Daily Archives: April 5, 2012

(Reuters) Americans brace for next foreclosure wave

…a painful part two of the slump looks set to unfold: Many more U.S. homeowners face the prospect of losing their homes this year as banks pick up the pace of foreclosures.

“We are right back where we were two years ago. I would put money on 2012 being a bigger year for foreclosures than 2010,” said Mark Seifert, executive director of Empowering & Strengthening Ohio’s People (ESOP), a counseling group with 10 offices in Ohio.

“Last year was an anomaly, and not in a good way,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Personal Finance, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Recent Statistics for the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska

According to the U.S.Census Bureau’s figures, Nebraska has grown in population from 1,711,263 in 2000 to 1,826,341 in 2010. This represents a population growth of approximately 6.7% in this time frame. (Of passing interest, please note that the population of the United States as a whole went from 281,421,906 in 2000 to 308,745,538 in 2010, an overall American growth for the decade of 9.7%).

According to Episcopal Church statistics, the Diocese of Nebraska went from Average Sunday Attendance (or ASA) of 4,022 in 2000 to 2,814 in 2010. This represents a decline of 30.0% during this decade.

To see a pictorial representation of some of the statistics for the diocese of Nebraska you may examine the graph here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, TEC Bishops, TEC Data, TEC Parishes

Richard Stearns–A Dark Easter for Palestinian Christians

While the ancient Christian communities around Jerusalem await the miracle of the Holy Fire this week, I pray for another miracle — one that would give full religious freedom to the Christians in the West Bank and Gaza. Holy Week has long been a time of pilgrimage to Jerusalem; Christians have worshiped there since the birth of the church, and these sites are a core aspect of the devotion of Palestinian believers.
The restrictions on travel for worship are not only in force during Holy Week, but also for routine Sunday services, weddings, funerals, and baptisms throughout the year. Certainly, Israel can take care of its own security concerns while accommodating peaceful Palestinian Christian worship.

In a recent letter by 80 Palestinian Christian leaders, including the Greek Orthodox archbishop of Jerusalem, Palestinian Christians spoke out against the lack of religious freedom inside Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. They complained of being forced to endure an “assault on our natural and basic right to worship.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Law & Legal Issues, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Middle East, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle

(European Voice) The Financial Transactions Tax was always doomed to fail

When the European Union’s finance ministers met in Copenhagen on 30 March they gave the clearest indication yet of what has been clear to most observers for months: that the 27 member states cannot agree a tax on financial transactions. A tax on share deals modelled on the UK’s stamp duty might be possible, but a wider tax on financial trades is off the agenda for the foreseeable future. The German finance ministry, one of the strongest supporters of the tax, admitted as much at the meeting, calling for work to focus on a tax on share transactions.

Since June 2011, when the European Commission announced it would propose an FTT, it had been obvious that the plan would not fly…
Apparently heedless that the object was immoveable, José Manuel Barroso, the Commission president, last week made yet another attempt to exert irresistible force in support of the tax. He told members of national parliaments and the European Parliament that the revenue raised by the tax would allow member states a cut of up to 50% in their contributions to funding the EU.

Perhaps Barroso’s intransigence is inspired by the unfortunate fact that the FTT proposal was central to the Commission’s plans for financing the EU’s multiannual financial framework (MFF) for 2014 to 2020. Removing the idea of an EU-wide tax from the agenda leaves a big hole in Barroso’s plans for financing the MFF.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Stock Market, Taxes, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

(FT) Desmond Tutu, Bettina Gronblom–Holy Week calls for Reflection on Earning Money and Faith

Does this mean we should not enjoy all the earthly riches and goods? No. Enjoy them. Earn them. It is a misconception that one has to be poor to be spiritual, and that hard work should not be rewarded. What is important is finding the balance between greed and having enough, and defining what a joyful life means to us….
So how are we to correct the negative traits of capitalism? A Robin Hood tax, or Tobin tax, has been suggested. Yet there is a risk that such a tax is more likely to hit investors than banks. And it is not yet clear how it would discourage risky behaviour by banks.

We cannot tax ourselves out of this and hope that this will solve the problem because we are not addressing the root cause of the behaviour. We are in self-denial because we are treating the symptoms, not healing the patient.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Anglican Provinces, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance, Religion & Culture, Stock Market, The Banking System/Sector, Theology

([London] Times) The world can feed a growing population with science’s help

As our Eureka science magazine notes today, we waste 100 million tonnes of food a year. To throw away so much at a time when 925 million people are classed as hungry, and a further one billion are thought to be suffering from malnutrition, is as senselessly profligate as running a bath without inserting the bath plug. But eliminating the waste will never be enough to fill the world’s bellies.

Yes, selective breeding is starting to boost crop yields and improve food security in sub-Saharan Africa, just as it has been so successfully doing across Asia and the Americas over the past four decades. But without increased use of genetically modified crop varieties it seems inconceivable that food production will ever be abundant enough to keep pace with population growth.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Globalization, Science & Technology

(AP) Interfaith 'pilgrims' circle world on faith quest

Frederic and Anne-Laure Pascal are devout Roman Catholics who built their lives around their religion. When she lost her job last year, the young couple decided on an unlikely expression of their religious commitment: a worldwide “interfaith pilgrimage” to places where peace has won out over dueling dogmas.

Since October, the French couple has visited 11 nations from Iraq to Malaysia in an odyssey to find people of all creeds who have dedicated their lives to overcoming religious intolerance in some of the world’s most divided and war-torn corners.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Globalization, Inter-Faith Relations, Religion & Culture

Iran’s Efforts to Stir Afghan Violence Worry U.S.

Just hours after it was revealed that American soldiers had burned Korans seized at an Afghan detention center in late February, Iran secretly ordered its agents operating inside Afghanistan to exploit the anticipated public outrage by trying to instigate violent protests in the capital, Kabul, and across the western part of the country, according to American officials.

For the most part, the efforts by Iranian agents and local surrogates failed to provoke widespread or lasting unrest, the officials said. Yet with NATO governments preparing for the possibility of retaliation by Iran in the event of an Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities, the issue of Iran’s willingness and ability to foment violence in Afghanistan and elsewhere has taken on added urgency.

Read it all.

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

(NPR) A Rare Mix Created Silicon Valley's Startup Culture

In 1956, [William] Shockley won the Nobel Prize for co-inventing the transistor. His next dream was to make transistors out of silicon; he decided to set up his lab in Mountain View ”” near Palo Alto ”” largely for personal reasons.

“He’d grown up in Palo Alto,” Berlin says. Most importantly, she says, “his mother was still living in Palo Alto.”

Of course, it helped that nearby Stanford University was also doing federally funded electronics research. Shockley was a magnet who drew more brilliant scientists to the valley. Among them was Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel and the man who would come up with Moore’s Law ”” the observation that the number of transistors on a chip doubles about every two years.

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Education, History, Science & Technology

Ed Stetzer–some Reflections on the Spiritual Challenge of Ministering in Australia

Tim Sims recently shared some statistics on the lostness of Australia at a recent conference there. Scott Sanders provided these highlights of that research which I’d like to share with you:

“Church” has a negative perception among Aussies due to: church abuse, religious wars, hypocrisy, judgmentalism, and issues around money, as well as being seen as outdated, authoritarian and exclusive. Those not attending church have issues– real or perceived– which need to be addressed. The great news is Jesus is still viewed positively by the average Australian.

There have been little change in ‘Christian’ beliefs during the last 50 years: 74% of Australians still believe in God, 53% in heaven, 45% in life after death and interestingly 43% in the resurrection of Jesus. Yet as a church we tend to agree with the media’s perception that there is widespread disbelief. The reality is “Australians are very concerned about religion, just not sure that the religion we promote in our churches is the religion of Jesus.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Secularism, Theology

(Star-Telegram) Keeping faith during and after the Tornado in Texas

As a giant tornado bore down on his southwest Arlington church Tuesday, the Rev. Will Cotton led 82 children in day care singing Jesus Loves Me.

Windows broke, rainwater covered the floors, and winds ripped up trees and tore the roof off the St. Barnabas United Methodist Church early education center.

Later, even as Cotton sorted through his own wrecked home nearby, the tune didn’t change.

“Even in the midst of this, we see the hope of Easter in the faces of all the people coming together, the neighbors rallying around each other,” said Cotton, in his second year in Arlington after moving from blustery Lubbock.

“We take hope in the risen Christ. That is the very message of Holy Week.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, * Religion News & Commentary, Children, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Methodist, Music, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc., Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Lord Christ, who in the days of thy flesh didst hallow bread and wine to be a perpetual memorial of thy passion, and a never-failing means of fellowship with thee: Make us so to thirst after thy righteousness that through these holy mysteries we may be filled with all the fullness of thy divine life, and be made partakers of thy heavenly treasure; for thy glory’s sake.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Therefore, my beloved, shun the worship of idols. I speak as to sensible men; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.

–1 Corinthians 10:14-17

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Proposal to pay for contraceptive cost 'radically flawed,' say US Catholic bishops

Fundamentally, they noted, the HHS contraceptive mandate “still forces us to act against our conscience and teaching,” particularly because the new proposal does not modify the inclusion of sterilization and contraceptives, including some abortifacients, in the “preventive services” mandate.

“Those falling outside the government definition of ‘religious employer’ will be forced by the government to violate their own teachings within their very own institutions,” the bishops said. “Whatever funding and administrative mechanisms are ultimately chosen, it remains that many deeply religious institutions and individuals will be forbidden to provide even their own employees — or, in the case of educational institutions, their own students — with health coverage consistent with their values.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Science & Technology

(CNS) Pope reviews trip to Mexico, Cuba, says religious freedom is needed

Pope Benedict XVI said that during his recent journey to Mexico and Cuba, he experienced “unforgettable days of joy and hope.”

While he went as “a witness of Jesus Christ,” it was also an opportune occasion to call for reform, especially in allowing greater religious freedom, he said.

At his weekly general audience April 4 in St. Peter’s Square, the pope told an estimated 11,000 pilgrims and visitors about his March 23-28 visit.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Caribbean, Cuba, Mexico, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(Acton Institute Powerblog) Syria: ”˜Ethnic Cleansing’ in the Cradle of Christianity

The Barnabas Fund reports that the “city of Homs, the third largest in Syria, has now seen almost its entire Christian population of 50,000 to 60,000 flee.”

Read it all and watch the video.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, History, Middle East, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Syria, Violence

A Living Church Article on the new President of Bexley Hall and Seabury-Western seminaries

The Rev. Roger A. Ferlo compares his new calling as the first president of two federated Episcopal seminaries to helping an internet startup firm. Ferlo, Virginia Theological Seminary’s associate dean and director of its Institute for Christian Formation and Leadership, will become president of Bexley Hall and Seabury-Western seminaries beginning July 1.

“It’s kind of like venture capital,” he said. “I’m 60 years old. This is fabulous. I feel like it’s the culmination of my ministry to take these two seminaries and move them to a new place” of ministry.

The boards of trustees for both seminaries announced March 27 that they had approved the federation in unanimous votes. They will share one budget, one president and one board, but continue in their two locations: Seabury-Western in a building shared with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s national office in suburban Chicago and Bexley in its cooperative ministry with Trinity Lutheran Seminary, Columbus, Ohio.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Seminary / Theological Education, Theology