Daily Archives: July 27, 2011

John Stott RIP

His influence was simply titanic. I will always think of him as a Christian statesman and as a preacher above all–KSH.

A good picture may be found there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, Globalization, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard–Flee to Mars if America commits worst error since 1931

Should America embark on such fiscal contraction at a time when economic growth has already slipped to stall speed, and debt deleveraging continues with a vengeance, I would like to flee to Mars for safety.

Yes, there is such a concept as an “expansionary fiscal contraction”, as in Ireland (1980s), Denmark (1990s), arguably Canada (1990s), and the UK after both 1932 and 1993, but in every successful case this was accompanied by monetary loosening. That card has already been played this time.

Should America instead opt to evade these fiscal cuts by actually defaulting on debts accumulated by self-indulgent baby boomers, I would also like to flee Mars because such an outcome might be even worse.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Budget, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Federal Reserve, House of Representatives, Medicare, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, Social Security, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government, The United States Currency (Dollar etc), Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

Midday Mental Health Break–a Dog Learns Physics the Hard Way

Read it all.

Posted in * General Interest, Animals

Muslim Seminary Chief in India Is Fired for Pro-Hindu Interview

India’s best-known Islamic seminary ousted its reformist leader on Sunday, less than seven months after he assumed the post, because he was quoted as speaking favorably of a Hindu nationalist suspected of fomenting deadly anti-Muslim riots.

The reformer, Mullah Ghulam Mohammed Vastanvi, was appointed in January to lead the seminary, Darul Uloom, in the city of Deoband in Uttar Pradesh State. He had become popular in part because of the success of his madrasas, or Islamic schools, in the western Indian state of Maharashtra that bridged traditional Islamic education with the needs of the modern world by teaching students secular subjects like science and computer programming. He had hoped to bring those innovations to Darul Uloom.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Hinduism, India, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

Vatican Radio–The Horn of Africa: A chronic crisis

The segment description is as follows:

The U.N. will airlift emergency rations this week to parts of drought-ravaged Somalia that militants banned it from more than two years ago. The foray into the famine zone is a desperate attempt to reach at least 175,000 of the 2.2 million Somalis whom aid workers have not yet been able to help.

Tens of thousands already have trekked to neighbouring Kenya and Ethiopia, hoping to get aid in refugee camps. Responding to the Horn of Africa crisis, the Jesuit Refugee Service has also announced plans to step up ongoing work for Somalis in Ethiopia and Kenya.

Lydia O’Kane sat down with Father Peter Balleis SJ, International Director of JRS and Communications Co-ordinator James Stapleton.

Speaking about severity of the situation Father Balleis says, “ The crisis or so it looks like a new crisis is a chronic crisis. For years and years Somalia is at war, not all parts but a central part and the Somali population are leaving the country as refugees”.

James Stapleton adds that some aid agencies are reporting that they have never seen a crisis on this scale before.

Listen to it all (a little over 14 minutes).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Climate Change, Weather, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Poverty

Church of England Dioceses Commission publishes progress report

The Dioceses Commission has today published an interim progress report on its review of the Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon and Leeds, Sheffield and Wakefield, available online here.

In November 2010, the Commission published for consultation a report recommending the replacement of the existing Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon and Leeds and Wakefield with a single new diocese. The diocesan synods of all three dioceses have since voted in favour of the preparation of a draft reorganisation scheme. The Ripon and Leeds and Wakefield diocesan synods also specifically endorsed the proposal for a single diocese divided into five episcopal areas (local units of mission led by a bishop).

In its interim progress report, the Commission announces that, in the light of the responses it has received, it is drawing up a reorganisation scheme to replace the Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon and Leeds and Wakefield with a single new diocese, as well as draft instruments for the creation of episcopal areas. The draft scheme will be published in October 2011 and will be accompanied by a statement of the effect of the proposals on the mission of the Church of England, and a detailed estimate of the financial effect of the creation of a single diocese. The Commission is still working on the details of the scheme.

Read it all (and take the time to read the linked full report).

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

(NY Times Magazine) Yemen on the Brink of Hell

The massacre in Taiz received little attention in the West, blending in with the larger chaos and violence enveloping the Arab world. In Syria, tanks were rolling through the streets of several cities, as months of protest evolved into a bloody national insurrection. In Libya, the civil war was festering into a grim status quo, with NATO airstrikes unable to dislodge Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi from his Tripoli stronghold. Even Egypt and Tunisia seemed endangered, with fresh violence breaking out and their economies in tatters.

Yet the events in Taiz took on a tragic dimension that went beyond the numbers of dead and wounded. Taiz is Yemen’s least tribal city, home to the highest number of educated people, professionals and traders. The city was “the heart of the revolution,” in one popular refrain, and its protesters were less politicized and more rigorously nonviolent than elsewhere in Yemen. The attack on May 29, with its deliberate cruelty and excess, confirmed what many Yemenis feared: that Saleh sees the democratic uprising as a greater threat to his power than Al Qaeda. The burning of the Taiz square, after all, coincided with the collapse of all government authority in large areas of south Yemen, where heavily armed jihadist groups have captured two towns and several villages. In the northwestern province of Saada, too, a militia movement now reigns supreme; they recently elected Yemen’s biggest arms dealer as their new governor. All this has implications that go well beyond Yemen’s remote mountains and deserts ”” the chaos in the north, for instance, threatens to set off a proxy conflict between the region’s two great nemeses, Saudi Arabia and Iran ”” and the Yemeni military has done little to oppose any of it.

Even after Saleh was flown to a hospital in Saudi Arabia in early June, wounded in a bomb blast at his palace mosque, his government ”” or what is left of it ”” seemed determined to crush the unarmed protesters while leaving the rest of the country open to some of the world’s most dangerous men….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Foreign Relations, Islam, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence, Yemen

(AP) Some owners so obsessed with their smartphones, they name them

While smartphone users worry about mobile hacking and other security threats that are making news these days, psychologists and others are concerned about another equally troubling issue — the growing obsession among people who would much rather interact with their smartphones than with other human beings.

“Watching people who get their first smartphone, there’s a very quick progression from having a basic phone you don’t talk about to people who love their iPhone, name their phone and buy their phones outfits,” said Lisa Merlo, director of psychotherapy training at the University of Florida.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Psychology, Science & Technology

(SMH) Bill Uren–Church and state are split over an irreconcilable difference

One can certainly share the sense of frustration and, indeed, quite patent anger and irritation of the Irish Prime Minister, Enda Kenny, in his recent criticisms of the Vatican. In the face of overwhelming evidence of sexual and physical abuse by clergy, religious and Catholic institutions in Ireland, the Vatican seems reluctant to accept its share of responsibility. It also seems unwilling to co-operate without reservations with the Irish government’s proposals to prevent such abuse in future.

The most startling new measure in a system of mandatory reporting is the obligation for priests to violate the sanctity of the “sacramental seal” of Confession when a paedophile reveals that he or she has been involved in such activities. Senator Nick Xenophon has proposed a similar measure for Australia.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, England / UK, Ireland, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sacramental Theology, Theology

A Poem to Begin the Day–Evening by G.K. Chesterton

Here dies another day
During which I have had eyes, ears, hands
And the great world round me;
And with tomorrow begins another.
Why am I allowed two?

–G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936)

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Poetry & Literature

(USA Today) Recent war vets face risk of homelessness

More than 10,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are homeless or in programs aimed at keeping them off the streets, a number that has doubled three times since 2006, according to figures released by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The rise comes at a time when the total number of homeless veterans has declined from a peak of about 400,000 in 2004 to 135,000 today.

“We’re seeing more and more (Iraq and Afghanistan veterans),” says Richard Thomas, a Volunteers of America case manager at a shelter in Los Angeles. “It’s just a bad time for them to return now and get out of the military.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Marriage & Family, Military / Armed Forces, Poverty

(RNS) Vatican Recalls Irish Ambassador over Abuse Report

The Vatican has recalled its ambassador to Ireland for “consultations” on the official church response to a government report that tallied how abuse cases were mishandled as recently as two years ago.

The extraordinary move to recall the papal nuncio, Monsignor Giuseppe Leanza, is also meant to show “a certain note of surprise and regret regarding some excessive reactions” to the report, Vatican spokesman Rev. Ciro Benedettini said on Monday

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Children, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Ireland, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

Amid Debt Battle, More Americans Say Economy Getting Worse

Seventy-three percent of Americans in Gallup Daily tracking over the July 22-24 weekend say the U.S. economy is getting worse. This is up 11 percentage points from the three days ending July 6, and the worst level for this measure since the three days ending March 12, 2009.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Psychology, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

(NY Times) Men in Grief Seek Others Who Mourn as They Do

The loss of a loved one is a profoundly heartbreaking experience, but it is not the same for everyone. Research increasingly suggests that men and women experience grief in different ways, and the realization has bolstered a nascent movement of bereavement groups geared to men throughout the country. Many of them are affiliated with hospitals and hospice centers.

Concern about reaching men in grief has gained new urgency with shifting demographics. The number of men age 65 and older increased by 21 percent from 2000 to 2010, nearly double the 11.2 percent growth rate for women in that age group, according to census figures. As the gender gap in life span narrows, experts suggest that more men will be facing the loss of loved ones, particularly spouses.

Many will be not be prepared for the experience. The loss of a spouse often is crushing for men physically as well as psychologically. In a 2001 paper published in The Review of General Psychology, psychologists at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands confirmed earlier data showing widowers have a higher incidence of mental and physical illness, disabilities, death and suicide than widows do. While women who lose their husbands often speak of feeling abandoned or deserted, widowers tend to experience the loss “as one of dismemberment, as if they had lost something that kept them organized and whole,” Michael Caserta, chairman of the Center for Healthy Aging at the University of Utah, said by e-mail.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine, Men, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Mary and Martha of Bethany

Generous God, whose Son Jesus Christ enjoyed the friendship and hospitality of Mary, Martha and Lazarus of Bethany: Open our hearts to love thee, our ears to hear thee, and our hands to welcome and serve thee in others, through Jesus Christ our risen Lord; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church History, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Women

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Eternal God, whose majesty is revealed in mercy: Grant that as I draw near to thee thy truth may set me free from the bondage of my own thoughts and desires, and that asI abide in thee my prayers may be an instrument of thy righteous will; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Leslie Hunter

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by soothsaying. She followed Paul and us, crying, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” And this she did for many days. But Paul was annoyed, and turned and said to the spirit, “I charge you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour.

–Acts 16:16-18

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

The Archbishop of Canterbury's Message to the People of Norway

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Archbishop of Canterbury, Europe, Norway, Terrorism

A response to the C of E House of Bps’ announcement of a review of its Guidelines on Human Sexuali

The following are to be noted.

1. In the first paragraph of the announcement of the review, the developments that are cited as having taken place since the Guidelines were first issued in 2005 all point in the revisionist direction: “a number of clergy are now in civil partnerships. The General Synod decided to amend the clergy pension scheme to improve the provision for the surviving civil partners of clergy who have died. More recently Parliament has decided that civil partnerships may be registered on religious premises where the relevant religious authority has consented.”

2. The second paragraph states: “We recognize that bishops and clergy have found ways of engaging pastorally with those in civil partnerships, both at the time of registration and subsequently.” What is meant by “subsequently”? Does this mean that bishops and clergy are blessing civil partnerships in contravention of the law, which states that civil partnerships must not have any religious element to them?

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

Matthew J. Franck on the Episcopal Bishop of L.I.'s recent Pastoral Letter

As a church that permitted “gay and lesbian clergy” to hold themselves forth as such, the Episcopal Church found it could not resist permitting such individuals to live with their “partners,” cohabiting openly without benefit of marriage. A kind of ancestral conservatism prevented Episcopalians from boldly sallying forth to bless same-sex unions as sacramental marriages so long as the state was not willing to legalize civil marriage for such couples. Thus the church found itself obliged to wink at something”“sexual relationships openly proclaimed by cohabiting but unmarried “clergy couples” of the same sex”“that it would not tolerate if the couples were heterosexual.

Ah, but now comes the state to the rescue! What the state has blessed, the Episcopal Church can now bless. Even more, it will now insist on its long-suppressed moral strictures about marriage! No more of this living in sin, which just yesterday we didn’t have the nerve to call sin! You folks better get married, because the state has decided for us that we can give you the sacrament!

Or if we want to keep our footing and not join Bishop Tanglefoot in a heap at the foot of the cathedral stairs, we can speak as Christians ought to speak: the Episcopal Church has been tolerating its clergy living openly in sin. Now it will bless the sin and the sinners alike. But it will righteously insist on it!

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), State Government, TEC Bishops, Theology

(Gallup) More Than One in Six American Workers Also Act as Caregivers

More than one in six Americans who work a full- or part-time job also report assisting with care for an elderly or disabled family member, relative, or friend.

Caregivers in the U.S. are diverse, with between 13% and 22% of American workers across major socioeconomic and demographic groups reporting that they fulfill a caregiver role.

These findings are from more than 200,000 surveys of employed Americans collected from January 2010 through June 2011 as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, America/U.S.A., Economy, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Marriage & Family, Psychology