Daily Archives: April 18, 2011

Philadelphia Orchestra Files For Bankruptcy

Last Friday we reported that the Philadelphia Orchestra was on the verge of declaring bankruptcy. On Saturday, the orchestra’s board indeed voted in favor of the measure ”” the first major American orchestra to do so. Philadelphia Orchestra concerts are expected to continue as scheduled for the foreseeable future.

The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Peter Dobrin covered many of the details in this article yesterday. Orchestra officials ”” chairman Richard Worley and CEO Allison Vulgamore ”” have published a letter to patrons on the organization’s web site, explaining why the board voted the way it did. They also announced a new fundraising campaign.

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, City Government, Economy, Music, Politics in General, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

And speaking of Passover–Google Exodus?

Watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, * Religion News & Commentary, Blogging & the Internet, Humor / Trivia, Judaism, Other Faiths

(USA Today) At Passover and all year, creative Jews update traditions

Tonight is Passover, American Jews’ most observed religious ritual. They’ll retell the story of freedom from slavery in Egypt during a ritual meal, the Seder, and conclude with a vision of the future: “Next year in Jerusalem.”

But with each passing year, Jewish numbers are threatened. Surveys find fewer U.S. Jews and more who are unaffiliated and uninterested in the established Jewish religious and institutional life.

Now, to meet the challenge, young and young-minded creative Jews in the arts, philanthropy, technology and more are launching or expanding innovative programs to experience their ancient faith and culture with a 21st-century twist. A sampling of innovations includes projects as “right now” as tonight’s webcam/live-chat Online Seder, rallying Jews to a virtual table.

Read it all.

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

(ENS) Convergence of Earth Day, Good Friday highlights church's 'green' ministries

As Holy Week quickly approaches and Good Friday and Earth Day coincide, the Episcopal Church has compiled liturgical, educational and other resources for incorporating earth-care themes into services and celebrations.

“This year Earth Day falls within Holy Week, specifically on Good Friday, a profound co-incidence,” said Mike Schut, economic and environmental affairs officer for the Episcopal Church. “To fully honor Earth Day, we need to reclaim the theology that knows earth is ‘very good,’ is holy. When we fully recognize that, our actions just may begin to create a more sustainable, compassionate economy and way of life.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Energy, Natural Resources, Episcopal Church (TEC), Holy Week, Parish Ministry

(FT) Mohamed El-Erian: A warning for the US, and for the global economy

This is a timely reminder of the seriousness of America’s fiscal issues, for the country and for the rest of the world.

The continued failure to come up with a credible medium-term fiscal reform program would increase borrowing costs for all segments of US society, thereby undermining investment, employment and growth. It would also curtail foreigners’ appetite to add to their already substantial holdings of US assets. And it would weaken the dollar.

The US also risks eroding its standing at the core of the global monetary system.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government, The United States Currency (Dollar etc)

(NY Times) S.&P. Lowers Outlook for U.S., Sending Stocks Down

Shares on Wall Street opened sharply lower and Treasury prices fell on Monday after the Standard & Poor’s rating firm lowered the outlook for the United States to negative, saying that there was a risk that lawmakers might not reach agreement on how to address the country’s fiscal issues.

“More than two years after the beginning of the recent crisis, U.S. policymakers have still not agreed on how to reverse recent fiscal deterioration or address longer-term fiscal pressures,” a credit analyst with Standard & Poor’s, Nikola G. Swann, said. At the same time, the firm affirmed the government’s AAA rating.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Politics in General, Stock Market, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government, The United States Currency (Dollar etc)

USA ratings outlook revised to negative from stable by S&P

S&P sees a “material risk that U.S. policymakers might not reach an agreement on how to address medium- and long-term budgetary challenges by 2013; if an agreement is not reached and meaningful implementation is not begun by then, this would in our view render the U.S. fiscal profile meaningfully weaker than that of peer ‘AAA’ sovereigns.”

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Budget, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Globalization, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government, The United States Currency (Dollar etc)

(AAC) Soul Surfing with Phil Ashey

I’m obviously biased, but I was very impressed with the quality of the film and the acting, and highly recommend it to you. It is rated PG and with the exception of the brief scenes around the attack itself, is appropriate for the whole family.

After viewing the film, I became aware that Bethany Hamilton’s faith in Christ and the faith of her family generated some controversy on the set. “I think to get anything in the film was a battle,” said Sarah Hill, Hamilton’s youth pastor at North Shore Christian Church (and played by Carrie Underwood). Hill was on the set often, and went on to say:

“Basically, what you’re doing is you have all these people who want to make a movie about Bethany and they don’t know the Lord and they don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus. For what we have in the movie it was such a battle.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture

Monday Morning Mental Health Break–the Mountain

The Mountain from Terje Sorgjerd on Vimeo.

Really lovely–watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Science & Technology

NASA posts thousands of incredible space images on the Internet

Wow-simply stunning; check it out.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Science & Technology

(Post-Gazette) Episcopal Presiding Bishop to visit Pittsburgh

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of the Episcopal Church is making a Holy Week visit to Pittsburgh, where the Episcopal Diocese split in 2008.

She will answer questions from the public Tuesday evening at Trinity Cathedral, Downtown. She also will preach and preside earlier that day in Wilkinsburg as Episcopal clergy renew their ordination vows to Bishop Kenneth Price Jr., of Pittsburgh.

“I look forward to joining the clergy of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh as we gather to renew our ordination vows,” Bishop Jefferts Schori said. “There is a particular solemnity about celebrating this rite in a community which has experienced division over those very vows.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Episcopal Church (TEC), Holy Week, Presiding Bishop, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Pittsburgh

(BBC) World Bank president: 'One shock away from crisis'

The president of the World Bank has warned that the world is “one shock away from a full-blown crisis”.

Robert Zoellick cited rising food prices as the main threat to poor nations who risk “losing a generation”.

He was speaking in Washington at the end of the spring meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Globalization, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Lord Jesus Christ, pattern of humility, who didst empty thyself of thy glory and take upon thee the form of a servant: Root out of us all pride and self-seeking; that we may willingly bear contempt and reproach for thy sake, and glorying in nothing save thy cross, may esteem ourselves lowly in thy sight; who now livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If any other man thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law a Pharisee, as to zeal a persecutor of the church, as to righteousness under the law blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, based on law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith; that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

–Philippians 3:4-11

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Minette Marrin–the Taboo against suicide or assisted suicide seems incomprehensible

For many old people ”” long before they become mortally ill ”” that prolonged dwindling is a worsening nightmare: a time of maltreatment in geriatric wards, lying on their bedsores in urine and excrement, of dependence on indifferent foreign minders in expensive care homes, a period of painful confusion, feeling ignored, unwanted and lonely. In a less rich society, such things will become more common.

Given all this, the taboo against suicide or assisted suicide seems incomprehensible. Religious people may think it wrong, although I have never quite understood why. It seems odd to me that they are not eager to meet their maker as soon as possible, if heaven is so devoutly to be desired. Perhaps it is different if one’s religion teaches that one might after death come back as a toad.

But, believers apart, for everyone else there is no philosophical reason against suicide that I can see. The usual slippery slope argument is purely emotional: we are all already on the slippery slope as far as any moral decisions go and constantly have to choose between two evils.

Read it all from the Sunday [London] Times (subscription required).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Suicide, Theology

(LA Times) Doyle McManus–Libya's only a part of Mideast equation

What’s more important than Libya? At least four other countries….

The outcome of the unfinished revolution in Egypt will affect the prospects for democracy across the region. The outcome in Yemen, where Al Qaeda’s most dangerous branch is headquartered, is important to the struggle against terrorism. A change in Syria, Iran’s closest ally in the Arab world, would upend the balance of power on Israel’s northern borders.

And then there’s the Persian Gulf kingdom of Bahrain, where troops from Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Muslim countries have intervened to quell a Shiite Muslim uprising. It might seem odd to include a power struggle in a quasi-country of half a million citizens on a list of major strategic issues, but the crisis in Bahrain qualifies.

Read it all.

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

(Telegraph) Catholic church: Big Society is failing

The head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales said Catholics were afraid the Coalition was “washing its hands” of its responsibilities to communities and expecting volunteers to fill the gap.

“It is all very well to deliver speeches about the need for greater voluntary activity, but there needs to be some practical solutions,” he said.

“At the moment the Big Society is lacking a cutting edge. It has no teeth.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Economy, England / UK, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(CDN) Religious Conversion Worst Form of 'Intolerance,' Bhutan PM Says

In the Kingdom of Bhutan, where Christianity is still awaiting legal recognition, Christians have the right to proclaim their faith but must not use coercion or claim religious superiority to seek conversions, the country’s prime minister told Compass in an exclusive interview.

“I view conversions very negatively, because conversion is the worst form of intolerance,” Jigmi Yoser Thinley said in his office in the capital of the predominantly Buddhist nation.

Christian leaders in Bhutan have told Compass that they enjoy certain freedoms to practice their faith in private homes, but, because of a prohibition against church buildings and other restrictions, they were not sure if proclamation of their faith ”“ included in international human rights codes ”“ was allowed in Bhutan.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Bhutan, Buddhism, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(Sunday Telegraph) The faithful torn apart–on Anglicans, Roman Catholics and Holy week 2011

This week, the plots hatched behind closed doors in the Vatican last year will be played out in the open as the former bishops lead dozens of clergy and hundreds of worshippers in taking up this historic offer.

They will be confirmed in services that will mark a significant watershed in the Anglican Church’s long-running battle over moves to allow women to become bishops.

It represents a new beginning for those entering the Catholic Church, but their departure has deeply wounded the Church of England, which is already riven by bitter rows over gay clergy, and now faces an exodus of traditionalists.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, CoE Bishops, Ecumenical Relations, Holy Week, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

(ABC Aus.) William Cavanaugh–Only Christianity can Save Economics

We need to stop giving our money over to an abstract and destructive financial system, and put it to work locally through credit unions and co-ops that can make realistic and cooperative assessments of debt and risk.

Churches are taking leading roles in fostering these kinds of grounded economies, supporting the kinds of local development projects, Fair Trade arrangements, credit unions, community supported agriculture projects, and other projects I discuss in my book Being Consumed.

Economy is not a separate sphere of life that only intersects with the religious sphere when people act immorally with their money or are unable to meet their needs. The idea that theology and economics are two separate pursuits is a thoroughly modern idea, the product of the last 250 years or so, an idea that Christians traditionally would have found bizarre.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(The Economist) The vindictiveness of China’s rulers betrays their nervousness

Like so much else under Heaven, repression in China has often seemed to go in cycles. Every now and then it has suited the country’s leaders to relax their steely grip on the country and allow a modicum of political liberty.

Freer criticism in the media has helped give the party a veneer of credibility. Lip-service to the law and due process has won plaudits overseas and boosted the economy at home. So a thaw would set in for a while, a “Beijing spring”. A freeze would always follow. But, until lately, in each new cycle the springs were seeming warmer and the freezes not quite so harsh. When the country was starting to liberalise, Westerners justified doing business with China on just such grounds. More economic openness would surely lead to more openness of other kinds.

The latest freeze casts this widespread hope into doubt, for three reasons. The first is the scale of the crackdown. Ai Weiwei, China’s best-known artist and dissident, who was detained at Beijing airport on April 3rd, is only the most notable figure to be caught by it. Calls on the internet for a “jasmine revolution” have prompted armed police and plain-clothes goons to descend in huge numbers on public places to stop people from “strolling”, as a veiled form of protest.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General