Daily Archives: December 23, 2011

(WSJ Houses of Worship) David Gibson: No Church This Sunday””It's Christmas

Every few years Christmas is on a Sunday and suddenly believers face a dilemma: Stay home hanging stockings and opening gifts, or upend those cherished domestic traditions and go to Sunday church services. That is, if their church is even open.

Nearly 10% of Protestant churches will be closed on Christmas Sunday this year, according to LifeWay Research, and most pastors who are opening up say they expect far fewer people than on other Sundays. Other reports suggest that churches across the board are scaling down their services in anticipation of fewer worshipers.

“We have to face the reality of families who don’t want to struggle to get kids dressed and come to church,” Brad Jernberg of Dallas’s Cliff Temple Baptist Church told the Associated Baptist Press. Similarly, Beth Car Baptist Church in Halifax, Va., is planning a short service featuring bluegrass riffs on Christmas music. “I’ll do a brief sermon, and then we’re going home,” said Pastor Mike Parnell.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Christmas, Church History, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

One of the most important things Vaclav Havel Said

As soon as man began considering himself the source of the highest meaning in the world and the measure of everything, the world began to lose its human dimension, and man began to lose control of it.

Disturbing the Peace : A Conversation with Karel Hvizdala (Vintage, 1991 paperback ed. of the 1986 original trnslated by Paul Wilson, 1990), p.11

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Books, Czech Republic, Europe, History, Philosophy

U.S. Report Faults Two Sides in Deadly Pakistan Strike

A United States military investigation has concluded that checks and balances devised to prevent cross-border mishaps with Pakistan failed to avert a deadly NATO airstrike last month in part because American officials did not trust Pakistan enough to give it detailed information about American troop locations in Afghanistan.

A report by the inquiry concluded that mistakes by both American and Pakistani troops led to airstrikes against two Pakistani posts on the Afghan border that killed 26 Pakistani troops. But two crucial findings ”” that the Pakistanis fired first at a joint Afghan-American patrol and that they kept firing even after the Americans tried to warn them that they were shooting at allied troops ”” were likely to further anger Pakistan and plunge the already tattered relationship between the United States and Pakistan to new depths.

In a statement and at a news conference here on Thursday, the Defense Department said that “inadequate coordination by U.S. and Pakistani military officers” and “incorrect mapping information” that NATO had provided to the Pakistani authorities capped a chain of errors that caused the debacle.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Pakistan, Politics in General, Science & Technology, War in Afghanistan

Bishop Graham James–Response to BBC Trust Consultation on Delivering Quality First

We welcome the protection of the core hours of local broadcasting, namely the breakfast and mid-morning shows along with the drive time programmes, some sport and the Sunday morning faith programming. But what we hear back from the dioceses in their local consultations is a deep concern that these programmes themselves will not be maintained with their current quality (requiring voices from the whole area which the local radio station serves) with significantly fewer staff.

We ask the BBC Trust to recognise local radio as one of the ‘Crown Jewels’ of the BBC. We do not argue that there should be no cuts in budget at all but we believe that the total protection from cuts given to BBC1, Radio 4 and the Proms is disproportionate in relation to what is proposed for BBC local radio.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Media, Religion & Culture

Time Magazine's (Unintentionally?) revealing Interview with Gabby Giffords

What’s an average day like for you these days?

Busy, busy, busy. Stretching at 6:30 a.m. Up at 7 a.m. Breakfast and read the Arizona Daily Star, Arizona Republic and New York Times. Drive to rehab at 8 a.m. Physical, occupational and speech therapy for most of the day. Home, dinner and watch The Daily Show. Then off to bed.

Are you religious? If so, did that help you through this experience?

Yes, I am. Of course it did.

Read it all.Is there any other sphere of life where the latter interaction would qualify as sufficient? It’s personal, its private, we don’t go into those things. As ever, it speaks volumes about cultural assumptions–KSH.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, House of Representatives, Media, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Where Crèches Once Stood, Atheists Now Hold Forth

The elaborate Nativity scenes rose in a city park along the oceanfront here every December for nearly six decades. More than a dozen life-size dioramas depicted the Annunciation, Mary and Joseph being turned away at the inn and, of course, the manger.

This always angered Damon Vix, who worked off and on in Santa Monica and considers himself a devout atheist, so to speak. How could it be, he asked himself each year, that the city could condone such an overtly religious message?

So, a few years ago, he petitioned the city and received his own space, using it to put up a sign offering “Reason’s Greetings.” But this year, he wanted more. Mr. Vix gathered a few supporters and applied for dozens of spaces in Palisades Park, a patch of green on a bluff overlooking the sandy beaches that this city is famous for.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Atheism, City Government, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Archbishop Williams sets Official Enquiry into Diocese of Chichester child protection policies

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury

(NPR) A Church, An Oratorio And An Enduring Tradition

A Berliner and longtime member of St. Mary’s church choir, Christian Beier attempts to explain the mystique and tradition behind this piece of music….

“It makes Christmas Christmas,” he adds with a chuckle.

But as gorgeous as the music is for Beier, the core of this yearly event is something deeper.

“It is getting into some dialogue with God. It is being moved by whatever is around us,” he says.

Read or listen to it all (audio for this highly encouraged).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Christmas, Church History, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Europe, Germany, Music

(BBC) Baghad blasts: Hashemi blames Iraqi PM Nouri Maliki

Iraq’s Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi has said Prime Minister Nouri Maliki is to blame for a sudden surge of violence in the country.

Dozens of people were killed in a string of blasts across the capital, Baghdad, on Thursday.

Mr Hashemi, who is subject to an arrest warrant on terror charges, said that Mr Maliki should be focusing on security not “chasing patriotic politicians”.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, History, Iraq, Iraq War, Middle East, Politics in General, Violence

(Anglican Ink) Southern Cone backs Anglican Covenant

La Provincia Anglicana del Cono Sur ”“ the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone ”“ has endorsed the Anglican Covenant.

Meeting in Asunción, Paraguay from 3-11 November 2011, the provincial executive committee and the province’s House of Bishops endorsed the inter-Anglican agreement that sets the parameters of doctrine and discipline for the Anglican Communion.

In a statement released on 20 Dec 2011, Bishop Frank Lyons of Bolivia stated the province believed the covenant was a “way forward” in the midst of a difficult time when “certain provinces” were proposing “novel ways of Christian living” that rejected “Biblical norms.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Consultative Council, Anglican Covenant, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Cono Sur [formerly Southern Cone]

(WSJ) Come Ye: Poland's Big Jesus Statue Draws Pilgrims, Chafes Nonbelievers

A chill wind snapped around the base of the massive concrete statue of Christ, arms outstretched, that rises more than 118 feet into the sky above this small town in western Poland.

“It gives you a very religious feeling, especially because it’s Christmastime,” said Waldemar Kierzkowski, who this week visited the towering year-old image that has become a lightning rod in Poland’s culture war.

Mr. Kierzkowski, a 55-year-old car dealer, and his wife, Alina, drove from their home in Goleniow, more than 150 miles away, to shoot a few photos with the gray monument””whose builders say it is the tallest Jesus in the world””soaring behind them.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Art, Europe, Poland, Religion & Culture

(Church Times) Small C of E school tops league table

St.Margaret’s C of E Primary School in Toppes­field, Essex ”” a Victorian village school with just 63 pupils ”” was ranked first in this year’s primary-school league tables, announced on Thursday of last week. The tables are compiled from the results of the annual Year 6 attainment tests.

One in four of all primaries are C of E foundations, and a total of 88 C of E schools were among the 194 primaries in England where all Year 6 children (aged ten and 11) achieved the expected Level 4 in English and maths. Six were among the top ten. As well as St Margaret’s, they were: Clatford, Hamp­shire; Orchard Primary, Broughton Astley; Bladon Primary, Oxfordshire; St Mary’s Primary, York; and Ashhurst Primary, West Sussex.

At St Margaret’s, the six pupils in Year 6 achieved level 5, the standard aimed at by 14-year-olds. The head teacher, Kim Hall, said that the secret of the voluntary aided school’s success was its strong Christian values and the strong support re­ceived from the local community. “We all ”” pupils and staff ”” care for each other, and we’re very much part of the community.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Children, Church of England (CoE), Education, England / UK

Ireland's Data Protection Commissioner Tells Facebook to improve its privacy

Facebook users will enjoy tighter privacy controls after the social networking giant was ordered by the Republic of Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner to change how it handles personal data.

The company was issued with a raft of recommendations including deleting personal information sooner and allowing users better control on the use of data.

The Office of the Data Protection Commissioner yesterday published the outcome of its audit of Facebook Ireland, which was carried out over the last three months.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, England / UK, Ireland, Law & Legal Issues, Science & Technology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Grant, O Lord, that we who once again prepare for the commemoration of the coming of thy Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, may so direct our hearts to the fulfillment of thy law, that he may now accept our hosannas, and in the life to come receive us in the heavenly Sion; where with thee and the Holy Ghost he liveth and reigneth, ever one God, world without end.

–Richard D. Acland

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

The LORD reigns; he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed, he is girded with strength. Yea, the world is established; it shall never be moved; thy throne is established from of old; thou art from everlasting. The floods have lifted up, O LORD, the floods have lifted up their voice, the floods lift up their roaring. Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the LORD on high is mighty! Thy decrees are very sure; holiness befits thy house, O LORD, for evermore.

–Psalm 93

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(WSJ) Lawmakers Reach Payroll-Tax Deal

Congressional leaders reached an agreement Thursday to temporarily extend a payroll-tax cut by two months and begin negotiations on a yearlong extension, aides said.

he agreement could end a political stalemate over the payroll-tax cut, which lowered Social Security taxes for 160 million Americans in 2011. Under the tentative agreement, the House will vote again on a two-month extension and the Senate will prepare to negotiate for an extension that will run through 2012.

Aides said House Speaker John Boehner (R, Ohio) has agreed to hold a new vote Friday on extending the tax cut, bowing to increasing pressure to end an impasse that threatened to leave workers with a tax increase next year.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Budget, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Health & Medicine, House of Representatives, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Medicare, Office of the President, Personal Finance, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, Social Security, Taxes, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

(Politico) Judge halts part of South Carolina immigration law

A federal judge blocked several parts of South Carolina’s immigration law Thursday, saying in his ruling that the measure tramples on federal powers.

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel granted a preliminary injunction, according to The Associated Press and Reuters, ruling that the federal government has the sole constitutional authority to set immigration policy and regulate enforcement. Gergel said parts of South Carolina’s law are in violation of those powers.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Immigration, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, State Government