Daily Archives: March 19, 2012

(WSJ) Where Was the Bracket Born?

Show an empty tournament bracket to a random sample of Americans and they’re likely to make the same instant association: NCAA basketball.

This simple design, which is used whenever a competition needs to winnow a large group of contestants to a single winner, has become a much-admired cultural meme. If there were a hall of fame for sports graphics, the bracket would be the first inductee.

But as ubiquitous as brackets have become, they’re also the center of a surprising mystery: Nobody knows for sure where the idea came from.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Education, History, Men, Sports, Young Adults

(USA Today) Oliver Thomas–A Christian view of American Exceptionalism

America’s self-understanding as a shining “city on a hill” helps explain both our westward expansion and our paternalistic foreign policy. From Cuba and Central America to the Philippines, Vietnam and Iraq, Americans have been willing to impose their will on others. Some will argue it was because we wanted their land or oil. Perhaps. But it was also because we thought we knew what was best.

But probe the biblical metaphor that forms the foundation of the American psyche and you find that exceptionalism is always for service ”” never for favor. The prophets of Israel emphasized this point. Even the ancient book of Genesis establishes this baseline principle when God speaks to the patriarch Abraham: “By your descendants all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.”

That’s a whole different way of thinking about the world and our place in it. If there is such a thing as American exceptionalism, it is for service, not domination.

Read it all.

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

The Latest Numbers from Intrade on the Republican Nomination Process and the Fall Election

Mitt Romney to be Republican Presidential Nominee in 2012 90.0

Barack Obama to be re-elected President in 2012 60.0

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

(WSJ) Alan Blinder–The U.S. Cruises Toward a 2013 Fiscal Cliff

At some point, the spectacle America is now calling a presidential campaign will turn away from comedy and start focusing on things that really matter””such as the “fiscal cliff” our federal government is rapidly approaching.

The what? A cliff is something from which you don’t want to fall. But as I’ll explain shortly, a number of decisions to kick the budgetary can down the road have conspired to place a remarkably large fiscal contraction on the calendar for January 2013””unless Congress takes action to avoid it.

Well, that gives Congress plenty of time, right? Yes. But if you’re like me, the phrase “unless Congress takes action” sends a chill down your spine””especially since the cliff came about because of Congress’s past inability to agree.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, Budget, Economy, History, House of Representatives, Medicare, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, Social Security, Taxes, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

Mats Tunehag–Business as Mission: A Challenging Rediscovery

Many Evangelicals often put an emphasis on the Great Commission, but sometimes make a great omission. This is only one of three mandates we have. The first one God gave us is the creation mandate, Genesis 1 – 3: we are to be creative and create good things, for ourselves and others, being good stewards of all things entrusted to us ”“ even in the physical arena. This of course includes being creative in business ”“ to create wealth. Wealth creation is a godly talent:“Remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth.”(Deut 8:18) As Christians we often focus more on wealth distribution, but there is no wealth to distribute unless it has been created.

The second mandate is the great commandment which includes loving your neighbor. In the first and second mandates you find a basis for what modern day economists call CSR ”“ Corporate Social Responsibility. It is about creating wealth and producing products and services in ways which consider ”˜your neighbor’.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Evangelicals, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Missions, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

(ABC Aus.) Austen Ivereigh–Speaking for the Silent, Roman Catholic Voices on Same Sex Marriage

The …[groups] opposing the change have been, in the main, religious. Behind the Coalition for Marriage, which is running a petition, are evangelical Christian organisations. The Catholic Church – where last weekend a judicious bishops’ letter opposing the change was read to more than a million congregants in 2,500 parishes across England and Wales – is the principal institutional campaigner, with the Archbishop of Canterbury also opposing the move.

They have laid out their reasons carefully and moderately, noting that marriage is a conjugal relationship of a man and a woman apt for the begetting of children who are raised by their natural parents; that this arrangement is both unique and uniquely beneficial to society and to children; and that there is something inappropriate about the state even claiming to have the power by law to redefine it.

They have been careful to point out how little this is about “gay” or anyone else’s rights (we would need to have the same debate if the call were for polygamy, or for siblings to marry) but about the meaning of marriage, and whether it should be preserved or altered.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Philosophy, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Science & Technology, Sexuality, Theology

(WSJ Houses of Worship) Anne Jolis: Can Britain Tolerate Christians?

Fifteen years ago, hoteliers Peter and Hazelmary Bull made some mocking headlines when reporters noticed their stodgy guest policy: No double rooms for unmarried couples. “You have got to have principles,” Mrs. Bull told the Mirror at the time, under the headline “You Couldn’t Make It Up.”

The Bulls had been turning away unwed mini-breakers from their Cornish guesthouse since 1986, and no one had sued them for it yet. It was, after all, no crime to be the least-cool B&B in England.

That appears to have changed. Last month a British appeals court upheld a £3,600 ($5,800) fine against the Bulls, who in 2008 turned down Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy for a double room despite their being joined in a civil partnership….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

([London] Times) Leading Anglicans Lobbying against John Sentamu for next Canterbury Archbishop

Leading Anglicans are lobbying against Dr John Sentamu, the favourite candidate to become the next Archbishop of Canterbury, by suggesting that he is too old.
Dr Sentamu, whom liberals regard as too conservative on gay marriage, emerged as an early favourite to replace Rowan Williams when he steps down at the end of the year. But critics have privately questioned the African-born archbishop’s suitability for the role, pointing out that, at 62, he is already a year older than Dr Williams.

One insider said: “Just as the initials ABC are used to designate the Archbishop of Canterbury, the initials ABY have been used for York. But now, for those against him, they are being used to mean ”˜Anyone But York’.”

Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(BBC) Trevor Timpson–The Rowan Williams approach to Anglican controversies

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Global South Churches & Primates, Instruments of Unity, Lambeth 2008, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Windsor Report / Process

(Guardian) Dave Silverman–Why American Atheists is advertising to Jews and Muslims

The greater New York City area (including Brooklyn, and central and northern New Jersey) is home to millions of atheists, including many who still engage in religious activities, including Jewish and Muslim rituals. While we have little interest in arguing against cultural affirmations, we are eager to question the false foundations for religious ideas ”“ and to call out atheists who’re helping keep irrationality alive.

Atheism needs the involvement of atheists, deserves the support of atheists ”“ and that’s every bit as true of atheists who read Hebrew or Arabic, as it is of anyone else.

Read it all.

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

Religion and Ethics Newsweekly–Moral Questions After Afghan Massacre

WILLIAM GALSTON (Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution): Good to be back…[on the show]

{KIM] LAWTON: How does what happened in Afghanistan this week affect the moral calculus of how the US proceeds there?

GALSTON: In my judgment, this is a really tough one. On the one hand, as the defense secretary said, in the fog of war terrible things happen. To engage in a war is to commit yourself to a process that you can’t entirely control, and events like this unfortunately are almost inevitable. On the other hand, we are pursuing a kind of forward strategy, having our troops not just in the large bases but also interspersed with civilians in the countryside, and that makes it more likely that events of this sort will happen, but unfortunately the United States and its allies have reached the conclusion that this is the only way to prosecute the war with any chance of success. So now we have to choose between our strategy and the inevitable morally troubling consequences of that strategy.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Afghanistan, America/U.S.A., Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Theology, War in Afghanistan

(Reuters) Boko Haram talks in doubt as mediator quits

A Muslim cleric brokering peace talks between Nigeria’s government and Islamist militant group Boko Haram said on Sunday he was quitting the negotiations because he doubted the government’s sincerity after information was leaked.

The departure of Datti Ahmed, a former close ally of Boko Haram’s founder, could be a major blow for the discussions which were only in their early stages.

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Africa, Nigeria

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Joseph

O God, who from the family of your servant David raised up Joseph to be the guardian of your incarnate Son and the spouse of his virgin mother: Give us grace to imitate his uprightness of life and his obedience to your commands; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Lord and heavenly Father, who hast given unto us thy people the true bread that cometh down from heaven, even thy Son Jesus Christ: Grant that our souls may so be fed by him who giveth life unto the world, that we may abide in him and he in us, and thy Church be filled with the power of his unending life; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

I will sing of thy steadfast love, O LORD, for ever; with my mouth I will proclaim thy faithfulness to all generations. For thy steadfast love was established for ever, thy faithfulness is firm as the heavens.

–Psalm 89:1-2

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

NPR on the New Spring TV Shows–NBC's "Awake" one to Consider

Years ago, networks would debut their cheesiest programs now, throwing on seriously flawed shows to fill time between important ratings periods in February and May. But now, towards the end of the TV season, networks are rolling out their riskiest and most distinctive series ideas – outside the stampede of new shows that typically start in the fall.

Consider NBC’s “Awake,” which takes a risk by being complex. “Harry Potter” alum Jason Isaacs plays a police detective who wakes after a car crash to find he’s moving between two different realities….

[ERIC] DEGGANS: This might be the most ambitious attempt to reinvent the cop drama yet. It keeps viewers guessing by sprinkling clues across two different worlds.

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Movies & Television

U.S. Faces a Tricky Task in Assessment of Data on Iran

While American spy agencies have believed that the Iranians halted efforts to build a nuclear bomb back in 2003, the difficulty in assessing the government’s ambitions was evident two years ago, when what appeared to be alarming new intelligence emerged, according to current and former United States officials.

Intercepted communications of Iranian officials discussing their nuclear program raised concerns that the country’s leaders had decided to revive efforts to develop a weapon, intelligence officials said.

That, along with a stream of other information, set off an intensive review and delayed publication of the 2010 National Intelligence Estimate, a classified report reflecting the consensus of analysts from 16 agencies. But in the end, they deemed the intercepts and other evidence unpersuasive, and they stuck to their longstanding conclusion.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Defense, National Security, Military, Science & Technology

Youcef Nadarkhani has now been imprisoned for 888 days

Please remember him in prayer.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Death / Burial / Funerals, Iran, Law & Legal Issues, Middle East, Parish Ministry, Prison/Prison Ministry, Religion & Culture

Egyptian Christians Live in Fear as Islamic Government Takes Control

Burned-out rubble is all that’s left of Christian shopkeeper Abskharon Suleiman’s appliance store in the northern Egyptian village of Sharbat. His home was destroyed as well as shops owned by his adult children ”“ all targeted because they are Christians.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Coptic Church, Egypt, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Violence

The Anglican Church of Nigeria Responds to Rowan Williams' Announcement

From here:

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd and Rt. Hon. Dr. Rowan Williams took over the leadership of the Anglican Communion in 2002 when it was a happy family. Unfortunately, he is leaving behind a Communion in tatters: highly polarized, bitterly factionalized, with issues of revisionist interpretation of the Holy Scriptures and human sexuality as stumbling blocks to oneness, evangelism and mission all around the Anglican world.

It might not have been entirely his own making, but certainly “crucified under Pontius Pilate”. The lowest ebb of this degeneration came in 2008, when there were, so to say, two “Lambeth” Conferences one in the UK, and an alternative one, GAFCON in Jerusalem. The trend continued recently when many Global South Primates decided not to attend the last Primates’ meeting in Dublin, Ireland.
Since Dr. Rowan Williams did not resign in 2008, over the split Lambeth Conference, one would have expected him to stay on in office, and work assiduously to ”˜mend the net’ or repair the breach, before bowing out of office. The only attempt, the covenant proposal, was doomed to fail from the start, as “two cannot walk together unless they have agreed”.

For us, the announcement does not present any opportunity for excitement. It is not good news here, until whoever comes as the next leader pulls back the Communion from the edge of total destruction. To this end, we commit our Church, the Church of Nigeria, (Anglican Communion) to serious fasting and prayers that God will do “a new thing”, in the Communion.

Nevertheless, we join others to continue in prayer for Dr. Rowan Williams and his family for a more fruitful endeavour in their post ”“ Canterbury life.

–(The Most Rev.) Nicholas D. Okoh is Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of Nigeria