Daily Archives: March 30, 2011

Christopher Whalen–As Obama and Congress fiddle, America liquidates housing sector

I estimate that Fannie and Freddie alone are hiding $200 billion worth of bad loans on their books simply because there is no market for these foreclosed homes. Ditto for the largest servicer banks such as Wells Fargo, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup. To clean up this mess with finality is going to cost $1 trillion or so in round numbers. But nobody in Washington wants to go there.

The Obama Administration and the Congress need to put aside their respective fantasy world views and focus on the horrible economic reality ongoing in the housing and banking sectors. It may be that the degree of self-delusion in Washington has reached the point that only another financial catastrophe can wake us from out collective distraction. But if President Obama really believes he can win reelection with housing prices falling from now till November 2012, then perhaps those who liken him to Louis XIV are right.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, House of Representatives, Housing/Real Estate Market, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, The U.S. Government

Frederick Schmidt–Youth Ministry, New Vocations, and the Future of the Church

According to data gathered by the Pension Fund for the Episcopal Church, in 2002 there were 13,616 clergy. Of those, thirty were under the age of 30, 195 were under the age of 35, and 399 were under the age of 40. Today, the average age at ordination is 44 and the average age of active Episcopal clergy is 54.

The age demographics in the pew are no better. In 1965, the Episcopal Church had 3.6 million members and Episcopalians constituted 1.9 percent of the U.S. population. Since 1965, however, membership has declined precipitously. The net result is a graying church.

The average Episcopalian is 57 years old. If that benchmark does not change, roughly half of the church’s membership will die in the next eighteen years. And that is as good as it gets. Since 60 percent of Episcopal congregations have a membership of 100 or less, the rate of decline will probably pick up speed.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, TEC Data, Young Adults

(Guardian) Saudi Arabia prints 1.5m copies of religious edict banning protests

Saudi Arabia is printing 1.5m copies of an edict by religious scholars outlawing protests in the conservative kingdom as un-Islamic, the state news agency said.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter and a major US ally, is an absolute monarchy that does not tolerate any form of public dissent.

It managed to stifle an attempt to stage a mass protest on 11 March with a large security presence on the streets.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Law & Legal Issues, Middle East, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Saudi Arabia

(BBC) Jordan battles to regain 'priceless' Christian relics

They could be the earliest Christian writing in existence, surviving almost 2,000 years in a Jordanian cave. They could, just possibly, change our understanding of how Jesus was crucified and resurrected, and how Christianity was born.

A group of 70 or so “books”, each with between five and 15 lead leaves bound by lead rings, was apparently discovered in a remote arid valley in northern Jordan somewhere between 2005 and 2007.

A flash flood had exposed two niches inside the cave, one of them marked with a menorah or candlestick, the ancient Jewish religious symbol.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, History, Jordan, Judaism, Middle East, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Archbishop Benjamin Kwashi: A Gospel Worth Dying For

In February 2006 a band of people reportedly hired to kill me came to my house. Believing that I was there although I was in another country, they tortured my wife, Gloria, from 1:30 to 3:30 a.m. They left Gloria half-dead and blind. Our son Rinji was left unconscious and our little boy Nanminen had a broken mouth. Through the miracle of medical science, Gloria healed thoroughly and regained her sight in five months.

The next year the attackers were back: this time they met me. They took me downstairs to the field outside my house, where they were going to kill me. They changed their minds and decided they would rather kill me in my bedroom. They brought me back to my bedroom and I pleaded with them for an opportunity to pray. They agreed and I got on my knees to pray. A few minutes later my wife was holding my hands in prayer.

A few more minutes later my son Rinji walked in. I screamed at him, “What are you doing? Why are you here?” He said, “Daddy, they’ve gone.” We got up and brought the whole family together and we praised the Lord until the police and the soldiers came, and throughout the day it was a song of praise.

Read it all (or watch the video which was posted a while back).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Violence

(Der Spiegel) 'Can Germans Trust Merkel's About-Face on Nuclear Power?'

Chancellor Angela Merkel has responded to her party’s stinging election defeat on Sunday by pledging to speed up Germany’s exit from nuclear power.

“My view of nuclear energy has been changed by the events in Japan,” she said on Monday after a meeting of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) to discuss the loss of the state of Baden-Württemberg, the party’s stronghold for 58 years, to the resurgent Green Party. “I have learned a lesson from what happened in Japan.”

The Greens, vehement opponents of nuclear power, surged in the rich southwestern state on a wave of public fear of nuclear power following the Fukushima accident. The party will rule the state in a coalition with the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD).

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Europe, Germany, Politics in General

Anglican Communion women welcome Primates’ commitment to tackle violence against women

The commitment by Primates at the January meeting in Dublin to work to eliminate violence against women and girls has been warmly welcomed by the Communion’s International Anglican Women’s Network (IAWN).

IAWN members were part of a delegation of 80 Anglican/Episcopal women and girls who were in New York for the Fifty-fifth Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW55) at the beginning of March.

IAWN steering group member the Revd Canon Alice Medcof of the Anglican Church of Canada said the decision of the Primates’ Meeting to put in writing a range of commitments to address violence against women and girls would serve as a new impetus for the churches of the Communion to act for change. She added, however, that in discussion with IAWN women around the Communion it was clear that different cultural contexts amongst the Provinces needed different responses.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Sexuality, Violence, Women

(Zenit) Scholar Calls for Greater Numbers to Be Trained in Dealing With Occult

A scholar at an exorcism conference in Rome is indicating there’s a shortage of qualified priests to handle the problems of those who meddle in satanism and the world of the occult….

In the introductory lecture, Ferrari said that resolving problems regarding satanism or magic “can be delayed or impeded by the lack of preparation of those presbyters who do not feel up to it or who do not feel they are equipped with the necessary instruments to adequately meet the needs.”

Ferrari thus called for an “in-depth formation of an adequate number of priests” in order to address the issues more effectively, reserving for exorcists only those cases that truly are in need of their expert intervention.

Read it all.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Lord Christ, almighty Saviour, we cry to thee for aid against our strong enemy. O thou who art the Stronger than the strong, deliver us, we pray thee, from the evil one, and take sole possession of our hearts and minds; that filled with thy Spirit we may henceforth devote our lives to thy service, and therein find our perfect freedom; for the honour of thy great name.

–Frank Colquhoun

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

–Romans 5:3-5

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(ACNS) 2011 Standing Committee Bulletin ”“ Day 3

In brief:

Standing Committee: “Africa, Asia and Oceania should appoint more ACC members”
Membership of Anglican Communion now at “85,000,000”
Young Anglicans to write book on historic Edinburgh meeting
Additional Mark of Mission on peacebuilding reviewed
The Anglican Alliance “driven by the global south”
Provinces ”˜adopting’ Anglican networks should be “a way forward”.
Communion urged to mark international days against gender violence

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Latest News

New scheme would offer problem gamblers some protection, says Australian bishop

Footballer Brendan Fevola has been urged again this week to seek more help for his alleged gambling addiction. This follows another visit to the pokies.

“Brendan’s is a case study in why the Australian Church’s Gambling Taskforce urged this week the adoption of a national pre-commitment scheme that is mandatory in all gambling machine venues,” said Bishop Philip Huggins today.

Bishop Huggins, who is the Chair of the Melbourne Anglican Social Responsibilities Committee, said such a scheme requires gamblers to choose and stick to their gambling limit.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Gambling, Religion & Culture, Theology

Kamran Memon on the Muslim teacher Case–Accommodate her religion

The Muslim pilgrimage, or hajj, commemorates the trials of the Prophet Abraham and his family. According to the Traditions of the Prophet Mohammed, Muslims must make the pilgrimage at the earliest opportunity in their lives because those who delay might be unable to go later, dying as sinners. Safoorah Khan, a teacher in Berkeley, Ill., takes her religion seriously.

Once Khan could afford the pilgrimage, she told the Berkeley Board of Education in mid-2008 that it was a religious requirement to make the pilgrimage as early in life as possible. The hajj fell in mid-December of 2008. Khan explained she wanted 15 school days off (19 days counting weekends), but that she’d return sooner if necessary.

In response, the board didn’t ask Khan why her religion required her to go that December. The board didn’t ask Khan how soon she could be back. The board didn’t say Khan’s absence would harm her students. The board just said such leave was not authorized by the collective bargaining agreement. End of discussion.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Education, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture