Daily Archives: November 7, 2011

(USA Today) Federal share of debt rising

The sharp rise in federal borrowing is offsetting efforts of consumers to reduce debt, leaving the economy deeper in debt than when the recession began in December 2007, a USA TODAY analysis finds.

The substitution of government debt for consumer debt helped end the recession and start a recovery, economists say, but it leaves the nation’s long-term economic health in peril.

Households have reduced debt by $549billion since 2007, mostly by cutting mortgages through defaults and paying down credit cards. During that time, the federal government has added more than $4trillion in debt, pushing the country’s total borrowing to a record $36.5trillion, excluding the financial industry, according to the Federal Reserve.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

(London Times) Simon Lewis–Why the financial Transaction Tax is a bad idea

A financial transaction tax would be the wrong choice for Europe at any time; and particularly now.

To understand the impact of FTT, we need to answer four essential questions. Is it an efficient means of raising tax revenue? Would it benefit the end-users of the financial markets, both businesses and consumers? Would it enable the creation of economic growth and jobs? And would it make financial markets more stable?

First, financial services is a mobile, global and highly competitive sector. The European Commission’s suggests that Europe would lose 10 per cent of its securities market, 40 per cent of its spot currency market and 70 to 90 per cent of its derivatives market if FTT were introduced.
These are alarming numbers and economically very damaging ”” and they are not mere conjecture. Sweden’s FTT (from 1984 to 1991), resulted in between 90 and 99 per cent of traders in bonds, equities and derivatives moving from Stockholm to London. This was an expensive lesson for Sweden. Its experience should prevent Europe from making a similar mistake.

Second, what will be the impact on users of financial markets, including ordinary consumers? Economic theory suggests that a transaction tax would largely be passed on to end-users, whether they are savers, investors or businesses. The European Commission itself makes this point.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, England / UK, Pensions, Personal Finance, Stock Market, Taxes

Bishop of Derby in tribute to the young who wish to honour the war Dead

The Church of England’s Diocese of Derby, which includes South Derbyshire, commissioned the 10-minute footage featuring ex-servicemen, Royal British Legion officials, parish clergy and the Bishop of Derby, the Right Reverend Dr Alastair Redfern.

In the video, now available to watch on www.derby.anglican.org, the bishop says: “As we approach Remembrance Sunday it’s very moving and exciting to see so many young people involved in the poppy collections and making an effort to remember.

“Derbyshire is strong in its uniformed organisations for young people and it’s very hopeful for our country that they are involved in this remembrance moment.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Death / Burial / Funerals, Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, History, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Young Adults

The Bishop of Chelmsford’s Presidential Address to Synod this past weekend

On the day that the world reckoned the seven billionth person was born I was visiting the slums of Kibera, a large sprawling so called ”˜informal settlement’ close to the centre of Nairobi. Seeing the church’s presence in this place was humbling and inspiring. Meanwhile across Europe politicians gathered to throw the dice again, and try and find a way out of the spiralling economic whirlpool that is dragging the whole continent down, and is being measured by growing unemployment, disillusion and a vast and growing gulf between rich and poor.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(BBC) City workers say 'wealth gap too wide'

Many City workers feel the gap between rich and poor in the UK is too great, according to a report by a think-tank.

The St Paul’s Institute report, Value and Values: Perceptions of Ethics in the City Today, said 75% of respondents thought the wealth divide was too big.

The findings were based on a survey in August of 515 financial professionals.

The think-tank is linked to St Paul’s Cathedral, in London, where protesters against corporate greed have been demonstrating since 15 October.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, England / UK, Parish Ministry, Stock Market, The Banking System/Sector

Forward in Faith General Assembly

I particularly recommend listening to Bishop Jonathan Baker, who is the new Chairman of Forward in Faith and successor to Monsignor John Broadhurst. He speaks strongly about the Eucharistic ecclesiology of Anglicanism and those who have crossed the Tiber individually or with the Ordinariate. Those who remain fight to keep the same courageous vision. The machinery of General Synod grinds on, and realism prevails. Bishop Baker had been sceptical about the Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda, but spoke very positively about it on condition that its bishop members may exercise their authority and give it viability. What about the threat of attrition? The only answer is to offer the best we have to God. He spoke calmly and encouraged us to be positive about those who are staying in the Church of England to fight it out to the bitter end.

Read it all (another from the long queue of should-have-already-been-posted material)

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE)

America’s Deadly Dynamics With Iran

Iran may be the most challenging test of the Obama administration’s focus on new, cheap technologies that could avoid expensive boots on the ground; drones are the most obvious, cyberweapons the least discussed. It does not quite add up to a new Obama Doctrine, but the methods are defining a new era of nearly constant confrontation and containment. Drones are part of a tactic to keep America’s adversaries off balance and preoccupied with defending themselves. And in the past two and a half years, they have been used more aggressively than ever. There are now five or six secret American drone bases around the world. Some recently discovered new computer worms suggest that a new, improved Stuxnet 2.0 may be in the works for Iran.

“There were a lot of mistakes made the first time,” said an American official, avoiding any acknowledgment that the United States played a role in the cyber attack on Iran. “This was a first-generation product. Think of Edison’s initial light bulbs, or the Apple II.”

Not surprisingly, the Iranians are refusing to sit back and take it ”” which is one reason many believe the long shadow war with Iran is about to ramp up dramatically. At the White House and the C.I.A., officials say the recently disclosed Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States ”” by blowing up a tony Georgetown restaurant frequented by senators, lobbyists and journalists ”” was just the tip of the iceberg.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Iran, Middle East, Politics in General

Looking Back to July 23, 2006–Mark Lawrence–Remaining Anglican: In Defense of Dissociation

I have come to expect serendipitous convergence in the Kingdom of God””such as when I read the collect assigned for the Sunday after our Standing Committee of the Diocese of San Joaquin asked for alternative primatial oversight, and began steps to dissociate from The Episcopal Church. When I read it I thought, there’s the thrust for this Sunday’s sermon:

Almighty God, you have built your Church upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone: Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their teaching, that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to you; through. . . . (BCP, p. 230)

This collect, most likely composed by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer for the 1549 Book of Common Prayer, is rooted in the teaching of the New Testament, particularly Ephesians 2:20-22 and 4:3-4. It is also rooted in one of the essential teachings of the Anglican Reformation””that no human assembly or institution may claim to be the church of God unless it is founded on the teaching of the apostles. The apostolic church is founded not on institutional or sacramental continuity alone. What is often referred to as “Apostolic Succession” is more than merely the laying on of hands from bishop to bishop in a sacramental chain back to the apostles. Equally essential for the church is the teaching of the apostles and prophets succeeding from one generation to another. This is stated clearly in Articles XIX, and XX in the Articles of Religion, (see BCP, page 871).
What is being asserted in these two articles is the priority of Holy Scripture over the authority of the Church. The church, as St. Paul taught in his Letter to the Ephesians and as the above collect ascribes, is built upon the teaching of the apostles as found in Holy Scripture; and it is called to live under and in obedience to the Word of God. The uniqueness of the Anglican and Episcopalian understanding of the Church is that it has held both of these understandings toward the nature of the Church at the same time. It has held the catholic argument that institutional continuity is essential for the identity of the Church. This continuity is sacramentally and visibly expressed in the office of the bishop, the episcopacy. It has also believed in the need to conform to the teaching of the apostles, grounding our belief and practice in the clear teaching of Holy Scripture. Consequently we have been eager to seek unity””striving to maintain the visible unity of the Church, reaching out to Roman Catholics in one direction, and towards our Protestant brothers and sisters in the other, but not seeking this unity at the expense of either of these two truths of the Church. Holding institutional continuity and the need to be under the ever correcting and reforming authority of the Bible. If the question should be raised, as it often is, as to whom interprets Holy Scripture when different factions or parties in the church disagree, the answer has traditionally been””the consensus of the faithful. Interpretation of debated texts of scripture is not up to one individual priest or bishop, one local congregation, or even a provincial or national church. We need in such cases to seek the consensus of the faithful throughout the worldwide Anglican Communion, and even to give appropriate regard to how the historic church has understood such disputes, as well as what the various branches of Christendom teach on the matter. The unity of the Church needs this considered reflection.

Even more essential to our unity with one another is the source of all unity in the Church. As John Stott has observed, “Christian unity arises from our honoring one Father, one Savior, and one indwelling Spirit.” Fundamental to our unity with one another in the church is our unity with the Holy Trinity. It is this unity which raises for me a series of elementary questions. How can we foster a unity pleasing to God if we deny the very revelation God has given us about himself or the Christian life? How can we be eager for unity with one another if we deny the reconciling work of God in Jesus Christ? How can we say the Holy Spirit is leading the Church through the parliamentary procedures of General Convention if the results of such deny the very truth the Spirit of God has revealed through the teachings of the apostles and prophets? Is it not upon this very teaching that the Church is founded? Of course. It is upon the doctrine of the apostles that the church is built and only upon their doctrine that we can maintain our unity.

I need to say it clearly, I am eager for such unity. A unity drawn not along narrow lines of biblical interpretation, but from an inclusive and comprehensive use of the Bible. I am most eager to remain a Christian in the Anglican tradition. This is a tradition, which as the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has recently stated, has maintained “the absolute priority of the Bible, a catholic loyalty to the sacraments and a habit of cultural sensitivity and intellectual flexibility.” Unfortunately The Episcopal Church (TEC) in recent years has frayed this rope woven of three strands in a misguided passion to be culturally sensitive and intellectually flexible. In its need to be perceived as relevant to one segment of our culture, it has lost its commitment to the Gospel””which is the only hope we have to offer this segment or any other for that matter. In its desire to be more relevant than thou, TEC has cast aside scriptural faithfulness, particularly the broad and demonstrable teachings of the New Testament that would convict our lifestyle of sin, and call into question our overly permissive approach to morality. Even more disturbing is our grave disregard of fundamental Christian doctrines such as the nature of God, the uniqueness of Christ, the integrity and unity of the Spirit’s work, and the need of humankind for the redemptive work of the cross””for instance, assuming our sexual proclivities, given by nurture or nature, are, by that fact, necessarily God-given.

I am personally saddened for those gay and lesbian Christians within the church that so much of the debate has focused upon homosexual behavior and relationships. It has too often given way to bigotry or to an easy self-righteousness among heterosexuals. Nevertheless, it is for now the place where the battle lines have been drawn. Regardless of how I wish it had been elsewhere, it is where the larger issues are being debated, leading to a crisis in the worldwide Anglican Communion. The unity of 80 million Christians is at stake. As Archbishop Williams has recently stated, “. . .what most Anglicans worldwide have said is that it doesn’t help to behave as if the matter had been resolved when in fact it hasn’t. . . .The decision of the Episcopal Church to elect a practising gay man as a bishop was taken without even the American church itself. . .having formally decided as a local Church what it thinks about blessing same-sex partnerships.”

So when the Standing Committee of our diocese and our Bishop ask for alternative primatial oversight it is because all due parliamentary procedure to convince The Episcopal Church that it has erred has proved fruitless. Like an addictive or dysfunctional family, this exclusive pursuit of “cultural sensitivity” has led to destructive behavior. Perhaps our Standing Committee’s action of dissociation, along with eight other dioceses at present, will demonstrate the seriousness of TEC’s dysfunction. I love this Church enough to practice what those in the counseling professions call tough-love. Underneath all the discussions of human sexuality, our message is this, The Episcopal Church, in its obsession to be what it has termed inclusive, has excluded the absolute priority of Holy Scripture and the historic continuity of the catholic faith. Of course, I would not want to make a similar error in either my passion for Holy Scripture or towards a catholic loyalty to the sacraments. If I wanted only a biblical Christianity I could join an evangelical or fundamentalist Church. If it were only the sacramental-institutional continuity I desired, then why not go to Rome or Orthodoxy? If it were only cultural sensitivity or intellectual flexibility that I was seeking, then there are many liberal Protestant Churches I could join. My problem is that I’m an Anglican. I want all three to characterize my Christian thought and life. I believe, as the wise man, Koheleth, once put, “A threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Ecc 4:12). So in conclusion, if I may paraphrase Gilbert and Sullivan,

In spite of all temptations
To belong to denominations
I remain an Anglican”¦
I remain an Anglican!

From Saint Paul’s, Bakersfield, and originally posted on the blog on September

Posted in Uncategorized

Simply Splendiferous–Anonymous Four on Saint Paul Sunday

The 4 singers of Anonymous 4 depart from their a capella tradition and invite a few friends into the studio with them as they bring an all-American program of ballads, shape-note tunes, and folk hymns. Darol Anger accompanies on violin and mandolin, along with guitarist Scott Nygaard. Your spirit will dance along.

Listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Music

Niall Ferguson–How American Civilzation can Avoid Collapse

What we need to do is to delete the viruses that have crept into our system: the anticompetitive quasi monopolies that blight everything from banking to public education; the politically correct pseudosciences and soft subjects that deflect good students away from hard science; the lobbyists who subvert the rule of law for the sake of the special interests they represent””to say nothing of our crazily dysfunctional system of health care, our overleveraged personal finances, and our newfound unemployment ethic.

Then we need to download the updates that are running more successfully in other countries, from Finland to New Zealand, from Denmark to Hong Kong, from Singapore to Sweden.

And finally we need to reboot our whole system.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Economy, Globalization, History, Politics in General

Benedict XVI on Death and Life

…we fear death because — when we find ourselves approaching the end of life — we perceive that there will be a judgment of our actions, of how we led our lives, especially of those shadowy points that we often skillfully know how to remove — or attempt to remove — from our consciences. I would say that the question of judgment is what often underlies the care men of all times have for the departed, and the attention a man gives to persons who were significant to him and who are no longer beside him on the journey of earthly life. In a certain sense, the acts of affection and love that surround the departed loved one are a way of protecting him — in the belief that these acts are not without effect on judgment. We can see this in the majority of cultures, which make up human history.

Today the world has become, at least apparently, much more rational — or better, there is a widespread tendency to think that every reality has to be confronted with the criteria of experimental science, and that we must respond even to the great question of death not so much with faith, but by departing from experiential, empirical knowledge. We do not sufficiently realize, however, that this way ends in falling into forms of spiritism in the attempt to have some contact with the world beyond death, imagining as it were that there exists a reality that in the end is a copy of the present one.

Dear friends, the Solemnity of All Saints and the Commemoration of the faithful departed tell us that only he who is able to recognize a great hope in death is able also to live a life that springs from hope.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Willibrord

O Lord our God, who dost call whom thou willest and send them whither thou choosest: We thank thee for sending thy servant Willibrord to be an apostle to the Low Countries, to turn them from the worship of idols to serve thee, the living God; and we entreat thee to preserve us from the temptation to exchange the perfect freedom of thy service for servitude to false gods and to idols of our own devising; through 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

O God, who hast made the heaven and the earth and all that is good and lovely therein, and hast shown us through Jesus our Lord that the secret of joy is a heart free from selfish desires: Help us to find delight in simple things, and ever to rejoice in the riches of thy bounty; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the people of Israel were assembled with fasting and in sackcloth, and with earth upon their heads. And the Israelites separated themselves from all foreigners, and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. And they stood up in their place and read from the book of the law of the LORD their God for a fourth of the day; for another fourth of it they made confession and worshiped the LORD their God. Upon the stairs of the Levites stood Jeshua, Bani, Kad’mi-el, Shebani’ah, Bunni, Sherebi’ah, Bani, and Chena’ni; and they cried with a loud voice to the LORD their God. Then the Levites, Jeshua, Kad’mi-el, Bani, Hashabnei’ah, Sherebi’ah, Hodi’ah, Shebani’ah, and Pethahi’ah, said, “Stand up and bless the LORD your God from everlasting to everlasting. Blessed be thy glorious name which is exalted above all blessing and praise.” And Ezra said: “Thou art the LORD, thou alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and thou preservest all of them; and the host of heaven worships thee. Thou art the LORD, the God who didst choose Abram and bring him forth out of Ur of the Chalde’ans and give him the name Abraham; and thou didst find his heart faithful before thee, and didst make with him the covenant to give to his descendants the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Per’izzite, the Jeb’usite, and the Gir’gashite; and thou hast fulfilled thy promise, for thou art righteous. “And thou didst see the affliction of our fathers in Egypt and hear their cry at the Red Sea, and didst perform signs and wonders against Pharaoh and all his servants and all the people of his land, for thou knewest that they acted insolently against our fathers; and thou didst get thee a name, as it is to this day. And thou didst divide the sea before them, so that they went through the midst of the sea on dry land; and thou didst cast their pursuers into the depths, as a stone into mighty waters. By a pillar of cloud thou didst lead them in the day, and by a pillar of fire in the night to light for them the way in which they should go.

–Nehemiah 9:1-12

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Economist–America’s missing middle

It is a year until Americans go to the polls, on November 6th 2012, to decide whether Barack Obama deserves another term. In January the Republicans start voting in their primaries, with the favourite, Mitt Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, facing fading competition from Herman Cain, a pizza tycoon, and Rick Perry, the governor of Texas. Already American politics has succumbed to election paralysis, with neither party interested in bipartisan solutions.

This would be a problem at the best of times; and these times are very far from that. Strikingly, by about three to one, Americans feel their country is on the wrong track. America’s sovereign debt has been downgraded. Unemployment remains stubbornly above 9%, with the long-term unemployed making up the largest proportion of the jobless since records began in 1948. As the superpower’s clout seems to ebb towards Asia, the world’s most consistently inventive and optimistic country has lost its mojo.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Politics in General

PBS' Religion & Ethics Newsweekly–Mississippi Personhood Amendment

TIM O’BRIEN (Correspondent): Proponents insist Mississippi’s Amendment 26 is not so much about abortion as it is about the sanctity of human life.

BRAD PREWITT (“Yes on 26” Executive Director): We’re fighting for the preservation of the unborn in the state of Mississippi”¦

O’BRIEN: But if passed, the Amendment could make any abortion in the state murder, drawing the wrath of abortion rights advocates like Nancy Northup of the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, State Government

David Brooks–The Shale Gas Revolution

As Daniel Yergin writes in “The Quest,” his gripping history of energy innovation, [George] Mitchell fought through waves of skepticism and opposition to extract natural gas from shale. The method he and his team used to release the trapped gas, called fracking, has paid off in the most immense way. In 2000, shale gas represented just 1 percent of American natural gas supplies. Today, it is 30 percent and rising.

John Rowe, the chief executive of the utility Exelon, which derives almost all its power from nuclear plants, says that shale gas is one of the most important energy revolutions of his lifetime. It’s a cliché word, Yergin told me, but the fracking innovation is game-changing. It transforms the energy marketplace.

The U.S. now seems to possess a 100-year supply of natural gas, which is the cleanest of the fossil fuels. This cleaner, cheaper energy source is already replacing dirtier coal-fired plants. It could serve as the ideal bridge, Amy Jaffe of Rice University says, until renewable sources like wind and solar mature.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Science & Technology

Why Science Majors Change Their Minds (It’s Just So Darn Hard)

it turns out, middle and high school students are having most of the fun, building their erector sets and dropping eggs into water to test the first law of motion. The excitement quickly fades as students brush up against the reality of what David E. Goldberg, an emeritus engineering professor, calls “the math-science death march.” Freshmen in college wade through a blizzard of calculus, physics and chemistry in lecture halls with hundreds of other students. And then many wash out.

Studies have found that roughly 40 percent of students planning engineering and science majors end up switching to other subjects or failing to get any degree. That increases to as much as 60 percent when pre-medical students, who typically have the strongest SAT scores and high school science preparation, are included, according to new data from the University of California at Los Angeles. That is twice the combined attrition rate of all other majors.

For educators, the big question is how to keep the momentum being built in the lower grades from dissipating once the students get to college.

This was a problem when I was an undergraduate from 1978-1982 (and, yes, I am a science major [chemistry]). Read it all–KSH.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Education, Globalization, Science & Technology, Young Adults

A MacLeans Article on Donor Insemination counsellors–Sperm and the city

Most straight single women who find themselves at a fertility clinic are not thrilled to be there. Many arrive feeling they wasted prime reproductive years in long relationships and are “pretty upset,” says Sherry Dale, a counsellor at LifeQuest Centre for Reproductive Medicine in Toronto. “What woman has ever said, ”˜I can’t wait until I’m 40 so I can get some donor sperm?’ ”

Nevertheless, Dale and other counsellors who give advice on donor insemination (DI) say business is booming among single women aged 35 to 42. Most fertility clinics mandate at least one visit with a DI counsellor, but, Dale explains, they’re not gatekeepers. “They are not meeting me to get the go-ahead, or so I can see if they’re sane or nice people. I’m meeting them so they can know what’s ahead, not medically but emotionally.”

On average, about 20 single women attend Jan Silverman’s monthly meetings at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto; others see her one-on-one. “The sentence I hear most is, ”˜I just didn’t think this would be my life.’ Some have said to themselves, ”˜I’ll do this if I haven’t met a man by 35.’ Then they turn 38, and then 42. That’s a pattern I see over and over.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Canada, Children, Science & Technology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Women