Daily Archives: December 3, 2011

Famed pollster George Gallup Jr.'s interest in religion went beyond numbers

The basic problem, Gallup told me in 2004, is that far too many clergy “simply fail to take discipleship seriously. They assume that because people say they believe something, that this means they will live out those beliefs in daily life….”

Far too many pastors, he lamented, seem afraid to ask tough questions.

“America is a churched nation, for the most part. Most Americans are either going to church or they used to go to church,” said Gallup. “At some point we need to start focusing more attention on what is happening or not happening in those churches. … Are our people learning the basics? Is their faith making a difference in their lives? Is their faith attractive to other people? “These are the kinds of questions we must be willing to ask.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Adult Education, America/U.S.A., Media, Ministry of the Laity, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(USA Today) Thomas Kidd–America's Founders would agree that 'In God We Trust'

On November 1, amidst the political wrangling over jobs and deficits, the House of Representatives took thirty-five minutes to debate what may seem like a tangential issue: whether Congress would re-affirm “In God We Trust” as our national motto. The text of the resolution called this “a principle that was venerated by the founders of this country.” Many, including President Obama, questioned the propriety of the measure in light of more pressing business, while the resolution’s defenders said that times of national turmoil were particularly apt occasions for confirming our faith in God. Despite some grumbling, the re-affirmation passed by an overwhelming majority, and the fact that this measure would appear now shows that the question of faith and our founding remains the most controversial historical issue in American politics….

Faith…reminded Patriots such as [Patrick] Henry that the American people needed virtue to channel their freedom into moral purposes. In a republic where the people were sovereign, Henry believed, people had to maintain public-spirited ethics, or chaos would ensue. We have been freshly reminded of this truth by the rampant malfeasance in the financial sector that helped create our recent economic troubles.

So yes, the founders would have affirmed “In God We Trust.” We do often underestimate the diversity of personal religious beliefs among the leading founders. In Patrick Henry, however, we see a founder who spoke with unusual power and authority to average Americans, for whom faith and liberty were intimately connected.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., History, House of Representatives, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(NC Reporter) John Allen–Is Ireland just the first Vatican embassy to go?

In recent years, Western ambassadors have quietly complained that it has become more difficult to engage the Vatican on international issues, and that Vatican diplomacy appears to be passing through a period of retrenchment.

Vatican diplomats today, they say, are highly focused on issues of religious freedom and anti-Christian persecution, but sometimes less interested in other matters. Some diplomats point to perceptions that the Vatican was not keenly engaged on Libya in the same way it had been on earlier conflicts in the Balkans or Iraq under John Paul, as an example.

Moreover, these diplomats say, the sexual abuse crisis has created a political environment in which critics of funding missions to the Vatican can wield powerful new ammunition.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Ireland, Other Churches, Politics in General, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

The Challenges Faced by the Muslims of France

In the nineteen-eighties, integration into French society was still a rocky path for the children of North African immigrants. Throughout France, many young people seemed to be rediscovering their Islamic identity. This religious revival was also beginning to attract a certain number of non-Muslims.

Those who renounced Islam did so quietly. It was those who trumpeted their allegiance to Islam who attracted media attention. When schools restarted in September 1989, three young girls were suspended from their high school in Creil for refusing to take off their headscarfs inside the school building. So began the affair of the veil.

The matter of the veil continues to be contentious until today. In April 2011, France became the first European country to enforce a ban of the face veil in public, just one of the many issues that emphasise the schism that remains between the different faces of French society.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, France, History, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Centennial celebrations for Maori Anglican church

The Maori Anglican Bishop in Bay of Plenty, Ngarahu Katene, will be among about 150 people who are expected to attend centennial celebrations on 3 December at St Matthew’s church north west of Taupo.

The tiny Maori Anglican church in the small settlement of Oruanui was built in 1911 from pit sawn totara and features traditionally woven tukutuku panels and kowhaiwhai or scroll paintings.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anglican Provinces, Parish Ministry

Using the Gemach–Loans Without Profit Help Relieve Economic Pain

When Hirshy Minkowicz was growing up in a Hasidic enclave of Brooklyn 30 years ago, he often noticed visitors arriving after dinner to meet with his father. They would withdraw into the study, speak for a time, then part with some confidential agreement having been sealed.

As he grew into his teens, Hirshy came to learn that his father operated a traditional Jewish free-loan program called a gemach. The visitors, many of them teachers in local religious schools, struggling to raise their families on small and irregular salaries, had been coming to borrow money at no interest and with no public exposure.

Now 39 years old and serving as the rabbi of a Chabad center near Atlanta, Rabbi Minkowicz has done something he never expected: open a gemach that deals primarily with non-Orthodox Jews in a prosperous stretch of suburbia….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Judaism, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Other Faiths, Personal Finance, Psychology, Religion & Culture, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

(NY Times Bits Blog) How the Internet is Ruining Everything

The ongoing argument about whether the Internet is a boon or a bust to civilization usually centers on the Web’s abundance. With so much data and so many voices, we each have knowledge formerly hard-won by decades of specialization. With some new fact or temptation perpetually beckoning, we may be the superficial avatars of an A.D.D. culture.

David Weinberger, one of the earliest and most perceptive analysts of the Internet, thinks we are looking at the wrong thing. It is not the content itself, but the structure of the Internet, that is the important thing. At least, as far as the destruction of a millennia-long human project is concerned.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, History, Science & Technology

(Washington Post) Dispute exposes India-China contest over Buddhism

Buddhists from around the world chose India on Wednesday as the headquarters of a new international Buddhist organization and united in their criticism of the Chinese government for trying to prevent the Dalai Lama from speaking at their meeting here in New Delhi.

It was something of a victory for India in what observers increasingly see as a contest with China to win the favor of Buddhists around the world. India is the land where Buddha gained enlightenment and taught, but China has the largest population of Buddhists today.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Buddhism, China, Foreign Relations, India, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Grant us, O Lord, to pass this day in gladness and peace, without stumbling and without stain; that reaching the eventide victorious over all temptation, we may praise thee, the eternal God, who art blessed, and dost govern all things, world without end.

–Mozarabic Liturgy

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Some boast of chariots, and some of horses; but we boast of the name of the LORD our God. They will collapse and fall; but we shall rise and stand upright. Give victory to the king, O LORD; answer us when we call.

–Psalm 20:7-9

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Collection of Anglican Prayer Books, dating to 1592, to be unveiled at the University of Kentucky

The Abbitt-DuPriest Collection of Anglican Prayer Books at the University of Kentucky will be unveiled as part of a dedication ceremony scheduled for 5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 6, in the Great Hall, of the Margaret I. King Building. The dedication ceremony is free and open to the public.

This collection of prayer books, dating to 1592, is a gift to the UK Special Collections from the Rev. Travis T. DuPriest, former director of the Dekoven Retreat and Conference Center in Racine, Wis., and UK alumnus.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Religion & Culture

New Zealand Anglican Churches face insurance bill hikes

Anglican Diocese of Otago and Southland manager Bronwyn Miller said the New Zealand Anglican Insurance Board was working frantically to determine a way forward.

While Ms Miller could not speak for other denominations, she said all Anglican churches, and she expected all other churches in the Otago and Southland region, would be affected.

Anglican Insurance Board chairman Don Baskerville said cover would likely be found, but he was wary of the price of that cover. “The prices will be ugly,” he said.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anglican Provinces, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Parish Ministry, Stewardship

Anglican Bishop to Visit Growing Anglican Church of the Valley in Virginia

Bishop [John] Guernsey, a native of Missouri, served a number of large Episcopal churches in Northern Virginia before leaving that denomination to work with the Anglican Church of Uganda in North America. He was consecrated Bishop for Congregations in America under that church in 2007, and was named Bishop of the Diocese of the Holy Spirit under the Anglican Church in North America in 2009.

The Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic is a regional diocese of the Anglican Church in North America and consists of 35 member churches in Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C. and northeastern North Carolina.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

Lines Grow Long for Free School Meals, Thanks to Economy

The number of students receiving subsidized lunches rose to 21 million last school year from 18 million in 2006-7, a 17 percent increase, according to an analysis by The New York Times of data from the Department of Agriculture, which administers the meals program. Eleven states, including Florida, Nevada, New Jersey and Tennessee, had four-year increases of 25 percent or more, huge shifts in a vast program long characterized by incremental growth.

The Agriculture Department has not yet released data for September and October.

“These are very large increases and a direct reflection of the hardships American families are facing,” said Benjamin Senauer, a University of Minnesota economist who studies the meals program, adding that the surge had happened so quickly “that people like myself who do research are struggling to keep up with it.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Children, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, Education, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--