Daily Archives: June 17, 2011

Notable and Quotable (II)

“Last in pitching, last in defense, not much power or speed.”

–The scouting report on the Chicago Cubs on the MLB Network this afternoon during their game with the Yankees


Posted in * Culture-Watch, Sports

(London Times) Mass suicide fears as French worry that it’s Apocalypse, now

So many people in France believe that the world is about to end that a government agency yesterday alerted the country to the risk of mass suicides by converts to prophesies of imminent Armageddon.

Natural disasters, the internet and French fears of economic doom are conspiring to lend credence to predictions that the planet will self-destruct on December 21, 2012, said Miviludes the government body that monitors cults and suspicious spiritual activities.

There have been 183 false predictions of the end of the world since the Roman Empire collapsed and these are multiplying with new technology and a global climate of fear, it added.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Economy, Eschatology, Europe, France, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

U.S. Supreme Court spurns atheist's 'under God' challenge

A Sacramento atheist’s challenge to the addition of “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance, which stirred a legal and political frenzy nearly a decade ago, has quietly expired in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Michael Newdow said Tuesday, however, that he isn’t giving up and plans to file one or more lawsuits this year in hopes of winning a favorable ruling that would eventually reach the high court.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

David Brooks on the Fannie Mae Scandal–Who Is James Johnson?

…the Fannie Mae scandal is the most important political scandal since Watergate. It helped sink the American economy. It has cost taxpayers about $153 billion, so far. It indicts patterns of behavior that are considered normal and respectable in Washington.

The Fannie Mae scandal has gotten relatively little media attention because many of the participants are still powerful, admired and well connected. But Gretchen Morgenson, a Times colleague, and the financial analyst Joshua Rosner have rectified that, writing “Reckless Endangerment,” a brave book that exposes the affair in clear and gripping form….

The scandal has sent the message that the leadership class is fundamentally self-dealing. Leaders on the center-right and center-left are always trying to create public-private partnerships to spark socially productive activity. But the biggest public-private partnership to date led to shameless self-enrichment and disastrous results.

Read it all.”>Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

Notable and Quotable (I)

I kept thinking, “I just want somewhere to put my grief.” I was imagining a vessel for it: a long, shallow, wooden bowl, irregularly shaped. I had the sense that if I could chant, or rend my clothes, or tear my hair, I could, in effect, create that vessel in the world.

–Meghan O’Rourke, The Long Goodbye: A memoir (New York: Riverhead [a dvision of Penguin Group], 2011)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Books, Death / Burial / Funerals, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(AP) Lucky charms and bullet holes in Afghan helicopter

After a year in Afghanistan, members of the unit will head home with their memories. Spc. Jenny Martinez’s voice grew soft as she recounted treating a Marine who stepped on an explosive and lost both of his legs.

She held his hand all the way to the field hospital.

“He didn’t want to let me go,” said Martinez, 24, of Colorado Springs, Colorado. But “I had to leave because we had another mission.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Afghanistan, Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, War in Afghanistan

The Episcopal Bishop of Arizona–Study leave

What a thrill it was to be in that beautiful place, standing only a few feet away from the shrine of St. Alban himself, England’s oldest saint and patron.

It was a trip were I literally “got in touch” with some powerful things””the 1,000 year old tower at Glendalough; the pages of a Bible handled in 597 by the founder of our Anglican church; the pages of an original King James Bible (of which we are marking the 400th anniversary).

But more important, it was a chance to also be touched by the spirit of our heritage as Anglican Christians through the mysterious “high crosses” in the Irish countryside: the deeply moving experience of Evensong at Kings College Cambridge; the stillness of Sunday worship at a little parish church; bracing intellectual conversation at a Cambridge college “high table” dinner; bookcases full of leather-bound books at Lambeth.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Episcopal Church (TEC), Religion & Culture, TEC Bishops

(WSJ) Another Greek Bailout to save the banks only delays the inevitable default

So what is the Greek crisis really about? For starters, it’s a solvency crisis, meaning that bailouts can at best postpone, but not avert, the day of reckoning. Greece’s debt-to-GDP ratio still tops 150%, and despite touting its efforts at austerity, government expenditures are up 3.6% year-on-year, to €21 billion. Its revenues for the first four months of 2011 were down 9.1% from the previous year.

Greece also suffers from a productivity crisis. The country’s employment rate is under 60%, compared to a eurozone average of 64.2%. In 2009 Greeks produced $34.2 worth of goods and services per hour worked, according to OECD data””compared to $53.1 in Germany and $56.8 in the United States.

The productivity crisis is linked, in turn, to the huge proportion of Greeks employed by the state””fully a third of the workforce, by some estimates, and civil servants are unionized, often militant and politically influential.

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

(Church Times) Bishops slam ”˜one-sided view’ of suicide on TV

A former Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, said that the BBC had some “hard questions to address”, after broadcasting the programme. “Its own guidelines state that the portrayal of suicide has the potential to make this appear possible, and even appropriate, to the vulnerable.” He also argued that “the BBC has an obligation to provide a balanced presentation of the moral issues of the day,” but “so far, there has been little evidence of such balance in this matter.”

In a statement, the BBC said that it ac­know­­ledged that suicide was “an exceptionally difficult issue”, which “should be portrayed with the utmost sensitivity”. It argued that there was “a clear editorial justification” to broadcast the programme, which “does not encourage suicide and does not breach BBC guidelines.

Read it all.

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, Europe, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Movies & Television, Parish Ministry, Psychology, Suicide, Switzerland

(RNS) Goshen College Silences National Anthem Again

Goshen College will no longer play The Star-Spangled Banner at sporting events, school leaders announced, reversing last year’s decision to allow the use of the national anthem for the first time in the Mennonite college’s history.

Some Mennonites had criticized the anthem’s lyrics as glorifying war and offensive to the school’s pacifist traditions. Goshen’s Board of Directors said many felt the school’s “allegiance should be to Christ rather than to country.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Education, History, Music, Religion & Culture, Young Adults

A Vancouver Sun article on the recent Canadian Supreme Court Decision In the Anglican Dispute

“I pray that in time these sad divisions may be healed,” the Anglican Bishop of New Westminster, Rev. Michael Ingham, said in a statement released… [this week]….

“Obviously, this decision is extremely disappointing and should be of great concern to all Christian denominations,” she said. “While these congregations have remained steadfast in their faith, and have not changed the traditional teaching of the Christian church, they have now been called to sacrifice all their assets, including their church properties, for the sake of their faith.”

[Special counsel to the ANiC Cheryl] Chang added: “We always said that given a choice, we would choose our faith over our properties, and we have been willing to make that sacrifice if called upon by the courts to do so.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry

Women Who Lost Virginity Early More Likely To Divorce: New Study

There might be a new argument to try when convincing your teen to wait to have sex. According to the a study conducted by the University of Iowa, women who lost their virginity in their young teens are more likely to divorce.

The study, published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, surveyed the responses of 3,793 women and found that 31 percent who lost their virginity as teens divorced within five years, and 47 percent divorced within 10 years. On the flip side, the divorce rate for women who had waited to have sex was only 15 percent at the five year mark, and 27 percent by the time 10 years rolled around.

But the study also found that a first sexual experience before the age of 16 — wanted or not — was still strongly associated with divorce.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Marriage & Family, Sexuality, Women

(SHNS) Terry Mattingly–The Battle over circumcision

No doubt about it, a growing number of modern Americans are convinced that it’s time for government officials to do some cutting and snipping in the pages of the holy books that define some of the world’s major religions.

“What you have here is an assault, by a popular referendum, on a central ritual in a recognized ancient religion,” said Marc Stern, associate general counsel for legal advocacy at the American Jewish Committee. While the current initiative may seem brazen, “it’s really nothing new. It’s easy for historians to find sources showing how the Greeks and Romans mocked the Jews for practicing circumcision.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, City Government, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(The Tennessean) Signs of decline mount for Southern Baptists

Baptisms fell to their lowest number in 60 years among Southern Baptists, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.

The new numbers are a sign that the denomination is in trouble, Baptist leaders say.

“This is not a blip,” said Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research. “This is a trend. And, the trend is one of decline.”

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

(USA Today) Money flows to college sports

More than $470 million in new money poured into major-college athletics programs last year, boosting spending on sports even as many of the parent universities struggled with budget reductions during tough economic times, a USA TODAY analysis has found.

Much of the rise in athletics revenue came from an escalation in money generated through multimedia rights deals, donations and ticket receipts, but schools also continued increasing their subsidies from student fees and institutional funds.

Altogether in 2010, about $2 billion in subsidies went to athletics at the 218 public schools that have been in the NCAA’s Division I over the past five years. Those subsidies grew by an inflation-adjusted 3% in 2010. They have grown by 28% since 2006 and account for $1 of every $3 spent on athletics.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Education, Sports, Young Adults