Daily Archives: July 26, 2011

Tariq Ramadan–Whither Europe?

No European country can succeed on its own – but the political determination to deal with the populations’ fears and concerns is still lacking. Europe needs radical internal reform led by committed and courageous political leaders. Such leaders must begin by declaring, repeating and teaching that Europe has changed, that it has a new face. New priorities, even though unpopular on the short run, must be established in order to hope for success in the long term.

Europe needs time, but our politicians are caught on the horns of a dilemma. While they need to think beyond the next generation, they are obsessed with winning the next election. Trapped between short-term imperatives and long-term necessity, it might well be that they cannot find a solution.

Citizens and civil society as a whole have no choice but to break the vicious circle – they cannot allow their future be destroyed by a lack of collective confidence and by narrow individual political ambition. It is time to be vocal and constructively critical.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Politics in General, Stock Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Americans 'Disgusted' as Politicians Fail to Compromise on Debt

The inability of Congress and President Barack Obama to reach a deal on raising the national debt ceiling leaves retired Air Force pilot Phil Pignataro filled with feelings, none of them good.

“All the negative emotions you can think of I pretty much have when I see that there’s no compromise and they’re willing to ruin the economy,” said Pignataro, a 65-year-old who lives in Algonquin, Illinois. “For better or for worse, my retirement is all tied up in the government.”

Polls and interviews conducted over the past two days show Pignataro is among Americans growing disenchanted by and disconnected from congressional leaders and Obama, even as they face a personal economic reckoning.

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Posted in Uncategorized

(CEN) The Bishop of Chester’s concern over police bail conditions as law is changed

The Police (Detention and Bail) Bill was brought forward after a High Court ruling confirmed an earlier decision that time spent on police bail counted towards the 96-hour limit on pre-charge detention.

Before the ruling, police had only counted time spent in custody towards the four-day limit, with suspects often released on bail for weeks or months. The Government’s emergency legislation has clarified that the long-standing practice of the police could continue.

But Bishop Peter Forster pointed to “the problems that arise simply as a consequence of police bail without conditions”.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

(ENS) Brooklyn churches look to tradition, community building to attract young adults

The ongoing struggle to get young people in the pews at churches across Brooklyn is motivating some clergy in the Diocese of Long Island to develop new ministries that challenge the popular way of how churches reach out to 20-somethings.

Predominate tactics — a rock band, projector screens and altars stripped of traditional decors — have failed to resonate with 20-somethings. Instead, it’s the traditional aspects of the Episcopal faith and its liturgy that young people are now drawn to, clergy say.

The Rev. Robert Griffith, who has been working with St. Paul’s Church in Carroll Gardens, has created an initiative called Imago Dei, or Image of God, that is working to understand the Millennial Generation — those born after 1980 — and its views of faith in hopes of devising new ways to bringing them closer to Jesus Christ.

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

In Egypt, Copts continue protests demanding civil marriages

Scores of Coptic Christians on Monday staged their third demonstration before St. Mark’s cathedral in Abbasseya, demanding permission for divorce and civil marriages.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Coptic Church, Egypt, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Middle East, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East

(ENS) On the presiding bishop's visit to Venezuela

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, South America, Venezuela

Anglican, Catholic Bishops support Travellers under threat of eviction

Bishop Thomas McMahon, Catholic Bishop of Brentwood, and Bishop Laurie Green from the Anglican Diocese of Bradwell, paid a pastoral visit to the Dale Farm Travellers’ site near Basildon in Essex last week. The threat of eviction is hanging over half the site and the two Bishops were keen to talk to residents about their situation. While they were there, they prayed with the bereaved family of John Flynn, a leading campaigner in the battle to remain at the site, who died recently.

Prior to the visit, the two churchmen toured the local Crays Hill Primary School, which is attended by many of the Traveller children. The Bishops, who were very impressed by the commitment and enthusiasm of staff at the school, talked to some of the children and listened to them read.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(BBC) South Africa: 'Dead man' wakes up inside morgue

A 50-year-old South African man woke up inside a mortuary over the weekend and screamed to be let out – scaring away attendants who thought he was a ghost.

His family presumed he was dead when they could not wake him on Saturday night and contacted a private morgue in a rural village in the Eastern Cape.

He spent almost 24 hours inside the morgue, the region’s health department spokesman told the Sapa news agency.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Health & Medicine, South Africa

Robert Samuelson: The crisis of the old order

Everywhere, advanced nations face similar problems: overcommitted welfare states, aging populations, flagging economic expansion. These conditions define the global crisis and explain why it’s struck the United States, Europe and Japan simultaneously. We need to move beyond daily headlines to understand this larger predicament.

The old order, constructed by most democracies after World War II, rested on three pillars. One was the welfare state. Government would protect the unemployed, aged, disabled and poor. Capitalism would be tamed. A second was faith in economic growth; this would raise everyone’s living standards while permitting income redistribution. Growth was ordained, because economists had learned enough from the 1930s to cure periodic recessions. Finally, global trade and finance served countries’ mutual interests.

All three pillars are wobbling….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Europe, Globalization, History, Politics in General, The U.S. Government

(WSJ) Gerald Seib–Twin Paralyzing Factors Keep Washington Divided

Today’s spectacle of a dysfunctional Washington, unable to tend to even its most basic task of protecting the nation’s financial standing, may be appalling. It should not, however, be a surprise.

he inability, after eight months’ warning, to agree on any plan to deal with deficits and raise the nation’s debt ceiling isn’t some freak accident. Instead, it is the logical culmination of two giant trends in American politics: an unresolved debate over the size of government and the growing hyper-partisanship of Congress, particularly the House of Representatives.

Put those two together and you end up with leaders of the two parties speaking, as they were over the weekend, of the need to “defeat them,” as if the two parties were Cold War adversaries rather than partners in running the same nation. President Barack Obama, in a nationally televised speech last night, bluntly acknowledged how bad the picture looks to his countrymen, and to the world: “The American people may have voted for divided government,” he said, “but they didn’t vote for a dysfunctional government.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, History, House of Representatives, Medicare, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Psychology, Senate, Social Security, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

([London] Times) ”˜Wayward’ Amy Winehouse set for a traditional burial

Amy Winehouse will have a funeral in the Jewish tradition once her body is released for burial after…[its] post mortem. If the tradition is followed strictly her grave, likely to be in North London, will not to have a tombstone until a year has passed. Her place of burial is likely to become a shrine like the graves of other pop stars such as Jim Morrison, who also died at 27 and is buried in Paris.

Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, of Maidenhead synagogue, said: “As someone with Jewish parents and brought up Jewishly, Amy Winehouse never lost her sense of Jewish roots in later life. She still saw herself as part of the Jewish community, while the Jewish community always regarded her as one of its talented but wayward members.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Death / Burial / Funerals, Drugs/Drug Addiction, England / UK, Judaism, Music, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Young Adults

John Perry–The End of Entitlement

[In the 1950’s] the federal safety net designed for a time when unemployment was 20 percent and stockbrokers were jumping out of windows was still there. Not yet unmanageable, still a small fraction of the federal budget, still considered a lifeline for the desperate and a retirement income supplement for the rest.

Then along came the tumultuous, iconoclastic, game-changing 1960s….

In 1965, Medicare and Medicaid began paying medical expenses of the retired and those who could demonstrate “need.” Human nature being what it is, two things happened. First, those who could demonstrate “need” availed themselves of free medical care far beyond any level they would have used had they been required to pay for it. Second, given virtual carte blanche by the government, hospitals and other medical providers jacked up their prices in breathtaking fashion….

And voilá, our citizenry became entitled to medical care and a retirement income no matter what the cost. The more they got, the more they wanted…Now their time is up.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Budget, Economy, History, House of Representatives, Medicare, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Psychology, Senate, Social Security, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

Gary Wills–Scientologists, Catholics and More Money Than God

When Hubbard died in 1986, his leadership role was taken over by a less flamboyant figure, David Miscavige, who had been a Scientologist since the age of 8. He followed the founder’s plans, especially his “celebrity strategy,” conceived in 1955. Hubbard’s initial hopes were to lure admired people like Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso and Edward R. Murrow into his church. But this ambition shrank, by Miscavige’s time, to recruiting show business personalities. The big catches here were John Travolta and Cruise, on whom Miscavige danced continual attendance, in a tactic the church called “admiration bombing.” A glitzy Celebrity Centre was built for any new catches, and less-known figures proved useful. Nancy Cartright, the voice of Bart Simpson, gave the church $10 million in just one of her years of devout service.

[Janet] Reitman, a contributing editor at Rolling Stone who spent five years trying to pierce the walls Scientologists put up against outsiders, gives us the most complete picture of Scientology so far. She seems, now, uncertain of its future. But its continued existence, given its weird aspects, is its main claim to religion’s power. It is something of a miracle.

The Catholic Church offers a very different picture, but one where money is even more important. Jason Berry, the reporter who broke several of the priest abuse scandals of recent times, finds the same pattern of deception, denial and subterfuge in the church’s handling of money as in its treatment of pedophiles. The Vatican comes to its high-handed way with money in an understandable fashion. In the Middle Ages, all authority was male and monarchical, so the pope became a king. His multiple realms had all the appurtenances of a medieval monarch ”” armies, prisons, spies, torturers, legal courts in papal service. The money flowed in from many sources ”” as conquest, as tribute from subordinate princes (secular and religious) or from the crops on farm lands held by the pope, who was not accountable to anyone for use of these funds. When normal sources did not satisfy papal ambition, clerical underlings invented new kinds of revenue ”” like the granting of time off in Purgatory for cash contributions during life (“indul­gences” for sale).

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Books, Economy, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Personal Finance, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Stewardship

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Almighty God, who hast created us for thy glory and service: Give us grace, we pray thee, to hallow every gift and improve each talent thou hast committed to us; that with a cheerful and diligent spirit we may render thee our grateful service, and whatsoever we do, may do it with all our might, in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Setting sail therefore from Tro’as, we made a direct voyage to Sam’othrace, and the following day to Ne-ap’olis, and from there to Philip’pi, which is the leading city of the district of Macedo’nia, and a Roman colony. We remained in this city some days; and on the sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyati’ra, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to give heed to what was said by Paul. And when she was baptized, with her household, she besought us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.

–Acts 16:11-15

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

NCR–Archbishop Chaput is a trailblazer bringing the claims of faith into the public square

A firm defender of the Dallas Charter’s plicy of “zero tolerance” for clergy who have been credibility accused of abuse, he has shown himself to be a careful steward of the Church’s resources, successfully blocking a recent legislative effort to lift the statute of limitations for civil suits against the Church ”” but not for other groups.

Over the long haul, however, the new archbishop of Philadelphia will make his mark as a leader of the New Evangelization who is prepared to challenge the received wisdom of secular elites.

“Christianity is not mainly ”” or even significantly ”” about politics. It’s about living and sharing the love of God. And Christian political engagement, when it happens, is never mainly the task of the clergy. That work belongs to lay believers who live most intensely in the world,” he said, during a recent speech before a Baptist audience in Texas. “But a Christian life begins in a relationship with Jesus Christ, and it bears fruit in the justice, mercy and love we show to others because of that relationship.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., City Government, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Factcheck–Does Washington have a spending problem or an income problem?

The biggest share of federal spending now goes for Social Security (20.4 percent in 2010) and Medicare (13.1 percent), the two entitlement programs that big majorities of Americans want to protect from any reductions, according to a recent poll. Together these two programs for senior citizens consume more than one-third of spending, far more than national defense, which accounts for just 20.1 percent, despite the increases of recent years….

Who pays all of these taxes? The best information on that comes from the Congressional Budget Office, which has tracked the tax burden for many years. The most recent complete data cover 2007. CBO figured in that year more than half of all federal taxes was paid by the top 10 percent of income earners. They paid 55 percent of all federal taxes in 2007, CBO said.
That’s a comprehensive figure, counting the income tax, payroll taxes, excise taxes and even the corporate income tax (borne by stockholders in the form of reduced dividends and appreciation). And perhaps surprisingly, the top 10 percent of earners pay a greater share of federal taxes now than they did before the Bush tax cuts, which Democrats constantly criticize as a giveaway to “the rich.” The top 10 percent paid 50 percent of all federal taxes in 2001.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Budget, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Federal Reserve, History, Medicare, Social Security, Taxes, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

The Anglican Church of Nigeria Communique Issued at the End of the Human Rights Conference

The Church’s commitment to human rights rooted in the Biblical founding of human dignity is amplified in God’s covenant promises and supremely revealed in the incarnation of Jesus as the true image of God. Our understanding of human rights must be measured by the Bible’s revelation of human worth.

Governments at all levels should not by their actions or inactions, be seen to project or succumb to pressure from any religious, cultural, ethnic or interest groups to enable it have or appear to have dominance over others. A typical example is the promotion of Islamic banking (Sharia-compliant) by the Central Bank of Nigeria over and above other forms of non-interest banking institutions. For a state institution to promote one view sanctioned by one religion violates the rights of others. Instead, the CBN should give general guidelines for non-interest banking for all: whether Christian, Traditional or Islamic.

Political leaders are urgently charged to be cautious not to adopt self centered instrumentality of religion, cultural or ethnic sentiments to propagate their ambition for power and undermine the rights of the electorate.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of Nigeria, Law & Legal Issues, Nigeria, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology