Daily Archives: September 19, 2011

A.S. Haley–New Signs of Trouble for the Episcopal Church's Dennis Canon

As readers of this blog are aware, your Curmudgeon is no fan of the Dennis Canon, which I like to call the Episcopal Church (USA)’s Trojan Horse. It has spawned a disproportionate amount of Church property litigation, because it operates by stealth, and springs onto the back of a parish just at the time when it is most vulnerable, having decided to take the final step to disaffiliate from ECUSA. All of a sudden, the Bishop of the Diocese swoops down with his attorneys, and orders the congregation to vacate its building, and leave everything behind, from the altar candlesticks to the bank accounts and pew cushions. “Because you no longer are operating within the Episcopal Church,” he says, “Canon I.7.4 [the Dennis Canon] declares that all of your property is now forfeit to the Diocese, since it was always held in trust for this Diocese and the Church.”

Such a claimed operation for the Canon comes as a surprise to many congregations who thought that their years of paying for the acquisition, construction and maintenance of their building, plus a deed in their name, meant that they owned it. Furthermore, every State in the United States has a law which says that trusts in real property can be created only by a writing signed by the owner of the property. The Dennis Canon operates in reverse: it purports to create a trust in church property without the owner’s signature, and just on the authority of ECUSA’s General Convention. As I noted elsewhere, it purports to operate as though, upon you and your spouse’s joining the Democratic Party, your house and all your worldly goods become forfeit to the Party should you ever decide to become a Republican.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, - Anglican: Analysis, Church History, Economy, Episcopal Church (TEC), Housing/Real Estate Market, Law & Legal Issues, Presiding Bishop, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Departing Parishes, TEC Polity & Canons

Wired and Tired: The Long View on the New Netflix

When companies I love (as a customer) and admire/enjoy writing about (as a journalist) do something that seems downright crazy to both sides of my brain, like splitting up a well-known brand and its useful and well-loved website, I tend to wonder if I’m missing something.

Netflix’s announcement that it would split into a streaming-only business (called Netflix) and a discs-by-mail business (called Qwikster) caught me by surprise. It’s easy to miss a lot of things when you’re surprised, particularly when the surprise drops after midnight on the east coast, and you stay up all night writing and talking about it.

When this happens, it’s best to look for smart people with different opinions from yours, who’ve probably also had more sleep than you have.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Blogging & the Internet, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Movies & Television

Martin Vander Weyer–Financial Crisis: can the euro hope to survive?

It is apparent not only that US banks have lost confidence in their European counterparts and have started shutting them out of inter-bank funding markets, but also that US officials are busy making matters worse by seeking to shift blame for America’s dire domestic performance on to influences from this side of the Atlantic. “Seventy-five per cent of the dark things happening in the world economy are because of the eurozone,” one of Geithner’s team said at Marseille….

Markets are convinced of several things: that Greece is politically incapable of meeting the austerity demands imposed by the EU and the IMF, and is now locked into a spiral in which its debt position can only become worse as its economy deteriorates; that a default on Greek sovereign debt is therefore inevitable sooner rather than later, and will impose losses on European banks, including the likes of Société Générale and Crédit Agricole of France, which may in turn need to be bailed out by their governments; and that the eviction of a bankrupt and incorrigibly irresponsible eurozone member is not only a technical possibility but an economic necessity if the single currency is to survive at all.

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, France, Germany, Globalization, Greece, History, Politics in General, The Banking System/Sector, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

(Liverpool Echo) Bishop Richard Blackburn talks about Back To Church Sunday Read Mo

With only around 10% of Britons attending a church service each week, Back To Church Sunday is a big idea ”“ and an ambitous one.

The annual initiative, which was launched seven years ago, is operated by a network of Anglican dioceses ”“ but they are keen to share their experience with other Christian churches.

This Sunday will be 2011’s Back To Church Sunday and Bishop Richard Blackburn ”“ currently the acting Bishop of Liverpool ”“ says: “It’s a great opportunity to put ourselves in the shoes of many people who do come to church at various points in their lives but, for whatever reason, are hesitant about going through the church doors….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(Western Mail) Church in Wales looks at pension rights for clerics’ partners

The Church in Wales will next week consider taking a further step towards equality for gay clerics by providing improved pension rights for their civil partners.

But progressive elements in the Church remain uneasy that while there is an acceptance that priests can have a monogamous sexual relationship, the same tolerance does not extend to Bishops.

During a two-day meeting starting on Wednesday of the Church’s Governing Body, it will be recommended that surviving civil partners of retired clerics should receive a pension based on the priest’s entire working life. Until now, the rate of pension has only been calculated from 2005, when civil partnerships were first allowed.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Church of Wales, Economy, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pensions, Personal Finance, Sexuality

(LA Times) Bank deposits soar despite rock-bottom interest rates

Americans are pumping money into bank accounts at a blistering pace this year, sending deposits to record levels near $10 trillion on escalating fears that the U.S. economy is on the verge of another implosion.

There’s no sign that the flood into checking, savings and money market accounts is slowing down. In the last three months, accounts at U.S. commercial banks have increased $429 billion, or 10%, almost double the increase for all of last year.

There’s one big problem: Banks don’t want your money.

Read it all.

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

Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori preaches at Quito Cathedral during House of Bishops meeting

Read it all.

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

(Telegraph) Clive Aslet–Don’t let the Church of England sell off Rose Castle

During the English Civil War, Oliver Cromwell took a dim view of Rose Castle, the Bishop of Carlisle’s palace in Cumbria. One of the occupants had been rash enough to fire a cannon as he passed by, and so he burnt it. But thanks to the efforts of Georgian and Victorian divines, it recovered from the disaster and entered the 21st century as one of the most precious jewels of the Church Commissioners’ portfolio. But the Puritans are back. Despite a report two years ago by the then Bishop of Carlisle, stating that Rose Castle admirably fulfilled its purpose as a “see house”, it is now seen as surplus to requirements. Cavaliers fear its sale will be considered at a meeting this month.

We all know that the Church Commissioners have a chequered record where property is concerned….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Economy, England / UK, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(Toronto Star) Cyber tombstone offers everlasting memorial

A California startup is extending social media to the dead.

I-Postmortem Ltd., based in Palo Alto, allows clients ”” while still alive ”” to create an interactive memorial to themselves through photos, letters, poems, and audio and video files.

After death, a client can also send timed messages ”” to a son on his 21st birthday, say, or a daughter on her wedding day.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Death / Burial / Funerals, Parish Ministry, Science & Technology

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard–Can China escape as world's debt crisis reaches Act III?

…China itself must ultimately be a victim of this warped structure as well, and that is where we are in late 2011. Act III of the global denouement is unfolding. The world will have to lance the debt boils of Asia as well before clearing the way for another cycle of global growth.

The facts are simple. China dodged the Great Contraction of 2008-2009 by unleashing credit on a massive scale.

Zhu Min, the IMF’s deupty chief and a former Chinese official, said loans had jumped from 100pc of GDP before the crisis to around 200pc today — if you include off-books financing from letters of credits, trusts, and such like.
To put this in perspective, a study by Fitch Ratings found that credit in America rose by just 42pc of GDP in the five-year period before the housing bubble popped. It rose by 45pc of GDP in Japan from before the Nikkei cracked in 1990, and 47pc before the Korean crisis in 1998.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010, America/U.S.A., Asia, China, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, England / UK, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Globalization, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

(Bloomberg) Stephen Carter–Google Do-Gooder Discount Leaves Churches to Beg

Until recently, Google offered discounts on many of its paid services to nonprofit organizations, including churches. This past spring, with little fanfare, the company changed its policy. It created a new suite of applications, known as Google for Nonprofits, that includes significant discounts and advantages for a range of Google products such as grants for advertising on AdWords, free licenses for Google Earth Pro and the option to raise funds through a “donate” button at Google Checkout.

Google also added a remarkable list of restrictions for eligible charitable groups and institutions. Among those not able to apply for the program are websites where people donate cars to charity; child care centers, unless the “entire” purpose is to serve a disadvantaged community; hospitals; websites “that result in a poor experience for the viewer”; and — most troublesome — “places or institutions of worship (e.g., churches, ministries, temples, synagogues).”

This last restriction caught religious groups by surprise…

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Religion & Culture

Kevin Lynch and Munir Sheikh–Wanted: A culture of innovation

“Productivity isn’t everything,” Paul Krugman once wrote in his New York Times column, “but in the long run it is almost everything.” Strange then, with Canada’s poor productivity and innovation performance compared with that of the U.S., that we remain complacent. Where’s our sense of urgency?

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Canada, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Theodore of Tarsus

Almighty God, who didst call thy servant Theodore of Tarsus from Rome to the see of Canterbury, and didst give him gifts of grace and wisdom to establish unity where there had been division, and order where there had been chaos: Create in thy Church, we pray, by the operation of the Holy Spirit, such godly union and concord that it may proclaim, both by word and example, the Gospel of the Prince of Peace; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Uncategorized

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Lord our God, give us more love, more denial of self, more likeness to thee. Teach us that it is better to give than to receive, better to forget ourselves than to put ourselves forward, better to serve than to be waited on; and unto thee, the God of love, be praise and glory for ever.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

So Na’aman came with his horses and chariots, and halted at the door of Eli’sha’s house. And Eli’sha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.” But Na’aman was angry, and went away, saying, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place, and cure the leper. Are not Aba’na and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them, and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. But his servants came near and said to him, “My father, if the prophet had commanded you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much rather, then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.

–2 Kings 5:9-14

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Martin Ford–Dr. Watson: How IBM’s supercomputer could improve health care

Watson, the IBM supercomputer that defeated the world’s best “Jeopardy!” playersthis year, has found a job in medicine. It won’t be consulting with patients, but a version of the game-show champion could appear in examination rooms, offering assistance to flesh-and-blood physicians. But how soon might you see Dr. Watson? And could Dr. Watson be better than your doctor?

I’ve worked in software development for more than 25 years ”” never for IBM ”” and was amazed by Watson’s ability to understand language, solve problems and present answers in the form of a question as Alex Trebek coolly looked on. While I don’t think most doctors need to worry about their jobs anytime soon, Watson-esque technology offers a powerful diagnostic tool that could bring dramatic benefits to health care. The prospect of a robotic caregiver might not seem comforting, but Watson’s first appointment will be a watershed moment. This is an app way beyond anything on an iPhone….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine, Science & Technology

Peter Berger–Christian Voices on the [10th] Anniversary of September 11

There are three Christian journals that I peruse regularly””National Catholic Reporter (liberal Catholic), Christian Century (liberal Protestant) and Christianity Today (conservative Protestant). The adjective “liberal” in the first two journals refers both to their theological and political orientation; Christianity Today is theologically conservative, but has no single political line. The three journals usually appear in my mailbox within days of each other, and with the anniversary of September 11 looming just ahead, I thought it would be interesting to compare how they deal with the event. It is indeed interesting. And I will admit (this is a non-value-free statement) that I was shocked….

The treatments of September 11 in NCR and Christian Century did not surprise me. The one in Christianity Today did. I had expected something a little different from standard political correctness. There were some cases of this in the September issue, such as two pieces that assume the continuing Christian duty, despite the danger, to convert Muslims. But there is little if any difference in the treatment of September 11. The coverage is extensive (it must be noted that this journal, unlike the other two, is a monthly)….

In all these texts there is not one word about the obvious moral reality of the event: That the United States was brutally attacked by an enemy of unmitigated evil, against whom violent force was fully justified. Both the goal of Jihadist terror””the establishment of a tyranny with systemic violation of human rights””and the means to get there””indiscriminate mass murder and torture””are utterly evil in the perspective of Biblical faith. That should be at the center of any Christian reflection about September 11.

Read it all (emphasis his).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., History, Media, Religion & Culture, Terrorism

(Living Church) Robert Prichard–The Anglican Communion: A Brief History Lesson

There may be good reasons for opposing the adoption of the proposed Anglican Covenant but an appeal to the perpetual independence of the Episcopal Church and a characterization of the Anglican Communion as an incursion of ambitious archbishops of Canterbury seeking to snare unsuspecting Americans certainly is not one of them. On the contrary, American Episcopalians should look with pride on the role that they have played in the creation of the Anglican Communion. The repeated American initiatives over the middle decades of the 19th century have much to do with the existence of the Anglican Communion. And the idea that Anglican Communion bodies might be appropriate fora in which to discuss matters of common theological concern is hardly a new concept created in order to combat American views on sexuality; it was an idea already present in the thinking of some American Episcopalians well before the first gathering of the Lambeth Conference in 1867.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Covenant, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Theology

Editorial from The Tablet–Rowan Williams’ dilemma in Zimbabwe

For Dr Williams, or more likely his successor, the unavoidable question has to be whether the received model of Anglican unity, based on an ecclesiology more Catholic than Protestant, is still realistic when many parts of the Anglican world are not prepared to play by its rules. There is no central Anglican authority, a situation that did not seem to matter when a general consensus existed as to what Anglicanism stood for. Its absence now makes the task of the Archbishop of Canterbury, titular head of the Communion and chief defender of its unity, uniquely burdensome. Other international Christian denominations, such as the Lutherans and the Methodists, have felt that the universal dimension of their faith was sufficiently expressed by a looser federal structure, without any attempt to impose uniformity of doctrine or church order. If that pattern is the one towards which Anglicanism is inexorably progressing, any attempt to head it off will be a wasted effort. With his experience, it would not be surprising if Dr Williams was beginning to think he has given it his best shot, but that the task may be beyond even human capability.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Theology, Zimbabwe

Greece Nears a Tipping Point in Its Debt Crisis

Anders Borg, the Swedish finance minister, said that “the politicians seem to be behind the curve all the time.” Citing a “clear need for bank recapitalization,” he added: “We really need to see some more political leadership.”

Despite the potentially grave consequences, the mood in Germany seemed to be turning increasingly in favor of letting Greece fail rather than bear the growing cost.

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, Greece, Politics in General, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--