Daily Archives: June 15, 2011

(BBC) Greece crisis: Commissioners 'fear future of eurozone'

EU commissioners have a “profound sense of foreboding” about Greece and the future of the eurozone, a leaked account of a meeting has suggested.

The document, seen by BBC News, said this was in reaction to the “damning failure” of eurozone ministers to agree a new bail-out for Greece last night.

The internal memo was written by an official who attended Wednesday’s gathering of commissioners in Brussels.

The author warned that the markets would now “smell blood”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010, Economy, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Greece, The Banking System/Sector

(WSJ) American Students Stumble Again on the Basics of History

Fewer than a quarter of American 12th-graders knew China was North Korea’s ally during the Korean War, and only 35% of fourth-graders knew the purpose of the Declaration of Independence, according to national history-test scores released Tuesday….

Only 20% of U.S. fourth-graders and 17% of eighth-graders who took the 2010 history exam were “proficient” or “advanced,” unchanged since the test was last administered in 2006. Proficient means students have a solid understanding of the material.

The news was even more dire in high school, where 12% of 12th-graders were proficient, unchanged since 2006.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Education, History, Teens / Youth

(Businessweek) God's MBAs: Why Mormon Missions Produce Leaders

Gary Cornia, dean of Mormon-run Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Management, is often asked what makes Mormons so successful. “I’m not going to say we beat everybody out, but we do have a reputation,” says Cornia. “And one of the defining opportunities for young men and young women is the mission experience.” Reflecting on his own mission to the mid-Atlantic states, Cornia adds, “When I left, the son of a relatively poor mother and a father who died when I was young, I frankly didn’t know if I could do anything. I came back with the confidence that I can accomplish most hard things. I may not have had that otherwise.”

The Mormon Church is 181 years old, and its adherents compose less than 2 percent of the U.S. population, according to a 2009 American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS). Yet Latter-Day Saints hold, or have held, a seemingly disproportionate number of top jobs at such major corporations as Marriott International (MAR), American Express, American Motors, Dell Computers (DELL), Lufthansa, Fisher-Price (MAT), Life Re, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Madison Square Garden, La Quinta Properties, PricewaterhouseCooper, and Stanley Black & Decker (SWK). The head of human resources at Citigroup is Mormon, and in 2010 Goldman Sachs (GS) hired 31 grads from BYU, the same number it hired from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Mormons, Other Faiths, Politics in General

(FT) The global order fractures as American power declines

Harold Macmillan, the prime minister who watched US power rise as the British empire crumbled, used to say that Britain would play ancient Greece to America’s Rome.

These days it looks as if Rome is declining too. The US finds it increasingly hard to drive forward its vision of international trade and economics over the objections of big emerging-market countries.

The Visigoths and the Vandals who sacked Rome and undermined its empire, though far more cultured and sophisticated than their popular reputation, were unable to replicate the Pax Romana order it had established. European territories previously under Roman rule fractured into an unstable array of weak kingdoms and embattled city-states. Similarly, the vacuum created today by the erosion of US hegemony and the turmoil in the eurozone is resulting in stasis rather than a new direction.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, America/U.S.A., Asia, Economy, Europe, Globalization, History, Middle East, Politics in General, South America

LA Times Editorial–The NLRB vs. Boeing

The questions raised by the board are legitimate ones. The problem is the remedy it has proposed, which would have the perverse effect of confining Boeing’s growth to its home region….

Federal law doesn’t stop Boeing from putting production lines where labor costs are lower. And the company’s defenders say that Boeing’s expansion in South Carolina hasn’t cost machinists jobs in the Puget Sound region; to the contrary, the company has added more than 2,000 jobs there. Nevertheless, the complaint raises a valid issue of whether the comments by Boeing executives crossed the line from being transparent about their motives to trying to intimidate workers to avert future strikes and hold down labor costs. That kind of intimidation is illegal.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, History, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, State Government, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

The Bishop of Exeter's comments on the BBC "Choosing to Die" programme

The Bishop of Exeter the Rt Revd Michael Langrish took part in a BBC2 Newsnight debate on Monday June 13 following the BBC programme ‘Choosing to Die’ presented by Sir Terry Pratchett. His main comments from the debate are below:

“I did not change my mind (after seeing the programme) but my expectations changed. I expected I would disagree with the outcome and expected to welcome the film as a contribution to a really important debate but the more I watched it the more concerned and indeed disturbed I became by it. It was very one-sided, a nod to hospice care but no showing the alternative ending, no indication that the two principals Peter and Andrew needn’t have been living the life they were leading and right at the end I questioned the whole ethical basis of programme. I felt that Peter and indeed his wife and perhaps Terry Pratchett as well had been caught up and become trapped in the storyline of programme. I felt there was a deeply coercive atmosphere in room in the end and I felt quite emotionally blackmailed by it.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Suicide, Theology

Tim Lott on the BBC Assisted Suicide Documentary: The top of a slippery moral slope

I am instinctually in favour of assisted suicide. But the programme left me feeling uncomfortable. I have no time for the religious argument. And yet, I hesitate to fully sign up for the cause ”“ simply because I wanted to die once, and have been enormously relieved that I never did anything about it.

Admittedly I was suffering mental rather than physical illness ”“ in my case acute depression. I had been suffering agony for four years and saw no end in sight. But with hindsight it is plain to me that you can be very serious about your wanting to die, having taken all matters into account ”“ and most of those around me thought I was absolutely in my right mind ”“ then later discover that you very nearly made a literally fatal mistake….

The “thin edge of the wedge” argument is somewhat convincing. Once assisted suicide is established in law, how long before the patient and their relatives decide how serious the illness has to be before the decision is taken, rather than doctors?

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

John Garvey–Why Catholic University is Going Back to Single-Sex Dorms

…I believe that intellect and virtue are connected. They influence one another. Some say the intellect is primary. If we know what is good, we will pursue it. Aristotle suggests in the “Nicomachean Ethics” that the influence runs the other way. He says that if you want to listen intelligently to lectures on ethics you “must have been brought up in good habits.” The goals we set for ourselves are brought into focus by our moral vision.

“Virtue,” Aristotle concludes, “makes us aim at the right mark, and practical wisdom makes us take the right means.” If he is right, then colleges and universities should concern themselves with virtue as well as intellect.

I want to mention two places where schools might direct that concern, and a slightly old-fashioned remedy that will improve the practice of virtue. The two most serious ethical challenges college students face are binge drinking and the culture of hooking up.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Men, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Roman Catholic, Theology, Women, Young Adults

George Soros blames officials as Greek crisis escalates

Billionaire investor George Soros has criticised international authorities for “not providing a solution” for the European debt crisis as Greek sovereign bond yields were pushed to record levels again.

Mr Soros, who spoke out as European finance ministers met …[Tuesday] to discuss the crisis, said the officials were “basically buying time” rather than tackling the problems. He added: “This is the normal thing for authorities to do. In this case, I’m afraid they are making a mistake.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010, Economy, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Greece, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Wesley Smith–Belgian Doctors Boast of Harvesting Organs After Euthanasia

Between 01/2007-12/2009 in Leuven 17 isolated lung transplantations were performed from cardiac death donors, including four after euthanasia, Dirk van Raemdonck and colleagues (Leuven) report. “All donors expressed their wish for organ donation once their request for euthanasia was granted according to Belgian legislation. All donors suffered from an unbearable non-malignant disorder.” One recipient died from a problem unrelated to the graft. The other three patients are still alive ”“ in a good condition.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Belgium, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Parish Ministry, Psychology, Science & Technology, Theology

(Living Church) New Episcopal Church COO Stacy Sauls: ”˜It’s a Leadership Task’

The idea of his becoming COO “began with some colleagues at the House of Bishops meeting who approached me and said they thought I would be good at this,” he said.

Leaving behind his ministry in Lexington “was a huge part of the questions I had for myself,” the bishop said. “I am going to miss Lexington more than I can express.”

Sauls said he believes the diocese has done groundbreaking work through two programs: the Small Church Ministry Consortium and the Network for Pastoral Leadership and Congregational Development.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Evelyn Underhill

O God, Origin, Sustainer, and End of all creatures: Grant that thy Church, taught by thy servant Evelyn Underhill, guarded evermore by thy power, and guided by thy Spirit into the light of truth, may continually offer to thee all glory and thanksgiving, and attain with thy saints to the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast promised us by our Savior Jesus Christ; who with thee and the same Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Holy Spirit of God, who didst descend upon our Lord Christ at the river Jordan, and upon the disciples at the feast of Pentecost: Have mercy upon us, we beseech thee, and by thy divine fire enlighten our minds and purify our hearts; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

-Acts 2:1-4

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Rallies in Rochester, New York for and against same sex marriage

Episcopal Bishop Prince Singh was at the pro-rally and said his Church is wrestling with the same sex marriage issue. In his Church role, he cannot marry a same sex couple. But he’s hoping a dialogue will lead to change. “It is something that is part of their inherent gift as God has made them. And this is an engagement of science and religion that people have been grappling with for a long time, but we are becoming a little more honest about it.”

On the other side Tuesday morning, members of Citizens for a Decent Community staged the latest in a series of gay marriage protests in the area in front of City Hall.

Baptist Minister Vince Giardino led the group in prayer. “We pray for Sen. Alesi, Lord, that he would change his mind. That his conscience would be leading toward the Scriptures.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, State Government, TEC Bishops

The Statement of the Episcopal Bishop of Long Island on Marriage

Our faith traditions teach us that all people are children of God, deserving of love, dignity and equal treatment, and we, the undersigned therefore believe that gay and lesbian New Yorkers in committed, loving relationships should be able to protect each other with the critical safety-net provided by civil marriage. The performing of marriage ceremonies is one of the most important facets of our work as ministers and rabbis. We take this work extremely seriously and are grateful to have “the power vested in us” by the State of New York as we bring couples together in marriage through our civil and religious laws.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Sexuality, TEC Bishops

Roman Catholic Bishop of Rochester–What We Believe about the Sacrament of Marriage

III. The Roman Catholic Church cannot support any movement to offer ceremonial blessings or civil legalization of same-sex marriages. “Laws,” the Bishops’ statement continued, “play an educational role insofar as they shape patterns of thought and behavior, particularly about what is socially permissible and acceptable. In effect, giving same-sex unions the legal status of marriage would grant official public approval to homosexual sexual activity and would treat it as if it were morally neutral when the Church teaches otherwise. Further, when other relationships re-define ”˜marriage’ and become equivalent to it, the institution of marriage cherished by God and the Church is devalued and further weakened.” (Between Man and Woman, Part 5)

IV. Our beliefs about marriage are not, and should not, be viewed as discrimination against homosexual people. The Church teaches that we must treat our homosexual brothers and sisters in Christ with respect, dignity and love, as we would all people. The Catechism of the Catholic Church warns that any form of prejudice and hatred ”“ “every sign of unjust discrimination” ”“ against homosexual people should be avoided (CCC 2358). Moreover, the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, echoing the Catechism, has instructed, “the particular inclination of a homosexual person is not a sin.” Nevertheless, the Church teaches that sexual activity outside of marriage is “contrary to the dignity of persons and of human sexuality which is naturally ordered to the good of spouses and the generation and education of children.” (CCC 2353).

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality

Robert Samuelson–Hunkered-down America

One disturbing fact from the McKinsey report is this: The number of new businesses, a traditional source of jobs, was down 23 percent in 2010 from 2007; the level was the lowest since 1983, when America had about 75 million fewer people. Large corporations are standoffish. They have about $2 trillion of cash and securities on their balance sheets, which could be used for hiring and investing in new products. Meanwhile, the latest University of Michigan Survey of Consumers reports that “record numbers ”¦ thought that their incomes would lag inflation over the next five years.” Note: They didn’t expect high inflation so much as low income growth.

It’s not that economics achieved nothing. The emergency measures thrown at the crisis in many countries ”” exceptionally low interest rates, “stimulus” programs of extra spending and tax cuts ”” probably averted another Depression. But it’s also true that there’s now no consensus among economists as to how to strengthen the recovery.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Budget, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Federal Reserve, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Politics in General, Psychology, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government