Daily Archives: February 23, 2011

(Cincinnati Enquirer) Ohio schools hosting cybersafety forums for Families

[Assistant Chief Hamilton County Juvenile Prosecutor Dotty] Smith is part of a group that makes presentations at schools to students and parents about the dangers in cyberspace and how to be aware and deal with them.

“The principals tell us to scare them to death,” Smith said of her audiences.

The biggest problem, Smith said, is many parents are ignorant of the access their children have – via cell phones, computers, Internet-connected gaming systems – to strangers.

Parents are “not aware of what some of these devices can do,” she said. “It’s about good choices with the huge (array) of technology choices we have out there.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Science & Technology, Sexuality, Theology

(USA Today Editorial) The time to fix Social Security is sooner rather than later

President Obama’s budget director, Jacob Lew, said as much last week during his briefing on the president’s budget. Obama wants to find ways to “work together to find a solution to the long-term issues in Social Security,” Lew told reporters, but the program “does not contribute to the deficit in the short term.”

That would be nice if it were true. It’s not.

Social Security is a cash-in/cash-out program. It went into the red last year, when payroll tax revenue came up about $37 billion short of the benefits paid to retirees. Initially, that shortfall seemed a temporary consequence of the recession. But new projections from the Congressional Budget Office show that factors such as the payroll tax cut Obama and congressional Republicans agreed to last year mean that Social Security will instead come up short every year from now on ”” at least $45 billion this year, and a staggering half a trillion dollars over the next decade.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, Budget, Credit Markets, Economy, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, Social Security, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government, The United States Currency (Dollar etc)

(Time Magazine) Rana Foroohar: Your Incredible Shrinking Paycheck

Before I started writing this column on why paychecks are likely to keep shrinking even if unemployment starts to inch down, I consulted Google to see if the term Marxism was trending upward. It was and has been ever since the end of December, the conclusion of a year in which workers’ share of the U.S. economic pie shrank to the smallest piece ever: 54.4% of GDP, down from about 60% in the 1970s.

No wonder Marx is back in fashion. It’s been more than 100 years since the German philosopher predicted that capitalism’s voraciousness would be its undoing ”” as bosses invest more in new technologies to make things more cheaply and efficiently and less in workers themselves, who, deprived of fair wages, would eventually rise up and revolt. That hasn’t happened, of course, though depressed wages certainly contributed to the revolution in Egypt, not to mention lots of other instances of public unrest over the past few years. But the fact that wages in the U.S. and most other rich countries have been falling since the 1970s and went off a cliff after the recent financial crisis is going to become a more pressing economic and political concern. Just think how hard it will be for Obama to sell himself in 2012 if salaries are still falling.

Read it all.

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

Robert Gagnon–More than “Mutual Joy”: Lisa Miller of Newsweek Against Scripture and Jesus

As its cover story for the Dec. 15, 2008 issue, the editors of Newsweek offer readers a hopelessly distorted and one-sided propaganda piece on “gay marriage” entitled “Our Mutual Joy.” The 2800-word article is by Lisa Miller, religion editor and author of the “Belief Watch” column for the magazine (her academic credential is a B.A. in English at Oberlin College). She claims that Scripture actually provides strong support for validating homosexual unions and no valid opposition to “committed” homosexual practice. She quotes from scholars such as Neil Elliott and “the great Bible scholar” Walter Brueggemann, who are strongly supportive of “gay marriage.”

There is not the slightest effort on Miller’s part to think critically about her own line or reasoning. The lone voice that she cites against homosexual practice is not from a scholar but from a certain Rev. Richard Hunter, a United Methodist minister who offered a short comment for a “roundtable” discussion sponsored by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. From the thousand pages or so that I have written on the subject over the past decade Miller cites not a word, including my critique of Elliott’s untenable claim that Paul in Romans 1:24-27 was thinking only of the exploitative homosexual intercourse practiced by depraved emperors like Nero and Caligula; and my critique (pp. 11-12) of “Brueggemann’s” use of Gal 3:28 (“there is [in Christ] no ”˜male and female’”) as support for homosexual unions (my critique is directed at Prof. Stacy Johnson of Princeton Seminary but it applies equally to Brueggemann’s claim).
Miller’s article reminds me of the equally distorted (but thankfully much shorter) op-ed article put out in The New York Times four years ago by Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof (“God and Sex,” Oct. 23, 2004). My response to Kristof, “”˜God and Sex’ or ”˜Pants on Fire’?”, showed how bad that piece was. My response to Miller will do the same. This essay has three primary components: a discussion of Scripture apart from the witness of Jesus; a discussion of Jesus’ witness; and concluding thoughts, which takes in also Meacham’s “Editor’s Desk” column.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NPR) 4 Reasons Home Prices Are Likely To Keep Falling

1. There’s still a glut of houses on the market.

At the current pace, it would take about seven months to sell all of the newly built houses on the market, and eight months to sell all of the existing homes on the market. In an ordinary market, it would take about six months to sell all of the homes on the market. This excess supply tends to push prices down.

2. Distressed sales account for a huge chunk of all home sales.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

(RNS) National Debt is New Hot Issue for Evangelicals

Many economists warn that the government’s huge national debt is a looming threat to long-term prosperity. But is it also immoral?
According to a growing number of conservative Christians, the answer is a resounding “Yes.”

As Washington debates President Obama’s proposed 2012 budget, the morality of the deficit has become the hot topic on right-leaning Christian blogs, radio programs and political mailings.

The concern is not only that the estimated $14.13 trillion debt could cripple the economy, some conservative Christian leaders say, but also that borrowing so much money violates important biblical tenets.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Budget, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Religion & Culture, Taxes, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

An ENS Article on a Belated Defense of the Title IV Revisions

Saying they are aiming to answer claims that a revised set of Episcopal Church disciplinary canons set to go into effect July 1 are unconstitutional, several of framers of the changes to Title IV have issued a paper which they assert “conclusively establishes the constitutionality of the amendments.”

The statement, posted here, was written by Duncan Bayne, Diocese of Olympia vice chancellor; Stephen Hutchinson, Diocese of Utah chancellor and Joseph Delafield, Diocese of Maine chancellor. Delafield, the spokesperson, said that all three were “active participants in the nine-year process of development and adoption of the amendments.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Polity & Canons

A Radio New Zealand Interview with Bishop Victoria Matthews about the Earthquake

Listen to it all (a little under 3 1/2 minutes).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anglican Provinces, Australia / NZ

(Independent) Christchurch left devastated on New Zealand's 'darkest day'

More than 300 people were still trapped in collapsed buildings last night after a massive earthquake hit New Zealand’s second biggest city, Christchurch, claiming at least 75 lives and destroying buildings.

As police, emergency services and hospitals struggled to cope with the disaster, which toppled the spire of Christchurch’s stone cathedral, the New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key, declared a national state of emergency.

This morning, Mr Key vowed that Christchurch’s “comeback” would begin today. “Though lost lives will never be replaced, and though your city will never look the same again, you will rebuild your city, you will rebuild your lives, you will overcome,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Australia / NZ

An Excerpt from the Martyrdom of Saint Polycarp

Now, as Polycarp was entering into the stadium, there came to him a voice from heaven, saying, “Be strong, and show thyself a man, O Polycarp!” No one saw who it was that spoke to him; but those of our brethren who were present heard the voice. And as he was brought forward, the tumult became great when they heard that Polycarp was taken. And when he came near, the proconsul asked him whether he was Polycarp. On his confessing that he was, [the proconsul] sought to persuade him to deny [Christ], saying, “Have respect to thy old age,” and other similar things, according to their custom, [such as], “Swear by the fortune of Cæsar; repent, and say, Away with the Atheists.” But Polycarp, gazing with a stern countenance on all the multitude of the wicked heathen then in the stadium, and waving his hand towards them, while with groans he looked up to heaven, said, “Away with the Atheists.” Then, the proconsul urging him, and saying, “Swear, and I will set thee at liberty, reproach Christ;” Polycarp declared, “Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He never did me any injury: how then can I blaspheme my King and my Saviour?”

The Martyrdom of Saint Polycarp, Chapter IX.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Parish Ministry

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Polycarp

O God, the maker of heaven and earth, who didst give to thy venerable servant, the holy and gentle Polycarp, boldness to confess Jesus Christ as King and Saviour, and steadfastness to die for his faith: Give us grace, after his example, to share the cup of Christ and rise to eternal life; through 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 History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day

We beseech thee, O God, the God of truth, that what we know not of the things we ought to know, thou wilt teach us; that what we know, thou wilt keep us therein; that in what we are mistaken, thou wilt correct us; that at whatsoever truths we stumble, thou wilt stablish us; and that from all that is false, and all knowledge that would be hurtful, thou wilt evermore defend us; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task? Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God.

–2 Corinthians 2:15-17

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NY Times) Strong Earthquake Shakes New Zealand

A large earthquake struck Christchurch, New Zealand, on Tuesday, according to the United States Geological Survey, causing buildings to collapse and burying vehicles under debris. Prime Minister John Key said at least 65 people had been killed.

Damage was extensive and people were trapped inside buildings, The Associated Press reported.

Video from the scene by 3 News New Zealand showed extensive damage to the city’s main cathedral, as well as people running through the streets to safety. One person called it “the most frightening thing of my entire life.”

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Australia / NZ

(BBC) Defiant Gaddafi refuses to quit amid Libya protests

Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi has refused to stand down amid widespread anti-government protests which he said had tarnished the image of the country.

In his first major speech since unrest began last week, Col Gaddafi said the whole world looked up to Libya and that protests were “serving the devil”.

He urged his supporters to go out and attack the “cockroaches” demonstrating against his rule.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Libya, Politics in General

(LA Times) Anti-Semitism flares in Greece

Nearly 70 years later, Athens, one of the last European capitals to commemorate those who perished at the hands of Nazi forces, finally has a Holocaust memorial.

But since its dedication in May, synagogues have been targeted, Jewish cemeteries desecrated, Holocaust monuments elsewhere in Greece vandalized and the Jewish Museum of Greece, in the capital, defaced with swastikas. What’s more, an alarming chunk of Athenians in November supported the election of a neo-Nazi candidate to the capital’s city council.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Economy, Europe, Greece, Judaism, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Iranian government detains more Christians in another wave of arrests

On the evening of Sunday 13 February, an estimated 45 Christians were temporarily detained overnight by the Iranian authorities in various towns and cities, including at least five people who were held in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.

At least one woman was detained in Mashad, while two men were detained in Ahwaz, and other men in Karaj, Robat Karim and Dezful. One man and his pregnant wife were released after being informed that they must return for questioning once their child is born.

The wave of arrests and temporary detentions by the Iranian government appear to be part of the government’s wider tactic of repression and intimidation of the Christian community.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Iran, Law & Legal Issues, Middle East, Religion & Culture

The World Today Talks to a Libyan national driving medical relief from Egypt to Libya

ELEANOR HALL: Now Abdul, were you part of the revolution in Egypt?

ABDUL: Yes, I was actually. I flew out from London to join them here.

ELEANOR HALL: So you were part of the revolution in Egypt. How does what happened there compare to what you are hearing about in Libya?

ABDUL: Oh, absolutely nothing. There is no comparison whatsoever. I mean even though there was what 300, 400 casualties here, it was peaceful compared to what is happening over there. They are not using water cannons against them, they are not using tear gas. They are using live ammunition. I’ve even been told that there is helicopter gunships who are flying over crowds and opening fire into them.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Egypt, Health & Medicine, Libya, Middle East, Politics in General

Economist–Barack Obama has ducked the challenge of grappling with America’s deficit Woes

Let’s indulge Mr Obama in his fantasy economics: imagine that he does reduce the deficit to 3.1%. Supposedly, that would stabilise government debt: but it would do so at a dangerously high level of around 80% of GDP, and as interest rates rise the target will become much harder to hit. And that is before you consider the biggest problem of all: as more and more baby-boomers retire (the first started to do so this year), their demands for pensions and government-provided health care will start to push the deficit sharply up again after that.

Indeed, the real problem with both Mr Obama’s budget and the Republicans’ proposals is not so much the half-truths and fibs within them, as all the things they both left out. America needs to simplify its tax system and (slightly) increase its overall tax take. It needs to rein in its defence spending, which is currently equivalent to that of the next 20 countries combined. And it needs to tackle the gathering surge in entitlement costs. All these recommendations were made by the deficit-reduction commission that Mr Obama himself set up, but his budget conspicuously fails to take up any of them. Other debt-burdened Western countries have embarked on a stringent diet. America continues to gorge.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Budget, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, History, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Psychology, Social Security, Taxes, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

New Archbishop elected for Central Africa

(ACNS) A statement from Bishop William Mchombo, Acting Provincial Secretary of the Church of the Province of Central Africa.

“The Electoral College of the Church of the Province of Central Africa that was held in Harare on 17 February 2011, Bishop Albert Chama of the Diocese of Northern Zambia was elected as the Archbishop of Central Africa. Archbishop Chama until yesterday has been acting as the Dean of the Province since the then Archbishop Bernard Malango resigned four years ago.

The installation of the new Archbishop of the Province shall be held at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross at an appropriate time.

Please pray for Archbishop Chama for wisdom and strength in his new role.”

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Central Africa

(AAC) Anglican Primates' Meeting Overshadowed by No Shows

Four outside facilitators led the primates in their indaba-style discussions: Stephen Lyon, Church of England Partnership for World Mission secretary and administrator of the ACO’s Bible in the Life of the Church project; Alice Mogwe, director of DITSHWANELO – the Botswana Centre for Human Rights; Dr. Cecilia Clegg, a Roman Catholic nun and an expert in reconciliation and conflict transformation who teaches at the University of Edinburgh; and the Rev. Canon Justin Welby, dean of Liverpool Cathedral and one of the Pastoral Visitors appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury. All have extensive experience in facilitation and mediation, according to Anglican Communion Office spokesperson, Jan Butter. Mogwe and Clegg both participated in the Continuing Indaba Project as facilitators for one of the planning pilot conversations last year.

In addition to the four facilitators, a team of 15 “organizers”, most coming from the Anglican Communion Office, managed the tightly controlled meeting of 23 primates….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Primates, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Partial Primates Meeting in Dublin 2011