Monthly Archives: September 2011

Richard Riordan: Saving Roman Catholic Education

Earlier this week, the Los Angeles Catholic Education Foundation announced a campaign to raise $100 million for Catholic schools in our area.

Catholic education in the United States is in dire straits. A report from Loyola Marymount University in June found that Catholic schools continue to close even though they graduate 98% of their high school students and send almost all of them onto college. In the early 1960s, the U.S. had over 13,000 Catholic schools with 5.5 million students. Today there are 6,900 schools with two million students. In the Los Angeles area, enrollment has fallen by 20% over the past 10 years, to 80,000 students from 100,000. This trend is due not to lack of demand, but to the inability of parents to pay tuition.

The urban poor are more desperate than ever for Catholic education. Urban public schools have failed these families, graduating approximately 30% of Los Angeles high school students in four years. Catholic schools are their best hope””something I know from personal experience.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Education, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

The Bigger Impact of Smaller Paychecks

Households, after all, are far more reliant on paychecks (and government benefits) now than during the credit-fueled boom. Consumer credit as a percentage of personal spending, for example, rose from 18.4% in the early 1990s to a peak of 26.3% in December 2008.

It has since dropped sharply, notes Omair Sharif of RBS Securities. But with the level still at 22.8% as of July, “we’re probably not even halfway through” the household debt-shedding process, he says.

That has two broad implications for consumer spending and, in turn, U.S. growth.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance, Psychology, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Banks to Make Customers Pay Fee for Using Debit Cards

Bank of America, the nation’s biggest bank, said on Thursday that it planned to start charging customers a $5 monthly fee when they used their debit cards for purchases. It was just one of several new charges expected to hit consumers as new regulations crimp banks’ profits.

Wells Fargo and Chase are testing $3 monthly debit card fees. Regions Financial, based in Birmingham, Ala., plans to start charging a $4 fee next month, while SunTrust, another regional powerhouse, is charging a $5 fee.

The round of new charges stems from a rule, which takes effect on Saturday, that limits the fees that banks can levy on merchants every time a consumer uses a debit card to make a purchase. The rule, known as the Durbin amendment, after its sponsor Senator Richard J. Durbin, is a crucial part of the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Personal Finance, The Banking System/Sector, Theology

German bailout vote is 'too little, too late'

Chancellor Angela Merkel won her “own majority” for the bill, narrowly averting the collapse of her government, but only after pledging that there was no grand plan committing Germany to vast and unlimited liabilities.

Horst Seehofer, leader of Bavaria’s Social Christians CSU, said his party would go “this far, and no further”, insisting any expansion of the rescue machinery was out of the question. “The financial markets are beginning to ask whether Germans can afford all this help. We must not risk the creditworthiness of the German state,” he said.

Norbert Lammert, the Bundestag’s president, said lawmakers felt they had been “bounced” into backing far-reaching demands and warned that Germany’s legislature would not give up its fiscal sovereignty to any EU body.

Read it all.

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

Archbishop to South Australia's politicians: "Consider Adelaide's urban ecology"

Speaking at the SA Parliamentary Christian Fellowship Leaders of Christian Churches Dinner at Parliament House on Wednesday night, the Archbishop encouraged our political leaders to dream of a truly human city.

“Adelaide was founded on a bold experiment, a vision for a different sort of human city,” Archbishop [Jeffrey] Driver said. “So many people came here to a new colony because they had been captured by a dream; the dream of a different place where old inequalities and exclusions could be put aside and a new city of human opportunity could be crafted from dream to reality.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Energy, Natural Resources, Urban/City Life and Issues

In Uganda Churches campaign against environmental destruction

As part of efforts to save the environment in the semi-arid Karamoja sub region in northeast Uganda, the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches have launched a campaign to help stop the destruction of vegetation and plant more trees in the vast region.

Rev. John Robert Lorech of Anglican Kotido Diocese on Friday launched a program to encourage the local Karimojong communities to shift from using dry twigs to fence off their traditional homesteads to using live hedges.

Under the new strategy being piloted in Nadunget and Rupa sub counties, Lorech said the church would educate the communities to plant kei-apple shrubs to create protective hedges around their homesteads.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Energy, Natural Resources, Other Churches, Roman Catholic

(CEN) Lord’s Prayer out in Australia

Complaints by devotees of the new atheism in Australia have beaten back the Lord’s Prayer from the public square. A primary school in Perth’s northern suburbs has ended the reciting of the Lord’s Prayer before school assemblies after some parents complained that it violated the law by promoting religious belief over non-belief.

On 20 September, Edgewater Primary School principal Julie Tombs wrote to parents announcing the cessation of prayers after 25 years, after a survey of parents indicated that some were opposed to the practice.

“We acknowledge that of the parents who did respond to the survey, many wanted to retain the Lord’s Prayer and it is right that we continue to recite it at culturally appropriate times such as Christmas and Easter, as part of our educational programme,” Mrs Tombs said in a statement.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer

(Church Times) ”˜God, not you, darling!’ Atkinsons qualify attack on smug clerics

Rowan Atkinson, the comedian famed for his portrayal of comedy vicars, was this week expecting a backlash, after accusing Church of England clergy of being smug, arrogant, and conceited.

In an interview in Saturday’s Times, Mr Atkinson said: “I used to think that the vicars that I played . . . were unreasonable satires on well-meaning individuals but, actually, so many of the clerics that I’ve met, particularly the Church of England clerics, are people of such extra­ordinary smugness and arrogance and conceitedness who are extra­ordin­arily presumptuous about the significance of their position in society. Increasingly, I believe that all the mud that Richard Curtis and I threw at them through endless sketches that we’ve done is more than deserved.”

Read it all.

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

European Banks Chided for Lack of Transparency

The head of Europe’s markets regulator warned banks to be consistent in their valuations of sovereign debt amid concern some lenders have failed to record sufficient losses on Greek bonds.

Steven Maijoor, chairman of the European Securities and Markets Authority, likened the lack of transparency about banks’ individual holdings of government debt to the subprime mortgages that triggered the credit crisis.

“Lack of transparency regarding exposures to subprime mortgages created a situation of uncertainty about the financial positions of banks,” he said in a speech in Vienna today, according to a transcript released by ESMA on its website. Recently, “a lack of transparency from banks on their exposures to sovereign debt and related instruments are generating new suspicions about the conditions of individual banks and this requires similar answers in terms of transparency.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Interview: Douglas Groothuis on Good Apologetics

How do you approach apologetics in the current culture?

I think our culture is very pluralistic in a lot of ways. Different pockets of the culture have different perspectives on truth, knowledge, worldviews, and so on. The savvy apologist needs to understand the basic worldviews and epistemologies, and then get a good read on the approaches taken by individual people. You can only do good apologetics when you have some understanding of the perspective of the person or the group you are addressing. Many people have worldviews that are internally inconsistent. They may have a certain amount of folk Christianity or some Hinduism, so the apologist has to sort things out and expose the inconsistencies. We need a kind of existential engagement with people, whereby we genuinely and humbly interact with them&m;dashnot dump the truth on them or view apologetics as some kind of philosophical game. It is too serious to be anything like that.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Apologetics, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Philosophy, Religion & Culture, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Jerome

O Lord, thou God of truth, whose Word is a lantern to our feet and a light upon our path: We give thee thanks for thy servant Jerome, and those who, following in his steps, have labored to render the Holy Scriptures in the language of the people; and we beseech thee that thy Holy Spirit may overshadow us as we read the written Word, and that Christ, the living Word, may transform us according to thy righteous will; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Keep us, O Lord, from the vain strife of words, and grant us a constant profession of our faith. Preserve us in the way of truth, so that we may ever hold fast that which we professed when we were baptized into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, and may give glory to thee, our Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier, now and for evermore.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Well, I do not run aimlessly, I do not box as one beating the air; but I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

–1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Letter from the Bishop of Upper South Carolina about Tommy Tipton's stepping down as Canon

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, TEC Bishops, TEC Parishes

A.S. Haley–TEC Executive Council Fires on the Diocese of South Carolina

This is such a crucial preface to what follows that I shall restate it: only dioceses, in their given territories, are legal members of the association which is the Episcopal Church (USA). As such, they are free, under the First Amendment, to join it or to leave it at their pleasure, through duly enacted amendments to their governing documents — which ECUSA is, again under the Constitution’s First Amendment, powerless to annul or forbid.

Now comes an utterly supercilious pronouncement by an official on behalf of ECUSA’s Executive Council (citing the “decision” of one of its joint standing committees) with regard to the Diocese of South Carolina, and which purports to “declare” certain acts taken by a member diocese to be “null and void”. [A tip o’ the Rumpolean bowler to the Rev. Steve Wood’s blog, which in this instance was authored in his temporary absence by Greg Shore.]

Oh, really? And just who, pray tell, is this supra-diocesan “Executive Council”, or its “Joint Standing Committee on Governance and Administration”?

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, * South Carolina, America/U.S.A., Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils, TEC Polity & Canons

White House Issues Statement on Iranian Pastor Condemned to death

From here:

The United States condemns the conviction of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani. Pastor Nadarkhani has done nothing more than maintain his devout faith, which is a universal right for all people. That the Iranian authorities would try to force him to renounce that faith violates the religious values they claim to defend, crosses all bounds of decency, and breaches Iran’s own international obligations. A decision to impose the death penalty would further demonstrate the Iranian authorities’ utter disregard for religious freedom, and highlight Iran’s continuing violation of the universal rights of its citizens. We call upon the Iranian authorities to release Pastor Nadarkhani, and demonstrate a commitment to basic, universal human rights, including freedom of religion.

Update: I also see a USCIRF statement there.

Marco Rubio has a piece here as well.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Iran, Law & Legal Issues, Middle East, Religion & Culture

(BBC) Hillary Clinton condemns attack on US envoy in Syria

The US secretary of state has condemned an attack on US ambassador Robert Ford after he was pelted with eggs by Syrian president supporters in Damascus.

Hillary Clinton said it was “wholly unjustified” and urged Syria to protect diplomatic staff.

Eggs and tomatoes were hurled at Mr Ford as he met an opposition figure.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Foreign Relations, Middle East, Politics in General, Syria

Down Under, Anglicans to commemorate Defence Sunday on 6 November

Australian Anglicans are being invited to commemorate Defence Sunday on 6 November.

The day, which is held annually on the Sunday nearest to Remembrance Day (11 November), is intended to draw attention to the spiritual needs and wellbeing of those who serve in the Australian Defence Force and to foster prayerful support within the Church for those who serve in the ADF.

It is also designed to encourage clergy to consider service as full- or part-time ADF chaplains and to nurture cooperation between the ADF and Anglican dioceses and parishes across Australia.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Australia / NZ, Defense, National Security, Military, Parish Ministry

In NZ the Biggest insurer of church and heritage sites ends earthquake coverage

New Zealand’s largest insurer of churches and heritage buildings announced yesterday that it would stop offering earthquake coverage throughout the country.

The British-owned Ansvar Insurance suffered $700 million worth of losses in the Christchurch earthquakes, including losses on the Anglican and Catholic cathedrals and the Christchurch Arts Centre.

It is the first insurer to stop offering earthquake coverage nationally since the disasters, which are expected to cost insurers more than $15 billion.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anglican Provinces, Australia / NZ, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(Living Church) Ephraim Radner: The Local Church Serves the Whole

The wake of the Revolution in America resuscitated the conciliar challenge in a concrete way. Here I read the history very differently indeed from Bishop Franklin. What had been the Church of England in the colonies had been sifted into the “local” in its most elemental forms: parish and at best the local state and its (often still-to-be-achieved) “episcopal” order. How would the conciliar process work from the ground up here? In the new polity of the Revolution, hostile to the English church and its establishment structures, these elements might gather only by “voluntary association,” as William White put it in his Case for the Episcopal Churches, and these associations (not “corporation” as Bishop Franklin puts it) would be ordered to the common good (“union and good government”) in the sense of peaceable order in ways that might not disturb the government: this was largely his concern.

The framework of external scriptural authority as well as the traditions of the Church of England ”” the “catholic” faith ”” remained in place for White and for those who first worked to organize the Protestant Episcopal Church. General Convention would serve the function of applying this framework for these local entities in their service of and life within the larger Church’s mission. White’s own notion of “catholicity” points to this (cf. his Dissertation II on the topic, or his discussion of the ministry in his Catechetical lectures, VII). (On the other hand, we might wonder altogether at White as a theological guide on the question of the Church Catholic in light of his own convictions that the papacy was being directly referred to in Revelation 13 or 2 Thessalonians 2!)

It is important to see how the conciliar vision has thus taken a peculiar shape in the United States: dioceses voluntarily take council, as it were, for the sake of a universal Church.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, Theology

Seton Hall University Offers Top Applicants Two-Thirds Off

For students with their sights set on a private college, the anxiety comes as a one-two punch: first from competing with thousands of others for a precious few spots, then from trying to scrape together up to $50,000 a year to foot the bill.

Starting next year, Seton Hall University will try to ease that follow-up blow for early applicants with strong academic credentials, giving them two-thirds off the regular sticker price for tuition, a discount of some $21,000. For New Jersey residents, who constitute about 70 percent of Seton Hall’s undergraduates, that would make the cost equivalent to that of Rutgers University, the state’s flagship public institution; for those from out of state, the private school would be much cheaper than the public one.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Education, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Young Adults

(RNS) Report Says Trends for U.S. Churches Mostly Pointing Down

American congregations have grown less healthy in the last decade, with fewer people in the pews and aging memberships, according to a new Hartford Seminary study.
But there are also “pockets of vitality,” including an increase in minority congregations and a surge in election-related activities at evangelical congregations.

The findings coming from the new Faith Communities Today (FACT) survey are based on responses from more than 11,000 Christian, Jewish and Muslim congregations in 2010 and more than 14,000 congregations in 2000.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(BBC) BAE Systems job cuts: Lancashire bishop backs workers

The Anglican Bishop of Blackburn has pledged church support for BAE Systems workers in Lancashire who are set to lose their jobs.

In Lancashire, 565 jobs will be shed from 3,970 at Samlesbury, and 843 posts will go from 6,537 at Warton.

Bishop Nicholas Reade said every Christian in the county should ask what they can do to help the BAE workers.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, England / UK, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Religion & Culture

Anglican Church of Uganda elects new bishop for the newly created diocese

The House of Bishops of the Church of the Province of Uganda sitting at Commonwealth Speke Resort Munyonyo on September 28, 2011 elected Rev. Canon Nathan Ahimbisibwe as the 1st Diocesan Bishop of the newly created South Ankole Diocese. The Diocese was carved out both Ankole and West Ankole Dioceses.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Uganda

Church of England publishes latest statistics on web

The Church of England has today published its latest information about parish income and expenditure and trends in ministry numbers in Church Statistics 2009/10. The attendance statistics included were published in February 2011.

This year’s financial statistics show that the 2008 credit crunch began to affect church income in 2009, though not in terms of parish giving nor as hard as many charities.

Read it all and follow the link at the bottom as well.

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, Stewardship

Telegraph Editorial–EU financial tax would be a disaster for the City

The commission’s own research shows that such a tax would have a negative impact on growth: Algirdas Semeta, the European commissioner for taxation, said this week that it would cut GDP across the EU by about 0.5 per cent. At a time when Europe is struggling to grow at all ”“ and when growth is essential to dragging its economies out of the mire ”“ this would be a crippling reverse.

One would have thought that this assessment would be enough to kill the idea stone dead ”“ especially since the Government has made it clear that Britain will veto the plan, since such a tax would only make sense if it were introduced globally, to avoid a mass exodus of financial institutions from the area affected. Mr Barroso, however, has other ideas….

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, England / UK, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Stock Market, Taxes, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

(NY Times) Fearing Change, Many Christians in Syria Back Assad

Abu Elias sat beneath the towering stairs leading from the Convent of Our Lady of Saydnaya, a church high up in the mountains outside Damascus, where Christians have worshiped for 1,400 years. “We are all scared of what will come next,” he said, turning to a man seated beside him, Robert, an Iraqi refugee who escaped the sectarian strife in his homeland.

“He fled Iraq and came here,” said Abu Elias, looking at his friend, who arrived just a year earlier. “Soon, we might find ourselves doing the same.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Foreign Relations, Inter-Faith Relations, Law & Legal Issues, Middle East, Religion & Culture, Syria, Violence

(Telegraph) Pakistan frees Osama bin Laden bodyguard

Pakistan has freed a senior al-Qaeda commander, who served as a bodyguard to Osama bin Laden, according to a senior security source, raising fresh questions about the country’s commitment to tackling terrorism.

Amin al-Haq, who escaped from Afghanistan with the al-Qaeda leader in 2001 and went on to become a key financial aide, was detained in Lahore three years ago by Pakistan’s intelligence agency.

A senior security source in the north-western Pakistani town of Peshawar, where he had been held, said the Inter-Services Intelligence agency had passed al-Haq on to the police before he was released earlier this month.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Pakistan, Politics in General, Terrorism

(Bloomberg) German Parliament Backs Euro Rescue Fund

German lawmakers approved an expansion of the euro-area rescue fund’s firepower, freeing the way for European officials to focus on what next steps may be needed to stem the debt crisis.

The lower house of parliament passed the measure with 523 votes in favor and 85 against, granting the fund powers to buy bonds in secondary markets, enable bank recapitalizations and offer precautionary credit lines. It raises Germany’s guarantees to 211 billion euros ($287 billion) from 123 billion euros. The main opposition Social Democrats and Greens said before today’s session in Berlin that they’d vote with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government, assuring passage.

Read it all.

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

What a Night in Baseball

The Rays come back from being down 7-0. One of the best base runners in the National League comes off the bag at third after successfully making it there, Jason Bourn, and is correctly called out. The Orioles have a rain delay and improbably win at the end of the ninth inning against the Red Sox. The Cardinals win and wait until the 13th inning to watch the Phillies incredibly beat the Braves.

You couldn’t make it up if you tried. The Rays and Cardinals make the playoffs. Congratulations to them.

So many things come to mind to say, but the biggest is it is not over until it is over, and you always play until the last out–KSH.

An AP story is here–read it all.

Posted in * By Kendall, * Culture-Watch, Sports