Daily Archives: March 16, 2011

(USA Today) More workers have a gloomy retirement outlook

More workers are pessimistic about their retirement future than at any time in the past two decades, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute 2011 Retirement Confidence Survey.

The percentage of workers who are not at all confident about saving enough money for a comfortable retirement reached 27% in 2011, compared with 22% last year. When combined with those who said they are not too confident, the total reaches 50% of workers.

“That is sobering,” says Greg Burrows, senior vice president of retirement and investor services at the Principal Financial Group, a partner with the EBRI survey. “Hopefully this will spur some action.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, America/U.S.A., Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Middle Age, Pensions, Personal Finance, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Washington Post Editorial: The United States watches as Gaddafi gains

Possible interventions include not only a no-fly zone but also providing weapons to the rebels, offering inducements to Gaddafi loyalists to defect, jamming Libyan military radio transmissions or bombing Mr. Gaddafi’s tanks and artillery when they move east. Each option carries risks for the United States, and Mr. Obama’s caution is understandable.

On the other hand, Mr. Gaddafi’s military is weak, and many Libyans clearly are desperate for change. And a Gaddafi victory also carries risks for U.S. interests, as Mr. Obama himself has said. A sacking of Benghazi will be accompanied and followed by a horrific bloodbath. A revitalized dictator is likely to be distinctly unfriendly to Western interests. And other despots will conclude that Mr. Gaddafi’s brand of merciless revenge brings better results than the Tunisian and Egyptian models of accommodating people’s yearning for freedom ”” and that American threats to the contrary can be discounted.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Libya, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Violence

(Living Church) The C3 Conference in Tennessee–Engagement over Relevance

For centuries the words Church and culture were all but synonymous. This close linkage posted challenges for both culture and Church, but it gave artists the opportunity to ply their craft with the patronage of the Church, and to express their faith through their art. With the collapse of Christendom, these connections have frayed or broken. The disconnect has become so pervasive that many outside the Church, while not hostile, are unconcerned with faith in general or Christianity in particular. The Church has more recently wrestled the dragon of relevance: Do Christians still have anything to offer culture?

With its new St. George’s Institute of Church and Cultural Life, St. George’s Church, Nashville, aims to slay the dragon of relevance by equipping Christians to engage with culture in meaningful and lasting ways. The institute sponsored its first conference, “C3: Christ, Church and Culture,” Feb. 24-26 in Nashville. Far from being another in a long line of Christian quests for relevance, the conference explored deeper questions surrounding the interface of culture and faith.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Art, Episcopal Church (TEC), Religion & Culture, TEC Parishes

(RNS) Religious groups mobilize to aid Japan

As the extent of the death and destruction from the massive disaster in Japan comes into focus, religious relief organizations are sending and supporting teams to assess the damage.

Groups such World Vision and Baptist World Aid have teams on the ground determining what kinds of experts and supplies will be needed in the recovery from the earthquake and tsunami that struck Friday (March 11).

Rachel Wolff, a spokeswoman for World Vision, said a relief manager who worked on the scenes of earthquakes in Haiti and Pakistan was stunned by the extent of the destruction.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Japan, Religion & Culture

C of E–Green Paper on punishment, rehabilitation and sentencing welcomed

The Church of England has welcomed the analysis and policy proposals in the Ministry of Justice Green Paper Breaking the Cycle: Effective Punishment, Rehabilitation and Sentencing of Offenders, December 2010.

The analysis and policy proposals ‘represent an honest recognition of some of the fundamental weaknesses in our current methods of dealing with offenders, and offer bold and far-reaching suggestions for improvement,’ the Church’s Mission and Public Affairs Council says in its response to the Green Paper.

The Council endorses the Green Paper’s plans for more use of properly-designed community sentences, diversion of mentally ill people from prison and more intensive concentration on effective rehabilitation of offenders through integrated services provided by the voluntary sector in partnership with statutory organisations.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Prison/Prison Ministry, Religion & Culture

Japanese police will try to cool reactor 4 through water cannon

Earlier attempts to use helicopters had to be abandoned due to radiation levels.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Asia, Japan

(RNS) Christians Question Conventional Wisdom on Divorce Stats

It’s been proclaimed from pulpits and blogs for years””Christians divorce as much as everyone else in America.

But some scholars and family activists are questioning the oft-cited statistics, saying Christians who attend church regularly are more likely to remain wed.

“It’s a useful myth,” said Bradley Wright, a University of Connecticut sociologist who recently wrote “Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites … and Other Lies You’ve Been Told.”

“Because if a pastor wants to preach about how Christians should take their marriages more seriously, he or she can trot out this statistic to get them to listen to him or her.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

Micah Watson–John Locke and the Evangelical Retreat from Marriage

Locke was neither an extreme libertarian nor a proponent of a Christian government. He could advocate religious liberty and insist on morals legislation because he believed that all citizens had access to moral truths through the natural law, and thus could be held accountable regardless of religious beliefs. One may or may not find natural law plausible, but it occupies a respected place within Western””and Christian””political thought and Locke was hardly out of the ordinary in his reliance on it. Indeed, it is hard to know how [David] Gushee could avoid relying on something similar if he believes, as I’m sure he does, that non-Christians should abide by secular laws forbidding theft or sexual assault. One can, I note in passing, offer reasons as to the wrongness of theft, or even same-sex marriage, without relying on scripture.

Gushee has discovered a “Locke” that John Locke himself would not recognize. Founding-era Americans would not recognize Gushee’s Locke either. Gushee describes Locke’s views as emerging victorious over Christendom in 1791, though in fact Locke was much more influential in the events leading up to 1776 than he was in the constructive task of establishing a new constitution. Needless to say, Locke’s views, were they truly to sanction the sort of public license that Gushee claims, would never have enjoyed the acclaim they did amidst a founding generation that had rather robust views about public morality and the government’s role in protecting it.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, History, Marriage & Family, Philosophy, Religion & Culture

Author Earns Her Stripes on her First Try

Téa Obreht is just 25, and “The Tiger’s Wife” is her first book. It is also the first book ever sold by her agent, Seth Fishman, who is 30, and the second book bought by her editor, Noah Eaker, who was 26 when he acquired it and, strictly speaking, still an editorial assistant.

“We were all very new,” Ms. Obreht said recently, “and we were excited to find each other.” They might want to consider retirement, quitting while they’re ahead, because the kind of good fortune they are enjoying right now may never come their way again.

Ms. Obreht was included in The New Yorker’s “20 Under 40” list of young fiction authors last summer and “The Tiger’s Wife” was subsequently excerpted in the magazine. On Sunday, the book made the cover of The New York Times Book Review. Just about everywhere, it has received the sort of reviews that many writers wait an entire career for. In The Times on Friday, Michiko Kakutani called it ”˜“hugely ambitious, audaciously written.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Books, Women, Young Adults

(NY Times) In Germany, Uproar Over a Doctoral Thesis

While Americans have been obsessing lately about Charlie Sheen and his live-in porn film stars, Germany has been consumed by improprieties over a doctoral thesis.

All the German talk shows, the front pages of the country’s newspapers and magazines, its political pundits and comedians, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of protesters who have taken to the streets or to the pages of Facebook, have had a field day indulging in very German-style hand-wringing and paroxysms of self-loathing over the moral, political and social ramifications of the case.

A German author, Peter Schneider, even gravely linked the whole mess to Bill Clinton’s impeachment drama, since they both entailed what he called “the same question of honesty.” Leave it to a German intellectual to discern a deep connection between an American president dissembling about oral sex with an intern in the Oval Office and a doctoral student at Bayreuth University cribbing passages in a 475-page dissertation about contrasting constitutional developments.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Books, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Theology

Very Helpful Japanese Earthquake Video

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Asia, Japan

(Telegraph) Libya: world leaders reject military intervention

World leaders on Tuesday refused all forms of military intervention in Libya, abandoning Col Muammar Gaddafi’s fleeing opposition to its fate.

France and Britain failed to persuade other world powers meeting in Paris to impose a no-fly zone over the country, where pro-Gaddafi forces claimed to have taken the last major town before the rebel capital, Benghazi.

The no-fly proposal was absent from the G8 foreign ministers’ closing statement in Paris, following resistance from Russia, Germany and the US. China, a United Nations security council veto-holder, is also opposed.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, America/U.S.A., England / UK, Europe, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Libya, Politics in General, Violence

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Almighty God, spirit of peace and of grace, whose salvation is never far from penitent hearts: We confess the sins that have estranged us from thee, dimmed our vision of heavenly things, and brought upon us many troubles and sorrows. O merciful Father, grant unto us who humble ourselves before thee the remission of all our sins, and the assurance of thy pardon and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Prayers for the Christian Year

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Take care, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Posted in Uncategorized

(CNS) As Japan disaster unfolds, world's Catholics offer prayers, help

The Diocese of Sendai includes the areas hardest-hit in the disaster, reported the Asian church news agency UCA News.

Father Peter Shiro Komatsu, diocesan chancellor, said March 14 that Bishop Martin Tetsuo Hiraga of Sendai was unharmed but had not received complete reports on the damage because telecommunications remained disrupted.

The priest said diocesan officials did not know about what had happened to several churches along the coast. He said one church in Fukushima was totally damaged and eight churches in Sendai were either unaffected or only slightly damaged.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Japan, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Fire at Reactor Adds to Challenges as Japan Weighs New Plans to Cool Fuel

At least 750 workers were evacuated on Tuesday morning after a separate explosion ruptured the inner containment building at Reactor No. 2 at the Daiichi plant, which was crippled by Friday’s earthquake and tsunami. The explosion released a surge of radiation 800 times more intense than the recommended hourly exposure limit in Japan.

But 50 workers stayed behind, a crew no larger than would be stationed at the plant on a quiet spring day. Taking shelter when possible in the reactor’s control room, which is heavily shielded from radiation, they struggled through the morning and afternoon to keep hundreds of gallons of seawater a minute flowing through temporary fire pumps into the three stricken reactors, Nos. 1, 2 and 3, where overheated fuel rods continued to boil away the water at a brisk pace.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Japan, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Science & Technology

Timothy Shah–The Uganda Conspiracy Theory

But if any single African country has attracted American ire, it is Uganda. Is this because of a spate of anti-gay attacks? When a tiny college newspaper organized an egregious hate campaign last October against prominent gay activists, including Kato, a Ugandan court issued a permanent injunction against the publication. And David Kato’s death is among only a handful of documented instances in which homosexuals have been killed in Uganda in recent years, with police now claiming that Kato was murdered by an acquaintance for reasons unrelated to homophobia. Despite Rachel Maddow’s running commentary on Uganda””under the headline “Uganda Be Kidding Me!”””more Ugandans consider homosexual behavior morally acceptable or neutral””almost one in five””than people in any other major African country, including sexually tolerant South Africa, according to a 2010 Pew Forum survey.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, America/U.S.A., Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Uganda

Bishop makes rallying call after parish vicar defects

A parish shaken by the departure of its vicar following his defection to the Catholic Church has been told to rally round and pray by the Bishop of Plymouth.

Parishioners filing into the Parish Church of St Mary The Virgin in St Marychurch were visited by the Right Rev Canon John Ford…a week after vicar David Lashbrooke told his congregation he was unhappy with the way the Anglican Church was going and he had decided to convert to the Catholic faith, taking part of the congregation with him.

Bishop John, who conducted the parish mass on Sunday, told the congregation that despite the ‘hurt, incomprehension, and shifting plates of the Church’, it was best to ‘pray and reflect’ rather than become angry.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Roman Catholic

Jason Byasee–Joining the Communion of Saints and Writing the Unwritable Word

That’s the task of ministry: using words, frail things really, to make sense of the incarnate God who’s beyond our sense.

Seminaries, at their best, are strong ecologies of reading and writing. They’re about setting students on a course for a ministry of abundant life for the sake of the church’s flourishing. They’re about helping students and their future flocks inch slightly higher in love of God and neighbor. Saint Basil the Great in the fourth century situated this mission in the context of reading and writing, and he put it really well. In Basil’s day, people were arguing over how exactly to describe the relationship between Jesus and the One who sent him, between the Father and the Son””are they the same, different, or sort of both? And there were of course the naysayers, the people who said it didn’t matter, who argued that we should be out there helping the poor instead of poring over this esoteric academic nonsense. Basil had an answer:

Those who are idle in the pursuit of righteousness count theological terminology as secondary, together with attempts to search out the hidden meaning in this phrase or that syllable, but those conscious of the goal of our calling realize that we are to become like God, as far as this is possible for human nature. But we cannot become like God unless we have knowledge of God, and without lessons there will be no knowledge. Instruction begins with the proper use of speech, and syllables and words are the elements of speech. Therefore to scrutinize syllables is not a superfluous task.

Sure, Basil says, those who don’t care about holiness don’t care about language. But those who want to love God know that our only way to do that is to love language””as theologians, future pastors, and educators, as writers, all we have is words from God to give out to other people. And words are enough.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Books, Education, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Preaching / Homiletics, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(Christianity Today) John Koessler: The Trajectory of Worship

In a sermon entitled “Praise, One of the Chief Employments of Heaven,” Jonathan Edwards explained, “Let it be considered that the church on earth is the same society with those saints who are praising God in heaven. There is not one church of Christ in heaven and another here upon earth.” This means that when the church gathers for worship, it engages in a heavenly activity. The worshiping church does not merely imitate what goes on in heaven. It participates in heaven’s worship. Like one who walks into the church sanctuary after the service has started, those who worship on earth move into something that is already in progress. We take up a theme that was begun by others before the throne of God, adding our voices to theirs.

Consequently, the worshiping church is part of a much larger congregation. It is one that includes patriarchs and prophets, saints and angels. No wonder Edwards called worship “the work of heaven” and observed, “If we begin now to exercise ourselves in the work of heaven, it will be the way to have foretastes of the enjoyments of heaven.”

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