Daily Archives: September 5, 2012

(BBC) Former Egypt culture minister charged with corruption

A former Egyptian culture minister has been charged with corruption.

State media said Farouk Hosni, who served for more than two decades under Hosni Mubarak, had failed to explain how he had about $3m (£1.9m) in assets.

Mr Hosni insisted that his wealth had been legally obtained through investments and sales of his paintings.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Economy, Egypt, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Middle East, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Theology

RNS Takes us on a Religious Tour of Charlotte, North Carolina

The host city for the Democratic National Convention is not a particularly political place. Charlotte, N.C., is known for three things: banking, NASCAR and religion.

And when it comes to religion, Billy Graham’s spirit looms large….

“Religion still drives the town, though not as much as it used to,” said Ken Garfield, former religion editor of The Charlotte Observer and now communications director for the city’s Myers Park United Methodist Church.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Office of the President, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

(USA Today) Religious labels matter less in 2012 campaign

There aren’t any white Protestants on the presidential ballot this year ”” a first in American history.

Instead, the race features two Catholic candidates for vice president, and a Mormon Republican and African-American mainline Protestant for president.

Perhaps lucky for all of them, voters care more about issues such as social justice or gay marriage than they do about denominational brands….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Office of the President, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Christianity Today) Supreme Court's Health-Care Ruling Could Weaken Charity Tax Breaks

The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act””or “Obamacare,” as some have dubbed it””has advocates of faith-based nonprofits concerned about potential unintended “collateral damage” to their bottom lines.

The worry: Chief Justice John Roberts’s nod to lawmakers’ wide discretion to impose taxes””and to condition taxes to influence behavior””could pose threats both to charities’ tax exemptions and to donors’ tax deductions.

“It’s an issue that’s definitely on our radar,” said Rhett Butler, government liaison for the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

US Slips Down the Ranks of Global Competitiveness

The United States has slipped further down a global ranking of the world’s most competitive economies, according to a World Economic Forum (WEF) survey released on Wednesday.

The world’s largest economy, which was placed 5th last year, fell two positions to the 7th spot – marking its fourth year of decline.

A lack of macroeconomic stability, the business community’s continued mistrust of the government and concerns over its fiscal health were some of the reasons for the downgrade, according to the annual survey.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Globalization, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, The U.S. Government

Notable and Quotable

To ask today’s regulators to save us from tomorrow’s crisis using yesterday’s toolbox is to ask a border collie to catch a Frisbee by first applying Newton’s law of gravity.

–Andrew Haldane, Executive Director for Financial Stability of the Bank of England, as cited this morning on Bloomberg Television

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Economy, England / UK, History

In Canada, a New $500K program to revitalize theological education

This September, Emmanuel College will launch a new program that its creators hope will revitalize theological education.

Founded in 1928 and associated with the United Church of Canada, Emmanuel College is a constituent college of Victoria University in the University of Toronto.

The two-year Teaching for Ministry (TFM) program has been made possible by a $500,000, five-year grant from the Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc. It will produce “scholars”¦uniquely prepared to teach the next generation of the church’s ministers,” said a statement by Mark Toulouse, principal of Emmanuel College.

Read it all.

Posted in Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(Huffington Post) Katie Granju–our Public Health Crisis over the Abuse of Prescription Drugs

Our nation is in the midst of a public health emergency the likes of which we have not seen since the first decade of AIDS’ spread across America. And much like the early years of the AIDS epidemic, the victims of the current crisis are both vilified and ignored, the families of the victims are shamed into silence, and the public at large doesn’t know enough to protect itself.

I am speaking of drug overdose, which is now killing tens of thousands of Americans annually, while leaving many thousands more mentally and physically disabled for the rest of their lives. The vast majority of drug overdose deaths are the result of two types of highly addictive, and highly profitable, prescription drugs: opiates and benzodiazapenes. In 2010, one of the more than 25, 000 Americans who died as the result of drug overdose was someone I adored with all my heart: my 18-year-old firstborn, my son Henry.

Before I learned that Henry was addicted to pills, I simply had no clue that the problem of pill addiction and overdose was quietly yet savagely ripping apart the East Tennessee community in which we make our home.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Theology

(Telegraph) Christians should 'leave their beliefs at home or get another job'

Christians should leave their religious beliefs at home or accept that a personal expression of faith at work, such as wearing a cross, means they might have to resign and get another job, government lawyers have said.

Landmark cases, brought by four British Christians, including two workers forced out of their jobs after visibly wearing crosses, have been heard today at the European Court of Human Rights
David Cameron, the Prime Minister, has previously pledged to change the law to protect religious expression at work but official legal submissions on Tuesday to Strasbourg human rights judges made a clear “difference between the professional and private sphere”.

James Eadie QC, acting for the government, told the European court that the refusal to allow an NHS nurse and a British Airways worker to visibly wear a crucifix at work “did not prevent either of them practicing religion in private”, which would be protected by human rights law.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Economy, England / UK, Europe, Inter-Faith Relations, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Secularism

Jacques Ellul on our world of veiled, hidden, and secret gods

”¦[Idolatry] has not disappeared; far from it. If there is no need to withdraw the word “God” from idolatrous confusion there is a need to give the word “God” meaning, by denunciation, challenge, and accusation against the veiled, hidden, and secret gods, who besiege and seduce all the more effectively because they do not openly declare themselves as gods.

It is clear that the task facing Christians and the church differs entirely according to whether we think of ourselves as being in a secularised, social, lay, and grown-up world which is ready to hear a demythologised, rationalised, explicated, and humanised gospel – the world and the gospel being in full and spontaneous harmony because both want to be religionless – or whether we think of ourselves as being in a world inhabited by hidden gods, a world haunted by myths and dreams, throbbing with irrational impulses, swaying from mystique to mystique, a world to which the Christian revelation has once again to play the role of liberator and destroyer of the sacred obsessions in order to liberate man and bring him, not to the self his demons are making him want to be, but to the self his Father wills him to be.’

[Yet] at the mention of a struggle of faith against the modern idols, which are the real ones, I immediately hear indignant protests…

–Jacques Ellul, The New Demons (New York: Seabury Press, 1975 E.T. of the 1973 French original), pp. 227-228 (my emphasis)

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, History, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Secularism, Sociology, Wicca / paganism

Encouraging Story for a Wednesday Morning–A man's life can be changed with forgiveness

When Stakwell Yurenimo, a Samburu in northern Kenya, did well on his eighthgrade exams, the Kenyan government informed him that he had qualified to go to a high school that they would choose. They also chose his roommate, a young man named Paul, who was a member of the enemy tribe, the Turkana. Stakwell determined in his mind that there was no way he would room with a Turkana. In fact, part of his culture demanded that in order to be respected as a man, he needed to kill a Turkana….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Kenya, Men, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sports, Teens / Youth, Theology

(NPR) David Foster Wallace–The Writer Who Was The Voice Of A Generation

When writer David Foster Wallace committed suicide in 2008 at the age of 46, U.S. literature lost one of its most influential living writers.

The definitive account of Wallace’s life and what led to his suicide was published in the New Yorker in March of the following year.

Now D.T. Max, who wrote that article, has written a new a biography of Wallace, Every Love Story is a Ghost Story. It’s a deeply researched look into the life and work of a writer who was called the voice of his generation. Max spoke to Guy Raz, host of weekends on All Things Considered.

Read (or better listen to) it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, History, Poetry & Literature, Psychology, Suicide

(CNS) With former students, pope focuses on search for truth, unity

The joy of faith comes from seeking the truth, not claiming to possess it, the pope said in his homily.

However, the pope said, even claiming to have received the gift of truth through faith is difficult today because, in the eyes of many, claiming to know the truth has is labeled intolerance.

Rather than claiming truth as a possession, he said, Christians must allow themselves to be led and guided by the truth so that others would see how beautiful and beneficial it is and begin seeking the truth themselves

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pope Benedict XVI, Preaching / Homiletics, Roman Catholic, Theology

(Washington Post) Steven Pearlstein–Can we save American capitalism?

A dozen Labor Days ”” and three presidential elections ”” ago, the world was in the thrall of American-style capitalism. Not only had it vanquished communism, but it was widening its lead over Japan Inc. and European-style socialism.

Today, that economic hegemony seems a distant memory. We have watched the bursting of two giant financial bubbles, wiping out the paper wealth many of us thought we had in our homes and retirement accounts. We have suffered through two long recessions and a lost decade of income growth for the average family. We continue to rack up large trade and budget deficits. Virtually all of the country’s economic growth and productivity gains have been captured by the top 10 percent of households, while moving up the economic ladder has become more difficult. And other countries are beginning to turn to China, Germany, Sweden and even Israel for lessons in how to organize their capitalist economies.

It’s no wonder, then, that large numbers of Americans have begun to question the superiority of our brand of free-market capitalism. This disillusionment is reflected not only in public opinion polls but on the shelves of American bookstores, where the subject has attracted many of the best economists in the country. Retooling American capitalism has become something of an national ”” and even international ”” obsession.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, The U.S. Government

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Teach us, O gracious Lord, to begin our works with fear, to go on with obedience, and to finish them in love, and then to wait patiently in hope, and with cheerful confidence to look up to thee, whose promises are faithful and rewards infinite; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–George Hickes

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Now when day came, there was no small stir among the soldiers over what had become of Peter. And when Herod had sought for him and could not find him, he examined the sentries and ordered that they should be put to death. Then he went down from Judea to Caesare’a, and remained there. Now Herod was angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon; and they came to him in a body, and having persuaded Blastus, the king’s chamberlain, they asked for peace, because their country depended on the king’s country for food. On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and made an oration to them. And the people shouted, “The voice of a god, and not of man!” Immediately an angel of the Lord smote him, because he did not give God the glory; and he was eaten by worms and died. But the word of God grew and multiplied. And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their mission, bringing with them John whose other name was Mark.

–Acts 12:18-25

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(WSJ) In Europe, Signs of a Jobless Generation

Euro-zone youth unemployment will remain elevated for at least the next half-decade, the International Labor Organization said Tuesday, forecasting a small reduction in the jobless rate will come from young people withdrawing from the labor market instead of stronger hiring activity.

The Geneva-based agency of the United Nations projects that 15-to-24 year-olds in the 17-member economic bloc will face jobless rates of nearly 22% in 2013 that will dip modestly to 21.4% in 2017. In the U.S., youth unemployment is forecast to fall from 17.4% this year to 13.3% in 2017.

Long-term youth unemployment has long-term consequences for young people and for businesses, according to the ILO and other labor market experts.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010, Economy, Europe, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Young Adults

Doubts over govt, Boko Haram talks as blast rocks Gombe

After a lull, terrorists yesterday struck in Sabon-Laye, the Gombe capital, where they exploded a bomb.

Although no life was confirmed lost at press time, the incident caused panic in the state capital and brought business activities to a standstill as shop owners and traders immediately shut their outlets and markets and rushed to their homes.

Nevertheless, the military in Borno State made a breakthrough yesterday as they recovered a register alleged to contain suspected Boko Haram members during a dawn raid in the home of a “commander” of the terrorist group.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Muslim-Christian relations, Nigeria, Other Faiths, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

Archbishop John Sentamu–Online Safety ”“ Let’s Put Children First

This week, on 6th September, the Government consultation into Parental Internet Controls will officially close.

This is our last chance to put across to Ministers our concerns about the growing amount of inappropriate material on the internet being accessed by children and young people.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Children, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Pornography, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence