Monthly Archives: February 2012

Quran incident 'tailor-made' for Taliban

The Taliban is attempting to capitalize on the outbreak of violence that followed the inadvertent burning of the holy Quran by NATO troops by characterizing the war as a conflict between infidels and Islam, analysts say.

“It’s tailor-made to their argument that the United States is trying to desecrate and destroy Islam,” said Seth Jones, an analyst at RAND Corp. and author of In the Graveyard of Empires: America’s War in Afghanistan. “It’s patently untrue.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Afghanistan, Asia, Books, Foreign Relations, Islam, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, War in Afghanistan

(DealProfessor) U.S. Tax Code Encourages Corporations to Take on Debt

Corporate America’s love affair with debt is driven by a heavy subsidy, courtesy of the federal tax code. It’s an unhealthy preference that the Obama administration is now reviewing.

The problem arises because the interest that corporations pay on their debt is deductible on their federal taxes.

To understand the effect of this deduction, imagine if you could deduct the interest you pay on your debt. I am not just talking about the deduction on your home mortgage. This would be a deduction for all of the interest paid on your credit card bills, auto loans and any other loans you had, including the one from Uncle Mikey….

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Taxes, The U.S. Government, Theology

TEC sponsors major topical forum this April: The Intersection of Poverty and the Environment

On April 21, the Episcopal Church will sponsor a forum on a critical topic: The Intersection of Poverty and the Environment. Originating from St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral in Salt Lake City, UT, the two-hour ecumenical forum will be live webcast beginning at 10 am Mountain (9 am Pacific, 11 Central, noon Eastern).

“Through The Intersection of Poverty and the Environment, we will explore the differential effects of environmental degradation and changing climate patterns on the poor ”“ in this country and around the world,” Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Economy, Ecumenical Relations, Energy, Natural Resources, Episcopal Church (TEC), Poverty, Religion & Culture

Adult Education at one S.C. Parish–Learning About the Coming Global Struggle and How to Respond

Christianity and Islam ”“ two great monotheistic faiths, the two largest religions in the world, have for centuries been locked in a painful struggle. Today this struggle has once again erupted into our world. Many believe it will be the defining spiritual, intellectual, and political conflict of the 21st century….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Adult Education, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry

A Look at the 2012 Lenten Preaching Series Speakers at Calvary Episcopal Church, Memphis, Tennessee

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Episcopal Church (TEC), Inter-Faith Relations, Lent, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, TEC Parishes

(NY Times) Young Women are Often Trendsetters when it Comes to Vocal Patterns

Girls and women in their teens and 20s deserve credit for pioneering vocal trends and popular slang, they say, adding that young women use these embellishments in much more sophisticated ways than people tend to realize.

“A lot of these really flamboyant things you hear are cute, and girls are supposed to be cute,” said Penny Eckert, a professor of linguistics at Stanford University. “But they’re not just using them because they’re girls. They’re using them to achieve some kind of interactional and stylistic end.”

The latest linguistic curiosity to emerge from the petri dish of girl culture gained a burst of public recognition in December, when researchers from Long Island University published a paper about it in The Journal of Voice. Working with what they acknowledged was a very small sample ”” recorded speech from 34 women ages 18 to 25 ”” the professors said they had found evidence of a new trend among female college students: a guttural fluttering of the vocal cords they called “vocal fry.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Psychology, Science & Technology, Teens / Youth, Women, Young Adults

Nolbert Kunonga's purge on Anglicans in Zimbabwe Continues

Excommunicated Anglican Church Bishop Nolbert Kunonga continued his onslaught on members of a rival faction after parishioners at St Andrews Arcadia Church in Harare were kicked out of their place of worship over the weekend.

Kunonga was given legal custody of church property by the Supreme Court last year and is using that to evict rival members of the Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) led by Bishop Chad Gandiya.

Since his excommunication, Kunonga has taken possession of several Anglican Church buildings around the country, claiming sole custody of the property.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Religion & Culture, Violence, Zimbabwe

(Bloomberg) Romney’s Wins Set Up Super Tuesday Test

Mitt Romney’s double-barreled victory in the Arizona and Michigan primaries yesterday gave him a burst of momentum in the Republican presidential race as the contest shifts to Southern states and Ohio…where his appeal among evangelical and working class voters will be tested anew.

Two months into the voting and nine months into Romney’s second presidential run, the results confirmed his status as fragile front-runner, toiling to win over Republican voters as he heads into potentially pivotal Super Tuesday races March 6.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Office of the President, Politics in General

([London] Times) Church offers prayers for those making leap of faith

The Church of England marks leap day today, when women can propose to men, with publication of a special prayer asking for God’s blessings on the engagement.

And in the event that the recipient of the offer says “no”, there is also a prayer to help to control the temptation to panic when dealing with a difficult situation.

Other prayers published today include one to say on the acquisition of a new computer and another to say before an interview….

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer

Reuters: "Archbishop of Canterbury steps into U.N. gays row"

“The existence of laws discriminating against sexual minorities as such can have no justification in societies that are serious about law itself,” [Rowan] Williams declared in a public lecture at the headquarters of the ecumenical WCC.

“Such laws reflect a refusal to recognize that minorities belong, and they are indeed comparable to racial discrimination,” the archbishop said.

Concern for protection of sexual minorities from violence and intimidation did not imply approval of homosexual behavior on moral grounds. “Religion and culture have their own arguments on these matters,” he added.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury

Lambeth Palace PR on Rowan Williams' Lecture on Human Rights and Religious Faith

The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights has made a profound impact in fighting injustice and is “a landmark in the history of moral consciousness”, says the Archbishop of Canterbury in a lecture on Human Rights and Religious Faith at the World Council of Churches Ecumenical Centre in Geneva.

However, Dr Williams also notes current tensions around the discourses of rights, faith and culture. He observes that there has been a more recent trend to develop Human Rights as a purely universal legal code around the entitlements claimed by individuals and in this lecture he offers an alternative approach that takes into account the cultural and the community aspects of human interaction – which is an integral part of religious belief….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury

Archbishop Rowan Williams' Lecture on Human Rights and Religious Faith (Full Text)

In what follows, I want to suggest some ways in which we might reconnect thinking about human rights and religious conviction ”“ more specifically, Christian convictions about human dignity and human relatedness, how we belong together. Similar points may of course emerge from other kinds of religious belief. I believe this reconnection can be done by trying to understand rights against a background not of individual claims but of the question of what is involved in mutual recognition between human beings. I believe that rights are a crucial way of working out what it is for people to belong together in a society. The language gets difficult only when it is divorced from that awareness of belonging and reciprocity. This is not just to make the obvious (and slightly tired) point about rights and responsibilities. It is to see the world of ”˜rights’ as anchored in habits of empathy and identification with the other. And I shall also argue that a proper understanding of law may help us here. Law, I believe, is not a comprehensive code that will define and enforce a set of universal claims; it is the way in which we codify what we think, at any given point, mutual recognition requires from us. It will therefore shift its focus from time to time and it cannot avoid choices about priorities. To seek for legal recognition of any particular liberty as a ”˜human right’ is not to try and construct a universal and exhaustive code but to challenge a society that apparently refuses full civic recognition to some of its members….

The ”˜Universal’ aspect of rights, though, is a central element. What makes the gap between religion and the discourse of rights worrying is that the language of the Universal Declaration is unthinkable without the kind of moral universalism that religious ethics safeguards.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Theology

A Prayer for the Provisional Feast Day of John Cassian

Holy and Mighty One, whose beloved Son Jesus Christ blessed the pure in heart: We offer thanks for the life and teachings of John Cassian that draw us to a discipline of holy living for the sake of thy reign. Call us to turn the gaze of the eyes of our soul always toward thee, that we may abide in thy love, shown to us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who with thee and the Holy Spirit is one God, living and true, to the ages of ages. Amen.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Come, Lord, and reign over me as my rightful King. Rule in my heart and fill it with thy love; rule in my mind and bring every thought into captivity to thyself; rule in my life and make it holy like thine own; for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, for ever and ever.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him,” God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For what person knows a man’s thoughts except the spirit of the man which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who possess the Spirit.

–1 Corinthians 2:9-13

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

The Latest from Intrade on the American Presidential Election Process

Mitt Romney to win the Michigan Primary as of now 62.0, Santorum 37.0.

Mitt Romney to win the Arizona Primary is 99.3

Mitt Romney to be Republican Presidential Nominee is 71.5

Barack Obama to be re-elected President in the Fall of 2012–61.4

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Office of the President, Politics in General

(LA Times) Afghan attacks over Koran burning renew debate on U.S. drawdown

Panetta and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, “believe we have achieved significant progress in reversing the Taliban’s momentum and in developing the Afghan security forces, and they believe that the fundamentals of our strategy remain sound,” said Pentagon spokesman George Little.

In private, other officers and U.S. officials said riots and attacks after U.S. personnel threw copies of the Koran into a trash-burning pit at the Bagram military base have renewed a debate at the highest levels of the Obama administration and are expected to affect internal deliberations on the pace of the drawdown.

“Too many people are asking, ‘Why are we still doing this if the guys you’re supposed to be helping keep murdering your soldiers?’ ” said a senior U.S. general….

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Afghanistan, Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, War in Afghanistan

Prayer Goes Social on Episcopal Church Drupal Website

The Episcopal Church has embraced the Internet to help its members embrace the Church. Among the features now available on its new website developed by Drupal developer Duo Consulting, church members can submit their prayers, view other prayers and ‘like’ prayers to offer their support. In addition to bringing information on missions, feasts, fasts, sermons and doctrine to its members, the Church also offers perspective for non-members on what the Church stands for and what it means to be Episcopalian.

The requirement to launch quickly, on budget and with a broad new and imaginative set of feature requirements dictated the Drupal open source content management platform and led the Church to Duo Consulting. The Episcopal Church and Duo worked together to construct a site that was easy for non-technical staff to manage. “The Duo team worked miracles, held our hands and delivered on time,” says Barry Merer, manager of web services and social media for the Episcopal Church.

Read it all and the new look site is there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Episcopal Church (TEC), Media

The myth of one cycle of eight-hour sleep as being the norm for men and women

We often worry about lying awake in the middle of the night – but it could be good for you. A growing body of evidence from both science and history suggests that the eight-hour sleep may be unnatural.

In the early 1990s, psychiatrist Thomas Wehr conducted an experiment in which a group of people were plunged into darkness for 14 hours every day for a month.

It took some time for their sleep to regulate but by the fourth week the subjects had settled into a very distinct sleeping pattern. They slept first for four hours, then woke for one or two hours before falling into a second four-hour sleep.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine, History, Psychology, Science & Technology

Splinter churches realign mainline Protestantism

The question now is whether these breakaway groups signal a seismic shift in American Protestantism, or just a few fissures in the theological terrain.

In some ways, the rifts are nothing new. American Protestants have been splintering since Roger Williams left Plymouth Colony in the 1630s, said Nancy Ammerman, a sociologist of religion at Boston University.

Yet the schisms counter a 20th-century trend in which ethnic and regional Protestant groups merged to form big-tent denominations such as the ELCA and PC(USA).

“What we may be experiencing at this point is the limit of that movement to draw a lot of diversity under one umbrella,” said Ammerman, author of “Pillars of Faith: American Congregations and Their Partners.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Episcopal Church (TEC), Lutheran, Other Churches, Presbyterian, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Wowow! The recent Cristiano Ronaldo BackHeel goal

Watch it all–my oh my; KSH.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Europe, Men, Spain, Sports

The Archbishop of Canterbury's Lent Book 2012: Love Unknown

Ruth Burrows has always been a very challenging writer on the life of prayer. When I first encountered her work in the early seventies, I was deeply struck by what she had to say about two things.

The first was about living with the disconnect between what you ”˜know’ is true and couldn’t live without and what you are actually feeling at any given moment. As with the great Carmelite teachers of prayer, St Teresa and St John of the Cross, this isn’t about ignoring, fearing or despising your feelings: it’s about not letting them dictate your deepest commitments. They are real, and they are powerful, they need to be recognized and accepted. But they are only part of the picture of how you make sense of yourself before God. Sister Ruth’s own autobiographical book, Before the Living God, recently republished, spells this out with painful clarity.

The second main theme is what puts this first one into proper perspective….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Archbishop of Canterbury, Books, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Lent, Spirituality/Prayer

More on Robinson Cavalcanti and his wife (II)–Two Nice Comments from a [London] Times article

Bishop John Ellison, the former Bishop of Paraguay who is now an assistant bishop in the Winchester diocese, told The Times: “I have known Bishop Cavalcanti for over 30 years, from when he was involved in student ministry in the South American scene. He was held in high regard as a Christian leader across South America. He was regarded as a key person by political leaders across the continent.”

Bishop Henry Scriven, the South American mission director for the Church Mission Society, said: “It is with great shock and sadness that we heard the news this morning of the death last night of Bishop and Mrs Cavalcanti. Bishop Robinson was a fearless defender of the faith and had a heart for the poor and the disadvantaged. His wife Miriam was a great support at all times and they were known for their hospitality. The Diocese experienced significant growth in Bishop Robinson’s episcopate.”

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Brazil, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, South America

More on Robinson Cavalcanti and his wife (I)–Anglican Ink article

A truly horrible story–read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Brazil, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, South America

(The Global Mail) Jess Hill on Syria–In Baba Amr, Snipers Shoot at Everything that Moves

Twenty-eight thousand men, women and children are trapped in Baba Amr. Last week, before American journalist Marie Colvin was killed alongside French photographer Remi Ochlik, Colvin reported that the Syrian army had dug a trench around the neighbourhood, making it almost impossible for residents to escape. On Monday, activists reported that 64 people were killed at a checkpoint in Homs. They were trying to flee Baba Amr.

Medical supplies aren’t just running low in the besieged suburb – they’re practically nonexistent. “People come to you with a huge injury, and you can’t do anything more than wrap their injury with a bandage,” he says. “After you go to the field hospital, and take what you can from the two or three doctors, you can’t do anything else. You have to go back home, or to the shelters we have, waiting for some miracle to happen.”

Read it all (be forewarned–a lot of disturbing content).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Middle East, Politics in General, Syria, Violence

(USA Today) Workers fear more cuts in retirement benefits

The economic recovery has not made Americans feel more secure about their financial future. In fact, many workers fear more cuts in retirement benefits and higher out-of-pocket health care costs, according to a survey by Towers Watson, a retirement consulting firm.

As a result of their worries, more than half, 55%, of workers say they are willing to give up some of their future pay increases in order to have more guaranteed income in retirement, the survey found. And 50% say they would also trade a portion of their pay to ensure health care benefits.

“This may reflect their firsthand experience with financial market volatility, continuing worries about the economy and fears of future cutbacks to benefits,” said Kevin Wagner, Towers Watson senior retirement consultant.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Pensions, Personal Finance, Psychology, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Barna Group–Survey on how How Pastors Plan to Improve their Churches

The nationwide research project was conducted by asking pastors in what ways they are likely to improve their churches in the next year. Respondents were presented with 12 possible activities and asked to rate the priority of each activity. Many, though not all, of these 12 activities related to getting assistance, expertise or resources from organizations outside the church.

Looking at the big picture of the research findings, pastors revealed that assessment was a significant strategic priority of today’s faith leaders. Of the dozen priorities examined in the study, pastors are most interested in getting clarity about their organization’s vision and mission. In all, 59% said they were “definitely” going to “assess your church’s vision and mission” in the next year. Out of the 12 improvement priorities assessed in the study, this easily ranked as highest.

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

([London] Times) Eviction of St Paul’s activists begins

Police and bailiffs moved in to evict protesters from the Occupy London site at St Paul’s Cathedral in the early hours of this morning.

The City of London Corporation said in a statement that it had begun to enforce High Court orders for the removal of the protest camp, which began on October 15 last year.

The corporation had called on protesters at the camp to remove their tents voluntarily, but the BBC estimated between 50 and 60 remained there today.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Christopher Lamb–Richard Dawkins' debate with Rowan Williams showed some telling misconceptions

During the debate, it seemed that at the heart of Dawkins’ difficulty with faith is his impoverished view of God and is failure to grasp more than the most simplistic understanding.
Towards the end he asked the archbishop: “Why don’t you see the extraordinary beauty of the idea that we can explain the world, life, how it started, from nothing? … Why clutter it up with something so messy as a god?”

Dr Williams replied that he doesn’t see clutter: “I’m not thinking of God as being shoehorned in.”

Dawkins then said: “That is exactly how I see God.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Apologetics, Archbishop of Canterbury, Atheism, Education, England / UK, Other Faiths, Philosophy, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

The Archbishop of York's Statement on the Proposed Controversial and Harsh Bill in Uganda

“The Anglican Church in Uganda submitted its views on David Bahati’s Private Member’s Bill formally when it was first tabled, and made clear that they were not in favour of introducing a death penalty for homosexuality. I completely support that position.

“It is important that across the world we stand in solidarity with people, flesh of our flesh, who are being in many cases victimized or demonized because of their sexual orientation….”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Primates, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), Church of Uganda, Law & Legal Issues, Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007, Religion & Culture, Sexuality