Daily Archives: August 11, 2012

(The Tablet) Trevor Mostyn on the Christian Community in Syria–Under Siege

Despite heroic stories of the protection given by members of Syria’s Sunni majority to Christian shopkeepers, Christian refugees are fleeing into northern Lebanon as fast as Iraq’s three million refugees are pouring from Syria back into Iraq. Indeed, one of the reasons that Russia has refused to abandon President Assad is its feeling of responsibility for Syria’s Orthodox Christian community.

Meanwhile some 90 per cent of the Christians of Homs are said to have fled to Jordan recently, persecuted by a group claiming to belong to Al Qaeda. And among the four members of President Assad’s inner circle killed by the Free Syrian Army on 17 July was General Daoud Rajiha, Syria’s Eastern Orthodox defence minister. The papal nuncio, Archbishop Mario Zenari, described the conflict as “dragging the country towards, destruction, towards unspeakable suffering and death”.
Some of the rebels today angrily accuse Syria’s Christians of collaborating with the regime but a fair number of Christians have supported the rebellion which began as a mere protest movement against a still popular President Assad in March 2011.

It is a far cry from his taking of power 12 years ago…

Read it all.

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

Archbishop Timothy Dolan–The Church and Accountability

First, the reply [from Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops] noted our efforts to defend marriage from attempts to weaken it, especially through last summer’s sadly successful state law which presumed to change the immutable definition of marriage as the lifelong, faithful, lifegiving union of one man and one woman. The Holy See shared our disappointment over the result, but did commend the Catholic community here for vigorously exercising its duty as believers and as loyal citizens in defending marriage.

Secondly, Cardinal Ouellet, on behalf of the Apostolic See, expressed concern about threats to religious freedom in the very country that has been looked to as the guarantor and defender of that first of our liberties given us by God.

Thirdly, and soberly, the letter brought up the continuing painful effects of the sexual abuse crisis, noting how the survivors, their families, the faithful, our priests””the overwhelming majority living virtuously””and the entire Church have suffered…

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, Theology

Economist Leader–Should Angela Merkel Consider a Controlled Euro Break-up?

….for this very practical woman there is also a practical reason to start contingency planning for a break-up: it is looking ever more likely. Greece is buckling (see article). Much of southern Europe is also in pain, while the northern creditor countries are becoming ever less forgiving: in a recent poll a narrow majority of Germans favoured bringing back the Deutschmark. A chaotic disintegration would be a calamity. Even as Mrs Merkel struggles to find a solution, her aides are surely also sensibly drawing up a plan to prepare for the worst.

This week our briefing imagines what such a “Merkel memorandum” might say (see article). It takes a German point of view, but its logic would apply to the other creditor countries. Its conclusions are stark””not least in terms of which euro member it makes sense to keep or drop. But the main message is one of urgency. For the moment, breaking up the euro would be more expensive than trying to hold it together. But if Europe just keeps on arguing, that calculation will change….

Read it all.

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, Foreign Relations, Germany, Greece, Politics in General, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

PBS' Religion and Ethics Newsweekly–Response to Sikh Temple Shooting

KIM LAWTON (Managing Editor and Guest Anchor): There has been an outpouring of interfaith sympathy and support for the US Sikh community after last Sunday’s attack (August 5) at a temple near Milwaukee that took the lives of six worshipers. In what officials called an act of domestic terrorism, a gunman with neo-Nazi ties opened fire as local Sikhs””or “sicks” as some adherents call themselves””had gathered for a worship service. Religious groups across the spectrum condemned the attack. Many communities held prayer services and vigils to remember the victims and to pray for religious tolerance. Groundswell, the social action initiative of Auburn Seminary in New York, gathered thousands of messages of hope and healing for Milwaukee’s Sikh community. They called the project “We Are All Sikhs Today.” Groundswell’s director, Valarie Kaur, who is Sikh, delivered the messages in person. She joins me now from Milwaukee.

Valarie, thank you for being with us. Why did you feel it was important to bring these messages?

VALARIE KAUR (Groundswell, Auburn Seminary): Well, …this is a tragedy not just for the Sikh community, but for all Americans, and I know that many Americans were hungry to express their love and support in some way.

Read or watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Inter-Faith Relations, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology, Violence

(CS Monitor) Help wanted: Geek squads for US cybersecurity

Finding enough qualified men and women to protect America’s cyber networks stands as one of the central challenges to America’s cybersecurity. Even in the computer age, people are essential. In the field of cybersecurity, they are also lacking.

Cybersecurity breaches cost America billions of dollars a year. Meanwhile, cyberattacks on America’s critical infrastructure increased 17-fold between 2009 and 2011. To defend the cybersecurity of both private businesses and government agencies, it is time for a serious geek surge.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Blogging & the Internet, Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Science & Technology, The U.S. Government, Young Adults

(Public Discourse) David Lapp–What Marriage Means in Today’s “New Normal”

The New York Times’ [February 2012]… story that more than half of births to American women under age 30 now occur outside of marriage, and the conversation spurred by Charles Murray’s new book, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960 ”“ 2010, have shifted public gaze to a population largely ignored in the scholarly literature of the past few decades: the 58 percent of Americans with a high school diploma but no college degree””what some might call “working class.”

Nonmarital births have been common among Americans without a high school diploma for at least thirty years: as the 2010 State of Our Unions reports, in 1982 33 percent of births to women without a high school diploma occurred outside of marriage, compared to 13 percent of births to high-school educated women. But in the past thirty years, nonmarital births to high-school educated women surged: in the late 2000s’, 44 percent of births to high-school educated women occurred outside of marriage. (By comparison, only 6 percent of births to college-educated women were outside of marriage.) It is the behavioral changes of this “moderately educated middle”””the 58 percent of high-school educated Americans””that put the “normal” into “the new normal” that the Times describes.

Furthermore, the “new normal” is not driven primarily by an increase in single mothers, but in the number of cohabiting couples….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Children, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Marriage & Family, Men, Personal Finance, Theology, Women

(NY Times) If the Sikh Temple Had Been a Mosque

The narrative that has emerged in both media coverage and public discourse since… [the day of the violent shooting in Wisconsin] has been one of religious mistaken identity. It presumes that the killer, identified as a white supremacist named Wade M. Page, may have shot the Sikhs because he ignorantly believed they were Muslim.

Such a story line is accurate as far as it goes. Hundreds of times since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Sikhs have been the victims of bias crimes. The perpetrators have invariably assumed that because Sikh men wear turbans and have beards they are Muslims, even specifically Taliban. How terrible it is that it has taken the slayings in Wisconsin to serve as a national teachable moment about the theology and practices of the Sikh religion.

Yet the mistaken-identity narrative carries with it an unspoken, even unexamined premise. It implies that somehow the public would have ”” even should have ”” reacted differently had Mr. Page turned his gun on Muslims attending a mosque. It suggests that such a crime would be more explicable, more easily rationalized, less worthy of moral outrage.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Media, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Violence

(WSJ) Rising Health, Pension Costs and other Challenges Mean it is a Tough Time for Cities

Fiscal woes that have caused high-profile bankruptcies in California are surfacing across the country as municipalities struggle with uneven growth and escalating health and pension costs following the worst recession since the 1930s.

Budget crunches already have prompted Michigan lawmakers to authorize emergency fiscal managers, and led the mayor of Scranton, Pa., to temporarily cut the pay of all city workers to the minimum wage.

In a majority of the nation’s 19,000 municipalities””urban and rural, big and small””stagnant property tax revenues, less aid from states and rising costs are forcing less dramatic but still difficult steps.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, City Government, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Pensions, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Taxes, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Urban/City Life and Issues

Mitt Romney Picks Paul Ryan of Wisconsin to be his running mate

In choosing Mr. Ryan, Mr. Romney was looking for a running mate to help shake up the race in the final three months of the race. He is seen as a rising star in the Republican Party and a favorite among conservative activists who view him as deeply committed to their fiscal principles.

But Mr. Ryan, a member of Congress since 1999, is also a lightning rod for Democrats who view him as the epitome of the Republican vision of deep cuts in social spending and entitlement programs. Unlike Mr. Romney, Mr. Ryan has spent nearly his entire career in Washington either in or around the federal government.

As chairman of the House Budget Committee, he pushed his colleagues to boldly stake out an uncompromising position on the nation’s fiscal burdens.

Read it all. (For those who are blog history buffs, you may be interested to recall Barack Obama opts for ”˜bare-knuckle fighter’ Joe Biden).

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

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Clare of Assisi

O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich: Deliver us, we pray thee, from an inordinate love of this world, that, inspired by the devotion of thy servant Clare, we may serve thee with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O gracious and holy Father, give us wisdom to perceive thee, diligence to seek thee, patience to wait for thee, eyes to behold thee, a heart to meditate upon thee, and a life to proclaim thee; through the power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Saint Benedict (c.480”“543)

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

A Psalm of the Sons of Korah. A Song. On the holy mount stands the city he founded; the LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwelling places of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God. Among those who know me I mention Rahab and Babylon; behold, Philistia and Tyre, with Ethiopia–“this one was born there,” they say. And of Zion it shall be said, “This one and that one were born in her”; for the Most High himself will establish her. The LORD records as he registers the peoples, “This one was born there.” Singers and dancers alike say, “All my springs are in you.”

-Psalm 87

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Arnold Eisen: A New Page for Jewish Learning

The Orthodox community’s engagement and population, meanwhile, continue to grow. Orthodox households now make up a third of the Jewish population in New York and its suburbs. The ultra-Orthodox birthrate, meanwhile, is three times that of non-Orthodox Jewish New Yorkers.

But what about the rest of the Jewish population? How can they be offered a sense of community and meaning? What learning could galvanize non-Orthodox Jewish minds, stir our hearts, nourish our souls? How can we include the voices of all those who want to engage in Jewish study, women and men?

I propose a different page for Jewish learning, one that is open to the larger world and bears the impact of modern thinking. It would cleave faithfully to texts, rituals, history and faith while being informed by art, music, drama, poetry, politics and law.

Read it all.

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