Daily Archives: October 20, 2011

Atheist philosopher AC Grayling turns down Assisi invitation

British philosopher A C Grayling has withdrawn from attending an interreligious event to promote world peace hosted by the Vatican.

Although the professor of philosophy had originally planned to attend the third “Prayer for Peace” in Assisi, Italy, he later changed his mind on discovering that it was an event for pilgrims.

Professor Grayling told The Catholic Herald: “I thought it was originally to have a discussion with the Pope about the place of religion in society but then it turned out it was a minor event and what they wanted was these guests to accompany the Pope on a pilgrimage. So I decided to withdraw.”

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Atheism, England / UK, Europe, Inter-Faith Relations, Italy, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

Maggie Gallagher responds to Kate Bolick–The New Singleness is not to be celebrated

“Everywhere I turn, I see couples upending existing norms and power structures,” she says, citing a friend who fell in love with her dog walker, a man 12 years younger, with whom she stayed for three years “and are best friends today.”

Well, everywhere I turn in Kate’s essay I see women doing the best they can to celebrate the best they feel they can get, and it’s unbearably sad.

The truth is celebrating singleness””i.e., celebrating “not doing something”””makes no sense. Loving is better than not loving. Choosing to love and commit to a husband or a child is a much higher ideal than choosing not to; that’s why it needs to be celebrated and idealized.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Marriage & Family, Men, Psychology, Sexuality, Women, Young Adults

Kate Bolick–it’s time to embrace new ideas about romance and family””and the end of marriage

In 2001, when I was 28, I broke up with my boyfriend. Allan and I had been together for three years, and there was no good reason to end things. He was (and remains) an exceptional person, intelligent, good-looking, loyal, kind. My friends, many of whom were married or in marriage-track relationships, were bewildered. I was bewildered. To account for my behavior, all I had were two intangible yet undeniable convictions: something was missing; I wasn’t ready to settle down….

Ten years later, I occasionally ask myself the same question. Today I am 39, with too many ex-boyfriends to count and, I am told, two grim-seeming options to face down: either stay single or settle for a “good enough” mate. At this point, certainly, falling in love and getting married may be less a matter of choice than a stroke of wild great luck. A decade ago, luck didn’t even cross my mind. I’d been in love before, and I’d be in love again. This wasn’t hubris so much as naïveté; I’d had serious, long-term boyfriends since my freshman year of high school, and simply couldn’t envision my life any differently.

Well, there was a lot I didn’t know 10 years ago. The decision to end a stable relationship for abstract rather than concrete reasons (“something was missing”), I see now, is in keeping with a post-Boomer ideology that values emotional fulfillment above all else.

Read it all (from the cover story of this month’s Atlantic).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, History, Marriage & Family, Men, Psychology, Sexuality, Women, Young Adults

With Romney In the Race, Mormons Steps Up Ads

Just as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney tries to overcome unease about his Mormon faith in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, a new ad campaign promoting the religion is drawing attention.

“I’m a Mormon” billboards and television commercials aimed at improving the religious group’s public image have surfaced over the past week in states almost certain to be battlegrounds for next year’s presidential contest.

But don’t expect to see Romney in a commercial proclaiming “I’m a Mormon.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose members are commonly called Mormons, says its ad campaign has nothing to do with the candidate. (Federal law prevents nonprofit organizations such as the LDS church from participating in political campaigns.)

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Media, Mormons, Office of the President, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(USA Today) Some states adding assets to food stamp qualification

How rich is too rich for food stamps? The answer depends on where you live.

In Michigan, if you have $5,000 in liquid assets or a car or truck worth more than $15,000, you’re probably out of luck under new rules launched this month.

Earlier this month, the state of Michigan began asking residents about their assets ”” homes, cars, stocks, bonds, even lottery winnings ”” in addition to income when they receive benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the formal name for food stamps.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, Politics in General, Poverty, State Government, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Libyan forces 'capture Gaddafi'

The BBC’s Caroline Hawley in Tripoli: “We’ve heard quite a lot of celebratory gunfire” (Still photo shows NTC troops celebrating the capture of Sirte)

Commanders for Libya’s transitional authorities say they have captured ousted leader Col Muammar Gaddafi.

The reports came after transitional forces claimed control of Sirte, Col Gaddafi’s birthplace, following weeks of fierce fighting.

Read it all.

Update–Qaddafi died after capture, the Misrata Military Council says.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Defense, National Security, Military, Libya

Euro, Meant to Unite Europe, Seems to Rend It

The current crisis over the euro has deep roots in the imbalances between north and south, rich and poor, export-led and service-driven economies, tied together by a currency but few rules, and those rarely enforced.

A fix will require fundamental changes in the functioning of the bloc, with more interference in the workings of sovereign states. There would need to be a fiscal union, with a treasury and a finance minister capable of intervening in national budgets, and more unified tax and pension policies. But it is far from clear that the European Union can gather itself to take these fateful steps away from nationalist identities to a truly European model.

“We are today confronted by the greatest challenge our union has known in its entire history,” said José Manuel Barroso, the head of the European Commission. “It is a financial, economic and social crisis. But also a crisis of confidence ”” in our leadership, in Europe itself, in our capacity to find solutions.”

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, Foreign Relations, France, Germany, Greece, History, Politics in General, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

(NPR) Tennessee Teachers Find It Hard To Make The Grade

Tennessee overhauled its teacher evaluation system last year to win a grant from the federal Race to the Top program. Now many teachers say they are struggling to shine, and that’s torpedoing morale.

For Janna Beth Hunt, who teaches first grade at Norman Binkley Elementary in Nashville, it’s been a disappointing process. Tennessee’s new observations grade teachers on a scale of 1 to 5. Many are scoring what feels like a C, which under the system isn’t enough to get the job security of tenure.

“I definitely feel like I’m better than an average teacher. I’m not happy with a 3, but I told my principal that, and he knows that I’m a perfectionist and that I want a 5. It’s just extremely difficult to get a 5,” Hunt says.

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Children, Education, Politics in General, State Government

The Bishop of West Malaysia speaks at the 2011 Sydney Anglican Synod

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, The Anglican Church in South East Asia

JROTC examines its religious wear rules after complaint filed

U.S. Army Cadet Command officials say a complaint by an advocacy group on behalf of a Ravenwood High School student has sparked a review of regulations spelling out what kinds of religious wear students may wear in the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps Program.

The review comes in the wake of a bias claim by the Council of American-Islamic Relations that a local JROTC program was discriminatory when it didn’t allow a high school freshman to wear her headscarf to march in a homecoming parade.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

CDSP vows to reduce deficit, grow into new model of theological education

Saying it must reverse a trend of annual deficits and restructure to meet the changing needs of theological education, the Church Divinity School of the Pacific’s board of trustees agreed Oct. 14 to increase and broaden enrollment, increase annual giving and reduce its 11-member faculty.

The seminary has run annual operating deficits for several years. The current fiscal year the deficit is $1.4 million on a $4 million budget. The budget includes the cost of being a member of the Graduate Theological Union, of which CDSP is a founding member.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, Seminary / Theological Education, Stewardship, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Spirit of the living God, who dost sanctify the lives of thy people, and dost build them up into a holy temple for thy habitation: Grant us so to know thy indwelling presence that we may be set free from lesser desires, and by thy grace may be conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Now concerning the contribution for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that contributions need not be made when I come.

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(The State) The Bishop of Upper South Carolina on the Mark Lawrence Investigation

I consider Bishop Lawrence a friend and respected fellow-laborer in the vineyards of the Lord. I know him to be a loyal and faithful minister who seeks to raise valid and serious questions as to the theology, polity and structure of the Episcopal Church. Our church has a long history of theological diversity and respect for those with whom we disagree, and we can all benefit from the challenge of addressing these questions openly and in a spirit of mutual charity. Unfortunately, we live in a culture that is too often hostile to disagreement and unwilling to engage in honest dialogue with those who have different views. Our churches are not immune from this, and all who follow a loving God have each to ask God to forgive us for any roles we may have played in that hostility over the years.

I do not intend to prejudge the matters being considered by the review board; however, it is hard for me to see how the actions complained of against Bishop Lawrence rise to the level of an intentional abandonment of the communion of this church, as is charged. I have difficulty understanding why matters that are arguably legislative and constitutional in nature should be dealt with in a disciplinary context. I await the report and yet hope the review board shares my difficulty.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, TEC Polity & Canons

Nicholas Beasley (Upper South Carolina) Chimes In

Our denomination, like many others, has wrestled mightily with issues of moral theology and the interpretation of scripture in recent years. This sad episode is related to that struggle. I, and many others, regret it has come to this point. Our divisions do not honor Christ, who prayed we all be one, and we hope for reconciliation.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, Theology

(USA Today) Student loan debt hits record levels

Students and workers seeking retraining are borrowing extraordinary amounts of money through federal loan programs, potentially putting a huge burden on the backs of young people looking for jobs and trying to start careers.

The amount of student loans taken out last year crossed the $100 billion mark for the first time and total loans outstanding will exceed $1 trillion for the first time this year. Americans now owe more on student loans than on credit cards, reports the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Students are borrowing twice what they did a decade ago after adjusting for inflation, the College Board reports. Total outstanding debt has doubled in the past five years ”” a sharp contrast to consumers reducing what’s owed on home loans and credit cards.

Read it all.

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