in achieving the dreams of our great nation, that Egypt would become a secular and democratic country in which all of its citizens enjoy their rights which will be guaranteed by the new Constitution.

The Most Rev. Dr. Mouneer H. Anis
Bishop of the Episcopal / Anglican Diocese of Egypt
with North Africa and the Horn of Africa
President Bishop of the Episcopal / Anglican
Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Egypt, Middle East, Politics in General, The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori elected to Primates Standing Committee

(The Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs)

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was elected for a three year term to the Anglican Communion Primates’ Standing Committee.

The election was held among the Primates of the Anglican Communion during the group’s recent meeting in Dublin, Ireland.

“I am grateful to my colleagues in the Americas for their confidence, and look forward to working with partners around the Communion as we seek to heal a broken and hurting world,” Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori said. “I have every hope that the primates can be models and leaders of that work, as variously-gifted members of the Body of Christ.”

Elected to the Primates’ Standing Committee were:

Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul Yak (Sudan) – alternate Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi (Burundi)

Central, North, South Americas and the Caribbean
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori (The Episcopal Church) – alternate Archbishop John Holder (West Indies)

Archbishop David Chillingworth (Scotland) – alternate Archbishop Alan Harper (Ireland)

Middle East and West Asia
Bishop Samuel Azariah (Pakistan) – alternate Bishop Paul Sarker (Bangladesh)

South East Asia and Oceania
Archbishop Paul Kwong (Hong Kong) – alternate Archbishop Winston Halapua (Aotearoa, New Zealand & Polynesia)

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Primates, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop

Japan gives Anglican Covenant Backing

In the interval between the 57th and 58th Japanese general synods, the Primates’ Meeting, the Lambeth Conference, and the Anglican Consultative Council made “requests and recommendations” that the US and Canada forebear from pursuing gay bishops and blessings, while the “Archbishop of Canterbury has repeatedly given appeals and requests to address the problems.”

Yet, “in spite of the recommendations and appeals [TEC] and the [ACC] have proceeded with the ordination of a homosexual Bishop and recognising the ”˜marriage’ (union) of same sex couples, further complicating the situation and resulting in some provinces threatening to sever relations” with the two North American provinces, while other “provinces have expressed their intention of establishing a separate ”˜Province’.”

“These unfavourable movements have created the situation where a number of Provinces, Dioceses and Churches are unsure of where they stand, dangerously affecting their identity within the Anglican Communion,” Archbishop Uematsu warned.

Read it all (from the long queue of should-have-already-been-posted material)

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Primary Source, Anglican Covenant, Asia, Japan

(WSJ) Sam Schulman reviews Joel Best's new book "Everyone's a Winner"

In “Everyone’s a Winner,” sociologist Joel Best notes in passing that the inflation of military rank is still very much with us, but his survey of America’s self- congratulatory culture concentrates primarily on contemporary suburban life. Everywhere the author turns his gaze””from bumper stickers that boast about “my kid the honor-roll student” to boosterish “employee of the month” awards ”” Mr. Best sees a proliferation of prizes that seems to arise from a desperate desire to exclude fewer and fewer people from the winner’s podium.

This tendency is evident in the broader cultural realm. Literary prizes are now given for every kind of category, including 12 different kinds of detective fiction recognized by the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar awards. The nominees for the Best Picture Oscar (nominations themselves are awards) have recently doubled from five to 10, and the number of Grammy awards given out last Sunday night came to more than 100. Valedictorians were once unique; now some high schools have dozens. The label “hero,” Mr. Best observes, is ever more broadly applied””not just to soldiers but to firemen, cancer patients and even community volunteers.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Books, Education, Psychology, Sports