Daily Archives: December 21, 2011

(USA Today Editorial) Payroll tax gridlock could actually be a plus

…unlike the debt-ceiling drama and the destructive impasse over a grand bargain to rein in the spiraling national debt, a stalemate on the payroll tax could be good for Social Security, good for the deficit, and good for disproving the conviction that “temporary” tax cuts must never be allowed to expire.

Let us explain.

As we’ve pointed out previously, the 2-percentage-point cut in the payroll tax (from 6.2% to 4.2%) might give a short-term boost to the economy, but it contributes to Social Security’s long-term insolvency at a time when the retirement program is already paying out more in benefits than it is collecting in taxes. A one-year extension would drive up next year’s federal deficit by more than $100 billion.
The payroll tax issue also raises the question of whether there’s any such thing as a temporary tax cut. At the end of next year, the unaffordable Bush tax cuts are set to expire. Extending the payroll tax cut would set a precedent and give ammunition to those who want another extension of the Bush cuts, adding as much as $5 trillion to deficits over the coming decade.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, House of Representatives, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Office of the President, Politics in General, Senate, Social Security, Taxes, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

(C of E) Christmas Cheer for Cathedrals – Twelve cathedral grants announced

Twelve cathedrals will learn today that they been awarded fabric repair grants in the run up to Christmas. They each receive amounts varying from £10,000 to £118,000 from the Cathedral Fabric Repair Fund. The total grants amount to £718,000.

The twelve successful applicants were Bradford, Canterbury, Chichester, Coventry, Lincoln, Norwich, Peterborough, Portsmouth, Salisbury, Southwark, Wakefield and Wells cathedrals.

The Fund is a partnership between the Wolfson Foundation, Pilgrim Trust and the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England (CFCE), all with long records of supporting England’s historic church buildings and their contents.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry, Stewardship

(CBC) HIV vaccine trial approved by FDA

A vaccine that may prevent HIV has been given the green light by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to begin clinical trials in humans, according to Canadian researchers.

The announcement was made on the campus of the University of Western Ontario in London, Ont.

“We have gone through so many different challenges to come to this point,” said Dr. Chil-Yong Kang, a researcher and professor at Western’s Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry. “This is the first time that I feel very happy and comfortable to initiate this human clinical trial.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Canada, Health & Medicine, Science & Technology

A Pastoral Letter from ACNA's Robert Duncan on AMIA

The resignation of nine Anglican Mission bishops, including the Bishop Chairman, from the House of Bishops of Rwanda, changed relationships with Rwanda, with fellow bishops and with the Anglican Church in North America. The resigned bishops lost their status in our College of Bishops as a result of their resignation from Rwanda. The Anglican Mission also lost its status as a Ministry Partner, since that status had been predicated on AMiA’s relationship with Rwanda. In addition, confusion and hurt has been created in Rwanda and in North America, and there is much serious work ahead of us.

Representatives of the Anglican Church in North America and of the Pawleys Island leadership met today in Pittsburgh. For the Anglican Church in North America the starting point was the importance of our Provincial relationship with the Province of Rwanda (a sister GAFCON Province) and with His Grace Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje, of our relationship with the North American Bishops Terrell Glenn and Thad Barnum and all the clergy licensed in Rwanda, and of our relationship to those represented by the Pawleys Island group with whom we were meeting. We, as the Anglican Church in North America, have been deeply connected to all three, and we can only move forward when issues and relationships have been adequately addressed and necessary transitions are in progress.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA)

Anglican Churches In Northamptonshire Get New Look And Sound For Christmas

Anglican Churches in Northamptonshire have for the first time joined together to fund a series of radio advertisements on Heart FM, and a poster campaign linked to them, to encourage people in the area to attend a Christmas service in a local church.

The ads and posters have been produced, and are being used, nationally. They place the nativity in a modern context.

At the same time the Peterborough Diocese, which links Anglican churches across Northants, Rutland and Peterborough, has just launched a new corporate logo and colour scheme for its public “face” to replace the former crest.

Read it all and see what you may of the linked websites.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Advent, Anglican Provinces, Christmas, Church of England (CoE), Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, CoE Bishops, England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Media, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Mystery donors paying off layaway accounts for needy

Anonymous “layaway angels” are rescuing Christmas for needy families across the nation.

Mystery donors are visiting stores and paying the balance on accounts that allow customers to pay for purchases over several months. Some donors ask the store to apply the money to children’s toys or clothing; they aren’t told recipients’ names. Nor do recipients learn the identities of the donors.

More than 15 layaway accounts totaling almost $4,000 have been paid by strangers at a Kmart in Lafayette, Ind., says store manager Vic Sutherland. “It’s pretty awesome,” he says. “With the economy the way it is, you wouldn’t expect it.”

Fantastic stuff–read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Economy, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Elizabeth Glass-Turner and Steve Beard–Theological Renewal, The AFTE Effect

Founded in 1977, AFTE is the creation of two regal figures within United Methodism who could hardly have been more different””Dr. Albert Outler, the erudite seminary professor who at the time was the world’s foremost authority on all things Wesleyan, and Dr. Ed Robb Jr., traveling evangelist and the day’s best known critic and reformer of the UM Church.

Ironically, this oddest of couples discovered that they had much in common. They both loved the church, treasured our Wesleyan heritage, and were greatly concerned about the state of theological education within the denomination. And they both felt that true renewal would never be possible or lasting if UM pastors were not trained in the great tradition of classical Wesleyan theology….

Albert Outler and Ed Robb were vexed over the theological trends in the seminaries preparing United Methodist preachers and professors. They wanted something substantial and transformative that would provide long-term change. What they agreed upon was AFTE, a program designed to raise up a new generation of leaders.

Much food for thought here; read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, Education, Methodist, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

Terry Mattingly on the Baltimore Sun covering the way many American Christmases are Lived

While reading this thing, I kept waiting for the moment when the “C” word would or would not be used, in place of the safe, secular “holidays” incantation.

The premise for this story is that it’s hard to get American men to do their duties this time of year, which means heading to the nearest shopping mall and doing their part to keep their marriages and/or families united and the nation’s economy intact. Something must be done.

The answer is to combine alcohol, cigars, grilled fat, credit cards and jewelry….

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Men, Personal Finance, Religion & Culture

(Christianity Today) Sunday Oguntola–Nigerian Church Leaders Debate Self-Defense

Church leaders in Nigeria are sharply divided over how to react to a surge in violent attacks against Christians and churches in the country’s Muslim-majority north.

Hundreds of Christians have been killed and churches burnt in regular attacks launched this year by Fulani herdsmen in Jos and members of the Boko Haram terrorist sect in Kaduna, Borno, and Niger states….

The steady attacks have thrown the Christian community into opposing camps. While some continue to advocate for calm and prayer, others are now urging Christians to defend themselves.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Law & Legal Issues, Nigeria, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Violence

A Pastoral Statement from the Bishops of CANA to the Clergy and Congregations of CANA

The bishops discussed a recent decision of the General Synod of the Church of Nigeria, making provision for the creation of CANA missionary dioceses in North America. CANA’s Chancellor, Scott Ward, Esq., briefed the bishops on progress towards the formal inauguration of the Missionary Diocese of the Trinity which is to be led by Bishop Amos Fagbamiye.

Bishop Derek Jones reported on the rapid growth of the Chaplains Deanery and the significant ministry of military and civilian chaplains. The ministry of the Deanery for the Chaplaincy is to endorse and support chaplains in the US military, federal and local government, hospital and hospice, and other volunteers serving their communities.

The bishops rejoiced in the recent creation of the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic where many clergy and congregations continue in their relationship with CANA. While acknowledging that the concept of ”˜dual citizenship’ continues to raise some questions we heard a number of testimonies from those who have embraced this gracious provision and celebrate this opportunity for a direct connection to the Anglican Communion through the Church of Nigeria. We believe that this can only strengthen the ongoing work of ACNA in its determination to demonstrate the transforming love of Jesus Christ throughout North America.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anglican Provinces, CANA, Church of Nigeria, Parish Ministry

(Pittsburgh Tribune-Review) Trinity Cathedral picks Episcopal affiliation

Ending three years of sitting on the fence during a breakup over doctrine, leaders of a historic Downtown church decided to break away from the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh and affiliate exclusively with the Episcopal Church.

Trinity Cathedral’s governing board last week voted 11-7 to withdraw from the more theologically conservative sect, overturning an October 2008 resolution to serve both the Episcopal Church diocese and the Anglican diocese.

“This decision was not made lightly or hastily,” the Rev. Catherine M. Brall, provost at the cathedral, said in a letter to members. “Many, if not most, of the comments made during the lengthy time of discussion had been previously raised.”

Anglican officials said they were “saddened” by the vote.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anglican Identity, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Pittsburgh, TEC Parishes

Kendall Harmon's Sermon from this past Sunday, Advent IV, on Christ the Judge

Listen it all if you so wish.

Posted in * By Kendall, * Christian Life / Church Life, Advent, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Eschatology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Theology

(SMH) Uncle Jang, the real power behind Kim the younger

He has been described by some analysts as the power behind the throne in North Korea following the death of the “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-il.

But who is Jang Song-taek?

And why does he appear to wield more influence in the Hermit Kingdom than Kim Jong-un, the 27-year-old son of Kim Jong-il and his anointed successor?

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Children, History, Marriage & Family, North Korea, Politics in General

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Thomas

Almighty and everliving God, who didst strengthen thine apostle Thomas with sure and certain faith in thy Son’s resurrection: Grant us so perfectly and without doubt to believe in Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God, that our faith may never be found wanting in thy sight; through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God, who didst send thy blessed Son into the world to be the Saviour of all men, and hast promised that he will come again to be our Judge: We beseech thee to increase in us the spirit of watchfulness and prayer, that in the day of his appearing the lamps of our spirit may be trimmed and burning, and we may enter with joy into the marriage supper of the Lamb. Hear us, O heavenly Father, of thy mercy, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Advent, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zechari’ah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

–Luke 1:39–43

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(BBC) Egyptian Women protest against army violence

Thousands of Egyptian women have held rallies in Cairo against their treatment by security forces.

Demonstrators brandished photos of a woman who was beaten and dragged along the ground, exposing her underwear – an incident that has outraged Egyptians.

The rally took place in Tahrir Square, which has seen five days of deadly clashes between protesters and troops.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Egypt, Middle East, Politics in General, Violence, Women

Three Candidates are on the short list for election for new Bishop of Edinburgh

The candidates are:

The Very Rev Dr John Armes (born 1955), Dean of the Diocese of Edinburgh and Canon of St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh; Rector of St John the Evangelist church, Edinburgh

The Rev Michael Parker (born 1954), Senior Minister for English-speaking congregations, All Saints Cathedral, Cairo

The Rev Canon Dr Alvyn Pettersen (born 1951), Canon Theologian of Worcester Cathedral

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Scottish Episcopal Church

(WSJ) Spying on Your Buying

Merchandisers already track our cyber choices (efficiently, following the clicks on our keyboards) and our in-store decisions (inefficiently, with glum market researchers in every aisle). Now high-tech acuity is going offline. Soon, in-store sensors and motion trackers will watch your footsteps, see what your hands do, know when you hesitate””and when you don’t.

The obvious initial response to this is outrage. The right one is delight. This technology, alert to body as well as brain, wants to respond to our behavior, not change it. And it could have amazing applications.

You’ve heard of Kinect, the Microsoft motion-sensing device that enhanced the Xbox. And you’ve heard of Google Analytics, the dashboard for website usage statistics. Shopper Tracker””launched recently by the scrappy Argentine start-up Agile Route””is a combination of both. Its spatial recognition software, plus heat sensors and proprietary algorithms, analyze customer movements. It can show which store shelves are most popular, which items are most touched, which taken and then put back.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Psychology, Science & Technology

(Washington Post) Barry Ritholtz–The systemic risk revealed by MF Global’s collapse

Watching the MF Global saga unfold, I had to wonder: “How was it possible for a broker dealer to tap segregated client monies to speculate in risky assets and lose billions?”

MF Global’s story, as you will soon understand it, raises serious concerns for any investor. That the activities that led to MF Global’s collapse were possibly legal (!) is stunning. The details are complex, but follow them through to the end and you will see all of the problems of our system ”” political corruption, excess leverage, focus on short-term profit at the expense of survival ”” in one sordid affair.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Credit Markets, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Stock Market, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Theology