Daily Archives: August 24, 2011

(USA Today) Thomas Kidd–Religious freedom under assault

The next time you walk into church, or your synagogue or mosque, say a little thanks to God for our founding principles. There’s a lot for which to be grateful, after all, and the freedom to worship is among our greatest blessings.

But a new report by Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life has revealed a disturbing pattern: Nearly a third of the globe’s population ”” 2.2 billion people ”” live in countries where religious persecution increased between 2006 and 2009.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

In Jamaica Anglicans, UDC butt heads

Following a stinging rebuke by the Anglican Church, the state-run Urban Development Corporation (UDC) appeared yesterday to be backing off what appeared to be a veiled threat to forcibly acquire the church-owned Nuttall Hospital lands near Cross Roads, Kingston.

UDC general manager, Joy Douglas was quoted in television reports as suggesting that the agency was eyeing the sprawling Nuttall lands as part of redevelopment plans for the capital city.

Douglas was further reported as saying “there are plans by the prime minister to amend the UDC Act, that will do away with a clause that forces the Corporation to acquire land before engaging in redevelopment activities”.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Church/State Matters, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Law & Legal Issues

(ENS) Interfaith group joins protest against proposed 'tar sand' oil pipeline from Canada

A proposed pipeline to convey oil derived from “tar sand” in Canada across the American heartland is facing strong opposition from environmentalists ”“ including faith-based groups ”“ staging nonviolent sit-in protests this week in front of the White House in Washington D.C.

Since the protests began Aug. 20, some 150 activists have been arrested, according to 350.org, one of the organizations involved in the demonstrations, which are planned to continue for two weeks.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canada, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Religion & Culture

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke unlikely to announce big new plans at Jackson Hole

In this year’s speech, he is likely to put particular emphasis on what needs to be done to repair the U.S. economy over the longer run, including lowering long-term deficits. The title of the speech, in fact, is “Near- and Long-Term Prospects for the U.S. Economy.”

While Bernanke has said that Congress should not cut the budget deficit too quickly, lest this austerity undermine the weak economic recovery, he has previously argued that a long-term plan to put the government’s spending in line with its revenue could help instill confidence. Indeed, Deutsche Bank chief economist Peter Hooper said in a research note that the need for longer-term adjustments in the economy could be another argument against new Fed intervention.

“Any action the Fed takes at this point may give the markets no more than a temporary lift and would not resolve the more fundamental problems that are weighing on the economy,” Hooper said.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Federal Reserve, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Stock Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government, The United States Currency (Dollar etc)

An ENS Article on the Earthquake Damage to Washington's National Cathedral

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * General Interest, Episcopal Church (TEC), Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc., Presiding Bishop, TEC Parishes

(WSJ) Tax Code Provision for Clergy Questioned

Experts say the parsonage allowance was originally included as a way to minimize taxes on clergy members, whose compensation was often meager. It still is widely used for that purpose, church officials said, although the IRS doesn’t track usage of the benefit.

“For most of them the housing allowance is modest because their compensation is modest,” says Daniel Gary, an attorney with the United Methodist Church in Nashville.

Similarly, D. August Boto, general counsel of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, says for leaders of the organization’s 46,000 churches “the housing allowance is critically important for making ends meet””it is not a luxury.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Taxes

Local paper front page–Fewer in South Carolina owning homes

The one-two punch of soaring real estate prices followed by the housing meltdown has reduced homeownership across South Carolina. First came a rise in real estate prices that far outstripped incomes, making homeownership harder to attain.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Personal Finance, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

(NY Times) Airstrikes More Difficult as War Moves to Tripoli

The NATO air campaign that was instrumental in helping the rebels advance into Tripoli is hamstrung in many ways now that the fighting has turned into complex house-to-house urban warfare, American military and allied officials said Tuesday.

For legal and practical reasons, as well as to avoid the perception of bombing indiscriminately inside Tripoli, the Libyan capital, allied warplanes will continue to prowl for targets, but mostly on the outskirts of the city where government troops might be trying to escape or reinforce Tripoli ”” and where the risk of civilian casualties is much lower, allied officials said.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Europe, Foreign Relations, Libya

(WSJ Real Time Economics Blog) Nearly Half of Americans Are ”˜Financially Fragile’

Nearly half of Americans say that they definitely or probably couldn’t come up with $2,000 in 30 days, according to new research, raising concerns about the financial fragility of many households.

In a paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, Annamaria Lusardi of the George Washington School of Business, Daniel J. Schneider of Princeton University and Peter Tufano of Harvard Business School used data from the 2009 TNS Global Economic Crisis survey to document widespread financial weakness in the U.S. and other countries.

Read it all and follow the link to the paper if you desire to.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Personal Finance, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Bartholomew

Almighty and everlasting God, who didst give to thine apostle Bartholomew grace truly to believe and to preach thy Word: Grant that thy Church may love what he believed and preach what he taught; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God for ever and ever.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Almighty Father, who by thy Son Jesus Christ hast taught us to beware of false prophets: Have mercy upon thy Church, we beseech thee, to deliver it from all evil; and give us faithful pastors and teachers who shall truly fulfill thy command and preach nothing contrary to thy Holy Word; that we thy people, being instructed, nurtured and comforted by thy heavenly truth, may bring forth fruit to thy glory; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask what I shall give you.” And Solomon said, “Thou hast shown great and steadfast love to thy servant David my father, because he walked before thee in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward thee; and thou hast kept for him this great and steadfast love, and hast given him a son to sit on his throne this day. And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And thy servant is in the midst of thy people whom thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered or counted for multitude. Give thy servant therefore an understanding mind to govern thy people, that I may discern between good and evil; for who is able to govern this thy great people?” It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this.

–1 Kings 3:5-10

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(WSJ) Washington National Cathedral Damaged by Quake

The central tower on the Washington National Cathedral””the highest point in Washington, D.C.””suffered serious damage from the 5.8-magnitude earthquake that shook the East Coast Tuesday. No one was injured.

The earthquake knocked off the cross-shaped finial stones on three of the four pinnacles that jut out from the top of the tower. The top of one pinnacle is leaning inward. Yellow police tape was roped across trees in front of the Cathedral and a steady trickle of gawkers stared up at the damaged 300-foot tower.

“At first I thought it felt something like a big wind,” Samuel Lloyd, dean of the cathedral, said in an interview. “Then I realized that nothing was blowing, but there was a rattling and a shaking everywhere.”

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

(Der Spiegel) EU Remains Silent as Hungary Veers Off Course

The 40 gypsies from Gyöngyöspata, who don’t even use the more acceptable term Roma to describe themselves, have been assigned the job of clearing hibiscus bushes and undergrowth for four months. They are among 300,000 Hungarians who will soon be performing “community” work under a new law, which dictates that anyone who is out of work for more than 90 days in a row forfeits the right to social welfare and membership in the social insurance system.

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

Jeffrey Bishop–The Cultured Body and the Cult of Medicine

A 2010 survey found that as many as 48% of women and 23% of men said that they are interested in having cosmetic surgery.

Celebrities, like Heidi Montag, are now forthright about having had cosmetic surgery. Many other celebrities, both men and women, have been rumoured to have had cosmetic surgery. One website suggests which stars are desperately in need of plastic surgery.

The acceptability of plastic surgery is on the rise in every economic tier in American society. In fact, another survey done by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery in 2010 showed that 48% of respondents making less than $25K per year approve of cosmetic surgery. As incomes rise, so do the approval ratings, with 62% of those making over $75K per year approving of cosmetic surgery….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Aging / the Elderly, Health & Medicine, Science & Technology

Post-Gazette Editorial–Uncertain end: The future of Libya is clouded by questions

It will be a relief when the war and the killing are actually over. At the same time, many questions remain. One, on the U.S. side, is whether it was worth it. There is little to regret in the departure from the Libyan and world scene of Mr. Gadhafi. He may have started well with a popular revolution in 1969 that overthrew a corrupt monarchical regime, aligned Libya’s role in the Middle East and Africa more closely with that of its neighbors, and put the country’s oil wealth in Libyan hands.

But Mr. Gadhafi became the perfect illustration of the adage that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely as his views and behavior, backed by his country’s considerable wealth, became increasingly bizarre, culminating in his agents’ attack on Pan Am 103 over Scotland in 1988, killing 270.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Libya, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama

(New Statesman) Nelson Jones –Should the state sanction or condone polygamous unions?

There seems little reason in logic for the current legal position. There might be something to be said for insisting on monogamous heterosexual marriage as a way of privileging the country’s traditional Christian culture (if that is what you want to do). But once the state recognises homosexual couples it has abandoned any pretence that it is upholding Christian marriage. Whether churches and other religious bodies choose to recognise gay marriage, to the extent of holding ceremonies to honour it, is a matter for them. Unlike heterosexual marriage, they are not able to conduct legally binding partnership in any case. So why stop there? Why not recognise polygamous marriages, and indeed any other form of intimate union that people wish to enter into?

In a liberal society, it is no business of the state’s how people conduct their private lives. Some object to polygamy out of the belief that it disadvantages women. But that is not necessarily the case. Some women may actively prefer to be part of a polygamous household, which can have distinct advantages (for example, sharing the burden of childcare) over the standard monogamous unit. As long as there is no coercion involved, the most serious downside may well be in the state’s refusal to recognise polygamy and thus give all partners equal rights.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Church/State Matters, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Sexuality, Theology