Daily Archives: April 20, 2012

Food Stamp Rolls to Grow Through 2014, CBO Says

The Congressional Budget Office said Thursday that 45 million people in 2011 received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, a 70% increase from 2007. It said the number of people receiving the benefits, commonly known as food stamps, would continue growing until 2014.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, Personal Finance, Poverty, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government

Fears Rise That Economic Recovery May Falter in Spring

Some of the same spoilers that interrupted the recovery in 2010 and 2011 have emerged again, raising fears that the winter’s economic strength might dissipate in the spring.

In recent weeks, European bond yields have started climbing. In the United States and elsewhere, high oil prices have sapped spending power. American employers remain skittish about hiring new workers, and new claims for unemployment insurance have risen. And stocks have declined.

There is a “light recovery blowing in a spring wind” with “dark clouds on the horizon,” Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, said Thursday….

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Europe, Federal Reserve, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government

Raja Shehadeh–Easter in Ramallah

Almost every year for over one hundred years on the Saturday before Orthodox Easter, the main street in Ramallah has been overtaken by marching boy scouts and girl scouts banging drums and blowing trumpets before tens of thousands of onlookers.

It isn’t much of a parade. The music is as loud and out of tune as it is enthusiastic. Yet I try never to miss Sabt el Nour and the rowdy procession celebrating the miraculous light that beamed from Christ’s tomb in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem the day before his resurrection.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, Israel, Middle East, Orthodox Church, Other Churches

Jonathan Weil–Hope for Treasury Bailout Profits Rests on Fuzzy Math

Here’s a breakdown of the numbers. The report, citing White House budget office figures, estimated $46 billion of costs under the Troubled Asset Relief Program to support struggling homeowners. It showed $2 billion of overall gains on the Treasury’s investments in various bailed-out companies, such as American International Group Inc. (AIG), some of which are held outside of TARP. Other Treasury programs to buy mortgage-backed securities and to guarantee money-market funds would produce $26 billion of gains, the report said.

Add up those categories, and the projected net cost so far is $18 billion. On top of that, there’s the current net cost of the government-sponsored housing financiers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which the Treasury pegged at $151 billion. So how did Treasury project a potential gain overall?

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Credit Markets, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Federal Reserve, Politics in General, The Banking System/Sector, The National Deficit, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package, The U.S. Government, Theology, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

(ENS) Chief Operating Officer Bishop Stacy Sauls’ opening remarks to Executive Council

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Executive Council, TEC Bishops

(ENS) House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson’s opening remarks to Executive Council

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Executive Council, House of Deputies President

(ENS) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’s opening remarks to Executive Council

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Executive Council, Presiding Bishop

Anglican Church in Australia upholds Traditional Standards for Sexual Behavior Among those Ordained

The annual meeting of the Australian church’s House of Bishops in Melbourne has adopted a protocol reaffirming the church’s position banning the ordination and deployment of non-celibate gay clergy.

On 29 March 2012 Anglican Media Sydney posted to its website the statement adopted by the meeting. It noted that “in comparison with other Bishops meetings, especially those associated with the Episcopal Church in the United States, the Australian agreement is being seen as a conservative stance.”

The protocols “express the common mind of the bishops as determined by consensus at our National Meeting” the bishops wrote, noting that they had agreed to “abide by them and renew this commitment annually by consensus.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(Church Times) Cornwall Council defends Paganism in RE lessons in schools

Cornwall Council confirmed this week that teaching about Paganism has been a religious-education option in the Duchy’s schools since a revision of the locally agreed RE syllabus last year. After claims of “witchcraft lessons” made in a Sunday newspaper last weekend, a spokeswoman said that Paganism was just one option avail­able to schools that were within sight of standing stones, or where some pupils had Pagan parents.

But the RE adviser for Cornwall, David Hampshire, said that the intention was wider. The option was developed after the Agreed Syllabus Conference decided to produce a specifically local element, “Cur­riculum Kernewek” (Cornish cur­ricu­lum), for the county, which has more Neolithic sites than anywhere else in Britain. “This includes in­formation about Cornwall’s many local saints and historic Christian associations, as well as Paganism,” Mr Hampshire said.

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

Fleming Rutledge–Beware of the Newsweekly Easter issues

By now I am sure that most savvy Christians are long since inured to the drivel that Time and Newsweek foist upon us every Easter and Christmas. It was not always thus. David van Biema (formerly of Time) and Kenneth Woodward (formerly of Newsweek) were knowledgeable, conscientious religion editors and took great care with their reporting (not to mention the estimable Peter Steinfels, late of The New York Times).

It’s very different today. Case in point: the cover story on heaven in this week’s Time. Who’s the author? None other than Jon Meacham, Sewanee graduate, author of several highly praised historical works (Franklin and Winston, American Gospel, and American Lion) and former editor of Newsweek. In addition, he has been on the vestry at St. Thomas Fifth Avenue.

Unfortunately, Meacham does not know when to back off gracefully from subjects he does not understand–which includes theology….

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, Eschatology, Media, Religion & Culture, Theology

Mark Oppenheimer reviews Ross Douthat's new Book on American Christianity

Mr. Douthat mentions suburbanization as a cause of our religious decline. His other causes include political polarization, brought on by Vietnam and worsened by the abortion debate; the sexual revolution; “ever-growing wealth”; and a “global perspective,” which, in introducing Christians to other faiths, undermined their convictions.

Finally, the old WASP elite was replaced in the class structure by a media, university, and intellectual meritocracy that either rejected Christianity outright or demanded that it accommodate the new post-1960s liberalism.

Of all these Mr. Douthat is shrewdest about the role of wealth. “Entering the ministry had always involved sacrifice,” he writes, but with salaries rising so swiftly in other sectors, “the scale of that sacrifice grew considerable steeper during the 1960s and ’70s.” The quality of the clergy declined, as did its ability to preach about charity and encourage sacrifice. Worshipers grew richer, and on Sundays they wanted to drive S.U.V.’s to megachurch campuses, guilt free.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Books, Church History, History, Religion & Culture

What Are the Seven Areas Which an Episcopal Seminary Graduate is to Know Before Ordination?

Ah, ah, ah–no looking or googling. Guess first please, then read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Education, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(NY Times) With Election Days Away, Sarkozy's Outlook Grows Dim

…the team around him has quietly started to have doubts about victory, and is debating the best strategy to try to overcome serious odds.

Mr. Sarkozy is in deep trouble and is looking, for now, as if he could be the first one-term French president since 1981. He appears to be running neck and neck with his main challenger, the Socialist candidate François Hollande, in the first round of voting on Sunday, when 10 candidates are competing. But all the opinion polls show Mr. Sarkozy losing to Mr. Hollande in a face-off two weeks later.

His possible defeat carries implications that would radiate far beyond Paris. Mr. Sarkozy has had contentious but valuable relationships with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, a fellow conservative, on European and euro zone issues; with the British on defense issues, including the Libyan war; and with President Obama on issues involving Iran and Israel, NATO and Russia.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, France, Germany, Politics in General, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Make our hearts to burn within us, O Christ, as we walk with thee in the way and listen to thy words; that we may go in the strength of thy presence and thy truth all our journey through, and at its end behold thee, in the glory of the eternal Trinity, God for ever and ever.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is right? But even if you do suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence; and keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are abused, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing right, if that should be God’s will, than for doing wrong. For Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit….

–1 Peter 3:13-18

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Theo Epstein not worried over Chicago Cubs' poor start

Along with their 3-10 record, the Cubs entered Thursday ranked last in National League home runs, 14th in slugging percentage, 13th in runs scored and 15th in pitching.

“You never want to start out poorly,” baseball President Theo Epstein said. “There are a lot of things we can improve upon, and we will. But you also don’t want to read too much into one homestand and one road trip. Certainly crystalize some areas we need to continue to strive to get better at.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Men, Sports

(USA Today) More congregations turn to Facebook, Web, high-tech outreach

Christ Fellowship exemplifies most of the latest ways churches dramatically extend their reach of church beyond any one time or local address. Such congregations signal “a willingness to meet new challenges,” says Scott Thumma, of the Hartford Institute for Religion Research. He’s the author of a study by Faith Communities Today (FACT) of how churches, synagogues and mosques use the Internet and other technology.

FACT’s national survey of 11,077 of the nation’s 335,000 congregations, released in March, found seven in 10 U.S. congregations had websites, and four in 10 had Facebook pages by 2010, Thumma says.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Western Massachusetts Episcopal Diocese set to announce 5 bishop nominees

Church officials said the new bishop will face daunting tasks, including turning around congregations with massive membership declines and repairing deteriorating church plants.

Over the past 10 years, average Sunday attendance has plummeted and 15 congregations have been deemed “at risk.”

A number of Episcopal churches have also closed over the past few years.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils