Daily Archives: January 26, 2012

(USA Today) Henry G. Brinton–Why U.S. politics devolves into good vs. evil

Since good and responsible people know that they should never compromise with evil, they end up entering the polling place with a battle mentality. But such an approach only makes sense when Satan is running for president ”” and despite what you might hear in the darkest recesses of the online world, Satan is not running in 2012. It would be much better for us, as individuals and as a nation, if we saved our righteous anger for the devils that will inevitably appear again as external threats to our nation. Not that foreign foes are a guarantee of domestic tranquility. The McCarthy hearings and Red Scare of the 1950s caused American politics to go off-road and get nasty, even though we had a common enemy. And we always need to keep in mind that the enemies of one generation can morph into the allies of the next.

Better for us to put time, energy and money into fighting the evils that are afflicting us internally, whether we choose to focus on battling substance abuse, racism, sexual addiction, domestic violence or the disintegration of the American family. As always, these threats are harder for us to face, because the demons are inside.

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

(CNS) New questions, challenges confront Episcopal-turned-Catholic leader

Father Jeffrey N. Steenson is finding that there are a lot of new roads to travel and new questions to resolve since his Jan. 1 appointment as head of the Houston-based Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter for former Anglicans who want to become Catholics.

The former Episcopal bishop of the Rio Grande, who was ordained a Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, N.M., in February 2009, was to be installed in his new post Feb. 12. Also in February, a class of about 40 former Episcopal priests will begin an intensive, Internet-based course of studies to become Catholic priests within the ordinariate….

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

Thomas Friedman–Average Is Over

In the past, workers with average skills, doing an average job, could earn an average lifestyle. But, today, average is officially over. Being average just won’t earn you what it used to. It can’t when so many more employers have so much more access to so much more above average cheap foreign labor, cheap robotics, cheap software, cheap automation and cheap genius. Therefore, everyone needs to find their extra ”” their unique value contribution that makes them stand out in whatever is their field of employment. Average is over.

Yes, new technology has been eating jobs forever, and always will. As they say, if horses could have voted, there never would have been cars. But there’s been an acceleration. As Davidson notes, “In the 10 years ending in 2009, [U.S.] factories shed workers so fast that they erased almost all the gains of the previous 70 years; roughly one out of every three manufacturing jobs ”” about 6 million in total ”” disappeared.”

And you ain’t seen nothin’ yet….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Education, Globalization, History, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Science & Technology

(NJ Jewish News) Rabbi and vicar share insights on Israel journey

Traveling to Israel with Jewish colleagues earlier this month had a transforming effect on the Rev. Susan Sica, vicar of Saint Gregory’s Episcopal Church in Parsippany.

“It would have been easy to go to Israel and have a sanitized experience that only touched on Christian sites ”” where Jesus walked, and that sort of thing. But then we would never have really looked at what Israel is today,” she told NJJN in a phone conversation a few days after returning.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Inter-Faith Relations, Israel, Judaism, Middle East, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry

(Heavy Metal Band) Megadeth bassist studying for ordination at Concordia Seminary

In early September, as new students wandered onto the campus of Concordia Seminary in Clayton, they were joined by another group of theological rookies ”” mostly midcareer types ”” joining the school’s program that allows students to train for the ministry online.

As the consultants, electricians, farmers and entrepreneurs in the Specific Ministry Program got to know one another in person, before reconnecting online from hundreds or thousands of miles away in the weeks that followed, one student had an orientation story that truly rocked.

David Ellefson was an honest-to-God founding member of the legendary thrash metal band Megadeth.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Lutheran, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(FT) Martin Wolf–The world’s hunger for public goods

The history of civilisation is a history of public goods. The more complex the civilisation the greater the number of public goods that needed to be provided. Ours is far and away the most complex civilisation humanity has ever developed. So its need for public goods ”“ and goods with public goods aspects, such as education and health ”“ is extraordinarily large. The institutions that have historically provided public goods are states. But it is unclear whether today’s states can ”“ or will be allowed to ”“ provide the goods we now demand….

The industrial revolution expanded the activities of the state in innumerable ways. This was fundamentally because of the needs of the economy itself. Markets could not, on their own, provide an educated population or large-scale infrastructure, defend intellectual property, protect the environment and public health, and so on. Governments felt obliged ”“ or delighted ”“ to intervene, as suppliers and regulators, or subsidisers and taxers. In addition to this, the arrival of democracy increased the demand for redistribution, partly in response to the insecurity of workers. For all these reasons, the modern state, vastly more potent than any that existed before, has exploded in the range and scale of its activities. Will this be reversed? No. Does it work well? That is a good question.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Politics in General, Theology

In Colorado some Atheists buy billboards that read: 'God is an imaginary friend'

The Boulder Atheists announced Monday that the group has purchased space on three billboards in Denver and Colorado Springs to post messages that read, “God is an imaginary friend. Choose reality, it will be better for all of us.”

Boulder Atheists co-founder Marvin Straus said billboards have proven an effective way for the organization to communicate with the public. He said recruiting more atheists isn’t the goal.

“It’s not like we’re evangelical atheists,” Straus said. “We don’t care whether people are believers or non-believers. Our main goal is separation of church and state. The goal of the billboard is to encourage a dialogue.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Atheism, Media, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Rick Warren and the church he serves tackle obesity

The epiphany occurred at a baptism.

With more than 800 people waiting, Pastor Rick Warren took them one by one and immersed them in the church’s baptism pool. During this spiritual rite at Saddleback Church, the pastors hold the people briefly underwater, and then pull them out.

“On that particular day, I was baptizing 858 people,” Warren told his congregation last fall. “That took me literally four hours.”

“As I’m baptizing 858 people, along around 500, I thought this … ‘We’re all fat.’ ”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Evangelicals, Health & Medicine, Other Churches, Parish Ministry

(NY Times) The Federal Reserve Signals That a Full Recovery Is Years Away

The Federal Reserve said on Wednesday that it was likely to raise interest rates at the end of 2014, but not until then, adding another 18 months to the expected duration of its most basic and longest-running response to the financial crisis.

The announcement means that the Fed does not expect the economy to complete its recovery from the 2008 crisis over the next three years. By holding short-term rates near zero beyond mid-2013, its previous estimate, the Fed hopes to hasten that process somewhat by reducing the cost of borrowing.

The Fed said in a statement that the economy had expanded “moderately” in recent weeks, but that unemployment remained at a high level, the housing sector remained in a deep depression, and the possibility of a new financial crisis in Europe continued to threaten the domestic economy.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Federal Reserve, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Politics in General, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Timothy, Titus and Silas

Just and merciful God, who in every generation hast raised up prophets, teachers and witnesses to summon the world to honor and praise thy holy Name: We give thanks for the calling of Timothy, Titus and Silas, whose gifts built up thy Church in the power of the Holy Spirit. Grant that we, too, may be living stones built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ our Savior; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Lord Christ, thou Prince of peace, the faithful and true: Grant to us all, we beseech thee, that putting on the whole armour of God, we may follow thee as thou goest forth conquering and to conquer; and, fighting ably under thy banner against sin, the world, and the devil, may be found more than conquerors, and at the last may be refreshed with the multitude of peace in the holy city of our God; whose is the greatness and the power, the victory and the majesty, world without end.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins. Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings thou hast not desired, but a body hast thou prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings thou hast taken no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Lo, I have come to do thy will, O God,’ as it is written of me in the roll of the book.” When he said above, “Thou hast neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), then he added, “Lo, I have come to do thy will.” He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

–Hebrews 10:4-10

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Archbishop Timothy Dolan) ObamaCare and Religious Freedom

Scarcely two weeks ago, in its Hosanna-Tabor decision upholding the right of churches to make ministerial hiring decisions, the Supreme Court unanimously and enthusiastically reaffirmed these longstanding and foundational principles of religious freedom. The court made clear that they include the right of religious institutions to control their internal affairs.

Yet the Obama administration has veered in the opposite direction. It has refused to exempt religious institutions that serve the common good””including Catholic schools, charities and hospitals””from its sweeping new health-care mandate that requires employers to purchase contraception, including abortion-producing drugs, and sterilization coverage for their employees.

Last August, when the administration first proposed this nationwide mandate for contraception and sterilization coverage, it also proposed a “religious employer” exemption. But this was so narrow that it would apply only to religious organizations engaged primarily in serving people of the same religion. As Catholic Charities USA’s president, the Rev. Larry Snyder, notes, even Jesus and His disciples would not qualify for the exemption in that case, because they were committed to serve those of other faiths.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Law & Legal Issues, Office of the President, Other Churches, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, The U.S. Government

(BBC) Nigeria's police chief Hafiz Ringim 'forced to retire'

Nigeria’s president has sacked the chief of police, Hafiz Ringim, forcing him to retire early, a statement from the presidency says.

It follows a wave of attacks by the Islamist group Boko Haram, the latest in Kano on Friday in which 185 people died.

The group says it wants to overthrow the government and impose Islamic law.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Law & Legal Issues, Nigeria, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Terrorism

"First Rate" Mere Anglicanism 2012 Comes to Close

Conference participants were enthusiastic about both the speaker’s talks’ content and their tone.

“This conference has been first rate,” said the Rt. Rev. Alden Hathaway. “I’m so encouraged. I was really moved by the Bishop of London yesterday and John McCardell brought it into an American context. All of the speakers have been just fine. The Saturday morning talk, by Justyn Terry, outlining the whole of Christian Education ”“ we’re so enthusiastic about that. He hit all of the levels, from elementary school to college and university formation to theological institutions to continuing education. That’s where it’s at. Mere Anglicanism is really at the heart of it. I’m very, very pleased to be a part of this conference.”

The Rt. Rev. Richard Chartres, Bishop of London, who was one of the presenters, said of the conference, “It’s been a treat to be here in Charleston and I’ve learned a very great deal. One of the things about the Anglican Communion is that you can have all sorts of theories about structures and theological foundations, but if we don’t know one another and if we’re not friends and we don’t spend time actually listening to one another then of course we’re going to have broils and factions. One of the worst things in life I find at the moment is going from place to place and hearing many monologues about the importance of dialogue and I think that this conference has been an example of really deep listening and exchange ”“ genuine dialogue and I appreciate it very much indeed.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, Theology

(RNS) Shhh! Pope Praises Value of Short Tweets, Silence

Pope Benedict XVI praised new communications technologies like Twitter on Tuesday (Jan. 24), saying that even “concise phrases, often no longer than a verse from the Bible,” can convey “profound thoughts.”

Benedict did not explicitly refer to Twitter in his yearly message for World Communications Day, but Monsignor Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, told reporters that “it’s safe to say that a reference to ‘tweets’ is there.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Media, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic