Daily Archives: November 3, 2011

(RNS) Anglicans Won’t Allow Civil Partnerships in Churches

The British government said Wednesday (Nov. 2) that same-sex couples will be allowed for the first time to use churches to seal their civil partnership vows, starting in December.

But the directive added that no religious group will be forced to conduct or host such a ceremony, and the Church of England quickly announced it would permit no such rites on its premises.

In a statement, the church said it “has no intention of allowing civil partnerships to be registered” in its churches.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

Sixty percent of China's rich want to leave the country

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Politics in General, Psychology

In China, tensions rising over Buddhism's quiet resurgence

Breathless but beaming, Sheng Zisu sounds confident after five months in a maze-like Buddhist encampment high on the eastern Tibetan plateau, nearly 400 miles of bad road from the nearest city.

“Look around. They could never find me here,” Sheng, 27, says of parents so anxious about their only child’s turn to Tibetan Buddhism that they have threatened to kidnap her.

Sheng is far from her home ”” and from the bars where she used to drink and the ex-boyfriends she says cheated on her. She is here with 2,000 other Han Chinese at the Larung Gar Buddhist Institute in Serthar, Sichuan province, the rain-soaked mountainous region of southwest China.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Buddhism, China, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(ENS) Sudanese Christians under increasing pressure, Khartoum bishop says

Times are tense for North Sudan’s Christians, said Episcopal Bishop of Khartoum Ezekiel Kondo, who was visiting the U.S. in October to meet with the Department of State and major nongovernmental organizations and to speak on a panel at an anti-genocide conference sponsored by Save Darfur.

Since July 9, when South Sudan became an independent country, Christians in the majority Muslim north have been under increasing pressure, Kondo said.

“As far as the north goes, the independence has brought a difference,” he said. Christian government officials and private sector workers have been laid off; the government is introducing full Islamic Sharia law which poses a challenge to the church; and South Sudanese are not being given citizenship. People are leaving or being forced out, and the church in Khartoum has been diminished.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Episcopal Church of the Sudan, Religion & Culture, Sudan, Violence

(CNS) At audience, Pope prays G-20 summit will help world's poor

Pope Benedict XVI prayed that a summit of the leaders of countries with the world’s largest economies would find ways to overcome the current economic crisis and promote real development.

At the end of his weekly general audience Nov. 2, the pope issued a special appeal to the leaders of the G-20 nations scheduled to meet Nov. 3-4 in Cannes, France.

“I hope the meeting will help overcome the difficulties, which — on a global level — block the promotion of an authentically human and integral development,” the pope said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Economy, Europe, France, G20, Globalization, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Poverty, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Archdiocese of Baltimore welcomes new order of nuns who were formerly in Episcopal Church

The Archdiocese of Baltimore added a new religious order of nuns Tuesday, its first in decades and one that began as an Anglican community.

The All Saints’ Sisters of the Poor left the Episcopal Church for the Roman Catholic Church two years ago. By a decree from the Vatican, they are now an official diocesan priory, or order, the same designation carried by the School Sisters of Notre Dame or the Daughters of Charity.

“We feel we have broken ground,” said Mother Christina Christie, leader of the community and a nun since 1966.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Other Churches, Roman Catholic

Archbishop of Canterbury Urges Debate of Tax on Financial Transactions

A day after St. Paul’s Cathedral suspended legal action to evict hundreds of anti-capitalist protesters camped outside its doors, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury and the spiritual leader of the world’s Anglicans, was quoted on Wednesday as expressing sympathy for their cause….

With the Church of England’s leadership in a crisis over its handling of the protesters, the archbishop’s remarks seemed to offer a belated attempt to lay out an agenda.

Archbishop Williams supported a Vatican statement last week endorsing the idea of a “Robin Hood” tax on financial transactions and for a separation of retail and investment operations at banks that have relied on bailouts from public funds.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury

Dylan Parry is Left Speechless by Mass set to Mozart's Requiem at the Brompton Oratory

This evening witnessed one of the most profound moments of my entire life. I beheld, in an immediate and very real way, the height of human civilization. I also tasted the eternal and awe-inspiring nature of our Catholic liturgy, made manifest in that way which makes it the most beautiful thing this side of Heaven. Where had I been, and what had I seen and heard? Well, I had attended the Brompton Oratory’s Solemn Mass for All Souls, set to the orchestral version of Mozart’s Requiem.

I go to the Oratory often, weekly in fact. Like many others, I am well aware that this church offers a liturgical standard that is rarely, if ever, found anywhere else in the world. I also know that the Oratory’s Choir is amongst the best in the land. Of course, along with most men and women, I am familiar, too, with Mozart’s Requiem – his religious master-piece, which was finished by Franz Xaver Süssmayr. It has inspired me since my youth. But, the combination of liturgical excellence and one of the finest musical compositions the world has ever heard meant that tonight even the Oratory’s surpassed itself.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Music, Religion & Culture

Robert Bellah–Where did religion come from?

When an interviewer for the Atlantic Monthly blog asked me “What prompted you to write this book?” I apparently replied, “Deep desire to know everything: what the universe is and where we are in it.” I don’t deny that I said it””it’s just that I would have thought I would have given a more pedestrian reply, because I am a sociologist, with a Ph.D. in my discipline and some 40 years experience as a professor at Harvard and Berkeley. And I am quite aware that early in the last century Max Weber, in a famous 1918 talk called “Science as a Vocation,” warned that “science has entered a phase of specialization previously unknown and this will forever remain the case.” It does seem that he didn’t apply this dictum to himself, but he was talking about the future when huge projects like his own would no longer be possible. So what is this “deep desire to know everything” in a world of super-specialization? When I look at books like Robert Wright’s The Evolution of God, Nicholas Wade’s The Faith Instinct, Pascal Boyer’s Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought. and Scott Atran’s In Gods We Trust: The Evolutionary Landscape of Religion, recent books that might seem parallel to my own new book, I can only say Weber was right””these books should not have been written, or, to be charitable, they may be good journalism but they are not serious contributions to understanding….

I’m sure there will be some who will gladly throw my book on the same heap as those I have criticized, but I will try to show a third way, a way that could possibly overcome the split between knowledge and meaning. This way would be to take Weber seriously about specialization but to follow him in not giving up the search for the big picture.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, History, Religion & Culture

(ABC Aus.) John Milbank–Anglican Church Spectacularly Blind to Protest Symbolism

…local protests, in order to be effective, must have a specific local object; in this case, they are presented with one that could indeed make an immense global difference.

the Occupy movement… is remarkably a spontaneous populist expression, not clearly linked to any established political tendencies….

[In a general sense]…its implicit rejection of the alliance of financial and bureaucratic oligarchies aligns it naturally with the new “post-liberal” politics….

Yet it is only if they adopt some such more specific goal that the protestors will be equal to the symbolic resonance of the local hornet’s nest where they find themselves encamped.

And curiously, it is the same lamentable failure to be alert to symbolic resonance which has characterised the official Anglican response so far – though, in this respect, it limps behind the vast majority of Anglican clergy and laity.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, England / UK, History, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Stock Market, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Urban/City Life and Issues

Wednesday Mental Health Break–Simon & Garfunkel Reunited do The Sound of Silence in 2009

One of my friends reminded me of this yesterday and I have to say I was stunned at the impact it had on me. My wife had a similar reaction last night. Simply fabulous. Listen to it all–KSH.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., History, Music

(Bloomberg) Roger Lowenstein–At MF Global, Corzine Forgot Long-Term Capital’s Lessons

The lesson of LTCM was that no trading operation is better than its ability to withstand losses. This lesson was proved in spades, in 2008, at highly leveraged banks such as Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers.

A second lesson is that seemingly unlikely events may be more likely than market history suggests. Russia had not defaulted since 1917, but that didn’t stop it from happening in 1998.

And a further lesson of LTCM’s demise was that the widespread belief that liquidity offers safety is, in fact, an illusion, and a terribly dangerous one at that.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010, Economy, Euro, Europe, Psychology, Stock Market, The Banking System/Sector, The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009

(LA Times) Dimitri B. Papadimitriou–The Achilles' heel of the Eurozone

In response to the package, the bond market has not changed its tune. The new 50% “haircut” to private sector investors in Greece hasn’t altered the conviction of traders that the troubles in Athens will inevitably be contagious. Pricing of Spanish, Italian and even French bonds reflect this pessimistic outlook.

Europe’s politicians are aware of what the markets have long known: Patches are destined to fail. But the urge to pass the hot potato without instituting meaningful structural change is, evidently, irresistible. So instead of muscular reforms, we see the same unsuccessful rescue packages supersized. Sunny optimism and mutual back-patting continue, paired with pep talks from the rescue fund controllers at the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

The latest steps don’t end the Greek crisis. A Eurozone-wide problem requires a Eurozone-wide solution. The European Central Bank should be creating something along the lines of the U.S. TARP program, buying bonds to calm the volatility until a bold, permanent solution is crafted. Greece and the rest of Europe would ultimately survive the disintegration of the Eurozone and the death of the euro. But the end of a unified Europe would leave the entire world poorer.

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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, France, Germany, Greece, Politics in General

(BBC) Abuse of painkillers reaches 'epidemic' levels in US

Abuse of prescription painkiller have reached “epidemic” levels in the US, a government report says.

Overdoses of pain relievers cause more deaths than heroin and cocaine combined, the report has found.

It says sales and prescriptions of the drugs rose sharply in recent years and this was linked to the rise in overdoses.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Richard Hooker

O God of truth and peace, who didst raise up thy servant Richard Hooker in a day of bitter controversy to defend with sound reasoning and great charity the catholic and reformed religion: Grant that we may maintain that middle way, not as a compromise for the sake of peace, but as a comprehension for the sake of truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God, who art faithful to thy people and dost not permit them to be tempted above that they are able, but with the temptation also makest a way of escape that they may be able to bear it: We humbly entreat thee to strengthen us thy servants with thy heavenly aid and keep us with thy continual protection; that we may evermore wait on thee, and never by any temptation be drawn away from thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–E. B. Pusey (1800-1882)

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

In thee, O LORD, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame! In thy righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline thy ear to me, and save me! Be thou to me a rock of refuge, a strong fortress, to save me, for thou art my rock and my fortress.

–Psalm 71:1-3

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NPR) Ben Bernanke: Pace Of Progress 'Likely To Be Frustratingly Slow'

The chairman was asked if the outlook of the U.S. economy was so gloomy, why would the Fed wait to enact more monetary policy. Bernanke said the Fed has been very aggressive. He said what the Fed has are projections, so “it’s important to see what happens.” One thing economists have said over the past few months, is that the Fed is running out of economic tools. But Bernanke ruled that out, saying the Fed still has a “broad range of policies” to stimulate the economy.

However, he called on the political arm of the United States to help the Fed.

“I hope there will be a broad range of actions that complements” Fed policy, he said.

”” On Europe’s sovereign debt crisis, Bernanke said their woes have been drag on a U.S. recovery, but it’s up to Europe’s leaders to make the decisions.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Federal Reserve, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government

(ENI) UK churches seek action on tax avoidance

Representatives from the United Kingdom’s main Christian denominations and charities submitted a letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer (treasury secretary) on 31 October, urging the government to tackle tax avoidance in order to “Close The Gap” between rich and poor.

“Tax evasion and avoidance is estimated by the Treasury to cost the U.K. at least 35 billion British pounds [US$56.4 billion] annually. This is nearly nine per cent of U.K. tax revenue. The efficient collection of this revenue would lessen the demand to cut social and welfare expenditure which is hurting the poorest in our communities so much,” the letter read.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Economy, England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Taxes

Razib Khan–The Arab world’s demographic transition

…would you have guessed that Lebanon’s fertility rate is now the same as Finland’s?

No. Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Children, Marriage & Family, Middle East